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AfriGeneas Military Research Forum

CW symposium helps fill in gaps

CW symposium helps fill in gaps

By Linda Franz, April 7, 2006

Betty Curtis heard many times that her great-grandfather played a role in the Civil War.

“I heard it from the nephew of my great-grandfather,” Curtis says. “Till the day he died, he kept telling me, ‘Caleb Thompson was an ammunition boy in Mr. Lincoln’s Army at the Battle of Bunker Hill in West Virginia in the spring.’ It was repeated to me over and over.”

At a workshop Thursday at the Army Heritage Education Center, Curtis had a chance to research that nugget of family history.

Right time, vicinity

While she found nothing definite to tie Caleb Thompson to a particular unit, her research confirmed there were military engagements at the right time and place and that he was in the vicinity.

She found that two skirmishes took place at Bunker Hill in the springtime and found the names of the units that participated. Her great-grandfather would have been 12 at the time of the first skirmish and 13 at the time of the second.

Thompson, who was from Woodstock, Va., in the Shenandoah Valley, escaped from slavery. Because he was an expert with horses, Curtis thinks he may have attached himself to a Union cavalry unit. The research helped give her “a feel for an era.”

Thompson was the father of Emma Thompson McGowan, for whom a Carlisle High School building is named.

The workshop was the first event in a three-day U.S. Colored Troops Symposium in Carlisle.


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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