As a wealthy planter with no military background, Wade Hampton was an unlikely candidate to become one of the most esteemed officers in Confederate General Robert E. Lee's army. High
command posts were generally reserved for graduates of the United States Military Academy or other military schools such as South Carolina's Citadel or the Virginia Military Institute.
But Hampton, far from being the only Civil War officer without formal military training, was one of many. Most began uncertainly, their decisions reflecting their inexperience. Some couldn't handle the strains of combat and failed miserably, while others ultimately acquitted themselves admirably. Hampton was among the few who acted from the war's start as if he had been preparing all his life for military service, as evidenced by his quickly soaring prestige and eventual position as head of Confederate cavalry under Lee.
Hampton's great, great-grandfather, Anthony Hampton, arrived in South Carolina with his wife in the mid-1700s when much of the colony was still considered frontier.
The couple raised a brood of sons who helped carve out a home in the wilderness. Then the family's dreams turned to ashes in 1776 during the Revolutionary War. Cherokee Indians, incensed by repeated treaty violations and by colonists invading their land, launched raids against white settlers, encouraged by the British to coincide with their naval assault on Charleston, South Carolina. These Indian attacks file led anti-British feelings among many in the back country of South Carolina who before leaned toward supporting the Crown.
Five Hampton sons were away, and consequently spared, when Indian warriors invaded the homestead and killed Anthony Hampton, his wife, a son, and grandson. The surviving sons, including the first Wade Hampton, soon joined the rebel fight for independence from the British. Wade Hampton later also fought in the War of 1812 against the British. Between stints in the military, he established thriving plantations in Louisiana and Mississippi, as well as South Carolina, becoming, by his death in 1835, one of the richest planters in the nation.
His namesake, Wade Hampton II, also prospered at his plantation, Millwood, near Columbia, South Carolina, where he indulged a passion for collecting horses and books, developing one of the finest private libraries in the country. He also became a force to be reckoned with politically, though he remained primarily behind-the-scenes, with many of the state's powerful figures paying homage to him at his estate.
His son, Wade Hampton III, was perhaps as proficient at business as his grandfather, although, like many other prosperous Southerners, much of his wealth was built on human bondage. While some slave holders were more humane than others, denying a slave's basic rights and dignities was inherent in the system. Slave families were routinely torn apart, often never to see each other again. A slave child began a life full of work as soon as he or she was big enough to move stones out of the plow's way. Many planters or their hired hands whipped and beat slaves to enforce control or increase productivity, and their victims had little hope of escape. Laws banned teaching slaves to read and write or own property. Nor were they allowed free movement, a restriction enforced by white patrols who roamed the countryside, stopping any black they met and demanding written proof that the individual had permission to be away from a slave holder's property.
At some point, Wade Hampton III developed misgivings about slavery, apparently not because of moral scruples, but because he concluded the system was uneconomical. As a state legislator, he argued the point with his peers. In 1860, when secession fever hit South Carolina after Abraham Lincoln was elected President, Hampton opposed leaving the Union. Nevertheless, when South Carolina opted to break away, Hampton resolved to abide by the decision. Using his own money, he recruited and supplied a legion of troops - infantry, cavalry, and artillery - and, at the rank of colonel, led the force to Virginia where fighting was expected to begin.
In the first major clash of the war on July 21, 1861 at Manassas, Virginia (also known as the Battle of Bull Run), Hampton led 600 infantry soldiers into ferocious fighting. His second-in-command, and the only officer with military experience accompanying Hampton, was killed soon after fighting began. Attacked on three sides by Union troops, Hampton's soldiers stubbornly held their position amidst a hailstorm of bullets until his superiors urged Hampton to retreat. The men, resting briefly in a ravine, prepared for further battle. Soon they were back in action, capturing a Federal artillery piece and joining the pursuit of retreating Union soldiers in the first major Confederate victory of the war. Hampton, who suffered a superficial wound, lost 20 percent of his force, 121 men.
He garnered more attention in 1862 during a bungled Confederate advance on the outskirts of Richmond where he was shot in the foot on May 31 in the Battle of Seven Pines. Despite his wound, Hampton refused to leave the fray, insisting that he be treated while remaining astride his horse. With bullets whizzing through the air, he continued to direct his troops while a surgeon extracted the bullet.
In the heady days that followed, while Hampton recuperated, Lee took command of the Army of Northern Virginia. He and Major General Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson built an army that for a time seemed almost invincible. Jackson moved his infantry at such lightning speed in the Shenandoah Valley that more than once the soldiers almost seemed to be in two places simultaneously. Trapped between two converging armies, Jackson boldly attacked one, then wheeled around to face the other, within two days sending both armies into retreat. With such feats, he kept Washington, D.C. cowering in fear that he would attack the capital, and when Jackson joined Lee near Richmond, together they held a massive Union Army at bay.
