General William Thompson

General William Thompson

1736-1781

William Thompson was born in Ireland in 1736 and emigrated to Carlisle, Pennsylvania. During the French and Indian War he served as a captain in the Kittanning expedition under John Armstrong.

After news of the Battle of Bunker Hill reached PA. in 1775, Thompson was appointed colonel of a rifle battalion, he was the first colonel commissioned in the U.S. Army, many of the officers who served under him we also the first commissioned officers of their rank to serve. He was sent to Mass. to help in the defense of Boston. His unit was known as Thompson’s Pennsylvania Rifle Battalion, or the 1st. Pennsylvania regiment. After Thompson’s company of sharpshooters drove back a British landing party on Nov. 9, 1775 he was promoted to brigadire-general in the Continental Army. He was then sent to reinforce American troops in Canada.

Thompson was captured during an attack at Trois-Riviers (three rivers) in Quebec on June 8, 1776. He was paroled but was not exchanged for four years so he could not reenter military service.

He passed into the hands of our Lord at his home in Carlisle at the age of 45 on Sept. 3, 1781.

He will be most remembered and honored by the Ancient Order of Hibernians General William Thompson Division, not only for his duty performed for his adopted country, but that he was an Irishman, a leader of men both Catholic and Protestant against a common oppressor, in a struggle that ensured our Irish heritage and religious freedom.

He lays at rest in the Old Carlisle Cemetery near the grave of Molly Pitcher. (Mary MCaully)

Every year to honor this Irish leader a ceremony and prayer service is conducted at his gravesite on the anniversary of his death.