Civil War veteran honored with Cross of Honor ceremony at Lone Oak Cemetery
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Marshall County Tribune

By Karen Hall

A Southern Cross of Honor was placed in Lone Oak Cemetery Sunday at the grave of the man who was Marshall County’s last living Confederate veteran.

The ceremony was attended by descendants of James Knox Polk Thompson, local dignitaries, and members of several chapters of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and United Daughters of the Confederacy.

J.K.P. Thompson enlisted at 17 in the Richmond Gentries, a company formed by Meredith P. Gentry of the Richmond Community of Bedford County, where Thompson was born and raised. The company became part of Company B, 41st Tennessee Infantry. They were captured at Fort Donelson in February 1862 and imprisoned at Camp Douglas. Thirty-eight of the men died of dysentery and exposure during this imprisonment. The survivors were released in a prisoner exchange at Vicksburg in September 1862. Thompson went on to fight in all the 41st Infantry’s battles, right up to November 1864, when he was shot in the head during the Battle of Franklin.

For Thompson the war was over. He returned to Marshall County and to the farming life he’d known before the war. In November 1865 he married a 14-year-old girl named Mahala. Their farm was in the Bethbirei Community, between Wallace Thompson and Wade Brown Roads. J.K.P. and Mahala had nine children, five boys and four girls. One son, Tim Thompson, was Sheriff of Marshall County in the ’30s.

One of Thompson’s great-grandsons, Donald A. Smith, 86, lives in Lewisburg.

"I do remember him," Smith said. "He was bed-fast. My grandparents waited on him." Smith would have been about 10 years old when his great-grandfather died in 1936.

Except for 13 months in the Navy during World War II, Smith lived and worked most of his life in Lewisburg, including many years at the Peoples and Union Bank, where the Tribune office is now. That building replaced a J.C. Penney store in the ’60s.

Smith was joined at the Lone Oak ceremony by two other great-grandchildren of Thompson ‘Ä" Tim Thompson and Dr. Martha Thompson Elder ‘Ä" and two great-great-grandchildren, Shane Smith and Brandon Thompson. All received copies of the proclamation honoring Thompson signed by County Mayor Joe Boyd Liggett earlier last week. Councilman Robin Minor, a retired history teacher, made the presentation.

Wes Pullen of the Marshall County Rangers #297 welcomed everyone to the ceremony, and thanked Thompson’s family members for allowing it to be held.

Parson Tim Morrison of the John R. Massey Camp #152 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans gave the invocation and the benediction.

The Tennessee Division Sons of Confederate Veterans marched in with the colors and fired a salute with their Civil War-style rifles.

Cathy Gordon Wood, president of Giles County Chapter #257 United Daughters of the Confederacy, welcomed participants, and later gave the dedication of the cross, while UDC members placed flowers on J.K.P. Thompson’s tombstone.

"This stone and iron cross are dedicated to our ancestors and the trials they endured," said Morrison. "We are responsible for telling the children the history of their Southern ancestors. We can’t rely on the schools to do this. Our Confederate history is omitted in the Yankee history books that permeate the system."

"This is a wonderful way to honor our Confederate veterans," said Wood. "Nothing is ended until it is forgotten."

© Copyright 2013 Marshall County Tribune.

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