Milledge Luke Bonham

40th Governor of the State of South Carolina 1862 to 1864

Date Born: December 25, 1813

Date Died: August 27, 1890

Place Born: Near Saluda, SC, Edgefield District at that time

Place Buried: Elmwood Cemetery, Columbia, SC

Residence: Edgefield District/County, SC

Occupation: Planter, Lawyer, Major General in SC Militia, Colonel in US Army, Brigadier General in Confederate Army


South Carolina College (now the University of South Carolina): Graduated in 1834 with honors

South Carolina House of Representatives: 1840-1843, 1865-1866

US House of Representatives: 1857-1860

Confederate States House of Representatives: 1862

South Carolina Governor: 1862-1864

1861 – Bonham fought in the Battle of Bull Run

1864 – Bonham returned to the Confederate States Army as a Brigadier General of Calvary after leaving office


Milledge Luke Bonham was born on December 25, 1813 near Redbank (now Saluda), SC, the son of Virginia native Capt. James Bonham and Sophia Butler Smith Bonham, the niece of Capt. James Butler, who was the head of an illustrious South Carolina family. Milledge was a first cousin once removed to Andrew Pickens Butler. He attended private schools in the Edgefield District and at Abbeville. He graduated with honors from South Carolina College at Columbia in 1834.

Bonham served as Captain and Adjutant General of the South Carolina Brigade in the Seminole War in Florida in 1836. That same year, his older brother James Butler Bonham perished at the Battle of the Alamo in Texas.

Bonham studied law at the Edgefield Court House, and was admitted to the South Carolina bar in 1837, and commenced his law practice at Edgefield Court House (now, simply Edgefield). On November 13, 1845, Milledge Luke Bonham married Ann Patience, daughter of Nathan L. Griffin, a prominent lawyer of Edgefield. They had seven known children.

During the Mexican-American War, he was Lieutenant Colonel (from March 1847) and full Colonel (from August 1847) of the 12th U.S. Infantry Regiment.

After he returned home, Bonham was appointed Major General of the South Carolina Militia.

In 1840, Milledge Luke Bonham was first elected to represent the Edgefield District in the House of Representatives of the:
- 34th General Assembly that met from 1840-1841
- 35th General Assembly that met from 1842-1843

Bonham was Solicitor of the Southern Circuit of South Carolina from 1848–1857. He was elected as a Democrat to the 35th U.S. Congress (succeeding his cousin, Preston Smith Brooks) and the 36th U.S. Congress, when South Carolina seceded from the Union. He served from March 4, 1857 until his retirement on December 21, 1860.

In early 1861, the Southern states that had seceded from the Union appointed special commissioners to travel to other slaveholding Southern states that had yet to secede. Bonham served as the Commissioner from South Carolina to the Mississippi Secession Convention, and helped to succeed in persuading his audience that they should also secede from the Union.

In February of 1861, Bonham was appointed Major General and Commander of the army of South Carolina by Gov. Francis Wilkinson Pickens. He was appointed Brigadier General in the Confederate Army on April 19, 1861, and commanded the First Brigade of the Confederate Army of the Potomac under General P.G.T. Beauregard. He fought in the First Battle of Manassas, commanding his brigade as well as two artillery batteries and six companies of cavalry in the defense of Mitchell's Ford on Bull Run.

He resigned his commission on January 27, 1862, to enter the Confederate Congress.

On December 17, 1862, the SC General Assembly elected Milledge Luke Bonham as the next governor by secret ballot. He served until December 1864. During his term, the state legislature enacted a prohibition against distilling in 1863 and also that year, it demanded that more land be used to grow food instead of cotton to increase the supply of food in the state.

After leaving office, Bonham rejoined the Confederate Army as Brigadier General of Cavalry in February 1865, and was actively engaged in recruiting when the American Civil War ended.

Bonham owned an insurance business in Edgefield and in Atlanta, GA, from 1865-1878.

In 1865, Milledge Luke Bonhan was again elected to represent the Edgefield District in the House of Representatives of the:
- 47th General Assembly that met from 1875-1866

In 1868, he was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention. Bonham was then a member of the South Carolina Taxpayers’ Convention in 1871 and 1874.

Retiring from public service, he resumed the practice of law in Edgefield and engaged in planting.

He was appointed state Railroad Commissioner in 1878 and served until his death at White Sulphur Springs, NC on August 27, 1890. He was buried in Elmwood Cemetery in Columbia.


Milledge Luke Bonham, a U.S. Representative from South Carolina; born near Red Bank (now Saluda), Edgefield District, SC, December 25, 1813; attended private schools in Edgefield District and at Abbeville, SC; graduated from South Carolina College (now the University of South Carolina) at Columbia in 1834; studied law; was admitted to the bar and commenced practice in Edgefield in 1837; served as major and adjutant general of the South Carolina Brigade in the Seminole War in Florida in 1836; during the Mexican War was lieutenant colonel and colonel of the Twelfth Regiment, United States Infantry; major general of the South Carolina Militia; member of the State House of Representatives 1840-1843; solicitor of the southern circuit of South Carolina 1848-1857; elected as a Democrat to the 35th and 36th U.S. Congresses and served from March 4, 1857, until his retirement on December 21, 1860; appointed major general and commander of the army of South Carolina by Gov. Francis Wilkinson Pickens in February 1861; appointed brigadier general in the Confederate Army April 19, 1861; resigned his commission January 27, 1862, to enter the Confederate Congress; elected Governor of South Carolina in December 1862 and served until December 1864; appointed brigadier general of Cavalry in the Confederate Army in February 1865; again a member of the State House of Representatives 1865-1866; delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1868; member of the South Carolina Taxpayers' Convention in 1871 and 1874; resumed the practice of law in Edgefield, engaged in planting, and also conducted an insurance business in Edgefield, SC, and Atlanta, GA, 1865-1878; appointed State Railroad Commissioner in 1878 and served until his death at White Sulphur Springs, NC on August 27, 1890; interment in Elmwood Cemetery, Columbia, SC.

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