In the entire realm of Civil War Collecting perhaps the biggest prize, the most desirable and impressive, is the presentation sword. Such swords are not considered merely weapons of war. When presented, they are considered symbols of gallantry, patriotism, respect and even love. This is unquestionably one of the most important American Civil War Artifact Groupings ever offered for private sale from any era in American History, from any venue. This spectacular ensemble (which was originally purchased from the direct family descendants of Confederate Lieutenant General Wade Hampton with complete documentation) includes an Ames Militia Officers sword that is inscribed "Lieut. Gen. Wade Hampton, C. S. A.", inscribed family silver wear, inscribed coin-silver drinking cups, inscribed coin-silver pacifier, a beautiful brooch of Wade Hampton II with written presentation on the verso, a beautifully engraved business card holder with mechanical pencil and a few CDV's and extra's.
Wade Hampton III (March 28, 1818 – April 11, 1902) was a Confederate cavalry leader during the American Civil War who was appointed commander of Cavalry of The Army of Northern Virginia by Robert E. Lee after the death of the beloved J.E.B. Stuart. Hampton was born in Charleston, South Carolina in 1818, the eldest son of Wade Hampton II (1791–1858), known as "Colonel Wade Hampton", and Ann (née Fitzsimmons) Hampton. His mother was from a wealthy family in Charleston.
The senior Hampton was an officer of dragoons in the War of 1812, and an aide to General Andrew Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans. The boy was the grandson of Wade Hampton (1754–1835), lieutenant colonel of cavalry in the American War of Independence, member of the U.S. House of Representatives, and brigadier general in the War of 1812. After the war, his father had built a fortune on land speculation in the Southeast, and was said to own the highest number of slaves in the South numbering more than 3,000. Hampton grew up in this wealthy family and had an active outdoor life; he rode horses and hunted, especially at his family's North Carolina summer retreat, High Hampton. He was known for taking hunting trips alone into the woods, hunting American black bears with only a knife. Some accounts credit him with killing as many as 80 bears. In 1836 Hampton graduated from South Carolina College (now the University of South Carolina), and was trained for the law, although he never practiced. His father assigned certain plantations to him for his management in South Carolina and Mississippi. He also became active in state politics having been elected to the South Carolina General Assembly in 1852 and served as a Senator from 1858 to 1861. After Hampton's father died in 1858, he inherited his vast fortune.
Although Hampton was conservative on issues of secession and slavery, and had opposed the division of the Union as a legislator, but when war began, he was loyal to his state. He resigned from the Senate and enlisted as a private in the South Carolina Militia; however, the governor of South Carolina insisted that Hampton accept a colonel's commission, although he had no military experience at all. Like in northern regiments, the elite were commissioned based on their social standing. Hampton organized and partially financed the unit known as "Hampton's Legion", which consisted of six companies of infantry, four companies of cavalry, and one battery of artillery. He personally financed all of the weapons for the Legion.
Despite his lack of experience and relatively advanced age of 42, Hampton was a natural cavalryman—brave, audacious, and already a superb horseman. Of officers without previous military experience, he was one of two to achieve the rank of lieutenant general (the other being Nathan Bedford Forrest).
Hampton first saw combat in July 1861, at the First Battle of Bull Run, where he deployed his Legion at a decisive moment, giving the brigade of Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson time to reach the field. He was wounded the first of five times during the war when he led a charge against a federal artillery position, and a bullet creased his forehead.
On May 23, 1862, Hampton was promoted to brigadier general, while commanding a brigade in Stonewall Jackson's division in the Army of Northern Virginia. In the Peninsula Campaign, at the Battle of Seven Pines on May 31, 1862, he was severely wounded in the foot, but remained on his horse while it was being treated, still under fire. Hampton returned to duty in time to lead a brigade at the end of the Seven Days Battles, although the brigade was not significantly engaged.
