Tunes played on fife and drum regulated a soldier's life in camp and
his actions on the battlefield. Heard over the roar of battle and through
the haze of smoke, fifes and drums - field music - communicated orders
to massed troops quickly. Richard Willoughby Thompson (c. 1742-1837),
buried in Fancher Cemetery, was a field musician during the American
Revolution and the War of 1812.
According to his grandson Henry's recollections from the 1920s, Thompson was born in Dublin, Ireland, and enlisted in the British army, where his service culminated in his capture while picking blackberries. He switched allegiances, joined the colonials, and was sent to Virginia. Thompson was appointed the Fife Major of the 5th Virginia Regiment and remained a Fife Major as Virginia units organized during the war.
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Thompson was appointed Drum Major of the 3rd and 4th Virginia
Regiment in October 1779. As a fife or drum major, he was responsible for training other field musicians.
During the War of 1812, Governor Return J. Meigs appointed the aged Thompson Master Musician of the Ohio Militia and he joined General William Henry Harrison's Grand Camp near Upper Sandusky. Thompson trained and drilled field musicians and his "activity was rather remarkable for a man of his age," noted an eyewitness. Thompson
was tragically murdered on December 28, 1837. Rebekah Lee Thompson (1762-1852) is buried beside her husband Richard. Other known Revolutionary War veterans buried in Fancher Cemetery are
Benajah Cook from Connecticut (Row 7); William Fancher from New York (Row 8); Zimri Hills from Connecticut (Row 10), and James Garlinghouse from New Jersey (Row 19)