Book Review Wade Hampton: Confederate Warrior to Southern Redeemer by Rod Andrew

Pat Young

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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.
 
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Part 2:

In the preface to his book, Rod Andrew lays out four themes that he thinks explain the motivations for Wade Hampton’s life of action. Three are evident, he writes since Hampton’s young adulthood, and one is added after Confederate defeat:

Paternalism, chivalry, and honor, the dominant social ideals affecting Hampton’s upbringing, obviously overlapped and interconnected. All three rested on the assumption of white supremacy and/or leadership by elites, and all three influenced who Hampton thought he was supposed to be from the time of his childhood until his death. For that reason, I do not abandon my use of these three concepts when the narrative reaches the latter half of Hampton’s life. I do pick up another theme, however. That theme is “vindication,” closely akin to what other scholars have labeled “redemption,” “restoration,” and “justification.” The theme of vindication, I believe, is the one in which I make the most use of the biographical perspective in explaining post- Civil War political events. Until late 1860, Wade Hampton wished to avoid disruption to his antebellum life and the Old South civilization in which he had come of age. Believing that civil war threatened upheaval and uncertainty, he was one of the last antisecessionists in the most secession-eager slave state. War came, nevertheless, and Hampton’s middle years were defined by social chaos, violent revolution, personal tragedy, the loss of his entire fortune, and physical and emotional suffering. He gave his wealth, his own blood, and a beloved brother and son in a cause denounced as treasonous by the other side. For the rest of his life, then, Hampton sought not only a return of social peace and stability, but also vindication for all that he had suffered. He wished to redeem the honor of his loved ones, his native state, and his own name. He knew that the Old South was gone and could never be restored, but he hoped to salvage something good and noble from its past, as well as honor for himself, his comrades, and his loved ones. This urge to achieve vindication and self-justification drove Hampton for the rest of his life and explains nearly everything about his postwar political behavior.

While Andrew sometimes makes a convincing case for one or the other of these four motivators, there are other times when he simply hammers some event or action or thought into these four boxes whether it belongs there or not. I wondered many times whether Hampton’s motives might have occasionally been the desire for power or money rather than the chivalry. Some of his post-war acts seemed more about vindictiveness than “vindication.” Unfortunately, Andrew fixed on these four themes and refused to abandon them even when reasonable interpretation might indicate otherwise.

Part 3 follows.
 
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jgoodguy

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Part 2:

In the preface to his book, Rod Andrew lays out four themes that he thinks explain the motivations for Wade Hampton’s life of action. Three are evident, he writes since Hampton’s young adulthood, and one is added after Confederate defeat:

Paternalism, chivalry, and honor, the dominant social ideals affecting Hampton’s upbringing, obviously overlapped and interconnected. All three rested on the assumption of white supremacy and/or leadership by elites, and all three influenced who Hampton thought he was supposed to be from the time of his childhood until his death. For that reason, I do not abandon my use of these three concepts when the narrative reaches the latter half of Hampton’s life. I do pick up another theme, however. That theme is “vindication,” closely akin to what other scholars have labeled “redemption,” “restoration,” and “justification.” The theme of vindication, I believe, is the one in which I make the most use of the biographical perspective in explaining post- Civil War political events. Until late 1860, Wade Hampton wished to avoid disruption to his antebellum life and the Old South civilization in which he had come of age. Believing that civil war threatened upheaval and uncertainty, he was one of the last antisecessionists in the most secession-eager slave state. War came, nevertheless, and Hampton’s middle years were defined by social chaos, violent revolution, personal tragedy, the loss of his entire fortune, and physical and emotional suffering. He gave his wealth, his own blood, and a beloved brother and son in a cause denounced as treasonous by the other side. For the rest of his life, then, Hampton sought not only a return of social peace and stability, but also vindication for all that he had suffered. He wished to redeem the honor of his loved ones, his native state, and his own name. He knew that the Old South was gone and could never be restored, but he hoped to salvage something good and noble from its past, as well as honor for himself, his comrades, and his loved ones. This urge to achieve vindication and self-justification drove Hampton for the rest of his life and explains nearly everything about his postwar political behavior.

While Andrew sometimes makes a convincing case for one or the other of these four motivators, there are other times when he simply hammers some event or action or thought into these four boxes whether it belongs there or not. I wondered many times whether Hampton’s motives might have occasionally been the desire for power or money rather than the chivalry. Some of his post-war acts seemed more about vindictiveness than “vindication.” Unfortunately, Andrew fixed on these four themes and refused to abandon them even when reasonable interpretation might indicate otherwise.

Part 3 will follow shortly.
Humans often dress greed up in fine clothing.
 

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Part 3:

When Wade Hampton was born on March 28, 1818, Rod Andrew tells us, “The intertwining concepts of honor, paternalism, and chivalry together defined everything that Wade Hampton III of South Carolina was supposed to be.” (p. 3) Considering that these expectations supposedly grew out of the example of his grandfather, Wade Hampton I, it is not as obvious to me as it is to Andrew that they came from the paterfamilias.

South Carolina’s 19th Century elite liked to portray itself as an ancient and hereditary aristocracy, born to rule. Bred to a code of chivalric honor, they claimed the right to govern the lives of lesser white men and rule the bodies of blacks. Wade Hampton I came from anything but such a lineage. He was a parvenu, from the class of small slaveholders, who rose through violence and scandal to tremendous wealth.

Wade Hampton I would be lionized by his descendants as a Patriot hero of the American Revolution. He was a slaveholding defender of American freedom, but he also made his fortune by taking advantage of the chaos of the Revolutionary period. For example, when a Scottish neighbor was harassed by “Patriots” into fleeing South Carolina, Hampton “bought” his land from him, neglecting only to pay for the purchase. As his victim would later find out, seeking the purchase price in a Revolutionary South Carolina court would be impossible for someone who had not been loyal to the new state. It is ironic that Wade Hampton III would attack the Federal government for not respecting the property rights of disloyal Confederates in confiscating their slaves when his own fortune was based, in part, on the exploitation of a “disloyal” man less than a century earlier. The fact that the Scotsman was forced out of the state because he failed to sign a loyalty oath only compounds the irony.

