Civil War Wiki
Wade Hampton III
[[Image:File:Wade Hampton.gif|center|200px|border]]Wade Hampton during the Civil War
Personal Information
Born: March 28, 1818(1818-03-28)
Place of Birth: {{{place of birth}}}
Died: April 11, 1902 (aged 84)
Place of Death: {{{place of death}}}
Birth Name: {{{birth name}}}
Other Information
Allegiance: Confederate
Participation(s): {{{participations}}}
Branch: Confederate States Army
Service Years: {{{service years}}}
Rank: Lieutenant General
Service number : {{{servicenumber}}}
Commands: Cavalry Corps, Army of Northern Virginia
Battles: American Civil War
Other work: {{{otherwork}}}

Wade Hampton III (March 28, 1818 – April 11, 1902) was a Confederate cavalry leader during the American Civil War and afterward a politician from South Carolina, serving as its 77th Governor and as a U.S. Senator.

Early life and career[]

Hampton was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the eldest son of Wade Hampton II (1791–1858), known as "Colonel Wade Hampton", one of the wealthiest planters in the South (and the owner of the largest number of slaves),[1] an officer of dragoons in the War of 1812, and an aide to General Andrew Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans. He was grandson of Wade Hampton (1754–1835), lieutenant colonel of cavalry in the American War of Independence, member of the U.S. House of Representatives, and brigadier general in the War of 1812. His uncle, James Henry Hammond, was a member of both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, as well as a Governor of South Carolina.

Hampton grew up in a wealthy family, receiving private instruction. He had an active outdoor life, riding horses and hunting, especially at his father's North Carolina summer retreat, High Hampton.[2] He was known for taking hunting trips alone into the woods, hunting American black bears with only a knife. Some accounts credit him with killing as many as 80 bears. In 1836 he graduated from South Carolina College (now the University of South Carolina), and was trained for the law, although he never practiced. He devoted himself, instead, to the management of his great plantations in South Carolina and Mississippi,[1] and took part in state politics. He was elected to the South Carolina General Assembly in 1852 and served as a Senator from 1858 to 1861. Hampton's father died in 1858 and the son inherited a vast fortune, the plantations, and one of the largest collections of slaves in the South.

Civil War[]


Confederate Cavalry Lieutenant General Wade Hampton

Although his views were conservative concerning the issues of secession and slavery, and he had opposed the division of the Union as a legislator, at the start of the Civil War, Hampton was loyal to his home state. He resigned from the Senate and enlisted as a private in the South Carolina Militia; however, the governor of South Carolina insisted that Hampton accept a colonel's commission, even though he had no military experience at all. Hampton organized and partially financed the unit known as "Hampton's Legion", which consisted of six companies of infantry, four companies of cavalry, and one battery of artillery. He personally financed all of the weapons for the Legion.

Despite his lack of military experience and his relatively advanced age of 42, Hampton was a natural cavalryman—brave, audacious, and a superb horseman. Some say he merely lacked some of the flamboyance of his contemporaries, such as his eventual commander, J.E.B. Stuart, age 30. He was one of only two officers without previous military experience (the other being Nathan Bedford Forrest) to achieve the rank of lieutenant general in the Confederate service.

Hampton first saw combat in July 1861, at the First Battle of Bull Run, where he deployed his Legion at a decisive moment, giving the brigade of Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson time to reach the field. He was wounded the first of five times during the war when he led a charge against a federal artillery position, and a bullet creased his forehead.

On May 23, 1862, Hampton was promoted to brigadier general, while commanding a brigade in Stonewall Jackson's division in the Army of Northern Virginia. In the Peninsula Campaign, at the Battle of Seven Pines on May 31, 1862, he was severely wounded in the foot, but remained on his horse while it was being treated, still under fire. Hampton returned to duty in time to lead a brigade at the end of the Seven Days Battles, although the brigade was not significantly engaged.

After the Peninsula Campaign, General Robert E. Lee reorganized his cavalry forces as a division under the command of J.E.B. Stuart, who selected Hampton as his senior subordinate, to command one of two cavalry brigades. During the winter of 1862, around the Battle of Fredericksburg, Hampton led a series of cavalry raids behind enemy lines and captured numerous prisoners and supplies without suffering any casualties, earning a commendation from General Lee. During the Battle of Chancellorsville, Hampton's brigade was stationed south of the James River, so saw no action.

In the Gettysburg Campaign, Hampton was slightly wounded in the Battle of Brandy Station, the war's largest cavalry battle. His brigade then participated in Stuart's wild adventure to the northeast, swinging around the Union army and losing contact with Lee. Stuart and Hampton reached the vicinity of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, late on July 2, 1863. While just outside of town, Hampton was confronted by a Union cavalryman pointing a rifle at him from 200 yards. Hampton charged the trooper before he could fire his rifle, but another trooper blindsided Hampton with a saber cut to the back of his head. On July 3, Hampton led the cavalry attack to the east of Gettysburg, attempting to disrupt the Union rear areas, but colliding with Union cavalry. He received two more saber cuts to the front of his head, but continued fighting until he was wounded again with a piece of shrapnel to the hip. He was carried back to Virginia in the same ambulance as General John Bell Hood.

