Born in 1813 at Red Bank (now Saluda) in the Edgefield District, Governor Milledge L. Bonham (1813-1910) attended private schools in Edgefield and Abbeville (South Carolina), and the South Carolina College. He graduated second in his class in 1834. After being admitted to the bar in 1837, he began a law practice in Edgefield. In 1840, Bonham was elected to the state House of Representatives. During the Mexican War, Bonham served as a colonel in the Palmetto Regiment of the U.S. Army, and as a major general of the South Carolina volunteer forces. He acted as a military governor of a Mexican province for a short time after the war's end. Returning to South Carolina in 1848, he served as a solicitor for his judicial district until his election into the U.S. House of Representatives in 1857. He withdrew his seat after South Carolina adopted the Ordinance of Secession. Bonham served as major general of the South Carolina troops and brigadier general in the Confederate Army, participating in the battle of First Manassas, the first major campaign of the Civil War. Differences with Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy, over military policies, caused Bonham to resign his commission in the Confederate Army in 1862. He served for a short time in the Confederate States of America Congress as a member of the House. He resigned this seat after being elected governor of South Carolina later in 1862. As governor, he supported his administration through conscription, raised troops, took a strong position against deserters, and used slave labor for building defenses. After his term as governor, he returned to the C.S.A. army as brigadier general of the cavalry. After the Civil War, he went back to Edgefield to resume his law practice and to run his plantation. He was elected to the state House of Representatives from 1865 to 1867. Bonham died at White Sulphur Springs, Virginia, in 1890.
Courtesy of the South Caroliniana Library.