As a Revolutionary military leader, Wade I used his power to confiscate the slaves of suspected loyalists. His fellow South Carolinian freedom fighters did not criticize the taking of slaves from their alleged enemies, something their descendants would so despise ninety years later. They did, however, take Hampton to task for keeping so many of the slaves and other captured property as his personal prizes of war. One Patriot complained after the capture of Fort Motte in 1781, “Col. Wade Hampton was the commander who is said to have made private property of the spoils on this occasion.” (p. 8) While some Patriots ended the war with their fortunes in ruins, Andrew writes that Hampton had enriched himself with “land, slaves, and money.”

After the end of the Revolution, Hampton was rewarded with a seat in the state legislature. He exploited his political power to become one of the principal beneficiaries of the Yazoo Land Scandal, an inside trader scheme that brought him vast tracts of land in Mississippi and made him the largest sugar producer in Louisiana. With nearly a thousand slaves imprisoned on his estates, the Hamptons achieved their gentle status through theft and violence.

Later Hamptons would try to gentle-up the history of their family’s foundations, but they rested in silk because of the grasping avarice of a man who would have put the greed of any Yankee carpetbagger to shame. Contrary to the author's claims, in antebellum South Carolina it was money that made the man.

Part 4 follows.
 
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Pat Young

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Part 4:

Wade Hampton I ruled his roost until 1835. Although South Carolinians of the late 1800s would look back nostalgically at the Antebellum years as a period of racial harmony and paternal care of masters for faithful “servants,” old Wade understood that his family’s fortunes were dependent on extracting every possible ounce of labor from his slaves.

Slavery on the Hampton estate was so brutal that even hardened overseers sometimes objected. A British traveler, James Stuart, wrote that Wade Hampton I “not only maltreats his slaves, but stints them in food, overworks them, and keeps them almost naked. I have seen more than one of his overseers whose representations gave a dreadful account of the state of slavery on his plantations, and who left his service because they would no longer assist in the cruel punishments inflicted . . . but I do not mention such a fact . . . merely on such authority. General Hampton’s conduct toward his slaves is [a] matter of notoriety.” (p. 11)

Even firebreathing secessionist and slavery advocate Edmund Ruffin wrote in 1858 that “[Stuart] has exposed, and I am glad of it, some detestible [sic] cruelty of particular southern slaveholders—especially of the late Gen. Wade Hampton.” (p. 11)

Wade I insisted on the privileges of patriarchal dominance with none of the responsibilities that Southern elite ideology claimed to demand of it. Andrew finds no evidence that Wade I was a nurturing presence for his children or for his grandson and namesake. When the old man finally died, he cut his own wife and daughters out of the will and left everything to his son Wade Hampton II. The scion was not as severe as his father. Wade II tore up the will and gave equal shares to his stepmother and stepsisters.

Like his father, Wade II had served in the military during wartime. As a very young man he fought beside his father in the War of 1812. In other areas he departed from his father’s ways. He cultivated strong family ties and was willing to forgo quick profits.

Part 5 follows.
 
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Pat Young

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Part 5:

The Hampton family was rocked in 1843 when rumors emerged that Wade’s four teenaged sisters had been molested by their uncle. James Henry Hammond had married Wade’s aunt on his mother’s side. While Andrew describes Hammond as beneath the station of his wife, in fact he was part of South Carolina’s elite and would run for governor before the abuse began and would be elected the state’s chief executive soon after it commenced.

I found Andrew’s treatment of this horrific abuse completely unsatisfying. He quotes from the governor; “Here were four lovely creatures from the tender but precocious girl of 13 to the mature but fresh and blooming woman nearly 19, each contending for my love, claiming the greater share of it as due to her superior devotion to me, all of them rushing on every occasion into my arms and covering me with kisses, lolling on my lap, pressing their bodies almost into mine, wreathing their limbs with mine, encountering warmly every portion of my frame, and permitting my hands to stray unchecked over every part of them and to rest without the slightest shrinking from it, in the most secret and sacred regions, and all this for a period of more than two years continuously.” (p. 31) This was written by a man who had both been South Carolina’s governor and represented it in the House of Representatives.

Andrew tells us that Hammonds molestations “fell short of sexual intercourse,” but offers no evidence of this other than the silence of Hammond’s diary. He also describes the molestation as “scandalous” and refers to them as Hammond’s “transgressions.” He calls the abuse of a thirteen year old niece a “shameful dalliance” and describes Hammond being force to break off his abuse as “the end of the affair.”

Had Rod Andrew been writing in the 1800s, I might have at least been able to understand his outrageous description of these events. Coming from a 21st Century author in a book published by a scholarly press makes this approach unfathomable.

The author’s description of the reaction of Wade Hampton, twenty-five at the time, and his father is even more difficult to accept. Andrew writes that while could have challenged Hampton to a duel or assaulted him, as called-for by the supposed chivalric code, Wade II decided to neither. Because Hampton was governor it, would, Andrew writes, “bring public dishonor to the governor’s office and to all of South Carolina. Certainly a horsewhipping or caning of the governor would heap disgrace on the state he represented.” (p. 32) Or maybe he was scared of the governor or thought that extracting retribution would compromise his many business interests.

Instead, Andrew writes approvingly, the Hamptons broke off all relations with Uncle James. This meant he could no longer have the best guests at his parties. In spite of all the rumors of child molestation, in 1857 James Hammond was selected by the state legislature to represent South Carolina in the Senate. The four girls he had harmed were condemned by South Carolina’s elite society to permanent spinsterhood and childlessness.

Part 6 follows.
 
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Pat Young

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Part 6:

It is difficult to evaluate the 25 year old Wade III’s reaction to the abuse of his sisters, but we know that for the rest of his life he was a sympathetic and supportive brother. Rod Andrew includes enough details of Wade’s relations with them to humanize him as someone who was more than the ideals that supposedly ruled his behavior. Wade maintained his loyalty to his sisters through war and personal tragedy.

