|In a cropped enlargement of the image below, Wade Hampton (center) joins veterans at a picnic |
near where they fought at Gettysburg on July 3, 1863. The image was shot on July 7, 1886.
|Gettysburg-based photographer William Tipton shot this image of Hampton and other vets.|
(CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.)
Twenty-three years after a Union cavalry officer slashed his head with a sabre in a farmer's field east of Gettysburg, 68-year-old Wade Hampton had a much less menacing encounter with his former enemies on the old battleground.
At a picnic in a grove.
|The reunion of cavalry troopers in Gettysburg on July 7, 1886,|
received extensive coverage in the Philadelphia Times
and in other newspapers.
Notable for their absence, of course, were two generals who played huge roles during the cavalry fight about three miles east of town on July 3, 1863: Confederate J.E.B Stuart, who had been killed in 1864 near Richmond, and brash Union brigade commander George Armstrong Custer, who had been killed 10 years earlier by Indians at Little Big Horn. But their absences apparently didn’t detract from what the Philadelphia Times called “a genuine love-feast.”
Like former Confederate General James Longstreet two years later, Hampton was a star at this Gettysburg veterans’ reunion. One of the most beloved figures in the South, the senator had served with distinction under Robert E. Lee during a war that took an enormous toll on his family. Hampton's second-eldest son, Thomas, a 20-year-old lieutenant, was killed near Petersburg in 1864. Once one of the wealthiest men in the country, Hampton also was crippled financially by the war, losing his vast plantation estate near Columbia, S.C., when it was ransacked by the Union army and destroyed by fire.
|A cropped enlargement of the image below shows Hampton and others veterans on July 7, 1886.|
|On July 7, 1886, Hampton and cavalry veterans were photographed by William Tipton.|
David McMurtrie Gregg is in the front row, left of Hampton, wearing a straw hat with a black band.
For four hours that Wednesday, the former Southern cavalrymen and several hundred of their Union counterparts, including former General David Gregg, trekked over East Cavalry Field, pointing out key positions where they fought on a sultry summer day in 1863. Nearly 500 casualties resulted in about 40 minutes' fighting -- a failed effort by Stuart to attack the rear of the Union army.
While discussing strategy at the reunion, Union veterans had a "friendly dispute" over a supposed withdrawal of troops under Custer, and George Briggs, a former colonel in the 7th Michigan Cavalry, explained where his regiment made its "wonderful charge." Meanwhile, “General Hampton,” the Philadelphia Times noted, “was especially considerate in the indication of the lines on which General Stuart moved and where, within the timber, how his own command was placed.”
Of course, Hampton also told old war stories, gesturing to a fence and a clump of trees to show where he had suffered a sabre cut from an officer in the 7th Michigan on John Rummel's farm.
“I pulled my pistol and snapped it at him as I chased him toward the wood," the bewhiskered former general told a group of veterans from both armies. "Finding it had no loads in it, I threw it at him. I don’t wish him any harm now, but then I would have liked to have a swipe at him with my sabre.” (Later in the cavalry fight, Hampton was also wounded in his hip by shrapnel, which remained in his body the rest of his life.)
|In a cropped enlargement of the image below, Hampton tours the Gettysburg battlefield.|
|On July 7, 1886, William Tipton also shot this image of Wade Hampton in a buggy.|
“I don’t bear him any animosity,” the 53-year-old veteran said of the former plantation owner and slave holder, who was nearby, “but I would have liked to have got at him as I clubbed my pistol and threw it in his face. All the chambers were empty.
“I think even now,” Gregg said in jest, “that would have been a satisfaction.”
For a half-hour, Gregg and Hampton entertained each other with their views of the battle. "It was," the New York World noted, "a sight for reflection -- this coming together of opposing commanders to find pleasure in marking for the future the successes and the defeats which are the monuments of our common valor."
Before he began his journey back to Washington that late-summer day in 1886, Hampton posed with other veterans for at least three photographs by Gettysburg-based battlefield photographer William Tipton. At 2 p.m., shortly after the picnic lunch ended, he bade his former comrades farewell.
It was an eventful day.
"The utmost feeling and courtesy," the Philadelphia Times reported, "prevailed among all who were present."
|ABOVE: East Cavalry Field, where Wade Hampton's troopers fought on July 3, 1863.|
BELOW: Gregg Cavalry monument, where 1st Michigan Cavalry fought Jeb Stuart's cavalry.
|Images courtesy Shelly Liebler.|
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-- Gettysburg (Pa.) Compiler, July 13, 1886.
-- New York World, July 8, 1886.
-- Philadelphia Times, July 8, 1886.