Sunday, May 27, 2018

A Minuteman's Death

Minuteman - Google Image

Memorial Day, observed on the last Monday in May, honors the men and women who died while serving in the United States military. Veterans’ Day, observed in November, honors all men and women who have and are serving in the United States military. Keeping that distinction in mind, I decided to write about Daniel Thompson (1734-1775), my husband’s 3rd cousin six times removed, in honor of Memorial Day.

Daniel Thompson was a Revolutionary war soldier. He was killed on April 19, 1775, during the British retreat from Concord on the first day of the American Revolution. Daniel was one of 50 Americans who died that day. 

Daniel was the second oldest child of five children. His parents, Samuel Thompson (1705-1748) and Ruth Wright Thompson (1706-1775) were life-long residents of Woburn, Massachusetts. Daniel came from a family who always stood ready to come to the defense of their community and surrounding area. His hometown of Woburn, where he was born, is only five miles from Lexington, where he died.

This first battle of the American Revolutionary War, which took place in multiple communities, came to be known as the Battle of Concord and Lexington. This “battle” was actually a series of skirmishes, between the Americans – aka Minutemen – and the British. The British (a force of 700 men) were intent on seizing a cache of ammunition, and the Minutemen were just as intent on denying them access. Shots were fired, battle ensued, and the Revolutionary War started.

So, what is known about Daniel Thompson on that fatal day? He was one of the many who gathered
Fowle Tavern - Google Image
at Fowle Tavern in Woburn to muster out against the British. As part of the Woburn Militia, Thompson would have marched with the militia from Fowle Tavern to Concord. Along with militia units from other communities. The militia hid behind trees, stone walls, and buildings in the hopes to ambush the approaching British soldiers. Once the British appeared, the fighting began. 

According to information found on the Find A Grave website, Thompson took cover behind a barn and fired with deadly results. His results were so deadly, “that a British regular was ordered to come up behind him and take him out. But no sooner did the regular’s find its target than he was in turn shot” by another militia man who had managed to get behind the British soldier. However, the shot killing the British regular was not in time to save Thompson’s life. It was left to Daniel’s brother, Abijah, to tell Daniel’s wife and children of Daniel’s death.

On Friday, April 21, 1775, Daniel, along with another patriot, Asahel Porter, were buried in the First Burial Ground in Woburn Cemetery.  According to the Find a Grave website: “. . . the Woburn Militia’s . . . flag bearer, lowered the militia’s flag and dragged it behind in honor of the dead heroes. Reverend Josiah Sherman made a speech fitting the occasion and when he was finished, the flag bearer raised the flag to symbolize Thompson’s and Porter’s rebirth in heaven.”

The inscription on Daniel’s headstone reads as follows:

            “Here lies Buried the Body of
            Mr. Daniel Thompson who was
            slain in Concord Battle on ye 19th
            of April 1775. Aged 40 Years.
            Here Passenger confin’d reduc’d to dust
            lies what was once Religious wise & Just.
            The cause he engaged did animate him high.
            Namely Religion and dear Liberty.
            Steady and warm in Liberties defence.
            True to his Country. Loyal to his Prince.
            Though in his Breast a Thirst for glory fired.
            Courageous in his country’s cause expired.
            Although he’s gone his name Embalmed shall be,
            and had in everlasting Memory.”

Headstone Image from

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