During the 1850s Wade began to step out of his father’s shadow and assume a role in public affairs. He was elected to the General Assembly in 1852. In 1858 he inherited his father’s fortune upon Wade II’s death and was elected to the State Senate. As a politician he was considered a moderate among the slaveholding elite. Although he owned, bought, and sold slaves, Hampton opposed reopening the international slave trade. Hampton believed that the pro-slave trade forces in South Carolina were introducing legislation on the issue to exacerbate sectional tensions. Since the trade in kidnapped Africans could only be legally allowed if Congress passed appropriate legislation, bills to that effect in the South Carolina legislature would have no effect except to anger Northerners. He saw the splintering of the Union as the greatest threat to his own property in slaves.

As secession became the focus of heated debates in 1860, Hampton counselled moderation. He was particularly concerned that his state not inaugurate a war whose potentially revolutionary outcomes were unforeseeable.

When Fort Sumter was attacked by Confederate forces and war begun, Hampton was out of state visiting his western lands. Hampton wanted to prove his devotion to a secession movement he had once opposed. He offered to raise a “legion” at his own expense consisting of six companies of infantry, four troops of cavalry, and an artillery battery. He also donated his entire 1861 cotton crop to the Confederacy. By May, 1861, Hampton was in command of Hampton’s Legion. He would soon embark on a chapter of his life that would make him nationally famous, and leave him with lingering pain from wounds and a son's death.

Part 7 follows.
 
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Pat Young

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Rod Andrew’s detailed retelling of Hampton’s war years is admirable in its reliance on the Official Records and Wade’s correspondence with his family, as well as the reports on his actions by other Confederates. From his first fight at Manassas through the final Confederate surrender, Hampton proved himself to be one of the best of the “political generals” in either army.

At Bull Run, his legion took relatively heavy casualties and Hampton himself was hit in the face with canister. Yet Hampton displayed traits of heroism and coolness under fire that recommended him to his superiors. Throughout 1861 and early 1862 Hampton demonstrated a clear ability to command Confederate soldiers. His competence is detailed by Rod Andrew in this biography. What I missed in it was an examination of just how a man with no military training or experience became such a good combat officer in such a short time. The annals of the Civil War are filled with rich men and politicians, and Hampton was both, who were promoted in the first months of the war and who flamed out spectacularly or otherwise failed.

The other question I had that Andrew did not answer was “Why a legion.” I know that there were other legions formed, Cobb’s for instance, but what was Hampton’s thinking behind this decision? It clearly did not pan out and the three arms of his legion never fought together as a unit.

What Andrew does well is paint a portrait of an infantry commander forced into the cavalry during the Peninsula Campaign. He writes that Hampton “agreed to the change only with the understanding that the appointment was temporary. It was in the infantry that Hampton had learned how to be a soldier; besides, a transfer to the cavalry would take him farther away from the infantrymen of the Hampton Legion—the men with whom he had shared most of the last year.” The reluctant cavalryman was good at his new job, but extremely unhappy with the company he was forced to keep. He apparently never cared for his commander, J.E.B Stuart, and he found that having two colleagues with the last name Lee meant that he could never offer frank criticism of their performance.

Within six months of taking over a cavalry brigade, in “January 1863 Wade Hampton III of South Carolina was an angry man," Andrew writes. "As far as he was concerned, he was the victim of favoritism, arrogance, conceit, and professional negligence. One man was the source of all those evils bedeviling Hampton—Major General James Ewell Brown Stuart of Virginia. Hampton believed that Stuart was destroying his brigade.” Wade Hampton believed that Stuart favored the Virginia brigades and gave Hampton’s men the worst postings and the most wearing duties. The South Carolinian wrote that Stuart’s favoritism was “as marked, as it is disgusting & it constantly makes me indignant. I do not object to the work, but I do object to seeing my command broken down by positive starvation. We cannot get forage, & in the course of a few weeks, my Brigade will be totally unfit for service. This is a hard case, but unless Genl. Lee, to whom I have appealed, interferes, Stuart will certainly have my Brigade out of the field before very long.” (p. 138)

Soon, Hampton would lose his beloved brother Frank, whom he had encouraged to join the cavalry, in battle. In July 1863, Wade himself would be wounded again, this time at Gettysburg. He was cut on the head by two different Union cavalrymen and suffered a fractured skull. Apart from the danger to his health, the wounds were a danger to his self-image, according to Andrew. He writes that Hampton faced “the difficult matter of being nearly killed by Yankee swordsmen on horseback. Hampton was a physically powerful man, a splendid horseman, and a fine swordsman, and he was proud of all those traits. Each of them was important to his self-image as an example of chivalry and southern manhood. How, then, had those despised Yankees, whom he had once considered cowards, nearly managed to best him?” Hampton wrote only half joking in a letter: “Don’t you feel mortified that any Yankee should be able, on horseback, to split my head open? It shows how old I am growing, and how worthless.” (p. 167)

If Hampton felt neglected in the Army of Northern Virginia, his talents were appreciated elsewhere. Joe Johnston wanted him transferred to the West, a suggestion that James Longstreet, then in Tennessee, seconded. In March of 1864 Hampton’s anger at his perceived treatment in Virginia led him to write an insubordinate letter to Robert E. Lee. The commanding general lost his patience with Hampton and told him that “I would not care if you went back to South Carolina with your whole division.” (p. 186) This mortified Hampton, according to Andrew. Hampton spoke to Mary Chesnut who recounted it in her memoir, “Wade said [Lee’s] manner made this speech immensely mortifying. While General Hampton was talking to me, the president sent for him. It seems General Lee has no patience with any personal complaints or grievances. He is all for the cause and cannot bear officers to come to him with any such matters as Wade Hampton came.” (p. 187) Hampton was in danger of becoming just another one of Lee’s quarrelsome subordinates.

