My new book, Civil War “Political Generals” of the Blue and Grey includes an article (excerpted below) about this man, controversial in his day as he is in ours. He is pictured on the top right corner of the book, which is available at:
“Hampton was born in Charleston, South Carolina into a wealthy planter family with a strong military tradition. His pre-war “career” consisted of managing the family’s plantations and money, though he did serve in the state assembly from 1858-1861. When the war began, he enlisted as a private, but then used his wealth to finance “Hampton’s Legions,” several companies of infantry and cavalry and all their weapons.
“Hampton’s Legions’ first combat was at First Manassas, and now Colonel Hampton was wounded while stemming a Union advance at a critical time. The Legions fought in several battles during the Peninsula campaign, where now Brigadier General Hampton was again wounded, at the Battle of Seven Pines. Next he was named as JEB Stuart’s chief subordinate in the Army of Northern Virginia’s cavalry, and he played a supportive role at Antietam. He spent the next several months on cavalry raids, missing the major battles of Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville.
“At the Battle of Brandy Station, June 9, 1863, and at Gettysburg a month later, Hampton was wounded. He was promoted to Major General, but did not return to the war until November because of his recuperation. During the Overland campaign, after Stuart was killed in May 1864, Hampton took over the cavalry command of the Army of Northern Virginia. The untrained Political General excelled, especially at the Battle of Trevilian Station when he fended off Sheridan. In January 1865 he was promoted to Lieutenant General and transferred to South Carolina to recruit soldiers and to defend against Sherman’s March to the Sea. “
His statue in the Capitol Building in Washington is one of two from South Carolina. The other is of John C. Calhoun. The controversy over these statues and those of others like Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis continues.