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Volume 36, No. 1 – January 2023

The President’s Message:

Gerridine has asked me to fill in for her and pen the President’s Message.  As you can see from the article below, we are once again going to have Bob Macomber back with us.  January is the month that we need to collect our dues.  We all agreed that the amount should remain at $40.00.  In order to continue to have “name brand” speakers we need the support of everyone.  So, bring your check (or greenbacks) to the meeting, or send them to Gerridine at:

Gerridine LaRovere
7509 Nemec Drive North
West Palm Beach, FL  33406


January 11, 2023 Program:

Once again, we have Robert N. Macomber back with us again.  Although most of us are quiteBob familiar with Robert, for our new members he is the author of the “Honor” series of historical novels.  These books, and there are 16 of them at last count, tell the story of the late 19th and early 20th century via the fictional character of Peter Wake, USN.

Robert has been the recipient of the Patrick D. Smith Literary Award, the American Library Association’s W.Y. Boyd Literary Award, a Gold and Silver Medal winner in Popular Fiction from the Florida Book Awards, and a host of other accolades spanning over two decades.  He has earned rare experiences like being Distinguished Lecturer at NATO HQs [Belgium], and, for ten years, was invited into the Distinguished Military Author Series, Center for Army Analysis [Ft. Belvoir]. Robert was named Florida Author of the Year in 2020 by the FL Writers Association, and is a captivating storyteller helping spread a love for history! 

Join multi-award-winning author and a Palm Beach Civil War Round Table favorite, Robert N. Macomber, for his new PowerPoint lecture, Russia’s Intriguing Role in America’s Civil War.  From New York to Alaska and California, who would imagine that the Russian Empire was involved in the U.S. Civil War?  This had unintended effects then, and consequences to this very day. Don’t miss this!


December 14, 2022 Program:


William D. McEachern, award-winning novelist, lecturer, and historian, presented a talk entitled: Wade Hampton, Hampton's Legion, and James A. McEachern.  The presentation covered, as the title suggests, two historical figures, some parts of Hampton’s Legion, and some Civil War battles.  Bill introduced the program with the surprising statement that Civil War soldiers come in two varieties, officers and enlisted men, but there was not a great difference between the two.  Their position in southern society explained how the officer corps was formed.  In order to demonstrate this fact, we explored Wade Hampton III and James A. McEachern.  This followed their life before the war, the battles in which they fought, the wounds they suffered, and their life after the War.  Bill explained that he could cover just some of the battles because both men were in so many it would fill a number of books which could not be compressed into an hour lecture.  To drive this point home a slide listed 17 battles starting with Bull Run and ending at Appomattox Court House, in which the Hampton Legion infantry alone fought.

WadeWade Hampton III was born on March 28, 1818 and lived to reach the 20th century dying on April 11, 1902.  He had no military training; however, he did graduate from South Carolina College.  He rose to the rank of Lieutenant General and served as Governor and Senator from his home state.  The Hamptons were a family of privilege and wealth.  His grandfather, Wade Hampton, was an officer in the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.  He founded the family wealth.  By the time of his passing, he owned an estate worth $7,000,000.  His son, Wade Hampton II, managed the family’s plantations.  This wealth was passed on to the founder of Hampton’s Legion, Wade Hampton III (from this point on I will refer to him as Wade Hampton, or simply Hampton).

Before the Civil War Hampton was in the Legislature and the Governor named him head of the State Militia, although he had no military training.  As a legislator, Hampton had argued against Secession.  However, he joined the Minute Men, with brother-in-law, John S. Preston.  This was a turning point in the Secession Movement.  Now the wealthiest men in SC were committed to Secession.  During the spring of 1861 Hampton went to Jefferson Davis in Montgomery, AL.  He offered to create a “Legion.”  A legion historically consisted of a single integrated command, with individual components including infantry, cavalry, and artillery.  Hampton said he would recruit, equip, and supply at his personal cost; an offer the cash strapped South could not turn down.  Davis approves 6 companies of infantry, two of cavalry, and one of artillery.

Hampton's Legion initially boasted a large number of South Carolina's leading citizens, including future generals Johnston Pettigrew, Stephen Dill Lee, Martin W. Gary, and Matthew C. Butler. Hampton led his men extremely well at First Manassas.  Although severely wounded, he continued to lead his men at the Henry Hill House until he was relieved by Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson.  Bill noted that Hampton was “Stonewall” before Jackson assumed that moniker. 

As a small aside Bill explained that in Margaret Mitchell's novel Gone with the Wind, Scarlett O'Hara's first husband, Charles Hamilton, serves in Hampton’s Legion.  As it was fashionable (according to Mitchell) to name baby boys after their fathers' commanding officers, Scarlett's son by Charles is named Wade Hampton Hamilton.  In the film version of Gone with The Wind, the letter sent to Scarlett advising her of Charles' death is shown to be signed by Wade Hampton.


At this point in the talk Bill turns to his ancestor, James A. McEachern.  James was born on January 23, 1840 and died on April 12, 1874.  Because he was young, he did not have much of a career prior to the war.  It was noted that he was apprenticed to a carriage maker as a painter.  He will marry Victoria Clifton Ham once the war begins.  James was in the Militia, serving as a Private, on Sullivan’s Island and was witness to the bombardment of Fort Sumter.  His Militia unit joins the Legion in July 1861 as part of Company G.  He is now a 2nd Corporal.  He wrote the following letter to Victoria:

Sullivan’s Island April 20, 1861

Dear Vicee,

I drop you these few lines to let you know that I am well & am in a great deal Better Quarters than when I wrote you last for we have a nice bed now. Well-furnished, carpeted-I am a Beau Brummel now & since we have a cooking stove to cook in & have as good fare as I could wish for.