For all of his intelligence, Hampton was unable to objectively assess the state of the Confederacy or foresee its doom. As Grant’s Overland Campaign got underway, Hampton wrote “If we can only win the first great battle of the campaign, I hope that we can see the ‘beginning of the end.’ If Johnston & Lee can each defeat the enemy I do not think there will be another great Battle during the war.” (p. 190)

The death of Stuart at Yellow Tavern on May 11 opened a door for Hampton at the same time that it demanded that he express sorrow over his despised chief’s demise. Hampton may have been the natural choice to replace Stuart, but the fact that his two rivals were Rooney Lee and Fitzhugh Lee left the matter in contention longer than it should have, according to Andrew. Hampton’s dislike of Fitzhigh was so great that in 1898 when his son wished to volunteer to serve under Fitzhugh Lee in the Spanish-American War, Wade objected saying that “I would not wish a son of mine to serve, in any case, under Fitz Lee.” (p. 491)

While the Confederacy was suffering mortal wounds, so was Wade Hampton’s plantation empire built on the labor of black slaves. His Mississippi and Louisiana holdings were bleeding slaves and his core South Carolina holdings would soon be on the route of Sherman’s men. During the last ten months of the war, Hampton would do some of his best fighting against both Grant and Sherman to little strategic purpose. Andrew does an fine job of describing the now almost daily fighting by cavalry in Virginia and the Carolinas.

Then Hampton’s home was destroyed by Union forces. Hampton the cavalier now defended the summary execution of Union foragers by his men when they were described as arsonists. Perhaps he was now another hero caught up in the vindictive spirit of the last days of the Rebellion.

After Lee and Johnston surrendered, Hampton proposed that he be allowed to lead a cavalry force to escort Jefferson Davis to the West or even to Mexico to continue the war. He was among the last of the die-hards to put down the sword.

Part 8 follows.
 
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Bruce Vail

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Part 7:

Rod Andrew’s detailed retelling of Hampton’s war years is admirable in its reliance on the Official Records and Wade’s correspondence with his family, as well as the reports on his actions by other Confederates. From his first fight at Manassas through the final Confederate surrender, Hampton proved himself to be one of the best of the “political generals” in either army.

At Bull Run, his legion took relatively heavy casualties and Hampton himself was hit in the face with canister. Yet Hampton displayed traits of heroism and coolness under fire that recommended him to his superiors. Throughout 1861 and early 1862 Hampton demonstrated a clear ability to command Confederate soldiers. His competence is detailed by Rod Andrew in this biography. What I missed in it was an examination of just how a man with no military training or experience became such a good combat officer in such a short time. The annals of the Civil War are filled with rich men and politicians, and Hampton was both, who were promoted in the first months of the war and who flamed out spectacularly or otherwise failed.

The other question I had that Andrew did not answer was “Why a legion.” I know that there were other legions formed, Cobb’s for instance, but what was Hampton’s thinking behind this decision? It clearly did not pan out and the three arms of his legion never fought together as a unit.

What Andrew does well is paint a portrait of an infantry commander forced into the cavalry during the Peninsula Campaign. He writes that Hampton “agreed to the change only with the understanding that the appointment was temporary. It was in the infantry that Hampton had learned how to be a soldier; besides, a transfer to the cavalry would take him farther away from the infantrymen of the Hampton Legion—the men with whom he had shared most of the last year.” The reluctant cavalryman was good at his new job, but extremely unhappy with the company he was forced to keep. He apparently never cared for his commander, J.E.B Stuart, and he found that having two colleagues with the last name Lee meant that he could never offer frank criticism of their performance.

Within six months of taking over a cavalry brigade, in “January 1863 Wade Hampton III of South Carolina was an angry man," Andrew writes. "As far as he was concerned, he was the victim of favoritism, arrogance, conceit, and professional negligence. One man was the source of all those evils bedeviling Hampton—Major General James Ewell Brown Stuart of Virginia. Hampton believed that Stuart was destroying his brigade.” Wade Hampton believed that Stuart favored the Virginia brigades and gave Hampton’s men the worst postings and the most wearing duties. The South Carolinian wrote that Stuart’s favoritism was “as marked, as it is disgusting & it constantly makes me indignant. I do not object to the work, but I do object to seeing my command broken down by positive starvation. We cannot get forage, & in the course of a few weeks, my Brigade will be totally unfit for service. This is a hard case, but unless Genl. Lee, to whom I have appealed, interferes, Stuart will certainly have my Brigade out of the field before very long.” (p. 138)

Soon, Hampton would lose his beloved brother Frank, whom he had encouraged to join the cavalry, in battle. In July 1863, Wade himself would be wounded again, this time at Gettysburg. He was cut on the head by two different Union cavalrymen and suffered a fractured skull. Apart from the danger to his health, the wounds were a danger to his self-image, according to Andrew. He writes that Hampton faced “the difficult matter of being nearly killed by Yankee swordsmen on horseback. Hampton was a physically powerful man, a splendid horseman, and a fine swordsman, and he was proud of all those traits. Each of them was important to his self-image as an example of chivalry and southern manhood. How, then, had those despised Yankees, whom he had once considered cowards, nearly managed to best him?” Hampton wrote only half joking in a letter: “Don’t you feel mortified that any Yankee should be able, on horseback, to split my head open? It shows how old I am growing, and how worthless.” (p. 167)

If Hampton felt neglected in the Army of Northern Virginia, his talents were appreciated elsewhere. Joe Johnston wanted him transferred to the West, a suggestion that James Longstreet, then in Tennessee, seconded. In March of 1864 Hampton’s anger at his perceived treatment in Virginia led him to write an insubordinate letter to Robert E. Lee. The commanding general lost his patience with Hampton and told him that “I would not care if you went back to South Carolina with your whole division.” (p. 186) This mortified Hampton, according to Andrew. Hampton spoke to Mary Chesnut who recounted it in her memoir, “Wade said [Lee’s] manner made this speech immensely mortifying. While General Hampton was talking to me, the president sent for him. It seems General Lee has no patience with any personal complaints or grievances. He is all for the cause and cannot bear officers to come to him with any such matters as Wade Hampton came.” (p. 187) Hampton was in danger of becoming just another one of Lee’s quarrelsome subordinates.

