Thursday, March 22, 2018

Wade Hampton's Iron Scouts

A week or so ago, I picked up a copy of D. Michael Thomas's Wade Hampton's Iron Scouts: Confederate Special Forces, released by The History Press on March 5, 2018. Thomas's tome follows a group of Confederate cavalry, made up of men from other regiments, detailed to gather information on the movements of the Army of the Potomac in late 1862 through 1865. The group, unofficially known as Hampton's Iron Scouts, raided Federal picket posts and clashed with Federal cavalry patrols, earning praise from Confederate leaders and the enmity of Federal officers. Probably their most famous role came in the September 1864 Beefsteak Raid. The scouts were the ones who found the cattle, notified Hampton, and guided his cavalry force toward their prize.

While I have read deeply into the Army of Northern Virginia's history, the role of scouts is something I have not read much about (probably because, outside of Mosby, there is not a lot of information on the subject). Thomas has done a superb job of scouring various sources to put together a history of a neglected branch of the Confederate army. He not only details their exploits, but provides brief biographical pieces on many of the scouts. Hampton's Iron Scouts were largely men from South Carolina regiments, but there were a few from other commands. Thomas identified these Tar Heels: William M. Waterbury, 3rd NCC; James M. Sloan, 1st NCC; Julius S. Harris, 1st NCC; and George J. Hanley, 1st NCC.

If you are interested in the fringe elements of the Army of Northern Virginia, then Thomas's Wade Hampton's Scout's is recommended. 

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