Published on August 25th, 2014 | by Newt Rayburn1
Jacob Thompson: One of Oxford, Mississippi’s, and the South’s Most Wanted Confederates
One of the first homes in Oxford, Mississippi to be burned by the Union Army on August 22, 1864, was the estate belonging to Jacob Thompson. The Thompson place stood across the street from Rowan Oak on Old Taylor Road.
Jacob Thompson was an important United States Federal Official before the Civil War. He was elected to represent Mississippi in both House and Senate, and he was President James Buchanan’s Secretary of the Interior from 1857 until Mississippi seceded on January 9, 1861.
Jacob Thompson resigned and went back to his home in Oxford, where he helped raise Confederate regiments.
He served in regional battles and engagements the first two years of the Civil War, including the Battle of Shiloh and the first Union invasion of Oxford in December 1862.
In March of 1864, Confederate President Jefferson Davis asked him to travel to Canada to help promote the Southern cause.
Jacob Thompson took a suitcase full of gold and camped out in a hotel in Montreal, where he enlisted the help of renegade bands of Northerners and Canadians to conduct clandestine actions and raids in New York, Illinois, and the Great Lakes area.
Thompson was very successful in harassing the Union army from Canada and he quickly became one of the most wanted Confederates. He was even believed to have ties to John Wilkes Booth, the man who assassinated President Abraham Lincoln.
Jacob eventually fled to Europe to escape arrest, and lived there after the war. Although he was formerly charged in 1865 in the conspiracy to assassinate the President, he was eventually exonerated.
Thompson lived in Europe until 1868 when he returned to the South and settled in Memphis, Tennessee. He is buried in Elmwood Cemetery, just south of downtown Memphis.
Related: 150 Years Ago, August 22, 1864: The Burning of Oxford, Mississippi
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