For all of his intelligence, Hampton was unable to objectively assess the state of the Confederacy or foresee its doom. As Grant’s Overland Campaign got underway, Hampton wrote “If we can only win the first great battle of the campaign, I hope that we can see the ‘beginning of the end.’ If Johnston & Lee can each defeat the enemy I do not think there will be another great Battle during the war.” (p. 190)

The death of Stuart at Yellow Tavern on May 11 opened a door for Hampton at the same time that it demanded that he express sorrow over his despised chief’s demise. Hampton may have been the natural choice to replace Stuart, but the fact that his two rivals were Rooney Lee and Fitzhugh Lee left the matter in contention longer than it should have, according to Andrew. Hampton’s dislike of Fitzhigh was so great that in 1898 when his son wished to volunteer to serve under Fitzhugh Lee in the Spanish-American War, Wade objected saying that “I would not wish a son of mine to serve, in any case, under Fitz Lee.” (p. 491)

While the Confederacy was suffering mortal wounds, so was Wade Hampton’s plantation empire built on the labor of black slaves. His Mississippi and Louisiana holdings were bleeding slaves and his core South Carolina holdings would soon be on the route of Sherman’s men. During the last ten months of the war, Hampton would do some of his best fighting against both Grant and Sherman to little strategic purpose. Andrew does an fine job of describing the now almost daily fighting by cavalry in Virginia and the Carolinas.

Then Hampton’s home was destroyed by Union forces. Hampton the cavalier now defended the summary execution of Union foragers by his men when they were described as arsonists. Perhaps he was now another hero caught up in the vindictive spirit of the last days of the Rebellion.

After Lee and Johnston surrendered, Hampton proposed that he be allowed to lead a cavalry force to escort Jefferson Davis to the West or even to Mexico to continue the war. He was among the last of the die-hards to put down the sword.

Part 8 will follow tonight, I hope.
I believe Hampton had several homes/plantations. Were they all destroyed?
 

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Part 8:

Wade Hampton did not “surrender” and apply for parole until May 15, 1865, a month after most of the rest of the Confederacy had given up. It may have only have been the intervention of his wife that stopped him from carrying on the fight past all reason. Or perhaps he stopped to visit with her to allow himself to be persuaded.

Rod Andrew’s description of Hampton’s behavior over the next eleven years, which would see him lead the opposition to Reconstruction, and head a Redeemer ticket that came to power as a result of widespread white Conservative terrorism is particularly unsatisfying. Andrew gets the facts right, but keeps trying to squish them into the pigeon holes of paternalism, chivalry, honor and vindication when sometimes Wade Hampton seems to have acted because what he did helped white people take power back from the black majority. Occam’s Razor would have well-served Andrew in his analysis of Wade’s post-war years. If an action could be explained as serving self-interest, why insist that it was motivated by some obscure ideals?

In any event, before the mud of the battlefields was dry on his riding boots Wade Hampton was up to his epaulets in politics. Even though he was not on the ballot he was nearly elected governor in a write-in campaign and he became the state’s leading exponent the argument that apart from ending formal slavery the Confederate defeat had changed nothing about South Carolina’s relation to the Federal government or to her own black population, who made up a majority of the state’s people.

While Hampton opposed calls by some whites that freedmen be expelled from the state, his advocacy of a policy of paternal kindness by a ruling class of whites towards a subordinate class of African Americans left little room for development of the black community into an independent and self-determined polity or even one capable of basic self-defense.

Part 9 will follow.
 
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Joshism

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In the preface to his book, Rod Andrew lays out four themes that he thinks explain the motivations for Wade Hampton’s life of action.
Andrew gets the facts right, but keeps trying to squish them into the pigeon holes of paternalism, chivalry, honor and vindication
It sounds like this book falls into a trap not uncommon for academic works (but rare in non-academic ones): having established a thesis, the author proceeds to ride that thesis into the ground, even when its legs get wobbly.
 

Pat Young

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Part 9:

Like many returning Confederate veterans, Wade Hampton faced dire circumstances in the post-war years. “He had emerged from the war saddled with huge debts,” Rod Andrew writes. “Before the conflict Hampton had unwisely extended himself, buying land and borrowing too fast. He had trouble paying all the notes due on his mortgages; bad weather and flooding on the Mississippi in the late 1850s had only made the situation worse. Then he had inherited $400,000 of his father’s debt in 1858. Donating his entire cotton crop to the Confederacy in 1861 had hurt as well, with the result that when more notes came due during the war years, he was unable to pay them.” In 1868 he declared bankruptcy. (p. 315)

While his finances were in decline, his reputation was in the ascendant. Hampton became well-known for his Lost Cause rhetoric disclaiming the preservation of slavery as a Southern war aim and emphasizing the heroism and virtue of the Confederate soldier. In fact, he even used the term “Lost Cause” in speaking of it, as in this speech when he said “I yield to no one in devotion to the lost cause. I would never be the traitor to ignore my past acts.” (p. 351)

Hampton’s biographer writes that “In the period 1866-76 Hampton was a leading symbol of white unity and defiance in South Carolina, as well as in the South as a whole. But he also became one of the leading leading white spokesmen for moderation, peace, and reaching out to the South’s new black citizens. The two roles frequently overlapped and obviously could be contradictory.” (p. 329)

Although Hampton could speak civilly with African Americans, he criticized the Federal government for cramming the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery down the throats of the White South and he denounced the Reconstruction requirement that South Carolina insert a clause in its new constitution ending slavery. Hampton would later claim that he did not oppose emancipation but that he objected to the Federal government not allowing White voters to end it on their own. The fact that they had not ended slavery over the previous hundred years seems to have been lost on him.

Hampton particularly objected to the use of black troops, most of whom were native Southerners, to preserve the civil rights of the freedmen. He decried the United States Colored Troops as “a horde of barbarians, your brutal negro troops, under their no less brutal and more degraded Yankee officers.” (p. 332) A problem with his strategy of non-cooperation with the Reconstruction program of Congress and two presidents is that as long as South Carolina was not reconstructed, it would be occupied.

