Posted By : manager

Posted : January 30, 2024

By Mike Thomas

South Carolina College, now the University of South Carolina, admitted its first class in 1809 with just 9 students. In the following years, it grew in numbers and established a reputation of being the finest college in the South, drawing students from all across that section of the country. The War For Southern Independence found its graduates serving at all levels in the Officer Corps of the Confederate Army. Twenty-one of them rose to the rank of General.

Perhaps the most prominent and well-known of these generals were cavalrymen. Wade Hampton lll (Class of 1836) tops this list by rising to Lieu-tenant-General. Close behind are 3 other well-established names. Mat-thew C. Butler (1856) rose to Major-General while serving under Hamp-ton in the Army of Northern Virginia. The two other distinguished and well-known soldiers were from the Army of Tennessee. John Austin Wharton (1850), a Texan, received a Major-General’s Commission for his highly credible service under “Fighting Joe” Wheeler. James R. Chalmers of Mississippi (1851), though a Brigadier-General, provided outstanding service including commanding a division under Nathan Bedford Forrest. There were 17 other Brigadier-Generals.

Maxcy Gregg (1836) would likely have become a major general had he not been mortally wounded at Fredericksburg in 1862. States Rights Gist (1850) was another who carried a superb reputation as a brigade commander but died of wounds received during the Battle of Franklin in November 1864, one of six Confederate generals killed in that action. Samuel McGowan’s (1841) chances of being selected as a major general were likely diminished as a result of being wounded several times causing lengthy absences from duty. Known as a top-notch brigade commander, he needed a cane for walking in the last months of the war. Many historians feel that had Stephen Elliott, Jr. (1850) been “discovered” sooner than 1864, he would have likely earned strong consideration for a Major-General’s commission for his special leadership abilities.

Men whose service was quite familiar to war-time South Carolinians and still resonates today include Milledge Bonham (1834), John Bratton (1850), James Connor (1849), John Doby Kennedy (1857), Thomas Logan (1860), and William Henry Wallace (1849). Each served honorably and with distinction.

South Carolina College graduates earning recognition while leading troops from other states include James Cantey (1837) of Alabama, Daniel Govan (1848) of Arkansas, Henry Gray, Jr. (1834) of Louisiana, Louis Wigfall (1837) of Texas, John B. Floyd (1826) of Virginia, John King Jackson (1846) of Georgia, and Dandridge McRae (1849) of Alabama. Cantey, Gray, and Wigfall were each raised in South Carolina but moved west after graduation.
Two other South Carolinians promoted to Brigadier-Generals attended, but did not graduate from South Carolina College. Thomas Neville Waul (1831) left the college after his junior year and ultimately became a respected general from Texas. Martin W. Gary (1853) left the school in 1852 but his superb military service led to his promotion as a general from South Carolina.

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