Soon after the State's secession, Wade Hampton, an immensely rich and aristocratic South Carolina plantation owner, raised (largely at his own expense) a volunteer 'legion' with an original strength of six infantry companies, four cavalry companies, and a battery of artillery equipped with six English Blakely fieldpieces, purchased from Hampton's own pocket. There was no difficulty in raising recruits - more than twice the required number volunteered. In common with many other volunteer corps, each company preserved its identity and its own uniforms for a time; in the Legion's infantry battalion for example, company names were as follows: 'A' Washington Light Infantry, 'B' Watson Guards, 'C' Manning Guards, 'D' Gist Rifles, 'E' Bozeman Guards, 'F' Davis Guards, 'G' Claremont Rifles, 'H' South Carolina Zouave Volunteers.
This plate illustrates two variations on the cavalry uniform worn within the Legion; both are of the 'Hussar' style, with loops of braid on the breast. The ist Lieutenant's uniform is marked by the absence of sleeve-lace, but retains the cavalry facing colour. The Beaufort District Troop (or Dragoons), company 'C' of the Legion's Cavalry detachment, was uniformed in a more sombre style with black facings, lace and hat-plume. Both figures are shown armed in the popular Confederate fashion, with a brace of revolvers in place of the sabre. Other cavalry companies retained their individuality within the Legion: for example, Company 'A' was known as Brook's Dragoons or the Edgefield Hussars, and Company 'D' the Congaree Troop.
Wade Hampton led his Legion with distinction at First Bull Run (where he was wounded), succeeded to the command of Stuart's cavalry corps and rose to the rank of Major-General, becoming Governor of South Carolina after the war and eventually senator. The Legion itself became part of Longstreet's Division in November 1861, and was eventually split up after the Peninsular campaign, the cavalry joining
Rosser's Regiment, the infantry becoming part of Hood's Texas Brigade, and the artillery becoming Hart's South Carolina Battery.
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