Wade Hampton III - Facts

March 28, 1818 - April 11, 1902

Key facts about Wade Hampton, a prominent Confederate cavalry officer who also served as governor of South Carolina and as a United States Senator from the Palmetto State after the American Civil War.

Portrait of Wade Hampton

During the First Battle of Bull Run (July 21, 1861), a bullet creased Wade Hampton’s head, nearly killing him as he led a charge against a Union artillery battery. [Wikimedia Commons]

Full Name:

  • Wade Hampton III

Birth Date:

  • March 28, 1818

Birth Location:

  • Charleston, South Carolina


  • Wade Hampton II and Ann (Fitzsimmons) Hampton


  • South Carolina College (now the University of South Carolina) (1836)


  • Politician
  • Military officer
  • Planter

Career Summary:

  • Lieutenant general (CSA)
  • Commander of the Cavalry Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia
  • Governor of South Carolina
  • U. S. Senator
  • U.S. Commissioner of Railroads


  • Margaret Preston (1838)
  • Mary Singleton McDuffie (1858)


  • Savior of South Carolina

Place of Death:

  • Columbia, South Carolina

Date of Death:

  • April 11, 1902

Place of Burial:

  • Trinity Cathedral Churchyard, Columbia, South Carolina


  • Wade Hampton was the first of eight children of Wade Hampton II and Ann Fitzsimmons.
  • Wade Hampton’s father, one of the wealthiest planters and largest slaveholders in America, served as an officer in the War of 1812, and as an aide to General Andrew Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans.
  • Wade Hampton’s grandfather was a lieutenant colonel of the Revolutionary War, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, and a brigadier general in the War of 1812.
  • At age fifteen, Wade Hampton’s youth was stained by tragedy when his mother died on February 27, 1833.
  • In 1836 Wade Hampton graduated from South Carolina College, now the University of South Carolina.
  • On October 10, 1838, Wade Hampton married Margaret Preston, daughter of U.S. Congressman Francis Preston. Their marriage produced eight children (four of whom survived to adulthood) before Margaret’s untimely death on January 27, 1852.
  • In 1852, voters of Richland County elected Wade Hampton to represent them in the South Carolina General Assembly, where he served until 1856.
  • On January 27, 1858, Wade Hampton married Mary Singleton McDuffie, daughter of former South Carolina Governor and U.S. Senator George McDuffie. Their marriage of sixteen years produced four children (three of whom survived to adulthood) before Mary’s passing on March 1, 1874.
  • Wade Hampton’s father died on February 10, 1858, making Wade Hampton one the largest landholders and wealthiest men in the South.
  • In 1858, Wade Hampton was elected to the South Carolina State Senate, serving until 1861.
  • During his time in the state legislature, Wade Hampton opposed reopening the Atlantic slave trade. He also served as a voice of moderation, clashing with South Carolina firebrands who were clamoring for secession.
  • After South Carolina seceded from the Union on December 20, 1860, Wade Hampton enlisted as a private in the South Carolina Militia, and participated in the assault on Fort Sumter in April 1861, touching off the American Civil War.
  • Wade Hampton recruited and organized a military unit known as “Hampton’s Legion,” comprising six infantry companies, four cavalry companies, and one artillery battery. Using his vast wealth, Hampton personally purchased weapons for the entire unit.
  • After being mustered into the Confederate Army, the Legion’s infantry and cavalry were engaged at the First Battle of Bull Run (July 21, 1861). Hampton was nearly killed when a bullet creased his head while leading a charge against a Union artillery battery.
  • Wade Hampton commanded a brigade during the Peninsula Campaign (March 17–August 14, 1862).
  • Wade Hampton was promoted to the rank of brigadier general on May 23, 1862.
  • During the Battle of Seven Pines (May 31 – June 1, 1862), Wade Hampton received a gunshot wound to the foot, but remained mounted as a surgeon removed the musket ball while they were still under fire.
  • Wade Hampton served under General Thomas Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson during the Seven Days Battles (June 25 – July 1, 1862).
  • On July 26, 1862, Hampton was assigned to command the First Brigade of General J. E. B. Stuart’s Cavalry Division of the Army of Northern Virginia.
  • At the Battle of Antietam (September 17, 1862) Wade Hampton and his men played a minor role protecting the Confederate left flank.
  • During the Gettysburg Campaign (June 3 – July 23, 1863), Wade Hampton participated in the Battle of Brandy Station (June 9, 1863), the largest cavalry engagement of the Civil War.