On August 3, 1863, Hampton was promoted to major general and received command of a cavalry division. His wounds from Gettysburg were slow in healing, so he did not actually return to duty until November. During the Overland Campaign of 1864, Stuart was killed at the Battle of Yellow Tavern and Hampton was given command of the Cavalry Corps on August 11, 1864. He distinguished himself in his new role at the bloody Battle of Trevilian Station, defeating Philip Sheridan's cavalry, and in fact, lost no cavalry battles for the remainder of the war. In September, Hampton conducted what became known as the "Beefsteak Raid", where his troopers captured over 2400 head of cattle and over 300 prisoners behind enemy lines.

In October 1864, near Petersburg, Virginia, Hampton sent his son, Thomas Preston, a lieutenant and an aide to his father, to deliver a message. Shortly afterward, Hampton and his other son, Wade IV, rode in the same direction. Before traveling 200 yards, they came across Preston's body, and as young Wade dismounted, he was also shot. Thomas Preston died from his wound.[3]

While Lee's army was bottled up in the Siege of Petersburg, in January 1865, Hampton returned to South Carolina to recruit additional soldiers. He was promoted to lieutenant general on February 14, 1865, but eventually surrendered to the Union along with General Joseph E. Johnston's Army of Tennessee at Bennett Place in Durham, North Carolina. Hampton was reluctant to surrender, and nearly got into a personal fight with Union Brig. Gen. Judson Kilpatrick at the Bennett Farm.

After the war, Hampton found his property and wealth diminished. His boyhood home, Millwood, near Columbia, South Carolina, was burned by Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman's Union soldiers, and his fortune was depleted supplying those soldiers. His many slaves were freed. Hampton was one of the original proponents, alongside General Jubal A. Early, of the Lost Cause movement, attempting to explain away the Confederacy's loss of the war. He was especially angry upon the arrival of black

Federal troops to occupy his home state.


Postbellum career[]

File:Wade Hampton III - Brady-Handy.jpg

Wade Hampton

Hampton was offered the nomination of governor in 1865, but refused because he felt that those in the North would be suspicious of a former Confederate General seeking political office only months after the end of the Civil War. After his refusal, Hampton had to campaign for his supporters not to vote for him in the gubernatorial election. In 1868, Hampton became the chairman of the state Democratic Party central committee, that lost to the Radical Republicans in the election. His role in the politics of the state ceased until 1876, although he tried to help Matthew Calbraith Butler in the Union Reform campaign of 1870.

Hampton was a leading fighter against Radical Republican Reconstruction policies in the South, and re-entered South Carolina politics in 1876 as the first southern gubernatorial candidate to run on a platform in opposition to Reconstruction. Hampton, a Democrat, ran against Radical Republican incumbent governor Daniel Henry Chamberlain. Supporters of Hampton were called Red Shirts and were known to practice violence. The 1876 South Carolina gubernatorial election is thought to be the bloodiest in the history of the state. Both parties claimed victory. For over six months, there were two legislatures in the state, both claiming to be authentic. Eventually, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled Hampton as the winner of the election. The election of the first Democrat in South Carolina since the end of the Civil War, as well as the national election of Rutherford B. Hayes as President, signified the end of Reconstruction in the South.

After the election, Hampton became known as the "Savior of South Carolina." He was reelected in 1878 to a second term, but two days after the election he was thrown from a mule while deer hunting and broke his right leg. Called the "Mule Fraud" by the New York Times, the newspaper claimed that it was a political trick planned by Hampton so that he would not have to sign election certificates even though the Governor of South Carolina does not sign such certificates.[citation needed] Several weeks later his right leg was amputated due to complications arising from this injury. Despite refusing to announce his candidacy for the Senate, Hampton was elected to the United States Senate by the General Assembly, albeit on the same day as the amputation of his leg. He resigned from the governorship in 1879 and served two terms in the Senate until 1891 after being denied a third term by the Tillmanites in the state elections of 1890.

In 1890, Hampton's niece Caroline, an operating room nurse, married the father of American surgery, William Halsted. It was because of her skin reaction to surgical sterilization chemicals that Halsted invented the surgical glove the previous year.

From 1893 to 1897, Hampton served as United States Railroad Commissioner, appointed by President Grover Cleveland. In 1899, his home in Columbia, South Carolina, was destroyed by fire. An elderly man, he had limited funds and limited means to find a new home. Over his strong protests, a group of friends raised enough funds to build him one.

Hampton died in Columbia and is buried there in Trinity Cathedral Churchyard. Statues of him were erected in the South Carolina State House building and the United States Capitol. An equestrian statue by Frederick W. Ruckstull was erected on the grounds of the South Carolina State House in 1906.

