A Chronological History of the 
Hampton Legion Battalion of Cavalry
by Ron Crawley

"Who am I? Why am I here?" - Admiral James B. Stockdale, 1988

You may not be running for political office but as a reenactor it is just as important that you know who you are, where you came from, and how you got here. This document has been prepared to give the reader a brief look at the experience of a generic (not troop specific) Hampton Legion cavalry trooper prior to the reorganization of the Legion in mid 1862.

The three troops of the Legion were mustered into service at their respective locations as follows:

    Co. A, Edgefield Hussars under Matthew Calbraith Butler at Edgefield on June 6
    Co. B, Brook's Troop under John Lanneau at Greenville in June 1
    Co. C, Beaufort District Troop under Thomas E. Screven at Grahamville on June 19
    Co. D, Congaree Troop under Thomas Taylor ...
CAMP HAMPTON (Columbia, SC) - The Legion began to form at Camp Hampton located three miles east of Columbia, SC at Hampton's Woodlands Plantation on May 20. The Edgefield and Brook's troops arrived June 10 and the latter welcomed the BDT on their arrival some days later. After a few days, the horses and men were individually inspected by Colonel Hampton, Lt. Colonel Johnson, and Colonel John Preston. Some of those few who were rejected for unsuitable mounts were directed to obtain new mounts. The old racetrack served as the drill field where "severe" drills (5 times a day for up to 9 hours) were held under the supervision of Lt. Colonel Johnson. A "ditch and bar" type of jump was erected for the cavalry to practice at. Dress parades were conducted each evening although some of the troopers may not have yet had uniforms. Food was plentiful; beef prepared by the plantation slaves, vegetables supplied by the Hampton's and other prominent families, and bread brought in from Columbia. Laundry was taken to Millwood plantation.

ON TO RICHMOND! - The Infantry and Artillery companies left for Virginia on June 26th while the cavalry companies waited on recruits who had not yet obtained horses. The Brook's Troop departed on June 28 and the BDT on June 29th (it is unknown when the Edgefield Troop left but it would have been no more than two days later). Some men from these troops as well as the entire Congaree Troop were left behind to find mounts. The cavalry traveled on the Charlotte Railroad through Greensboro and Raleigh en route to Petersburg, VA where they disembarked and were treated to a dinner courtesy of the local citizens. From here they marched the 19 miles to Richmond and moved to the "old Rocketts", a fairgrounds east of the city on the James River where the Legion was encamped.

CAMP MANNING (Richmond, Va.) - Colonel Hampton and the remaining infantry joined the rest of the Legion at Camp Manning on July 4. On the first Sunday after their arrival, the Legion was inspected by President Jefferson Davis during a dress parade on July 8. During their stay the Legion was recognized as the elite or regiments and their dress parades became known as a fashionable affair. Colonel Hampton maintained strict discipline in camp, much to the displeasure of some, and the men were restricted to camp. Some were able to slip out and visit "houses of ill fame" where they claimed their association with the Legion led to their receiving the favors of ladies at no cost!

ASHLAND RACETRACK - On July 10 the cavalry marched through the city on their way to the school of instruction at the Ashland racetracks, 19 miles east of Richmond, to be drilled under the direction of West Point trained cavalry veterans "Rooney" Lee, Fitzhugh Lee, Lundsford Lomax, and the school's commander Colonel Charles Field. One of these gentlemen commanded a trooper to "Move out there --- move out briskly", a command which amused the troops and was frequently mimicked by them though out the war. The men were practiced at both mounted and saber (or "broadsword") drill. The horses were quartered comfortably in the stables and the race track was often used in informal competition between riders and mounts. The men were housed in some of the several summer resort hotels of the area rather than tents. During the Legion's stay there were at least 10 companies of cavalry in training. The Congaree Troop arrived at Ashland on July 21, the day before the rest of the cavalry departed for Manassas and left them behind to be drilled.

