Meet William H Thompkins, a remarkable individual who exemplified courage and selflessness during the Spanish-American War. Born in Paterson, New Jersey, Thompkins served as a member of the Buffalo Soldiers, the African American 10th Cavalry. His actions during a daring rescue mission earned him the prestigious Medal of Honor and cemented his place in history. This article delves into Thompkins’s life and heroic exploits, shedding light on his remarkable journey during the Spanish-American War.
Early Life and Military Service
Born on October 3, 1872, Thompkins grew up in Newark, New Jersey, and later enlisted in the U.S. Army in his birthplace, Paterson. He became a member of Troop M of the 10th Cavalry, known as the Buffalo Soldiers, an esteemed unit renowned for their bravery and resilience.
During the Spanish-American War, the U.S. military collaborated with Cuban revolutionaries to combat Spanish forces in Cuba. The mission was to smuggle guns, supplies, and Cuban soldiers to aid the revolutionaries in their quest for independence. Thompkins found himself in the midst of this conflict, serving with valor and determination alongside his fellow soldiers.
The Perilous Expedition and Heroic Rescue
In June 1898, an ambitious expedition was organized to provide support to Cuban revolutionaries. This included the gunboat USS Peoria, the steamship Fanita, and the U.S. Army Transport Florida, which set sail from Key West, Florida.