As much as Hampton opposed Federally mandated emancipation, he was appalled by the idea of universal male suffrage. He didn’t even think most white men should be able to vote. Andrew writes:

Emancipation, however, did not necessarily imply the right to vote. Hampton thought that it would be madness to enfranchise all of the South’s black men before educating them and ensuring they understood that their old masters were still their “natural” leaders. For that matter, he did not think that illiterate or landless white men should vote, either. This was not so reactionary given the historical political culture of his state. South Carolina had instituted universal white manhood suffrage in 1810, but the decision was the result of political compromise, not shared ideology. Many elites like Hampton continued to doubt the wisdom of granting the franchise to the riffraff and had at least preserved officeholding in the house of representatives for men who owned over 150 pounds sterling, or a minimum of 500 acres and 10 slaves. The property-holding requirements for senators and governors were higher still. Traditionally, state legislators and governors had far exceeded those minimum requirements, and the understanding was that while all white men would be allowed the franchise, elites would rule. Now the prospect emerged of an electorate that was 60 percent black and 40 percent white. Such an electorate could transform the entire political culture of the state. (p. 333-334)

Hampton came to advocate “limited black suffrage,” allowing only educated African Americans to vote. According to Andrew:

Hampton’s advocacy of limited black suffrage reflected both pragmatism and instinct. It was not that he supported racial equality—such a concept was unthinkable to him. He did think that blacks, if educated and intelligent, would see the wisdom of bestowing the mantle of leadership on traditional elites like himself. Besides, if the southern states did not take some action on black suffrage, the federal government would, establishing the new precedent that Washington, not the states, had the right to define the citizenship rights of a state’s residents. This pragmatism fit comfortably with Hampton’s paternalism; or, as he put it, “humanity and interest” for once pointed “in the same direction.”14 Extending limited suffrage allowed Hampton and other white gentlemen to be patrons and benefactors rather than tyrants as they bestowed the gift of suffrage on their social inferiors. Finally, Hampton himself had relatively little fear of black people as long as they were led by responsible and moral whites. As explained before, the Hamptons had never feared or loathed their slaves, though they certainly considered them inferior. (p. 335)

What Rod Andrew ignores is that the most likely explanation for Hampton’s restriction of the vote to the educated is that almost no blacks could meet the requirement. While a few thousand poor whites would also be disenfranchised, that was a small price to pay for blocking the state’s black majority from voting.

Considering that the backbone of Hampton’s anger against the Federal government was the post-war deprivation of the right to vote for men who had fought against the United States, his readiness to disenfranchise most of the state’s male population is astounding unless understood within the context of maintaining white supremacy.

Hampton would in later years remind his Northern critics that he had been an early supporter of giving some black men the vote. He had amnesia though about his opposition to the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments and the whole panoply of civil rights acts. Even his memory of his limited suffrage plan could be a little shaky, writes Andrew:

In his 1871 testimony to a congressional subcommittee, he implied that he had “always” (since the end of the war) supported granting the franchise to black men “under proper qualifications” and that he had said so to the group of black men he addressed in the summer of 1865. Hampton often claimed (based on the 1865 meeting) that he was the first white man in the South, or in America, to advocate black suffrage. There is no other record of this informal event, and Hampton certainly had not objected when the 1865 state constitution failed to enfranchise any African Americans at all. (p. 334)

Part 10 will follow later. BTW, there will be Parts 11 and 12. This is due to a consensus that my reviews have been too short lately.
 
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War Horse

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Part 9:

Like many returning Confederate veterans, Wade Hampton faced dire circumstances in the post-war years. “He had emerged from the war saddled with huge debts,” Rod Andrew writes. “Before the conflict Hampton had unwisely extended himself, buying land and borrowing too fast. He had trouble paying all the notes due on his mortgages; bad weather and flooding on the Mississippi in the late 1850s had only made the situation worse. Then he had inherited $400,000 of his father’s debt in 1858. Donating his entire cotton crop to the Confederacy in 1861 had hurt as well, with the result that when more notes came due during the war years, he was unable to pay them.” In 1868 he declared bankruptcy. (p. 315)

While his finances were in decline, his reputation was in the ascendant. Hampton became well-known for his Lost Cause rhetoric disclaiming the preservation of slavery as a Southern war aim and emphasizing the heroism and virtue of the Confederate soldier. In fact, he even used the term “Lost Cause” in speaking of it, as in this speech when he said “I yield to no one in devotion to the lost cause. I would never be the traitor to ignore my past acts.” (p. 351)

Hampton’s biographer writes that “In the period 1866-76 Hampton was a leading symbol of white unity and defiance in South Carolina, as well as in the South as a whole. But he also became one of the leading leading white spokesmen for moderation, peace, and reaching out to the South’s new black citizens. The two roles frequently overlapped and obviously could be contradictory.” (p. 329)

Although Hampton could speak civilly with African Americans, he criticized the Federal government for cramming the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery down the throats of the White South and he denounced the Reconstruction requirement that South Carolina insert a clause in its new constitution ending slavery. Hampton would later claim that he did not oppose emancipation but that he objected to the Federal government not allowing White voters to end it on their own. The fact that they had not ended slavery over the previous hundred years seems to have been lost on him.

Hampton particularly objected to the use of black troops, most of whom were native Southerners, to preserve the civil rights of the freedmen. He decried the United States Colored Troops as “a horde of barbarians, your brutal negro troops, under their no less brutal and more degraded Yankee officers.” (p. 332) A problem with his strategy of non-cooperation with the Reconstruction program of Congress and two presidents is that as long as South Carolina was not reconstructed, it would be occupied.

As much as Hampton opposed Federally mandated emancipation, he was appalled by the idea of universal male suffrage. He didn’t even think most white men should be able to vote. Andrew writes:

Emancipation, however, did not necessarily imply the right to vote. Hampton thought that it would be madness to enfranchise all of the South’s black men before educating them and ensuring they understood that their old masters were still their “natural” leaders. For that matter, he did not think that illiterate or landless white men should vote, either. This was not so reactionary given the historical political culture of his state. South Carolina had instituted universal white manhood suffrage in 1810, but the decision was the result of political compromise, not shared ideology. Many elites like Hampton continued to doubt the wisdom of granting the franchise to the riffraff and had at least preserved officeholding in the house of representatives for men who owned over 150 pounds sterling, or a minimum of 500 acres and 10 slaves. The property-holding requirements for senators and governors were higher still. Traditionally, state legislators and governors had far exceeded those minimum requirements, and the understanding was that while all white men would be allowed the franchise, elites would rule. Now the prospect emerged of an electorate that was 60 percent black and 40 percent white. Such an electorate could transform the entire political culture of the state. (p. 333-334)

