Meriwether Jeff Thompson Missouri's Swamp Fox


Meriwether Jeff Thompson was born at Harper's Ferry Virginia on January 22, 1826. In 846 he moved to Liberty Missouri, later relocating to St. Joesph Missouri where he lived till 1852, when he moved to Salt Lake City for a year. He returned to St. Joseph and in 1859 he was elected Mayor.  Here is a very rare image of Meriwether Jeff Thompson "Missouri's Swamp Fox. "                                                                        

Thompson was a colonel in the Missouri state militia at the outbreak of the War of Southern Independence. In late July 1861, he was appointed brigadier general of the First Division, Missouri State Guard. Jeff commanded the First Military District of Missouri, which covered the swampy southeastern quarter of the state from St. Louis to the Mississippi River. Thompson soon gained renown as the "Swamp Fox of the Confederacy" his battalion was known as the "Swamp Rats."

When Union General John C. Fremont issued an emancipation proclamation illegally attempting to free the slaves in Missouri, Thompson declared a counter-proclamation and his force of 3,000 soldiers began raiding Union positions near the border in October. On October 15, 1861, the "Swamp Fox" led a cavalry attack on the Iron Mountain Railroad bridge over the Big River near Blackwell in Jefferson County. After successfully burning the bridge, Thompson retreated to join his infantry in Fredericktown were his defeat left southeastern Missouri in Union control.

After briefly commanding rams in the Confederate riverine fleet in 1862, Thompson was reassigned to the Trans-Mississippi region. There, he engaged in a number of battles before returning to Arkansas in 1863 to accompany Gen. John S. Marmaduke on his raid into Missouri. Thompson was captured in August in Arkansas, and spent time in St. Louis' Gratiot Street prison, as well as at Fort Delaware and Johnson's Island prisoner-of-war camps. Eventually he was exchanged in 1864 for a Union general. Later that year, Thompson participated in Major General Sterling Price's Missouri expedition, taking command of "Jo" Shelby's famed "Iron Brigade" when Shelby became division commander. He served competently in this role. In March 1865, Thompson was appointed commander of the Northern Sub-District of Arkansas. He surrendered his troops on May 11, 1865, in Jacksonport, Arkansas.

A ship in the Confederate Navy, the CSS General M. Jeff Thompson, was named in Thompson's honor. The side-wheel river steamer was converted at New Orleans to a "cotton-clad" ram in early 1862. After being set afire by gunfire from Union warships in the Battle of Memphis on June 6, 1862, the ship ran aground and soon blew up.

His commission as brigadier general came from his Missouri State Guard service and was never officially recognized by the Confederate government.

After the war he worked as the Chief Engineer of the Board of Public works for the State of Louisiana. In 1876 he returned to his beloved St. Joesph Missouri, where he died on September 5, 1876. Patrick R. Marquis© Quantrillsguerrillas.com. Permission should be requested and agreed to before using this copyrighted essay and/or image.

Below is an rare armed image of  General M. Jeff Thompson, as well as a drawing of  Jeff and other prisoners-of-war at Johnson's Island.                                                                                                                              



                                          MEMBERS ONLY SECTION

Text Size