Saturday, June 7, 2008

The Rebel Warrior Who Governed in Peace

As I recall, he raised his own regiment, and paid in full to outfit it completely, including horses. true, or apocryphal?

Rod Andrew Jr.'s "Wade Hampton: Confederate Warrior to Southern Redeemer" is, amazingly, the fourth full-scale biography of the man in five years, but no less welcome for that. Hampton is one of those larger-than-life figures whose actions repay close attention and whose careers match pivotal moments in America's history.

Four in five years? He's becoming a cottage industry.

Before the Civil War, Hampton was a gentleman-planter who, with other members of his family, owned vast, slave-labor plantations in Mississippi and South Carolina and lived most of the time at Millwood, a resplendent property near Columbia, S.C. True to his exalted status, he was keen on his ancestors, his horses and his hunting.

A feudal baron.

Hampton notably took pains to see that his men were well cared for, receiving adequate rations, shelter and home leave. This concern for the well- being of others fits Mr. Andrew's thesis – that Southern concepts of paternalism, honor and chivalry formed Hampton's character. So, it may be said, did grim experience. Hampton buried two wives and five children. Both a brother and a son were killed in the War Between the States.

War Between the States: a curious characterization, and use of capitalization.

The term War Between the States was rarely used during the war but became common afterwards in the South.
  • The Confederate government avoided the term "civil war" and referred in official documents to the "War between the Confederate States of America and the United States of America.There are a handful of known references during the war to "the war between the states."
  • European diplomacy produced a similar formula for avoiding the phrase "civil war. Queen Victoria's proclamation of British neutrality referred to "hostilities ... between the Government of the United States of America and certain States styling themselves the Confederate States of America"
He lost a brother and a son in the War.

Such self-control had been required of Hampton two decades earlier as well, in 1843, when he learned that his four sisters had been molested by their own uncle by marriage, James Henry Hammond the sitting governor of South Carolina. It was a scandal that none dared talk about in the open for fear that it would lead to a duel. Hampton was not afraid to fight but knew that confirmation of the whisperings would ruin his beloved sisters. As it was, none was ever married. (Gov. Hammond's wife, incidentally, left him a few years later, when she learned that he had had sex with two of his slaves a mother and her daughter.)

Quite a guy, this governor, eh?

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