In Gentleman and Soldier, prolific Civil War historian Edward G. Longacre focuses on Confederate General Wade Hampton IIIís military career but also introduces his and his prominent Southern familyís past.
Hampton was one of the richest men in the South before the Civil War. He and his family owned several plantations and manors in South Carolina and Mississippi, making Hampton wealthy enough to essentially raise his own small army at the onset of the war between the states. Hampton didnít really support secession; he only supported the Confederacy after South Carolina decided to secede from the Union. As was often the case with many of the generals of the Confederate Army, he supported his state more than the Confederacy per se.
Hampton joined Confederate forces as a colonel and ended the war as a lieutenant general. Starting out in the army and later transferring to the cavalry, he turned out to be a very good soldier and officer, especially considering that he learned the profession while on the job. He became one of General Leeís best generals despite several differences of opinion with General Lee and his cavalry commander, General J.E.B. Stuart. Hampton (and others) felt that Lee and Stuart favored Virginians over soldiers from other states; worse, he believed that Lee favored his nephew, Fitz Hugh Lee, and his son, Rodney Lee, too much. These two were junior in rank to Hampton but seemed to get favorable jobs and supplies. After Stuart was killed Hampton became General Leeís cavalry commander, until he decided he needed to go back to help his home state of South Carolina in the waning days of the war.
After the war, Hampton was elected governor of South Carolina and served as a U.S. Senator for his home state. He and his family lost much of their property and wealth, and he was never able to accumulate wealth to match what he had before the war, proving prescient his long-held belief that the war would wreck him and the South financially if they lost. He died in debt to several creditors but is still remembered as one of the Southís great generals.
Gentleman and Soldier is not a quick read, nor is it supposed to be. This book, which includes 26 photographs, nine maps, and a bibliography, is highly recommended to those interested in the Civil War and South Carolina history. Edward G. Longacre is the author of several books on the Civil War, including The Cavalry at Gettysburg (1986), Pickett, Leader of the Charge (1995), and Leeís Cavalrymen (2002).