  • Battle of Brandy Station (June 9, 1863), Wade Hampton was slightly wounded, and his younger brother, Frank, was killed.
  • Wade Hampton’s Brigade did not arrive at the Battle of Gettysburg (July 1 – 3, 1863) until late on the second day of combat because he was riding on Stuart’s raid to the Union rear.
  • On July 2, 1863 Wade Hampton received a serious sabre cut to the back of his head. The next day, he received two more sabre cuts to the front of his head, and a shrapnel wound to his hip.
  • Wade Hampton was promoted to major general, effective August 3, 1863, and named commander of one of two divisions of J.E.B. Stuart’s Cavalry Corps.
  • In early March 1864, Wade Hampton’s troops foiled a Union foray against Richmond known as the Kilpatrick-Dahlgreen Raid.
  • During the Overland Campaign (May 5 – June 24, 1864), Wade Hampton’s Division engaged Union General Philip Sheridan’s Cavalry Corps at the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House (May 8 – 21, 1864), the Battle of North Anna (May 23 – 26, 1864), the Battle of Haw’s Shop (May 28, 1864), the Battle of Cold Harbor (May 31 – June 12, 1864), the Battle of Trevilian Station (June 11 – 12, 1864), and the Battle of Saint Mary’s Church (June 24, 1864).
  • General Robert E. Lee named Wade Hampton as commander of the Cavalry Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia on August 11, 1864.
  • Wade Hampton served as commander of the Cavalry Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia throughout the Petersburg Campaign (June 15, 1864 – April 3, 1865).
  • Wade Hampton’s son, Lieutenant Thomas Preston Hampton, died from wounds he received at the Battle of Boydton Plank Road on October 27, 1864. Another son, Wade Hampton IV, was critically wounded, but survived.
  • General Robert E. Lee ordered Wade Hampton to South Carolina on January 19, 1865 to bolster Confederate defenses against Major General William T. Sherman’s impending incursion into the Carolinas.
  • During the Carolinas Campaign (February – April 1865) Wade Hampton was promoted to lieutenant general on February 14, 1865, making him only one of three Confederate officers not trained at West Point to achieve that grade during the Civil War.
  • In February 1864, Wade Hampton was placed in command of all cavalry forces in the Department of South Carolina.
  • On February 22, 1865, General Lee ordered General Joseph E. Johnston to assume command of Department of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, and the Department of North Carolina. For the next two months, Hampton served under Johnston as they vainly attempted to hold back Sherman’s inexorable advance through the Carolinas.
  • Wade Hampton’s cavalry participated in the Battle of Bentonville (March 19 – 21, 1865), the last major engagement between William T. Sherman’s and Joseph E. Johnston’s forces.
  • A little more than a month later, on April 26, 1865, Johnston surrendered all troops under his command and the war ended for Hampton.
  • After the Civil War, Wade Hampton lived on his plantation in Mississippi for eight years before returning to South Carolina to pursue political interests as a member of the Democratic Party.
  • Wade Hampton’s strong opposition to Radical Reconstruction led his supporters to refer to him as “Savior of South Carolina.”
  • In 1876, Wade Hampton was elected Governor of South Carolina controversial election.
  • Wade Hampton was unable to assume the office of Governor of South Carolina until newly-elected President Rutherford B. Hayes removed Federal troops from the South in April 1877.
  • Wade Hampton was a member of the Ku Klux Klan and he aligned himself with a white paramilitary group known as Red Shirts.
  • Wade Hampton was reelected to a second term as Governor of South Carolina in 1878, but he resigned a year later to become a U.S. Senator.
  • Wade Hampton served in the U. S. Senate from March 4, 1879 until March 3, 1891.
  • Wade Hampton served as left the U.S. Commissioner of Railroads from 1893 to 1897.
  • In 1899, Wade Hampton’s home was destroyed by fire leaving him financially stressed for the remainder of his life.
  • Wade Hampton died from heart disease, at the age of eighty-four, on April 11, 1902 in Columbia, South Carolina.
  • Wade Hampton was buried in Trinity Cathedral Churchyard at Columbia, South Carolina.

Citation Information

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  • Article Title Wade Hampton III - Facts
  • Date March 28, 1818 - April 11, 1902
  • Author
  • Keywords Wade Hampton III
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date May 27, 2024
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update January 12, 2024