In memoriam[]

File:Wade Hampton statue.jpg

Statue of Wade Hampton at South Carolina State House

To honor Hampton for his leadership in the Civil War and the redemption of the state, the General Assembly created Hampton County from Beaufort County in 1878. The town of Hampton Courthouse (later shortened to Hampton) was incorporated on December 23, 1879, to serve as the county seat of Hampton County. Across South Carolina many towns and cities renamed streets for the revered statesman. At least eight municipalities in South Carolina have a street named "Wade Hampton" (Beaufort, Charleston, Duncan, Greenville, Greer, Hampton, Taylors, Walterboro) and in approximately 47 towns of South Carolina are streets named "Hampton." Two high schools in South Carolina are named "Wade Hampton High School," one in Greenville and the other in Hampton. A residence hall at Hampton's alma mater, the University of South Carolina, is called the "Wade Hampton." There is a Hampton Park in Charleston and a Hampton Park in Columbia named after Hampton. In 1964, Wade Hampton Academy was charted in Orangeburg; the school later merged with Willington Academy in 1986 to become Orangeburg Preparatory Schools, Inc.

In 1913, Judge John Randolph Tucker named the Wade Hampton Census Area in Alaska to commemorate his father-in-law. An artillery battery was named after Wade Hampton at Fort Crockett, built on Galveston Island, Texas. The Wade Hampton Battery was one of four coastal artillery batteries and contained two 10-inch guns. During World War II, the SS Wade Hampton, a Liberty ship named in honor of the general, was sunk off the coast of Greenland by a German U-boat.

In Greenville County, South Carolina, the section of U.S. Route 29 that connects Greenville to Spartanburg is called "Wade Hampton" Boulevard. There is also a fire district (Wade Hampton Fire Department) named in his honor located on the east side of Greenville that adjoins the Greenville city limits.

In fiction[]

Hampton appears in How Few Remain, the first novel in Harry Turtledove's Timeline-191 series, an alternate history wherein the South won the American Civil War. In it, Hampton prepares to lead a coup against Confederate States President James Longstreet after Longstreet announces plans to end slavery. Later in the series, in the novel American Empire: Blood and Iron, Hampton's fictional grandson, Wade Hampton V is elected President of the C.S. in 1921, but is assassinated shortly after by a member of the Freedom Party, an organization that resembles the Brown Shirts.

In Margaret Mitchell's novel Gone with the Wind, Scarlet O'Hara's first husband, Charles Hamilton, serves in Hampton's regiment, dying of measles only seven weeks later. As it was fashionable (according to Mitchell) to name baby boys after their fathers' commanding officers, Scarlett's son by Charles is therefore named Wade Hampton Hamilton.

In the North and South trilogy by John Jakes, the character Charles Main serves with Hampton's cavalry throughout the Civil War.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Tagg, p. 359.
  2. High Hampton history.
  3. New York Times, June 27, 1897.


Further reading[]

  • Ackerman, Robert K. Wade Hampton III, Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2007. ISBN 978-1-57003-667-5.
  • Cisco, Walter Brian Wade Hampton: Confederate Warrior, Conservative Statesman. Washington, DC: Potomac Books, 2004. ISBN 1-57488-626-6.
  • Longacre, Edward G. Gentleman and Soldier: A Biography of Wade Hampton III. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2009. ISBN 978-0-8032-1354-8.
  • Meynard, Virginia G. The Venturers, The Hampton, Harrison and Earle Families of Virginia, South Carolina, and Texas, Easley, SC: Southern Historical Press, Inc., 1981. ISBN 0-89308-241-4.
  • Swank, Walbrook Davis. Battle of Trevilian Station: The Civil War's Greatest and Bloodiest All Cavalry Battle, with Eyewitness Memoirs. Shippensburg, PA: W. D. Swank, 1994, ISBN 0-942597-68-0.
  • Wellman, Manly Wade. Giant in Gray: A Biography of Wade Hampton of South Carolina. Dayton, OH: Press of Morningside Bookshop, 1988. ISBN 0-89029-054-7
  • Willimon, William H. Lord of the Congaree, Wade Hampton of South Carolina. Columbia, SC: Sandlapper Press, 1972. ISBN 0-87844-010-0.
  • Wittenberg, Eric J. The Battle of Munroe's Crossroads and the Civil War's Final Campaign. El Dorado Hills, CA: Savas Beatie, 2006. ISBN 1-932714-17-0.

External links[]

Template:Start box Template:S-off |- style="text-align: center;" |- style="text-align:center;" |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"|Preceded by
Daniel Henry Chamberlain |width="40%" style="text-align: center;" rowspan="1"|Governor of South Carolina
1877–1879 |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"| Succeeded by
William Dunlap Simpson |- |- ! colspan="3" style="background: #cccccc" | United States Senate Template:U.S. Senator box |} Template:Governors of South Carolina Template:USSenSC

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