Fort Thompson (6)

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Fort Thompson (6) (1861-1862, 1862-186?) - A Confederate U.S. Civil War Fort established in 1861 near New Madrid, New Madrid County, Missouri. Named Fort Thompson after General Meriwether Thompson who oversaw the construction. Abandoned by the Confederates in 1862 and captured by Union forces.

Fort Thompson Site in New Madrid,


Fort Thompson was conceived and construction started in October 1861. The post was dedicated and named by Missouri Governor Claiborne F. Jackson at a gathering at New Madrid on 7 Dec 1861. New Madrid sits at a strategic bow in the Mississippi River and Island number 10 sits below it in mid-river able to block all river traffic with a number of Confederate gun batteries and a large garrison.

Fort Thompson Plan.
Fort Thompson Layout.
New Madrid and Island No. 10 Fortifications.

Fort Thompson was built as a four-sided work with bastions at each angle. The five-foot thick walls were built with sacks of shelled corn (some say cotton bales) covered with dirt obtained by digging an outer ditch around the walls. The walls were said to be tamped down by holding horse races on the walls. Some 500 slaves were used to build the fort but it was never fully complete or fully armed. Eventually, the fort came to mount fourteen guns during the siege of New Madrid.

The siege of New Madrid was short-lived. Brigadier General John Pope, (Cullum 1127), commander of the Union Army of the Mississippi reached the outskirts of New Madrid on 3 Mar 1862, and laid siege to the city, bombarding Fort Thompson and Fort Bankhead. Four large 128 pounder Union siege guns arrived on the 13th and the Confederate defenders evacuated to Island Number 10, leaving the city to the Union attackers.

The Union capture of New Madrid on 14 Mar 1862 set the stage for Union forces to dig a 12-mile canal bypassing the Confederates on Island Number 10 and opening up that portion of the Mississippi. The Confederate garrison on Island Number 10 was trapped by this action and forced to surrender. The Confederates surrendered three generals, 273 field and company-grade officers, 6,700 privates, 123 pieces of heavy artillery, and a large supply of ammunition and small arms.

Current Status

Fort Thompson Memorial.

A small memorial with a flag, reader board, and a fake cannon mark the spot where the fort supposedly stood. The reader board itself says that the "original location was washed away by the ever-changing Mississippi River." The road from New Madrid to the Dorena/Hickman Ferry (WW) follows a portion of the Union canal. Additional information is available at the New Madrid Historical Museum at 1 South Main Street. Also grouped in front of the museum across the street are a number of monuments and reader boards including the reader boards for Fort Bankhead and Fort Celeste, moved here because of constant flooding at their former location and a monument for the Battle of Island No 10. A readerboard for New Madrid and Island No. 10 is at the Levee Overlook near the museum.

Location: New Madrid, New Madrid County, Missouri.

Maps & Images

Lat: 36.58114 Long: -89.55284

  • Multi Maps from ACME
  • Maps from Bing
  • Maps from Google
  • Elevation: 305'

GPS Locations:

See Also:



Visited: 9 Sep 2020

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