Wade Hampton III was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the eldest son of Wade Hampton II, one of the wealthiest planters in the South and the owner of the largest number of slaves. He was grandson of Wade Hampton, a cavalary officer in the American War of Independence. His great-grandfather had migrated from Virginia and settled in South Carolina, where he, his wife, and a son were killed by Indians.
|Birthplace of Wade Hampton III in Charleston|
Hampton grew up in a wealthy family, receiving private instruction. The family library collection was the largest in South Carolina. Much of his boyhood was spent at the Millwood Plantation.
|Millwood Plantation House|
In 1836 he graduated from South Carolina College and was trained for the law, although he never practiced. He devoted himself to the management of his plantations in South Carolina and Mississippi, and took part in state politics.
He was 42 years old when the Civil War began.
|South Carolina State House|
Hampton's father died in 1858 and the son inherited a vast fortune, plantations, and one of the largest collections of slaves in the South.
Although his views were conservative concerning the issues of secession and slavery, and he had opposed the division of the Union as a legislator, at the start of the Civil War, Hampton was loyal to his home 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, even though he had no military experience at all.
|First Battle of Bull Run|
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.
|Battle of Seven Pines|
|Battle of Brandy Station|
|John Bell Hood|
|Battle of Trevilian Station, Virginia|
|Thomas Preston Hampton|
|Bennett Farm, North Carolina|
|Johnston's Surrender in Bennett Farm House|
|Ruins of Millwood Plantation|
From 1893 to 1897, Hampton served as United States Railroad Commissioner, appointed by President Grover Cleveland.
|Hampton in Old Age|
In 1899, his home in Columbia, was destroyed by fire. An elderly man, he had limited funds and limited means to find a new home. Over his strong protests, a group of friends raised enough funds to build him one.
|Margaret Buchanan Frances Preston Hampton|
|Mary Singleton McDuffie Hampton|
|Hampton Statue in front of South Carolina State House|