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COL. CREWS TELLS OF
A CLASH WITH HAMPTON.
A Midnight Charge in Which he Felt
the Weight of his Leader's Sabre
-Hampton Almost Shot by
One of his Own Men.
Some time ago I was iequested by
the editor of The News and Courier
.and The Sunday News to write for
the latter a story regarding a war i.
cident in which Gen. Hampton, my
self and others of his cavalry com
mand participated. and which came
dangerously near resulting in the
.zerious wounding, if not death, of our
beloved chief. I herewith submit the
subjoined brief sketch:
It may be necessary, by way of a
sort of preface, to say that about five
years charge of Col. T. B. Crews, of
Laureis. edrson in honor of Gen.
Hampton, several thrilling incidents
in his war career were related. Among
was the following as reported in the
papers of that city:
'Mr. W. W. Russell, who was a
seout id gidt, rode with. both
Stuart and Hampton, gave some inci
dents in the raids of the latter. He
related how one dark night two de
tahments, one under command of
Hampton, the other in charge of Col.
T. B. Crews, of Laurens, met in the
darkness while trying to flank Burn
side's army, and nothing but the pres
ence of mind of a private saved Gen.
Hampton from being killed, like Jack
son, by his own men.''
A veteran friend of mine, who was
present on the occasion, wrote me a
-note requesting that I give the inci
-dent more in detail. I tried to do
so, briefly explaining, or rather cor
recting, some of the errors or lapse of
fact on the part of the speaker, which
was not unnatural after an interval
of forty years since the incident oc
The facts of the somewhat memor
able incident in question, as I remem
ber them. they having occurred near
ly forty-five years ago,, but which I
believe are substantially correct. are
A short time before the battle of
Fredricksburg. some time in the lat
ter part of November or early in De
cember, 1862, G-en. Hampton made a
* raid and reconnoissance into the Yan
kee lines, his command on this parti
cular occasion being composed of de
tachments from the several regi
mients of his brigade, consisting -of a
thousand or more cavalry and a coup
le of guns~ of Hart's battery. The
command crossed the Rappahannock
at Kelly's Ford, about dark, and after
proeeding some miles, went into biv
ionae until just before day. It was a
clear, but bitterly cold night. No fire
was allowed, of course, as we were
then well inside the lines of the ene
my, some twenty miles or more, per
haps, where even loud talking was
forbidden, officers' commands being
rather whispered than audible. Leav
ing bivouac (cavalry on such quests
never thought of going regularly in
to camp) the command proceeded to
a point near Stafford's store in up
per Stafford County, situated on a
voad known as the "Telegraph
-road,'' a highway leading from Fal
mouth, where Burnside 's army was
then encamped, to Vumphries. This
road was of much importance to the
enemy, being the main artery or chan
nel of communication between those
two posts, especially at this particul-'
ar juncture, and hence was strongly
guarded by Yankee cavalry, pickets
being posted every half mile, with a
strong reserve post of several hun
'dred. Gen. Hampton's immediate
-purpose was to capture this reserve;
but. in addition. had other objects in
Just before reaching Telegraph
-road, which was approached by a
cross-country road, G-en. Hampton's
command, with the exception of the
Jeff Davis Legion, was halted sever
:al hours to allow time for the latter
regiment, which was sent a circuitous
route, to get in rear of the Yankee
Afer waiting a sufficient time, as
supposed, for the legion to make the
circuit, the main portion of the comn
'manid struck the Telegraph road and
proceeded upon it. for the p~upose of
capturing all the force at the reserve
~post that the legion failed to capture.
:as by that road. in the direction of
Falmouth, was the only avenue of
escape for the enemy.
But unfortunately the guide for the
Jeff Davis Legion made a mistake in
miet making the eircuit extensive
enough, and striking the Telegraph
read between the reserve and the next
picket post, in the direction of the
main approaching column, instead of
getting in rear of the reserve post as
originally designed and planned by
The legion, however, although fail
a n to.cptur the reserve, captured
several sialler posts and proceeded
down the road up which Hampton's
main column was approaching, ex
pecting the Yankees to be retreating
in that direction, having heard oc
easioial fifing for some time. As
th% legion spprofched near- enough
toibe;distinetly heard, one of Hamp
ton's- videttes, about forty yards
ahead of the advance guard, (to the
command of which I has been assign
ed,) feeling assured that the expected
Yankees were closely approaching,
calling out: "Here they come, boys!"
Instantly Gen. Hampton, (always at
the front,) who was abreast of the
first set of fours of the advance
guard, gave the command to charge,
he himself leading, followed by the
1st South Carolina, the leading regi
ment that night, the whole affair
taking place after dark. When the
head of Hampton's column struck
what was supposed to be the fleeing
Yankees there was, of course, quite
a clash, each thinking the other the
enemy, but instead it was Greek meet
ting Greek, or rather friend in death
grapple with friend-sabre and pis
tol being used in a hand-to-hand life
It lasted, however, but a few brief
moments-Hampton, with his innate
coolness and presence of mind in ev
ery emergency, having discovered the
mistake, called out in clarion voice:
''Stop this, men, we're all Georgia!'"
The verbal signal or watchword for
that somewhat eventful night was
The head of Hampton's main col
umn had charged the Jeff Davis Le
gion through mistake.
When order was restored it was
fortunately found that though sever
al of the men were wounded, some of
them painfully, none was killed. The
horses were less fortunate, several be
ing killed and wounded.
