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George Thompson (1839-1876)

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George Thompson (1839-1876)


1876 Obituary [1]


MR. GEORGE THOMPSON was born at Greenwich on the 26th of March, 1839. In 1849 he was sent to a school near Stuttgart, which he left in 1862, continuing his studies at Dr. Knightley’s, in the neighbourhood of London, until 1854. From 1855 to 1857 he served a pupilage under Mr. W. L. Arrowsmith, superintendent of Government works at Malta, and was put on the engineering staff of the gas-works in that island. He returned to England in 1857, and soon afterwards was engaged for one year as a draughts- man at the locomotive works of Messrs. Beyer, Peacock and Co. In 1858 he left for South America, with the object of allying himself with a brother who was occupied in mercantile pursuits, but after a time this idea was abandoned, and in September of the same year he joined the staff of the Asuncion and Villa Rica railway in Paraguay, under the late Mr. George Paddison, M. Inst. C.E., becoming in 1862 one of the Assistant Engineers to Messrs. Burrell and Valpy, MM. Inst. C.E., the then Engineers in Chief of that railway. Although a mere youth, he was at this time considered to be one of the best Guarani scholars, besides speaking fluently five or six other languages. The war between Paraguay and the allied forces of Brazil and the Argentine and Oriental Republics having broken out in the latter part of 1864, Mr. Thompson, in 1865, offered his services as a military engineer to the Paraguayan President, Don Francisco S. Lopez, and this offer being accepted, he joined the army in the June of that year, and took a pro- minent part in the war until the end of 1868. He chose many of the positions and designed and constructed many of the defences during the war, and his achievements will always live in South American history, as he held at bay the fleet of the allies for several weeks, whilst in command of a river battery at Angostura, a few miles below Asuncion. Although obliged to capitulate, the allies allowed him a11 the honours of war, as he refused to surrender at discretion.

The fall of Angostura was virtually the end of the war; Previous to this Mr. Thompson had been promoted to the rank of lieutenant- colonel in the Paraguayan army, and had received from President Lopez the decoration of "Knight of the order of merit"(Caballero del orden del merito). A few months were passed in England in 1869, during which he wrote "The War in Paraguay," a work which gives a very faithful account of the campaign. Mr. Thompson then re- turned to South America and married a Paraguayan lady, who, with three children, survives him. In 1870 he proceeded to Cor- doba, in the Argentine Confederation, where he was appointed President of the Topographical Department, and made and pub- lished a map of the province. He resigned that appointment in September 1871, and subsequently became the Engineer and Manager of the Asuncion and Villa Rica railway in Paraguay, which he gave up about two years ago, but remained in that country to the time of his decease, which took place at Asuncion in March 1876, after a lingering illness.

He was only elected an Associate on the 4th of March, 1873.


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Sources of Information

  1. 1876 Institution of Civil Engineers: Obituaries