Hampton, convalescing, was apparently less than thrilled by Southern women admirers seeking his attention. Mary Chesnut, who vividly wrote about the Civil War, quotes an observer saying that Hampton "looked as if he wished they [the ladies] would leave him alone." His bravery and coolness under fire were also noted by his superiors, who promoted him to brigadier general. In the summer of 1862, Hampton was given a command post in Major General J.E.B. Stuart's cavalry.
Battle of Monroe's Crossroads and the Civil War's Final Campaign
Detailed tactical narrative of this important but long-forgotten battle, and places it in its proper context within the entire campaign. Author Eric Wittenberg study features 28 original maps and 50 illustrations. Finally, an author of renown has brought to vivid life this overlooked portion of the Carolinas Campaign.
This Terrible Sound
The Battle of Chickamauga
Study of the great bloody battle of Chickamauga that was the last great offensive, although costsly, victory by the Confederates. This is a detailed account of the movements of regiments, brigades, divisions.
This fine replica is 39 inches overall and features a highly polished 33 inch carbon steel blade. Its leather wrapped handle fits the hand perfectly and sports decorative brass accents and a shiny brass pommel.
The Month That Saved America
There was nothing inevitable about the end of the Civil War, from the fall of Richmond to the surrender at Appomattox to the murder of Lincoln. It all happened so quickly, in what was the most moving and decisive month not simply of the Civil War, but indeed, quite likely, in the life of the United States
The Illustrated Battle Cry of Freedom
The Civil War Era
Published in 1988 to universal acclaim, this single-volume treatment of the Civil War quickly became recognized as the new standard in its field. James M. McPherson, who won the Pulitzer Prize for this book, impressively combines a brisk writing style with an admirable thoroughness. He covers the military aspects of the war in all of the necessary detail, and also provides a helpful framework describing the complex economic, political, and social forces behind the conflict. Perhaps more than any other book, this one belongs on the bookshelf of every Civil War buff.
The Civil War a Narrative
This beautifully written trilogy of books on the American Civil War is not only a piece of first-rate history, but also a marvelous work of literature. Shelby Foote brings a skilled novelist's narrative power to this great epic. Many know Foote for his prominent role as a commentator on Ken Burns's PBS series about the Civil War. These three books, however, are his legacy. His southern sympathies are apparent: the first volume opens by introducing Confederate President Jefferson Davis, rather than Abraham Lincoln. But they hardly get in the way of the great story Foote tells. This hefty three volume set should be on the bookshelf of any Civil War buff.
Children and Youth during the Civil War Era
The experience of children and youth during that tumultuous time remains a relatively unexplored facet of the conflict. Children and Youth During the Civil War Era seeks a deeper investigation into the historical record by giving voice and context to their struggles and victories
The Battle of Brandy Station
North America's Largest Cavalry Battle
Just before dawn on June 9, 1863, Union soldiers materialized from a thick fog near the banks of Virginia's Rappahannock River to ambush sleeping Confederates. The ensuing struggle, which lasted throughout the day, was to be known as the Battle of Brandy Station the largest cavalry battle ever fought on North American soil.
The Northern Railroads in the Civil War, 1861-1865
Account of the impact of the railroads on the American Civil War and vice versa. How the North was helped to victory through its effective use of the rails, also how the war changed the way railroads were built, run and financed after the war.
Robert E. Lee: Civil War General
The game comes with two types of battles to choose from, 45 historical battles and more than 100 alternative ones. The alternative ones are usually smaller versions of the historical ones. Of great interest is the way the game handles campaigns. Not only does it string together varying numbers of individual scenarios but puts the emphasis on how well or poorly your army performs during battle
Antietam: Battleground 5
PC Game focuses on individual areas of the battle, including the pre-battle South Mountain delaying action, or you can fight the whole Antietam scrap between McClellan and Lee on September 17th 1862
Take Command 2nd Manassas
2nd Manassas explores one of the American Civil War's most important battles. Travel back to 1862 and fight what the North remembers as the Second Battle of BullRun -- a battle which was pivotal to the Northern Virginia Campaign. Take on the essential elements of decision-making for this crucial battle - Take Command or be overcome by it. Accurate ballistics for weapons Play
Civil War Campaigns: Vicksburg
A chance to refight one of the American Civil War's most crucial battles. It's April of 1863, and General U.S. Grant has led his men to the banks of the Mississippi River. After disastrous Union campaigns at Chickasaw Bayou, Steele Bayou and Greenville, Grant elects to bypass the Confederate fortress city of Vicksburg
Civil War Musket
Wood & Steel Frontier Rifle Designed After The Original Rifle,
This Civil War Musket replica has been designed after the original rifle of its era. Measures approximately 37 inches long. Each is constructed with a solid one-piece wood stock, painted steel barrel and die-cast parts.