SPIRIT OF FORGIVENESS REUNITED NATION AFTER WAR

Posted By : manager

Posted : January 30, 2024

By Rob Dillon

Most of us are familiar with the current struggle to save the Confederate Monument at Arlington National Cemetery. After reading a recent newspaper article on the subject, Compatriot Rob Dillon had this to say. “Nobody I know much cares for the Charleston Post & Courier. But (heaven help me!) I need a newspaper to read with my morning coffee.
So, a couple of weeks ago the P&C ran a front-page article on the Confederate memorial at Arlington – a terrible treatment of a sad subject. And I couldn’t stop myself from writing a letter to the Editor. But rather than pitching a fit about the 98% of the article that was just crap, I decided to praise them for a couple of little paragraphs way down toward the bottom profiling a couple of South Carolina soldiers resting there. And added one more.

Most of the attached letter is about Rev. William Talliaferro Thompson, who was senior minister at First (Scots) Presbyterian Church (where I sing in the choir) from 1880 – 1900. He was a hard-riding Captain in the 8th Missouri Cavalry, wounded in action at Pine Bluff, AR. According to his memorial plaque in our sanctuary, “A gal-lant soldier of his country, his body rests in Arlington.” Thanks to Mike Thomas (on the CC line) for help with the research.” Compatriot Dillon’s letter follows and was published in the P&C on September 20th.

 I was touched by the September 5 article on the Confederate burial grounds at Arlington National Cemetery, which featured information about the South Carolina soldiers resting there.
We should remember one additional hero with a local connection who “lies by mourning beauty crowned.”

William Taliaferro Thompson enlisted in the 8th Missouri Confederate Cavalry in 1862. By June 1863, he had been promoted to captain.
He was wounded in action at Pine Bluff, Arkansas, in October 1863 but remained in service until his regiment disbanded in June 1865, two months after the surrender at Appomattox. 

After the war, Thompson heard the call to Christian ministry. He graduated from Columbia Theological Seminary in 1872, and after a brief pastorate in Florence County, accepted a call to the pulpit of First (Scots) Presbyterian Church in Charleston, where he served from 1880s to 1900.
According to “Beyond the Burning Bush,” a history of First (Scots) by the Rev. E. G. Lilly, Thompson was noted as “a gifted orator, active in temperance work, social reforms, and veterans affairs, seeking to unite the country and to bring about true reconciliation.”

His memorial plaque in the First (Scots) sanctuary testifies: “A gallant soldier of his country, his body rests in Arlington.” That the federal government would sanction a monument of timeless beauty to honor Rev. Thompson and 500 equally gallant soldiers who fought for their country alongside him is a credit to the charity, compassion, and spirit of forgiveness that flowered across this reunified nation in the early 20th century. To see that gracious spirit wither in the sanctimony and malice of the present age is a terrible shame. 

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