Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Featured Book Reviewer
- Jan 7, 2013
- Long Island, NY
Wade Hampton: Confederate Warrior to Southern Redeemer by Rod Andrew, Jr. published by University of North Carolina Press (2008) Hardcover $47.50 Paperback $26.00 Kindle $9.99.
When I was first studying the Civil War as a young student, Wade Hampton was a respected cavalry commander serving in the shadow of the great cavalier J.E.B. Stuart. In recent years, Stuart’s reputation has been reassessed more critically and Hampton’s stature as a military commander has grown. This change in the way Hampton is regarded prompted me to read this ten year old biography.
Hampton is one of a handful of Confederate generals who was famous both before the war and after it. One of the richest men in antebellum America, Hampton was the largest slaveowner in South Carolina. After the war, he was governor of his state and later represented it in the United States Senate. A man of intelligence and great physical courage, he became, for many white men of the South, the embodiment of the virtues embedded in the Lost Cause, a phrase he himself used.
Wade Hampton: Confederate Warrior to Southern Redeemer is a 616 page biography of the paramount South Carolina Confederate. Unlike many biographies of Civil War generals, it devotes significant space to all three phases of its subject’s life. Rod Andrew’s Wade Hampton had a life that spanned much more than the four years of the war.
The first tenth of the book is devoted to the time before the war. It actually begins long before the birth of Wade Hampton. In fact, the Hampton that most of us know was the third in his line named Wade. Andrew offers a detailed account of the sometimes nefarious means employed by Wade’s grandfather to amass a fortune that allowed his grandson to live a life that a European nobleman might envy.
Military history aficionados should not worry that Hampton’s career as a soldier is slighted. More than two hundred pages are devoted to his military service. Roughly the same number of pages cover the Reconstruction and Jim Crow career of Hampton the powerful anti-Reconstruction dissident, the white Redeemer, and, finally, the aging veteran.
Due to its length, this review will appear in ten parts.