THE ROAD TO MANASSAS - The Legion infantry and artillery left Richmond for Manassas junction and arrived early on July 21 just in time for the fight. While the cavalry waited on orders to move many of the men asked for but were denied permission from MAJ Griffin to join their fellow Legion members. The cavalry, less the Congaree troop and a few men with measles, marched out of Ashland on Monday, July 22, passed through Fredericksburg, and arrived in Manassas on Thursday, July 25 (note: The Congaree troop did not get orders to leave Ashland until August 16, the same day the Legion camp was moved from Brentsville to Bacon Race Church). For the next four days the cavalry bivouacked on Bull Run near the battlefield. Most of the men were very disappointed they missed being able to participate in the battle in which 19 Legion infantry died and 100 more were wounded. The 600-man Legion suffered the worst casualties of any other regiment in Beauregard's army. Colonel Hampton himself was slightly wounded in the head (for the first but not the last time) and Lt. Colonel Johnson fell dead from a head wound at the beginning of the battle.

Night of     22nd at home of Miss Annie Dickenson                         24th on Aquia Creek (near Fredericksburg)
                    23rd at ________ Church                                                 25th to 29th on the Manassas Battlefield

CAMP JOHNSON (Brentsville, Va.) - The cavalry joined the Legion on July 30 at their camp, named in honor of Lt. Colonel Johnson, established on the banks of Broad Run, a confluence described as "a large muddy ugly stream". The troopers visited the Manassas battlefield and their wounded comrades in field hospitals as well as scouted the countryside for Yankee souvenirs. Many of the resources of the community had already been depleted by the large armies that had passed through it. The lack of clean drinking water later resulted in several cases of typhoid within the Legion ranks. By August 3 there were as many as 200 or 300 men suffering from a mild case of measles and one Legion infantry member died of epilepsy. Some of the more serious measles cases were nursed in local homes.

CAMP GRIFFIN (Bacon Race) - The Infantry and Artillery established a new camp, named in honor of Lt. Colonel Griffin, at Bacon Race Church, 15 miles away from their Brentsville camp, on August 16th. The Edgefield troop arrived on the 17th followed by the other two troops the next day; the cavalry was picketed about 1/2 mile from the infantry camp. The Congaree Troop arrived from the Ashland School of Instruction around sunset on August 26th. Two hundred of Legion sick remained at the Legion hospital in Brentsville. The cavalry immediately posted four-man picket posts at Wolf Run Shoals, Davis' Ford, and on the Dumfries road (and later Greenwood Church). Drill continued including dismounted saber exercises, jumping, and a mock charge against the Legion artillery; Hampton and Butler led several detachments on scouting expeditions; recruits continued to arrive in camp and join up with the Legion; suspected Northern sympathizers were frequently arrested and brought to camp for questioning.

CAMP CONNER (opposite Freestone Point)- On September 20th the Legion broke camp and established Camp Conner opposite Freestone Point on the side of the road from Alexandria to Dumfries, about 3 miles north of the latter. The artillery constructed a three gun battery at the extremity of the point; a second battery was under construction at Evan's Port (or Evansport); the cavalry was detailed as pickets (at Evan's Port and Keart's Farm) and as couriers at Dumfries; morning drills and evening dress parades continued. This camp was the site of the first cavalry squadron drill and the first full-Legion drill, all arms on the same field. September 25th saw an exchange of shots from Federal steamers and the Freestone battery while the cavalry and infantry guarded against an anticipated land attack which never materialized. Several vessels were disabled, it was reported that some later sunk downstream. Hampton and Butler, acting on information from pickets, occasionally led reconnaissance detachments but encountered no sizable enemy forces. The monotony of camp life was broken on October 4th when the entire Legion, plus detachments of infantry and artillery from other units, moved on Pohick Church to investigate reports of a large body of Federals. The enemy force turned out to be a raiding party of only a few hundred or so who had already moved on.

