Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Captain George Thomas Parker of Gates County

George Thomas Parker served with the Fifth North Carolina Regiment for the duration of the war, originally enlisting with Company G at Camp Winslow in Halifax County on 20 June 1861 and appointed First Sergeant.  The Fifth Regiment mustered into Confederate service on 15 July 1861 and left for Virginia the same day. It arrived at Manassas Junction on 16 July and was assigned to the Fourth Brigade of Brigadier-General James Longstreet and marched to Mitchell's Ford on Bull Run Creek where it saw its baptism under fire at First Manassas.  Promoted to regimental Sergeant-Major, he returned to Company G as a second lieutenant, then transferred to Company H on 15 January 1862; first lieutenant to rank from 12 October 1862; and captain to rank from 15 June 1863.

From northern Virginia the regiment was sent to the Williamsburg area to resist enemy invasion in March and April 1862.  Parker was wounded during Gen. Joseph E. Johnston's offensive at Seven Pines in May 1862 but returned to duty to participate at King's School House, Cold Harbor, Gaines Mill, Frayser's Farm, Seven Days, South Mountain, Sharpsburg, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Mine Run and Spotsylvania, where Parker was wounded in the right thigh in May or June 1864.  He was reported as "absent wounded" through December 1864, returned to Lee's Army of Northern Virginia and paroled at Appomattox on 9 April 1865.  

Brothers David Wood and James Robert also served the Confederacy, as well as Joseph John Parker who died of typhoid fever in October 1861.  This "camp fever" was ubiquitous and usually the result of exposure to the elements and poor camp sanitation.  Parker was paroled at Appomattox in April 1865.

Capt. Parker returned home after Appomattox "so ragged and dirty they put him in the smokehouse to take a bath. He threw away all the clothes he had on and left his pistol out there," according to daughter Julia in a 1954 interview.  Parker married Eunice Katherine Riddick on 2 December 1865 and their union produced six children, including Julia.

A dedicated member of the United Confederate Veterans after the war, Parker served as commander of the Tom Smith Camp of the UCV in Suffolk, Virginia where he had made his home.  After several years of illness and then paralysis, he passed away at age 74 on 18 January 1911; wife Eunice followed him in death on 10 February 1931.

Capt. Parker's obituary described a faithful Christian and member of his congregation, a superior role model for his children and future generations:

"A consistent and faithful member of Main Street Methodist Church, he was always found at his post of duty in the choir and the other activities of his church, taking great interest in all things which pertained to the moral and spiritual uplift of the community.  He was a brave soldier, a good husband and father, a true citizen, and a devout Christian gentleman.  Freed from his rundown house of clay, he lives in a glorious body in the "house of many mansions." He served his day and generation well and has gone to reap the reward – the crown of rejoicing and the presence of his God forever."

Sources:  Confederate Images, C.E. Avery, Confederate Veteran, Volume 6, 2000, pg. 9; North Carolina Troops, 1861-1865, A Roster, Volume IV, Weymouth T. Jordan