Wade Hampton

In 1876, South Carolina entered its eleventh year of military subjection after the WBTS and its ninth year Radical Republican Reconstruction rule.  During this time, South Carolina had undergone such great humiliation, degradation, and corrupt misrule that it had come to be referred to in the national and international media as “The Prostrate State,” a name which, in reality, was an understatement.

Financially, the State was ruined.  Property values had plummeted, some claiming that the property destruction during the Reconstruction period was more than that of the Civil War itself.  Taxes soared dramatically and much land was confiscated.  State debt increased to the point of being virtually worthless.

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General Wade Hampton and his Legion fought valiantly and Hampton, although suffering multiple wounds, survived the protracted war. The homeland, however had been subjected to the scorched-earth policy of President Lincoln carried out by General Sherman and his army of “foragers,” who took with them or destroyed everything they could find that was meaningful to the Hampton family and their neighbors. Although all of the eyewitnesses are now dead, they left a recorded history of the terror they experienced during the period from 1864 – 1876. In fact, some of the children, grandchildren and great grandchildren of those eyewitnesses are alive today and recall the harrowing stories passed on to them by their ancestors.

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Wade Hampton Monument - Columbia SC

General Wade Hampton III stands alone as one of the greatest warriors of all time. General Hampton was wounded more than five times in the service of his country. He raised troops, arms and money for the service of the Confederacy. He lost his fortune, home and a son as a result of his unselfish devotion to his countrymen. He did not however lose a major engagement in the face of the enemy while in command of a group of fighting men. Confederate History is American History and Wade Hampton III is truly one of the greatest Americans of all time.

Wade Hampton entered the Confederate States service shortly after the bombardment of Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina, April 12, 1861. Hampton traveled to Charleston to personally recruit men for his Legion and the Confederacy. He paid for newspapers to publish calls for volunteers around the State. He was concerned that he was too late to recruit as calls went out after secession for volunteers to enter service in the South Carolina Militia. Hampton interviewed men from the Army, Navy, the Citadel Cadets and civilian life for his recruitment. In seven days he had more men than he could use.

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Wade HamptonThe election of Abraham Lincoln President of the United States in 1860, in the minds of most South Carolinians, meant war against the South in the near future was certain.

No one wanted to avoid war more than Wade Hampton III, who had become one of the more successful planters in the region.

By that time, probably to please his father, Wade had entered politics. He had been elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives and after one two-year term had made a successful run for the State Senate.

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Honor was a sacred trust for a Southern Gentleman. The third Wade Hampton had been taught that he had certain obligations to his race, class and region. At all times, and especially when facing adversity, he was expected to behave as a gentleman– sober, self-composed and most of all, polite. He was expected to uphold his family’s honor and never allow his actions to tarnish the Hampton name.

Young Wade III was quite protective of his 4 teenage sisters who spent much of their youth without the guidance of a mother. One situation within the extended family came close to sparking drastic action by Wade, who had the strength of character to rely on self-discipline to save the day.

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Wade Hampton III

General Wade Hampton III led the Second American Revolution in South Carolina in 1876, one hundred years after the first American Revolution in which his grandfather participated. The first Wade Hampton grew up on the Tyger River in what is now Spartanburg County, just east of Greer, across the river from the current Tab’s Flea Market.

A unique stone monument with engraved granite marker stands beside Wade Hampton Boulevard near where the Hampton family carved out a farm in the wilderness and began to make their mark on South Carolina and American History. The monument was erected by the Stonewall Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1933.

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Wade Hampton Memorial Statue in Columbia, SC.
Wade Hampton Memorial Statue in Columbia, SC.

A high school and a major highway in Greenville County, South Carolina carries the name of Wade Hampton. A statue of the man, larger than life mounted on a horse, stands proudly on the grounds of the South Carolina State Capitol. Members of the Hampton-Lee Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) honor his memory in the Upstate to this day. Yet few South Carolinians and virtually no newcomers to the state and region know very much about this historical figure, his contributions and sacrifices and ultimately, the impact his life has had on the history of the Palmetto State.

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