CAMP BUTLER (Bacon Race) - The Brooks Troop, the artillery, and four companies of infantry were moved on October 19th to Bacon Race Church near the old "Camp Griffin" to guard the Legion hospital. This camp was named in honor of MAJ Butler. Hampton received orders to guard the entire length of the Occoquon river and the next day to move the entire Legion to the site. Pickets were established at Wolf Run Shoals, lower Davis Ford, Selectman's Ford, Occoquon, and Deep Hole. On the 24th the camp was moved to higher ground about one mile away. On Nov. 1st Butler left for home to attended the meeting of the State Legislature and Capt. Lanneau as senior captain, was left in command of the cavalry. Around November 10th news reached the Legion of the enemy landing at Port Royal and the BDT made applications to Hampton and Beauregard to return to SC which were refused by the War Department. Butler returned on December 8th.

CAMP WIGFALL (Occoquon) - (note: Wigfall was the Colonel of the First Texas) On December 6th the infantry and artillery were moved into their first winter camp near the mouth of the Occoquon and directly opposite Colchester, about 5 miles from the Freestone battery. The cavalry joined the Legion on December 10th and were furnished with 8 new Sibley tents per troop. Pickets were established at Pohick Church and near Mrs. Violet's between Occoquon and Pohick; the men attended dances at the Davis home near Davis' Ford. About 4 miles south of Wolf Run Shoals, Hampton and his men engaged and completely routed a regiment of lancers know as "Scott's Nine-Hundred". The 600+ horses of the Legion were beginning to suffer from a lack of feed and forage; to alleviate this, Griffin planned to move the cavalry closer to the railroad. Since August 45 men from the Legion infantry had died from "Camp Fever" or typhoid. December 17th action on Pohick church led by Texas Scouts (Lanneau P57, Field P13).

CAMP ZOLLICOFFER (Mrs. Violet's) - This cavalry outpost was situated on the road between Occoquon and Pohick near the home of Mrs. Violet in Fairfax County. Captain Lanneau again assumed command of the cavalry in Butler's absence (he returned on March 27th). The Legion cavalry occupied this camp in January and February 1862, corn for the horses was running so short in supply that the cavalry discontinued picket duties. Many of the over 300 cavalry mounts were deemed unfit for duty. Application was made to Hampton to move the camp and permission was received. The move began using two battered wagons but Capt. Lanneau was able to secure eleven additional wagons by presenting presumably false orders to the drivers. A 20 man detail was left behind to serve picket duty here at "Mrs. Violet's" and at Bacon Race Church.

CAMP EVANS (Walnut Branch) - On February 12th the cavalry went into a comfortable camp near Walnut Branch on the side of (more than 100 yards from) the Orange and Alexandria Rail Road between the Bristow and Catlett's stations, about one mile from the latter. This location was just across the county line in Faurquier County about 15 miles from the Bacon Race Church picket post in Prince William County and a similar distance from the Violet picket post in Fairfax County. The only real excitement during this brief stay was a winter storm brought every tent to the ground on February 24th. Enemy movements pushed in the pickets at Mrs. Violet's on March 2nd. By the 7th word was received from Hampton to prepare the cavalry for immediate movement to an undetermined location, bringing with them only tents and cooking equipment. Lanneau expressed doubt that he could provide more than 120 troopers. Word to move was received on March 7th and the cavalry moved our the next day.

WITHDRAWAL TO FREDRICKSBURG - The cavalry was detailed to screen the withdrawal of the Legion and the "Division of the Occoquon" to Fredericksburg. Proceeding down the Dumfries & Brentsville road they bivouacked at Cole's Store on the March 8th, moved down the Ridge Road, stopping overnight at Tackett's Mill on Deep River on the 9th, continuing down the Ridge Road, Poplar Road, and Warrenton Road to a third bivouac 10 miles from Fredericksburg on the 10th. Early on the 11th, the Legion moved through Fredericksburg, across the Rappahannock and into camp about a mile and a half from town. During the withdrawal, Hampton, acting on orders from Generals Whiting and Johnston, destroyed great stores of rations and equipment, an act which was later criticized by many but defended by the army. Nothing was to be left behind for the enemy so the men carried what they could and put the torch to the rest.