After the Peninsula Campaign, General Robert E. Lee reorganized his cavalry forces as a division under the command of J.E.B. Stuart, who selected Hampton as his senior subordinate, to command one of two cavalry brigades. During the winter of 1862, around the Battle of Fredericksburg, Hampton led a series of cavalry raids behind enemy lines and captured numerous prisoners and supplies without suffering any casualties, earning a commendation from General Lee. In November 1862, he captured 137 men of the 3rd Pennsylvania Cavalry at Hartwood Presbyterian Church. During the Battle of Chancellorsville, Hampton's brigade was stationed south of the James River, so saw no action.
In the Gettysburg Campaign, Hampton was slightly wounded in the Battle of Brandy Station, the war's largest cavalry battle. His brigade then participated in Stuart's wild adventure to the northeast, swinging around the Union army and losing contact with Lee. Stuart and Hampton reached the vicinity of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, late on July 2, 1863. While just outside of town, Hampton was confronted by a Union cavalryman pointing a rifle at him from 200 yards. Hampton charged the trooper before he could fire his rifle, but another trooper blindsided Hampton with a saber cut to the back of his head. On July 3, Hampton was part of the Confederate cavalry actions to the east of Gettysburg, attempting to disrupt the Union rear areas. Leading a counter attack in the east field of Gettysburg with Lt. Colonel William G. Conner of The Jeff Davis Legion, he received two more saber cuts to the front of his head but continued fighting until he was wounded again with a piece of shrapnel to the hip while trying to save Conner, who had captured a Union Flag and had become surrounded, eventually being killed after shooting three Union troopers. Hampton was carried back to Virginia in the same ambulance as General John Bell Hood.
On August 3, 1863, Hampton was promoted to major general and received command of a cavalry division. He did not return to duty until November. During the Overland Campaign of 1864, Stuart was killed at the Battle of Yellow Tavern and Hampton was given command of the Cavalry Corps on August 11, 1864. He distinguished himself in his new role at the bloody Battle of Trevilian Station, defeating Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan's cavalry, and in fact, lost no cavalry battles for the remainder of the war. In September, Hampton conducted what became known as the "Beefsteak Raid", where his troopers captured over 2400 head of cattle and over 300 prisoners behind enemy lines, the story of which was told with some accuracy in the movie "Alvarez Kelly" starring William Holden and Richard Widmark.
In October 1864, near Petersburg, Virginia, Hampton sent his son, Thomas Preston, a lieutenant and an aide to his father, to deliver a message. Shortly afterward, Hampton and his other son, Wade IV, rode in the same direction. Before traveling 200 yards, they came across Preston's body, and as young Wade dismounted, he was also shot. Thomas Preston died from his wound.
While Lee's army was bottled up in the Siege of Petersburg, in January 1865, Hampton returned to South Carolina to recruit additional soldiers. He was promoted to lieutenant general on February 14, 1865, but eventually surrendered to the Union along with General Joseph E. Johnston's Army of Tennessee at Bennett Place in Durham, North Carolina. Hampton was reluctant to surrender, and nearly got into a personal fight with Union Brig. Gen. Judson Kilpatrick (often called "Kill-Cavalry") at the Bennett Farm.
After the war, Hampton suffered devastating financial losses. His boyhood home, Millwood, near Columbia, was burned by Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman's Union soldiers. In later life Hampton turned to politics serving as both Governor and as a United States Senator. He is often referred to as the Savior of South Carolina. To honor Hampton, statues of him were erected in the South Carolina State House building and the United States Capitol. An spectacular equestrian statue was erected on the grounds of the South Carolina State House in 1906. The General Assembly created Hampton County from Beaufort County in 1878. Schools, towns, villages and streets are still named after him. An artillery battery was named after Wade Hampton at Fort Crockett, built on Galveston Island, Texas. During World War II, the SS Wade Hampton, a Liberty ship named in honor of the general, was sunk off the coast of Greenland by a German U-boat. The list goes on and on. All items in this collection are for sale as a single lot, but I know many collectors will only want the sword. If the sword does indeed sell first, I will sell the remaining items individually which will allow those collectors who hold Wade Hampton in high regard to purchase a piece of his history at a reasonable price. You can read the exciting history of how the Wade Hampton presentation sword was lost during the war and then recovered by the Hampton family by clicking on the link below;
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