Hampton came to advocate “limited black suffrage,” allowing only educated African Americans to vote. According to Andrew:

Hampton’s advocacy of limited black suffrage reflected both pragmatism and instinct. It was not that he supported racial equality—such a concept was unthinkable to him. He did think that blacks, if educated and intelligent, would see the wisdom of bestowing the mantle of leadership on traditional elites like himself. Besides, if the southern states did not take some action on black suffrage, the federal government would, establishing the new precedent that Washington, not the states, had the right to define the citizenship rights of a state’s residents. This pragmatism fit comfortably with Hampton’s paternalism; or, as he put it, “humanity and interest” for once pointed “in the same direction.”14 Extending limited suffrage allowed Hampton and other white gentlemen to be patrons and benefactors rather than tyrants as they bestowed the gift of suffrage on their social inferiors. Finally, Hampton himself had relatively little fear of black people as long as they were led by responsible and moral whites. As explained before, the Hamptons had never feared or loathed their slaves, though they certainly considered them inferior. (p. 335)

What Rod Andrew ignores is that the most likely explanation for Hampton’s restriction of the vote to the educated is that almost no blacks could meet the requirement. While a few thousand poor whites would also be disenfranchised, that was a small price to pay for blocking the state’s black majority from voting.

Considering that the backbone of Hampton’s anger against the Federal government was the post-war deprivation of the right to vote for men who had fought against the United States, his readiness to disenfranchise most of the state’s male population is astounding unless understood within the context of maintaining white supremacy.

Hampton would in later years remind his Northern critics that he had been an early supporter of giving some black men the vote. He had amnesia though about his opposition to the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments and the whole panoply of civil rights acts. Even his memory of his limited suffrage plan could be a little shaky, write Andrew:

In his 1871 testimony to a congressional subcommittee, he implied that he had “always” (since the end of the war) supported granting the franchise to black men “under proper qualifications” and that he had said so to the group of black men he addressed in the summer of 1865. Hampton often claimed (based on the 1865 meeting) that he was the first white man in the South, or in America, to advocate black suffrage. There is no other record of this informal event, and Hampton certainly had not objected when the 1865 state constitution failed to enfranchise any African Americans at all. (p. 334)

Part 10 will follow later. BTW, there will be Parts 11 and 12. This is due to a consensus that my reviews have been too short lately.
Really :smile:
 

Pat Young

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Part 10:

Once it was clear that there would be no turning back on African American citizenship, Wade Hampton urged other white Conservatives to adopt policies that would appeal to at least a sliver of the black electorate. Most South Carolinians, about 60%, were black and unless the Conservatives could win over at least a quarter of them, white elites could not retake control of state government. Hampton believed that an offer of paternal care by former slaveowners to the men they had once owned might be enough to secure their votes. Wade Hampton wrote to General James Conner in Charleston: We can control and direct the negroes if we act discreetly, and in my judgment the highest duty of every Southern man is to secure the good will and confidence of the negro. Our future depends on this. . . . Say to the negroes, we are your friends, and even if the Supreme Court pronounces this Military Bill unconstitutional, we are willing to let the educated and tax-paying among them vote. (p. 335)

Hampton wrote to John Mullaly, an Irish-born Conservative living in New York, in 1867 that Southern Democrats needed to move on from opposing emancipation and recognize the reality of a black electorate. Hampton believed that “Negro Suffrage” was a tidal wave that needed to be controlled. He wrote: “If we can not direct the wave it will overwhelm us. Now how shall we do this? Simply by making the Negro a Southern Man, & if you will, a democrat, anything but a Radical. Beyond these motives for my action, I have another. We are appealing to the enlightened sense & the justice of mankind. We come forward & say, we accept the decision rendered against us, we acknowledge the freedom of the negro & we are willing to have our love for him stir us.” (p. 336) In response to Mullaly’s argument that blacks simply should be barred from voting, Hampton responded “If you can show us how to prevent this voting, we will adopt the plan... You see then why I tell the negroes, that we are willing to let some of them vote. A limited suffrage would do us good, for universal suffrage is a curse.” (p. 336)

When he spoke of his voting plan to black audiences, Hampton referred to it as “Impartial Suffrage” because the property and educational qualifications would be the same no matter the race of the prospective voter. Of course, most African Americans realized that such impartiality would wipe them off of the political map and place power in the hands of their former owners.

Hampton’s plan may have been premised on white supremacy, yet it was not white enough for many South Carolinians. Hampton’s friend Benjamin Perry worried that “General Hampton and his friends had just as well try to control a herd of wild buffaloes as the Negro vote.” Rod Andrew also quotes former Confederate officer Thomas W. Woodward who complained: “Why, oh why, my Southern n***** worshippers, will you grope your way through this worse than Egyptian darkness? Will you not cease crawling on your bellies and assume the upright form of men. . . . Stop, I pray you, your efforts at harmony . . . or you will goad these people by flattery to destruction, before they have a chance to pick out the cotton crop.” (p. 338)

Parts 11 and 12 are to come. I swear this book review will conclude at some point.
 
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War Horse

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Part 7:

Rod Andrew’s detailed retelling of Hampton’s war years is admirable in its reliance on the Official Records and Wade’s correspondence with his family, as well as the reports on his actions by other Confederates. From his first fight at Manassas through the final Confederate surrender, Hampton proved himself to be one of the best of the “political generals” in either army.

At Bull Run, his legion took relatively heavy casualties and Hampton himself was hit in the face with canister. Yet Hampton displayed traits of heroism and coolness under fire that recommended him to his superiors. Throughout 1861 and early 1862 Hampton demonstrated a clear ability to command Confederate soldiers. His competence is detailed by Rod Andrew in this biography. What I missed in it was an examination of just how a man with no military training or experience became such a good combat officer in such a short time. The annals of the Civil War are filled with rich men and politicians, and Hampton was both, who were promoted in the first months of the war and who flamed out spectacularly or otherwise failed.

