Saturday, October 15, 2022

My adventure to graveyard where a Confederate heroine rests

We suspect this is the grave of Alice Thompson in Dungan Cemetery in Thompson's Station, Tenn. (CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.)

Using my backwoods instincts honed by decades of easy living in the suburbs, I hacked through brambles, deftly eluded stumps, and climbed over fallen tree limbs to find the ancient cemetery where Alice Thompson rests in Thompson’s Station, Tenn. (The GPS of my new friend Bob, who accompanied me, helped a little, too. 😀)

Initially flummoxed by barbed-wire fences, we found a gap and exploited it to the max, making our way to a flat patch deep in the woods. Under a canopy of black walnut and cedar trees in Dungan Cemetery, we discovered the gravestone of two of Alice’s four children, Elijah and Mary, who died in 1867. 

That's me at the grave of Alice's children.
Nearby, steps from an old screw-top beer bottle, we found the gravestone under which we suspect Alice's remains rest. She died at 23 in 1870 of an unknown cause.

On March 5, 1863, as the Battle of Thompson’s Station raged around her, Alice found refuge in the cramped basement of the Homestead Manor plantation mansion astride Columbia Pike.  Not quite 17, Thompson—daughter of a physician for whom the town was named—peered from a window while cannons boomed and the muskets of grim-faced soldiers belched volleys of lead.

When a wounded 3rd Arkansas Cavalry color-bearer collapsed a few feet away, Thompson rushed from the basement and grabbed the soldier’s flag, waving it over her head.

" “Boys,” shouted a colonel, “a woman has your flag!"

An artillery shell landed near her, spraying Thompson with dirt, but it failed to explode. Then a Rebel soldier escorted the energized teen back into the basement, where she rejoined family members of the owner, his slaves, and neighbors.

Her 15 seconds of battlefield glory were over.

Bob Ireland with the gravestone for two of Alice Thompson's children, Elijah and Mary.

Gravestone of two of of Alice’s young children, Elijah and Mary. They died in 1867.
 Alice died in 1870 at 23.

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