My continuing study of the Petersburg Campaign has brought a new admiration for the military skills of Wade Hampton. Whether displaying his daring in carrying out the Beefsteak Raid, or his tactical ability at Reams Station, Hampton's cavalry was a proven commodity for Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia.
Wade Hampton sacrificed more than just his enormous fortune for the Confederate cause; he lost a son. At the Battle of Hatcher's Run in February 1864, Lt. Preston Hampton was cut down in the fighting. It is difficult to imagine the pain Hampton must have felt in learning the sad news. In a kind attempt to sooth the mourning father, Gen. Lee wrote the cavalryman. Lee had intimately experienced a similar loss when his daughter Annie died in 1862 at age twenty-three.
"My dear General, I grieve with you at the loss of your gallant son. So young, so brave, so true. I know how much you must suffer. Yet, think of the great gain to him; how changed his condition, how bright his future. We must labor in the charge before us, but for him I trust is rest and peace for I believe our merciful God takes us when it is best for us to go. He is now safe from all harm and from all evil and nobly died in the defense of the rights of his country. May God support you under your great affliction and give you strength to bear the trials He may impose on you. Truly your friend, R.E. Lee"
Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.