Night of     8th at Cole's Store                                                     10th on Warrenton Road 10 miles from Fredericksburg
                    9th at Tackett's Mill (near Arington home)          11th at Camp Bartow

CAMP BARTOW (Fredericksburg, Va.) & OUTPOST DUTY - General Whiting's regiments were moved from Dumfries to this encampment. Johnston's headquarters were nearby at Rapidan Station. The cavalry arrived without tents or cooking equipment, the camp equipage arriving by train from Catlett's Station by March 28th. Butler returned from his lengthy furlough on March 27th and resumed command of the cavalry. A cavalry outpost, manned by the Congaree Troop and detachments from Brook's and BDT, was locate at Grove Church, a.k.a. "The Grove", about 15 miles north west of Fredericksburg; pickets from the Grove operated in the direction of Manassas and on fords along the Rappahannock; the Edgefield troop was at Germania south of the Rappanhanock and about 20 miles away. On April 6th the cavalry (less Edgefield) was consolidated at the Grove along with sixty Texas scouts. The sick, along with baggage, unfit horses, and camp equipment was sent to Massaponax Church about 6 miles from Fredericksburg on the road towards Richmond. The troopers were housed in one of two large churches and the horses were hitched to the surrounding trees in and around cemetery. At some point the Legion received orders and began to move towards Yorktown.

MARCH TO YORKTOWN - The cavalry began a move on April 12th to overtake the rest of the Legion on their way towards Richmond. They bivouacked outside of Fredericksburg the first night and proceeded about 8 miles to Massaponax Church to meet the Edgefield troop but found they had gone ahead. After an overnight stay they marched about 18 miles to Galansville. The next day they moved towards Ashland and met with the Edgefield troop about six miles from Ashland on the "telegraph road" towards Richmond. On the 15th they met Major Butler at Ashland and began to move to meet the rest of the Legion who were moving towards Hanover Courthouse. Finding the road blocked they returned to the Ashland campground (a site possibly known as Camp Dorn) on the Chickahominy where, the next day, they left a number of unserviceable men and mounts along with their tents. On the 16th the cavalry again moved to meet Hampton, this time in the direction of New Kent Courthouse and marched some 25 to 30 miles before stopping for the night. After meeting Hampton at New Kent, they took a side road near the Chickahominy and moved 20 miles before bivouacking about 15 miles from their destination, Williamsburg. The next evening they camped on the outskirts of the town at the Fair Grounds and then moved four miles to Whitaker's Mill.

Night of the       12th at Fredericksburg                                                                       16th at home of Dr. Crump
                            13th at Massaponox Church                                                             17th at home of Mrs. Cowles
                            14th on the telegraph road between Ashland and Richmond     18th at Williamsburg Fair Grounds
                            15th at Ashland (Camp Dorn)                                                           19th at Whitaker's Mills (Camp Magruder)

CAMP MAGRUDER (near Yorktown, Va.) - The cavalry arrived in camp April 19th at Whitaker's Mills (also said to be Caracoa Mills) eight miles from Yorktown. A steady rain continued from the time of their arrival until at least April 26th. The rain was accompanied by almost continual firing along the line between pickets. Hampton issued order to the Legion to reorganize the companies on the 26th (postponed until the 28th) by electing the commissioned officers and reenlisting "for the war". Elections were held but a protest by Lanneau, based on procedures used to collect votes from the troopers left behind at Ashland, was accepted by Hampton and new elections were scheduled for May 1st. By May 2nd, baggage trains began to move excess equipment towards Willliamsburg, three day's rations were prepared, and ammunition distributed in preparation for battle or retreat. The cavalry moved out of camp on the afternoon of the 2nd and bivouacked near General Whiting's headquarters about two miles from Yorktown.



At the outset: After Lt. Colonel Johnson's death:

Legion Commander:   Colonel Wade Hampton, III
Executive Officer:       Lt. Colonel Benjamin Johnson, Lt. Colonel James Griffin
Cavalry Commander:  Major James Griffin, Major MC Butler
Troop Captains:         Captain Matthew C Butler, Captain Clark
                                  Captain John F Lanneau
                                  Captain Thomas Screven
                                  Captain Thomas Taylor

c2001, Ron Crawley

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