Military Subjects:  War of 1812


The War of 1812 Magazine

Issue 3: June 2006

War of 1812 Notes and Queries

The editors of the War of 1812 Magazine invite queries but please note that we cannot answer questions relating to genealogy. Those interested in such matters are directed to the many websites that specialize in this type of research.†

1004. Origins of Contempt between Major-General Wade Hampton and Major-General James Wilkinson Submitted by Ron McGuigan

This query first appeared in Issue #2.

Wade Hamptonís and James Wilkinsonís deep contempt for each other could go all the way back to the American Revolution. Wilkinson was involved in a number incidents where his character did not shine through [intrigue, excessive drinking, greed]. Hampton was a Colonel during the war.

Brigadier General Wilkinson was the senior officer of the army in 1808 when Hampton rejoined as a Colonel. Wilkinson held command of New Orleans until relieved by Hampton. There were charges made about the camp at Terre au Boeuf, where so many soldiers died and Wilkinsonís part in it. So it is possible that here again Hampton saw for himself or heard of more of Wilkinsonís intrigues. Hampton had advance some of the soldiersí pay out of his own pocket when he took command. Wilkinson pleading that he could not make the paymaster do his duty!

Wilkinson had been involved with the Burr Conspiracy and he was supposed to be in the pay of the Spanish. Hamptonís staff in 1811-1812, included Winfield Scott who had received a one-year suspension of rank and pay for his open criticisms of Wilkinson in 1810. Scott was not one to hold his tongue. Wilkinson was court-martialled or faced a court of inquiry more than once during his career, but always exonerated.

While there is nothing definitive in this, it could be that all the little things added up and Hamptonís contempt was that Wilkinson was no officer and gentleman. And Wilkinson in his turn saw Hampton as a threat in the army. From 1809 Hampton was next in seniority to Wilkinson.

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