We shall not soon forget the oc
currence or the night. which was ex
ceedingly cold, the sky thickly over
cast. threatening snow, and although
there was a young moon it gave little
or no li-ht,-not enough to distinguish
a gray jacket from a blue.
Among others silghtly wounded in
this affair the writer received quite
a vigorous rap on the head and
shoulder from a sabre in the hand
and from the strong arm of his chief
-Gen. Hampton himself. But for
the good fortune of having an unusu
ally thick visor to my cap the blow
would doubtless have done me mueh
greater injury. As it was, however,
the sabre cut entirely through the
visor and inflicted a slight wound just
at the root of the hair, above the left
temple. This, with a .stiff shoulder
for a few days, was the extent of my
injuries. I was more fortunate than
some others. But when I received my
chief's sabre blow I saw more stars
than I ever expect to see again with
out looking at them, and having my
self 'previously dealt some pretty
heavy blows to others was not much
consolation. Yet my consolation did
come when the General invited me to
take supper with him and staff the
same night at the house of a loyal
southern sympathizer. though in tlie
Yankee lines. The bill of fare was
bountiful, including genuine coffee
and something stronger-each of
which luxury had been long a strang
Gen. Hampton, as I afterwards
learned, had rather a close call on the
night in question. One of his trusted
scouts. Walker Russell, in the midst
of the dara:ness and confusion, had
covered the General -with his pistol,
being within a feu~ feet of him, and
suposJing he was one of the enemy,
ws. in the very act of firing when
Hamion, hiaving~ discovered the mis
take. stave the urd!er to cease the
strugle. Thus a terrible calamity
was narrowly averted.
That Wade .famnpton was born, as
has been well cl!amled. ''a military
gnu,'no man v.ho saw or stu;died
his career in the war between the
states could doubi for a moment.
He was not niilitary bred or educa4.
ed, but seemed io understand the
sieinee of war :!s if by intuition. Ev
er. eahn aind 1.rni ff'-d, even in greiat
emergency and :re.Est the met iii
minent danger, nis was a per:onaHt.y
that inspired ca)ur:e and imi,rted
the utmost confidence to his follow
ers. In adition to these distinguish
ing and marked characteristics, as
well as that Napoleonic ''four
o'clock in the morning courage,'' at
tributed to the ''Little Corporal'' as
a test of true bravery in the soldier,
Hampton possessed other qualities as
a military leader in l.arge measure.
He was eminently kind and humane
to his men-the private as well as to
the subaltern officer. A single in
stance will amply illustrate: On one
occasion of a raid far over in the
Yankee lines, on a midwinter night
SlIo Will-. vile of iii,. commanda niere
lad in year-. not being sufficiently
clad, fell from his horse from sheer
cold and numbness, apparenLly froz
en stark and stiff. As soon as the
fact was made known to Gen. Hamp
ton he h-alted the entire columa, re
turned in -person to the place where
the boy lay and with his own. hands
assisted in carrying rails from a near
by fence, helped build a fire and re
mained with the boy unt'il he was -
,licntly recovered to , -emou,.. hi.
This single evidence of kia';
and humanityto anht....... --c .
a private," may seem : i. . L
connection with the i. . .
of a valorous chieftaPe.
But as it was a :.. nark of
sympathy and pity f4 :: leILS.
which actuated the immortal Lee to
dismount from his war horse amidst
the roar of death-dealing engines of
the battlefield and replace then1ified- t
ged sparrow that had fluttered from r
its nest, so the mention of Hampton's
kindness to the frozen boy is at least
I have alluded, in another place, to I
Gen. Hampton's uniform calmness;
and perfect self-possession under all
circumstances. He possessed another
virtue in large degree-that of pat- C
ient resignation to pain and suffering.
from the result of casualty on the
battlefield. I was quite near him
when he received two painful wounds
-one by gunshot in hip, he other "
sabre cut on handL-at the battle of t
Gettysbui. It was feared at the
time that the former wound might
prove fatal. It did disable him for r
four or five months. He returned toj
his command the latter part of No
vember in the midst of a hot- little af
fair in Stevensburg, Mead having
made a forward movement and Hamp- t
ton's cavalry was resisting his ad
vance. Hampton's presence on the
field acted on the men as promptly a.
if an electric current had touched the
nerve of every soldier in line. and
from one end to the other a zlad af
claim rang out. "Hampton is here." C
His men felt reassured and rejoiced
at his coming.
When Gen. Hampton was wounded
on the occasion referred to, although (
disabled and in a serious condition,
he did not immediately leave the
field, but was assisted to (small
house n.ear by, only a few &ndred
yards from the place where was
wounded. After the last e ,'g of J
the day, late in the afternoon of,July
3d. when there was a lull and a seem
ing tacit agreement between the belli
gerents to suspend hostilities, having
some wounded men of my company in
the same hospital where Gen. Hamp
ton was lying, (though I was not
Lware he was there until I reached
the point,) I rode down to look after
them. I found the General in a very
small room on a cot, lying partially
on his side and back, writing a note
as calmly and unmoved as if in some
peaceful rereat a thousand miles dis
tant instead of so near "war's fierce
Just at that juncture an ambulance
was driven up and I was one of three
or four others who helped to place the
wounded hero in what we were fear
ful might prove a vehicle to, convey
him to that "long drawn aisle and
frette,d vault'' from which there is
no return. But our fears were for
tunately groundless. Hampton liv
ed to serve his loved Southland still
longer and add still more and, if pos
sible, brighter laurels to his already
well bedecked crown.
T. B. Crews.
Laurens. S. C., August 5, 1907.
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rednsbeing found in the writings
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