John Grubb Parke

John Grubb Parke was born September 22, 1827, near Coatesville, Pennsylvania, but at the age of eight moved with his parents to Philadelphia. He attended the academy of Samuel Crawford and the University of Pennsylvania and in 1845 entered West Point from which he was graduated in 1849, ranking second in the class. Parke's entire Regular Army career was in the Corps of Topographical Engineers and the Corps of Engineers (into which the former was merged in 1863), largely in survey work on the United States-Canada northwest boundary. During the Civil War, however, he demonstrated that he was an extremely competent troop commander. Returning from the Washington Territory to the East in October, 1861, he was made a brigadier general of volunteers on November 23 and assigned to the command of a brigade in Ambrose E. Burnside's North Carolina expedition. For his services in this first large-scale Union success, he was promoted major general on August 20, 1862, to rank from July 18. Meantime Parke served as Burnside's chief of staff in the Maryland campaign and at Fredericksburg. He commanded the IX Corps while Burnside was in charge of the Department of the Ohio and directed his men skillfully at Vicksburg and in the course of W. T. Sherman's subsequent capture of Jackson. He then took part in the Knoxville campaign against James Longstreet. In the spring of 1864 he again reported to Burnside as his chief of staff— Burnside's IX Corps at this time constituted an entity apart from the Army of the Potomac and reported directly to U. S. Grant by virtue of Burnside's seniority over George G. Meade. This awkward arrangement was terminated during the bloody Overland campaign against Richmond in which Parke did yeoman's work. After the debacle at the battle of The Crater, where Burnside's men failed to penetrate a huge gap in the Petersburg lines caused by the explosion of a mine, Burnside was relieved from command and succeeded by Parke. During the attack on Fort Stedman, March 25, 1865, Parke commanded the army in the temporary absence of Meade and moved quickly and capably to repel the last tactical assault by Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. For this service he was brevetted major general in the Regular Army. After the war he rose to the rank of colonel of engineers, and from 1887 until his retirement in 1889 he was superintendent of the Military Academy. He died in Washington, December 16, 1900, and was buried in the churchyard of St. James the Less in Philadelphia.

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Reference: Generals in Blue. Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge.