By William F. Floyd Jr. On the morning of July 3, 1863, Confederate Brig. Gen. Wade Hampton III led the troopers of his brigade south along the York Road. Along with other Confederate cavalry forces under the command of Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart, their objective was to get behind the Union Army of the Potomac. The gray horsemen went into action against the Union cavalry at 3:00 p.m. In the confused hand-to-hand fighting on horseback, Hampton received two saber cuts to the front of his head, one of which cut through to his skull. He also was wounded in the body by a piece of shrapnel. Always in the thick of the fighting, Hampton’s performance at Gettysburg was typical of his aggressive conduct as a Confederate cavalry commander. A native of Charleston, South Carolina, Hampton was born on March 28, 1818, into one of the wealthiest families in the South. His father, Colonel Wade Hampton, distinguished himself during the War of 1812, serving first as a lieutenant in the dragoons and later as an aide to Maj. Gen. Andrew Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans. Young Wade received an excellent education, graduating from South Carolina College in 1836. Although he trained for the law, he never practiced it. Upon his father’s death in 1858, Hampton inherited a substantial fortune owning to his family’s vast landholdings. He served in both houses of the Palmetto State legislature from 1852 to 1861. With war looming in early 1861, Hampton organized and financed with his own money


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