I would be very well satisfied If I did not want to see you so bad for it seems that I have Been down here six months already. But I will be up Just as soon as I can get off and I want us to get married then, if you are willing, for I think that I could Remain Better Satisfied for you Know hard days and expectations keeps me fearful."

Bill summarized James in the following manner.  He fought in every major battle with the Legion in Eastern and Western Theatres, except 1st Bull Run and Gettysburg.  James was wounded twice and died of his wounds in 1874.  He fought as infantry, mounted infantry, and as part of the famed Texas Brigade under John Bell Hood.  Early in 1862 the Legion was reorganized.  Hampton’s Legion was split up into its constituent parts.  Wade Hampton and the cavalry companies went with the cavalry under JEB Stuart and went on to great fame.  The artillery (Washington Light Artillery and the German Volunteer Artillery Companies) was detached from the Infantry.  James McEachern is in the infantry, which is then brigaded with John Bell Hood’s Texans.

The story continued by noting action in the years 1862 – 1865.  The year 1862 was presented as Lee’s year of glory.  It started with the General’s taking command and the victory during the Seven Days Battles.  Our man James was wounded at Fair Oaks.  It was reported that he was “shot through the lungs.”  The Legion was instrumental in giving Lee his first victory at Gaines Mill.  As an example of the fighting spirit of John Bell Hood, when asked by Lee if he can take the enemy’s position, Hood answers, “I’ll give them the cold steel!”  Hood then proceeded to do just that with a frontal attack with bayonets; one of the few successful frontal assaults. 

Next up is the battle of Antietam where the Legion was told they would not fight that day as the had had action the day before.  So, the troops rested in a clover field southwest of the Dunker Church.  As recorded by Capt. George T. Todd, 1st Texas infantry:  "We drew no rations that night, and when we got them the next morning and were cooking, and before eating, the enemies advanced, and were ordered forward on a charge through a cornfield under heavy fire." 

The Union forces broke Hood’s line in the Cornfield and are streaming south towards the Dunker Church.  The Hampton Legion and the Texas Brigade are called into action.  Campfires, coffee, and breakfasts were hurriedly left uneaten.  The Hampton Legion marched to the crisis.  The brigade moved into the open field towards the Cornfield.  They were hit by flanking fire.  It was a disaster.  Hampton’s Legion lost 66 men wounded or killed out of 77, for an 85.7% casualty rate.  This is the highest rate for any unit, north or south, during the war.  Overall, it was a 58.5% casualty rate for the Texas Brigade!  While the battle was a draw, it did not look like a southern victory as Lee retreated south.

Bill introduced 1863 as “Lee’s year of glory ends with his victory at Chancellorsville.  The loss at Gettysburg marked the beginning of the decline.  The scene now shifts with Longstreet’s move west.  At first, things go well as the army does well at Chickamauga.  The Legion makes the trip, but suffers during the journey from Virginia to Georgia.  The Corps unloads and marches into battle.  Although victorious, they fail to destroy the Union forces which made their escape to Chattanooga.  The retreating Army, under the command of William Rosecrans, is in the city and along the high ground of Missionary Ridge.  At this point Rosecrans is replaced by Grant.  The Rebels are on Lookout Mountain with a commanding view of the Tennessee River.  Longstreet is subordinate to Braxton Bragg; a relationship that did not go well for the Confederates.  They had a meeting on Sunset Rock and are surprised to see Union troops in the Wauhatchie Valley.

Bragg’s orders are clear.  Longstreet is ordered to oust the Federals from the Valley.  The command is to “Use your whole corps!”  However, Longstreet uses less than one division.  The Legion marches back and forth on the high ground with the Union forces on the low ground.  They descend in the dark. Their orders are to ‘attack at midnight!”  Just as Bratton’s Brigade has the Union forces encircled, they are ordered away!

James’ letter home says it all.  "'Tough night,' called out a member of the Legion to the Reserves on the other side.  'Wouldn't know. We weren't put in the fray. Sat here all night,' came the wistful answer from the Reserve Troops.  'God damn! God damn him, Jenkins! God damn Longstreet! God damn Bragg! God damn them all!’ Roared Captain William Councill. I had never seen him so angry. ‘We're out there fighting for our lives and coming within a whisker's breadth of victory. All we needed were a few more men. And God dammit, they are sitting right here all night playing poker, smoking, and having a social in the moonlight!' He spat on the ground."

Bill goes on to explain that 1864 is titled “The end is nigh.”  James fought as mounted infantry during that year.  He led a company as a 3rd lieutenant at Riddlell’s Shop where he was wounded, captured, and paroled.  James took part in the siege of Petersburg and made good on the retreat from Richmond.  He surrendered at Appomattox with 16 other men as a 2nd Lieutenant, one of the highest-ranking officers of the Legion.

Danial gave James the carriage business.  James did a little land speculation and had a street named after him.  He and Victoria have one son, George Carson McEachern.  His war wounds never really heal and he dies of same in 1874.  Victoria survives him and lives until 1885.  The family history continues.  George Carson McEachern became a train conductor.  His wife, Mamie Traxler, had to take the family to New York City in 1914.  She opened a boarding house and had 11 Children of whom 5 survived.  Her son, George Carson McEachern II, became the first to go to college followed by medical school.  He did pioneering medical research during WW II on rheumatic fever and heart disease and the treatment thereof with penicillin.

As a postscript, Wade Hampton had a career in politics.  He ran for Governor of South Carolina, but lost.  He then tried for that office a second time and won.  But the election was contested.  The Supreme Court of South Carolina made the decision in his favor.  Hampton’s electoral victory is seen as the end of Reconstruction for South Carolina.


Last changed: 01/03/23