Portal: Sarah E. Thompson Papers. An Union’s Woman’s Civil War Letters and Papers, 1859-1898 – online!

Sarah E. Thompson Papers, 1859-1898. An On-line Archival Collection. Special Collections Library, Duke University (Web)

Sarah Lane was born in 1838 in Greene County, Tennessee. In 1854, she married Sylvanius H. Thompson and they had two children. Sylvanius H. Thompson later became a private in the 1st Tennessee Calvary U.S.A., where he served primarily as a recruiter for the Union Army. Sarah E. Thompson worked alongside her husband assembling and organizing Union sympathizers in a predominately rebel area around Greeneville, Tennessee.

In early 1864, Sylvanius H. Thompson was ambushed and killed by a Confederate soldier. Spurred by her husband’s death, Sarah E. Thompson continued her work for the Union, delivering dispatches and recruiting information to Union officers. When CSA General John Hunt Morgan and his men spent the night in Greeneville, Sarah E. Thompson managed to slip away and alert Union forces to his whereabouts. Union troops invaded the area and by her accounts, she personally pointed out Morgan hiding behind a garden fence to a Union soldier who proceeded to kill Morgan.

After this event, Sarah E. Thompson served as an army nurse in Knoxville, Tennessee and in Cleveland, Ohio. She supported herself and her daughters by giving lectures in several northern cities about her experiences during the war. In 1866 … read more (Web)