Civil War Talk Radio: August 28, 2009

by Brett Schulte on August 28, 2009 · 1 comment

Air Date: 082809
Subject: The Real Wade Hampton
Books: Wade Hampton: Confederate Warrior to Southern Redeemer
Guest: Rod Andrew, Jr.

Summary: Wade Hampton biographer discusses “the wealthiest man in the Confederacy”, Confederate cavalry general Wade Hampton.

Brett’s Summary: Gerry’s sixth season of Civil War Talk Radio picks up right where the show left off last season this week.  He discusses Confederate cavalry general Wade Hampton with Hampton’s biographer Rod Andrew, Jr.  Gerry mentions he is looking into the issue with prior episodes which were divided into three volumes only playing the first segment, and he hopes to have the issue resolved when he finds time to get to it.

Andrew’s book Wade Hampton: Confederate Warrior to Southern Redeemer was published by excellent Civil War book publisher the University of North Carolina Press.  Andrew has been a professor at Clemson University since 2000, with jobs at Georgia and the Citadel in the past.  He also serves in the Marine Corps Reserves.

Gerry starts the hour by asking Professor Andrew about other Wade Hampton biographies.  Andrew responds by saying that the last Hampton biography was “readable” but “outdated” and “sentimental”.  He says he was intrigued by the differing ways in which people portrayed Hampton during and especially after the war.

Wade Hampton III came from a long line of Wade Hamptons.  His grandfather fought in the American Revolution.  Wade Hampton III was the second Wade Hampton II’s oldest child, and Andrew says he was raised to be the leader of the family from a young age.  A scandal arose when four of Hampton’s younger sisters were molested by their uncle by marriage, the governor of South Carolina.  Wade Hampton III deferred to his father on how to handle the situation, and Wade II “chose to try to ruin [the uncle] politically”.  Gerry mentions a biography of Hammond (the uncle) by Drew Faust.

When Wade II died in 1858, Andrew says Hampton became the new “patriarch.”  He looked upon his younger sister Mary, Andrew says, almost as a daughter.  Hampton was a very wealthy man, but he also inherited a lot of his father’s debt, and he lost his money after the war.  Gerry mentions the Hamptons owned a lot of land not only in South Carolina but also in Mississippi.

Once the Civil War began, Hampton offered his services to the Confederacy even though he did not favor secession.  This makes sense considering his voluminous wealth and the fact he had a LOT to lose if the Confederacy did not win the war.  Andrew believes Hampton III was determined to be as much of a patriot as his grandfather had been.  Hampton raised his own legion of artillery, infantry, and cavalry, paying for the arms and equipment himself.  Ironically, Hampton’s Legion never did fight together as a unit.

Hampton commanded the infantry of his Legion at First Manassas, and Andrew believes he did “remarkably well” for someone who had no prior military experience.  During the early Confederate setbacks at the battle, the Hampton Legion was “the only organized resistance for over an hour.”  Hampton was wounded at the battle and people took notice of his combat abilities.

Gerry finds it interesting that Hampton found himself in the thick of combat personally many times throughout the war.  Andrew responds that many Civil War commanders felt they had to lead by example in order to validate their leadership.  Andrew mentions that Hampton knew exactly how many men he killed during the war (11) over 30 years after it ended!  He says Hampton was a large man physically who took pride in his physical abilities.  Talk turns to a story of Hampton’s abilities during the Battle of Gettysburg which claims Hampton was in a “bizarre duel” between Hampton and a Union soldier.  According to the story, Hampton had a pistol and the Union soldier had a rifle.  Andrew believes this story is a complete fabrication and does not fit the type of man Hampton was.  In digging into the lone source, Andrew caught the man in a lie about where he got the story from, thoroughly discrediting the account.

After the Seven Days, Hampton went from an infantry commander to a cavalry commander.  He had wanted a promotion to Brigadier General, but the Hampton Legion was not a brigade.  As a result, he was made a Brigadier General and transferred to the cavalry, where he was overshadowed by J.E.B. Stuart.  Professor Andrew points out Hampton was older and more mature, and had a completely opposite personality from Stuart.  Although the two men were not friends, they did respect the abilities of the other man.  Gerry sates Hampton took care of his men very well, a trait he carried over with him from his previous life as patriarch of a large, wealthy, slave-owning family.  He made sure his men were taken care of as best he could.

Wade Hampton and Fitzhugh Lee were rivals throughout their service in the Army of Northern Virginia.  Both were brigade (and then division) commanders under J.E.B. Stuart.  When Stuart died and Hampton took over as the de facto commander, Fitz Lee was not cooperative with Hampton.  Andrew believes Lee failed Hampton at the Battle of Trevilian Station, and that Hampton’s ability to deal with the fallout was a test of his leadership.

Gerry asks Andrew about Hampton’s tactical abilities.   Andrew points to Trevilian as “an example of what made Hampton different than Stuart.”  He says Hampton liked to bring every man he could to a fight and slug it out with his opponent, also preferring to dismount his men in battle.

Gerry asks about “The Great Beefsteak Raid” during the Siege of Petersburg to start the third segment this week.  Hampton learned of a large herd of cattle behind the Union lines, and he planned and flawlessly executed a raid which brought out most of the cattle.  The raid built morale and fed the Confederate army for a short time, but Andrew admits it did not have a major effect on the final result.

Gerry points out that the Army of Northern Virginia favored Virginians, and that he and his men rarely got the opportunity to go home to South Carolina until very late in the war.  Hampton and his men were sent to South Carolina to defend their home state against Sherman’s army, fresh off of their march to Savannah from Atlanta.  Andrew discusses the controversial burning of Columbia, and says Sherman purposefully pinned the blame on Hampton.  Andrew says this charge infuriated Hampton for the rest of his life, and his unsuccessful defense of Columbia was compounded by its destruction.  Hampton and Sherman went on to exchange unpleasant notes concerning the shooting of Union foragers by Hampton’s men.  Hampton’s relationship with Union cavalry officer Hugh Judson Kilpatrick was similarly rocky, although Andrew says Kilpatrick’s admission of being surprised at Monroe’s Crossroads caused Hampton’s dislike to lessen after the war.

At the end of the war and after the major armies had given up, Hampton did not want to surrender.  Hampton’s decision to surrender came when his wife convinced him his duty was to his family first and foremost.

One of Andrew’s main themes, Gerry believes, is that Hampton’s ideas of chivalry drove many of his decisions in his life.  He asks Professor Andrew why Hampton championed Black suffrage.  Andrew first states that Hampton did not at all believe in racial equality, but that he believed the Democratic Party needed Blacks because they outnumbered Whites in South Carolina.  Andrew suspects Hampton also believed he and other slaveholders owed it to Blacks to continue to watch over them.  Hampton’s chivalry and Northern charges of hypocrisy, according to Andrew, caused him to fulfill his promises about Black voting rights.

Civil War Talk Radio airs most Fridays at 12 PM Pacific on World Talk Radio Studio A. Host Gerry Prokopowicz, the History Chair at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina, interviews a guest each week and discusses their interest in the Civil War. Most interviews center around a book or books if the guest is an author. Other guests over the years have included public historians such as park rangers and museum curators, wargamers, bloggers, and even a member of an American Civil War Round Table located in London, England.

In this series of blog entries, I will be posting air dates, subjects, and guests, and if I have time, I’ll provide a brief summary of the program. You can find all of the past episodes I’ve entered into the blog by clicking on the Civil War Talk Radio category. Each program should appear either on or near the date it was first broadcast.

Check out more summaries of Civil War Talk Radio at TOCWOC – A Civil War Blog.

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