Happy Birthday to Brig Gen. M. Jeff Thompson

F rom Suite 101.com

“Meriwether Jeff Thompson, also known as M. Jeff Thompson, was born during the year of 1826, in Jefferson County, Harpers Ferry, Virginia, which is now part of West Virginia. In 1848, he moved to St. Joseph, Missouri, where he worked as a store clerk, land surveyor, engineering, and director of the building crew of the Hannibal & St. Joseph Railroad. He then became mayor of St. Joseph from 1857 to 1860, and was there to inaugurate the Pony Express. At that point, the Civil War began with the firing upon of Fort Sumter, and Thompson raised a Calvary in St. Joseph, which was part of the Missouri State Guard, became it’s commander, and fought for the Confederates.

The Missouri Swamp Fox

Thompson received the name “Missouri Swamp Fox” from his tactic of tricking Union steamboats into docking. Once docked to help him, he would then take his battalion and capture the vessel with all Union Soldiers on board. It was documented that he did release ships that were privately owned. Starting in 1860, his strategies soon came to the attention of Ulysses S. Grant, and by 1861, Grant wanted Thompson imprisoned. Due to the success of the capturing of many scores of Union soldiers, his nickname stuck and his Calvary was also given the nickname of “Swamp Rats”. By mid 1861, he was made brigadier of the Missouri State Guard.

After his victory at Iron Mountain Railroad, near Blackwell, Missouri. General Thompson then moved onto Fredericktown, where he was defeated, leaving Southern Missouri to the Union. Thompson and his forces then moved out past the Mississippi River to regroup and engaged in several actions, and then finally marched down to Arkansas. While fighting to regain Missouri, Thompson and his men were captured in Arkansas.

Jeff Thompson the P.O.W.

When Thompson was captured in 1863, he was first taken to St. Louis’ Gratiot Street prison. He was then transferred to the prison camp at Fort Delaware and then finally on Johnson’s Island. While in Fort Delaware, he wrote letters to friends, wrote poetry and journeyed his experiences which where then published after the war. While at Fort Delaware he met a 14 year old orderly from Tennessee by the name of Bailey Peyton Key, who remained at his side the entire time he was incarcerated at Fort Delaware. In the spring of 1864, he was exchanged for a Union general. He returned to Missouri shortly after to fight alongside Major General Sterling Price. That campaign was defeated and Thompson surrendered his brigade in Arkansas in May of 1865.

Thompson was never made a full fledged Confederate General, since Missouri wasn’t officially part of the Confederate Congress at the time of his promotion, but the fact that he didn’t have a commission didn’t seem to matter. Thompson also had the distinction of having a Confederate Army ship named after him, which was unusual. Civilian life found Thompson in New Orleans, Louisiana, were he once again found himself in the role of a civil engineer. This profession was hard on his health, and he died in 1876. His final resting spot can be found back in his beloved St. Joseph, Missouri.”

Read more at Suite101: M. Jeff Thompson: The “Missouri Swamp Fox” of the Confederatacy http://www.suite101.com/content/m-jeff-thompson-the-missouri-swamp-fox-of-the-confederatacy-a285349#ixzz1Bp0fieVy

Interesting enough , Thompson was so respected by his enemies, that many worked toward his freedom after his capture in 1863, as documented in the Nov. 1 , 1863 New York Times -webmaster


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