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"The battlefields are silent now. The graves all look the same." -- Motorhead,Voices from the War

Thompson, Peter


Company C

Born: September 1, 1853* (Fifeshire, Scotland)

Died: December 3, 1928 (Hot Springs, South Dakota) 

Grave location: West Lead Cemetery, Lead, South Dakota

Grave GPS Coordinates: N44 20.922 W103 46.683

*His date of birth has also been listed as December 28, 1853. (Thanks to Rocky Boyd for clearing up the facts about Thompson’s date of birth. The date of December 28, 1853 was actually the day that Thompson was baptized.  The December 28th date is the one that appears on his grave markers.)

He enlisted on September 21, 1875, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania by Lt. Thomas Gregg.  He listed his previous occupation as miner. He was transferred to Jefferson Barracks, Missouri and was assigned to Company C, 7th Cavalry at Fort Lincoln. He was discharged on September 20, 1880, at Fort Meade, Dakota, upon expiration of service, as a private of excellent character. He had brown eyes, brown hair, ruddy complexion, and was 5’ 8 ¾” in height. He ran a ranch northeast of Alzada, Montana, until he died in 1928.  Thompson and the rest of Company C were assigned to the battalion under Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer. His horse gave out and he fell back and eventually joined Major Reno and the troops on the hilltop. He was wounded in the right hand while with the water party on June 26th. He was transported to Fort Lincoln aboard the steamer Far West. He was issued the Medal of Honor on October 5, 1878, as a member of the water party with the citation”… after having voluntarily brought water to the wounded in which effort he was shot through the hand, he made two more successful trips for the same purpose notwithstanding the remonstrances of his sergeant.”

Headstone for Peter Thompson at the West Lead Cemetery - Lead, South Dakota

Marker on Thompson's grave indicating he was a holder of the Medal of Honor

Peter Thompson

Peter Thompson's Medal of Honor on display - High Plains Western Heritage Center, Spearfish, South Dakota

New flag and light pole erected over Thompson's grave


  1. Peter Thompson was born Peter Thomson, 29 Dec 1854, Wemyss, Fife, Scotland, son to Andrew Thomson, master baker, and Elisabeth Taylor. This according to

  2. Thanks for your interest and taking the time to comment!

    The following is from the article, Peter Thompson’s Lost Interview with Walter Camp: The Controversy Deepens; by Bruce Liddic; LBHA Research Review; Vol. 31, 2017; Footnote #4, page 27:

    There is a question as to when Peter was born. (The common spelling for Thompson in Scotland is Thomson.) Peter told the Belle Fourche Bee’s editor he was “underage” when he enlisted. His tombstone has a birth date of December 28, 1854. Peter’s daughter, Susan Thompson Taylor, said her father was born on December 28, 1856. Rocky Boyd, a Thompson scholar and since deceased, investigated these various dates and determined his actual birthday was September 1, 1853, and that December 28, 1853, was the date he was baptized. To add further confusion, it was reported in Peter’s obituary (Belle Fourche Bee; December 7, 1928) that he was born on December 28, 1856. The New York Times stated he was seventy-five at the time of his death.

  3. I live in Fife, Scotland just a couple of miles from where Peter Thompson was born. I have a copy of his birth certificate (Old Parish Registers Births 447/ 50 298 Markinch) which states he was born on September 1 1853 to parents John Thomson (original Scottish spelling of his surname) and Agnes Craigie. He was born in Markinch and the confusion about the place of birth may be because villages and towns came under small administrative district known as a Parish. Wemyss was a parish.

  4. Jim - it's a pleasure to have you here! I have a copy of the birth record from Markinch, which also shows the September 1 birthdate but would love to see a copy of his birth certificate. I have a friend who has done quite a bit of work on Peter Thompson. He lives in Glenrothes. There are also a couple of guys here in the U.S. that are equally interested. Thompson was an fascinating guy.

  5. Scott - I lost track of the post and the url but here it is again. I think you will mean Andy Mowat who I know. Please get in touch re email.


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