Civil War Jacob Thompson: One of Oxford, Mississippi's and the South's Most Wanted Confederates

Published on August 25th, 2014 | by Newt Rayburn

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Jacob Thompson: One of Oxford, Mississippi’s, and the South’s Most Wanted Confederates

Oxford, Mississippi politician Jacob Thompson became head of the Confederate Secret Service at the request of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Thompson’s house was on Old Taylor Road, across from Rowan Oak.

Oxford, Mississippi politician Jacob Thompson became head of the Confederate Secret Service at the request of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Thompson’s house was on Old Taylor Road, across from Rowan Oak.

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. 

President Buchanan and his Cabinet From left to right: Jacob Thompson, Lewis Cass, John B. Floyd, James Buchanan, Howell Cobb, Isaac Toucey, Joseph Holt and Jeremiah S. Black, (c. 1859)

President Buchanan and his Cabinet From left to right: Jacob Thompson, Lewis Cass, John B. Floyd, James Buchanan, Howell Cobb, Isaac Toucey, Joseph Holt and Jeremiah S. Black, (c. 1859)

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. jacobthompson2

Jacob Thompson's grave in Elmwood Cemetery in Memphis, Tennessee. Photograph by Newt Rayburn.

Jacob Thompson’s grave in Elmwood Cemetery in Memphis, Tennessee. Photograph by Newt Rayburn.

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 YorkIllinois, 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. The Local Voice Ligature

 

Related: 150 Years Ago, August 22, 1864: The Burning of Oxford, Mississippi

Jacob Thompson's grave in Elmwood Cemetery in Memphis, Tennessee. Photograph by Newt Rayburn

Civil War Historian James McPherson Signs New Book, Gives Lecture at Square Books
153 Years Ago, August 22, 1864: The Burning of Oxford, Mississippi

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About the Author

Newt Rayburn founded THE LOCAL VOICE in 2006.

Previously, Newt was Editor of PROFANE EXISTENCE in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Art Director for Ole Miss’ LIVING BLUES magazine. Newt won a National Magazine Award in 1999 for his SOUTHERN MUSIC ISSUE with THE OXFORD AMERICAN.

A seventh-generation Lafayette County, Mississippian, Newt is perhaps best known as the leader of the Mississippi RocknRoll band THE COOTERS, but he also has the Country & Southern Rock group, HAWGWASH.

Newt is a Photographer, Writer, and Civil War Enthusiast.



One Response to Jacob Thompson: One of Oxford, Mississippi’s, and the South’s Most Wanted Confederates

  1. Mark Adkins says:

    My g-g-grandfather, a member of Co. C of the 36th MS. Inf. Reg., mustered into service in Meridian, Mississippi in February, 1862, in “Camp Jake Thompson,” where the regiment trained for war. This camp was probably named after Jacob Thompson.

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