The other question I had that Andrew did not answer was “Why a legion.” I know that there were other legions formed, Cobb’s for instance, but what was Hampton’s thinking behind this decision? It clearly did not pan out and the three arms of his legion never fought together as a unit.

What Andrew does well is paint a portrait of an infantry commander forced into the cavalry during the Peninsula Campaign. He writes that Hampton “agreed to the change only with the understanding that the appointment was temporary. It was in the infantry that Hampton had learned how to be a soldier; besides, a transfer to the cavalry would take him farther away from the infantrymen of the Hampton Legion—the men with whom he had shared most of the last year.” The reluctant cavalryman was good at his new job, but extremely unhappy with the company he was forced to keep. He apparently never cared for his commander, J.E.B Stuart, and he found that having two colleagues with the last name Lee meant that he could never offer frank criticism of their performance.

Within six months of taking over a cavalry brigade, in “January 1863 Wade Hampton III of South Carolina was an angry man," Andrew writes. "As far as he was concerned, he was the victim of favoritism, arrogance, conceit, and professional negligence. One man was the source of all those evils bedeviling Hampton—Major General James Ewell Brown Stuart of Virginia. Hampton believed that Stuart was destroying his brigade.” Wade Hampton believed that Stuart favored the Virginia brigades and gave Hampton’s men the worst postings and the most wearing duties. The South Carolinian wrote that Stuart’s favoritism was “as marked, as it is disgusting & it constantly makes me indignant. I do not object to the work, but I do object to seeing my command broken down by positive starvation. We cannot get forage, & in the course of a few weeks, my Brigade will be totally unfit for service. This is a hard case, but unless Genl. Lee, to whom I have appealed, interferes, Stuart will certainly have my Brigade out of the field before very long.” (p. 138)

Soon, Hampton would lose his beloved brother Frank, whom he had encouraged to join the cavalry, in battle. In July 1863, Wade himself would be wounded again, this time at Gettysburg. He was cut on the head by two different Union cavalrymen and suffered a fractured skull. Apart from the danger to his health, the wounds were a danger to his self-image, according to Andrew. He writes that Hampton faced “the difficult matter of being nearly killed by Yankee swordsmen on horseback. Hampton was a physically powerful man, a splendid horseman, and a fine swordsman, and he was proud of all those traits. Each of them was important to his self-image as an example of chivalry and southern manhood. How, then, had those despised Yankees, whom he had once considered cowards, nearly managed to best him?” Hampton wrote only half joking in a letter: “Don’t you feel mortified that any Yankee should be able, on horseback, to split my head open? It shows how old I am growing, and how worthless.” (p. 167)

If Hampton felt neglected in the Army of Northern Virginia, his talents were appreciated elsewhere. Joe Johnston wanted him transferred to the West, a suggestion that James Longstreet, then in Tennessee, seconded. In March of 1864 Hampton’s anger at his perceived treatment in Virginia led him to write an insubordinate letter to Robert E. Lee. The commanding general lost his patience with Hampton and told him that “I would not care if you went back to South Carolina with your whole division.” (p. 186) This mortified Hampton, according to Andrew. Hampton spoke to Mary Chesnut who recounted it in her memoir, “Wade said [Lee’s] manner made this speech immensely mortifying. While General Hampton was talking to me, the president sent for him. It seems General Lee has no patience with any personal complaints or grievances. He is all for the cause and cannot bear officers to come to him with any such matters as Wade Hampton came.” (p. 187) Hampton was in danger of becoming just another one of Lee’s quarrelsome subordinates.

For all of his intelligence, Hampton was unable to objectively assess the state of the Confederacy or foresee its doom. As Grant’s Overland Campaign got underway, Hampton wrote “If we can only win the first great battle of the campaign, I hope that we can see the ‘beginning of the end.’ If Johnston & Lee can each defeat the enemy I do not think there will be another great Battle during the war.” (p. 190)

The death of Stuart at Yellow Tavern on May 11 opened a door for Hampton at the same time that it demanded that he express sorrow over his despised chief’s demise. Hampton may have been the natural choice to replace Stuart, but the fact that his two rivals were Rooney Lee and Fitzhugh Lee left the matter in contention longer than it should have, according to Andrew. Hampton’s dislike of Fitzhigh was so great that in 1898 when his son wished to volunteer to serve under Fitzhugh Lee in the Spanish-American War, Wade objected saying that “I would not wish a son of mine to serve, in any case, under Fitz Lee.” (p. 491)

While the Confederacy was suffering mortal wounds, so was Wade Hampton’s plantation empire built on the labor of black slaves. His Mississippi and Louisiana holdings were bleeding slaves and his core South Carolina holdings would soon be on the route of Sherman’s men. During the last ten months of the war, Hampton would do some of his best fighting against both Grant and Sherman to little strategic purpose. Andrew does an fine job of describing the now almost daily fighting by cavalry in Virginia and the Carolinas.

Then Hampton’s home was destroyed by Union forces. Hampton the cavalier now defended the summary execution of Union foragers by his men when they were described as arsonists. Perhaps he was now another hero caught up in the vindictive spirit of the last days of the Rebellion.

After Lee and Johnston surrendered, Hampton proposed that he be allowed to lead a cavalry force to escort Jefferson Davis to the West or even to Mexico to continue the war. He was among the last of the die-hards to put down the sword.

Part 8 follows.
Hampton simply couldn’t accept the role of a subordant to a man he considered inferior, or any man for that matter. His, motivation to raise his own legion seems clear to me. He intended to lead not follow.

As for his grievances with Stuart and Lee, there is plenty of evidence to support his feelings. Hampton being a South Carolinian put him at a distinct disadvantage in the ANV. Virginians were clearly favored, and Hamptons observations and fears were justifiable. One thing is clear. Hampton loathed Stuart. Hampton being an aristocratic gentlemen, saw Stuart as a self promoting braggart. To put it simply. Hampton’s upbringing as the alpha in the world of White Supremacy left him incapable of following. It was a matter of pride. As for Andrews claim that Hampton felt shame at being wounded in battle. That’s a new one for me. Interesting, I wonder what his sources are for his claim? Could it have come from private letters?
 
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