Sgt. Major Charles D. Parker

Contributed by Stephen E. Williams

 

Charles Parker of Clarksburg, Ross Co., Ohio was recruited by his brother Job R. Parker into Co. A. of the 48th OVI and was mustered in as a private on January 1, 1862. Like his brother Job, Charles was tall (6 ft.) and blue eyed with dark hair. The two brothers were also both teachers before the war.

Unfortunately for them both, they seem to have shared something else - tuberculosis. Job Parker suffered from "lung fever" late in the war and December 5, 1865, he died at home in Highland County "of Lung disease caused by Exposure in the late War." Charles Parker's Disability Discharge states that he is unfit for duty because of "Chronic pneumonia and chronic bronchitis of a tubercular diathesis".

Charles Parker was from Ross County, east of Highland County. He may be the only Ross county man recruited into the 48th. It is probable that he joined Co. A of the 48th rather than a Ross County company because his brother commanded it.

On Feb 1, 1868, Charles Parker was promoted to Sergeant Major by Col. Sullivan to replace Isaac Tice who had been promoted to Lieutenant. This was about two weeks after his brother, Job, was promoted to Lieut. Col. of the regiment.

Letters in Charles military record reveal that just before the Battle of Shiloh Charles was trying to get discharged for disability because he was suffering from "lung disease" (tuberculosis), pneumonia, diarrhea, and mumps. The paperwork for his discharge was almost complete when the battle of Shiloh erupted. This battle was fought in a cold rain. The men, many deprived of coats and rain gear, and all deprived of blankets because of the surprise, were exposed for about 42 hours straight, sleeping on their arms, and were out on a third day at the skirmish at Fallen Timber. How much of this exposure Charles Parker had to endure in his debilitated condition is not given but he says, "Exposure during the battle aggravated my lung disease." At death's door he went to the regimental field officers. He says "[I] Was advised by the Col-, Lieut Col- and Maj to come home but as no furloughs were given at that time, our Brigade Surgeon gave me a permit to get on one of the Hospital boats in which I was carried to Hospital No. 2 at Evensville, was thence sent home on furlough and lay for several months at the point of death. Our Lieut. Col. (my brother) visited me and took my certificates of disability, furlough, and other papers back to the Regt. with him to aid him in procuring my final discharge, which he was to forward as soon as obtained."

Charles Parker was not with the regiment after April 11, 1862 and was "by error reported as discharged on the Morning Reports, and dropped from Muster Roll of April 30, 62, without proper authority..". Apparently his brother failed to complete the paperwork for his discharge or the paperwork was misplaced in the channels of the military bureaucracy because he was "taken up" on the August 31, 1862 "roll and declared a deserter" Lieut. Hussey, then serving as Col. Sullivan's acting adjutant, states in his diary "Sunday 31st 1862… Chas. Parker marked deserter on FTS. Roll.

For reasons unknown to Charles his discharge did not come. He was then informed by the military commander at Columbus, Ohio that he was "at home on discharge furlough" and that he had "refused to report in compliance with general order No. 11 of Nov. 20th." He dealt with the Quarter Master General of Ohio, the Governor of Ohio and, in general, went through a legal snarl before finally being discharged.

On September 1, 1862, Edward A. Conkling, Co. B, was promoted to fill Charles Parker's rank as Sergeant Major of the 48th OVI to replace the "deserter". The usual note as to who was replaced is omitted.

Sergeant Major Charles D. Parker who served at Shiloh in a physical condition that would have kept all but the most motivated men from duty and who suffered both physical and bureaucratic ordeals that no one should have to bear, was honorably discharged from the 48th OVI on March 17, 1863 at Columbus, Ohio.

 

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