One of my gg-grandfathers, John G. Parker, had six brothers. At least four, all younger than John, served in Indiana units during the Civil War. Their names are enshrined on the Civil War monument that is in the center of the Angola, Indiana town square. They hailed from Orland, which is in Steuben County; Angola is the county seat.
Two of them were twins, Edwin L. and Edward A. Parker. Together, Edward and Edwin volunteered for service on September 6, 1861 at the age of 21. Edwin survived the war, Edward did not. They were initially mustered into the 29th Indiana Infantry, Company A, as privates. Evidently they were not identical twins. Edwin is described as 5’ 7”, with a light complexion, blue eyes, and sandy hair. Edward was slightly shorter at 5’ 5 ¾”, with dark complexion, dark eyes, and brown hair. Edward’s occupation is listed as “printer,” Edwin’s “drover.”
The 29th left Indiana on October 9th, 1861 and took part in action at Bowling Green, Kentucky in February, 1862.
Marching with McCook’s division of the Army of the Ohio under Don Carlos Buell, the Parker twins arrived at Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee on the evening of the first day of the Battle of Shiloh. On April 7, 1862, the second day of the battle, the 29th was held in reserve until noon, at which time they were moved front and center of the Union lines and endured two hours of heavy fighting. Both Edward and Edwin survived, and the 29th continued to see action. The twins participated in the siege of Corinth, but then seem to have
parted ways. Edward stayed with the 29th which fought at Stone’s River, where it took heavy losses. Edward was apparently serving as a nurse during this time and was promoted to Sgt. in April 1863. Edwin was hospitalized in Dec. 1861, sick on furlough Jan. ’62, then on recruiting duty by order of Gen. Buell Aug. ‘62. In September, Edwin was discharged from the 29th “with a view to promotion” and in September 1862, was enrolled in the 5th Cavalry, Co. M, as a 2nd Lieutenant. He was mustered out of the 5th by act of Congress in May of 1863, and then appears to have joined the 6th Indiana Cavalry.
Edward, still with the 29th in September 1863, was captured at Chickamauga, and eventually ended up at Andersonville Prison. He died there of diarrhea, on July 27, 1864. The final nine months of his life could not have been pleasant. After the war Edwin apparently enlisted in the regular Army because his obituary states: “Lieutenant Parker also served in the U.S. Army, enlisting as a private, promoted to Corporal Sargeant [sic] then to Lieutenant in battle of Sandy Creek, Colorado, with Sioux and Cheyennes, where over five hundred Indians were killed.” I do not think this is the infamous “Sand Creek Massacre” because there were no regular army units there. There was another fight at Big Sandy Creek in 1868, although there does not appear to have been “five hundred Indians killed.” Interestingly, this battle involved Buffalo Soldiers. Could Edwin have been an officer of a black unit? Perhaps, the writer of the obituary had the two incidents confused? The information here provided is based primarily on the Parker twins’ Combined Military Service Records. Obviously, more research needs to be done. I do not have pension records yet.
It is unlikely that I will ever know exactly why these young men chose to enlist. I know that they lived in a town that was a stop on the Underground Railroad, where men with strong anti-slavery convictions resided. I know their older brother’s father-in-law, Cyrus G. Luce, helped found the Republican Party, and was anti-slavery, possibly even an abolitionist. I know there was tremendous peer pressure, and community pressure, and pressure from the young ladies. Did they think it would all be a grand adventure? Sadly, I don’t have a diary or even letters that might help me know their thoughts. But, I do know the results of the war they fought, and in which one of them died. For that I am thankful.
I will have more on the other Parker brothers in another post.