A Civil War Biography

John Grubb Parke

Parke was born 22 September 1827 in Chester County, Pennsylvania. When he was young the family moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His initial education was at a private academy then he attended the University of Pennsylvania. He obtained an appointment to West Point and graduated 2nd in the class of 1849. He was assigned as a 2nd lieutenant in the engineers and worked on surveying area in Minnesota, the New Mexico territory, California, and the Washington territory. He was promoted to 1st lieutenant on 1 July 1856.

On 14 May 1861, shortly after the war erupted Parke declined a captains commission in the 13 US infantry. He was promoted to captain in the engineers on 9 September then arrived in the eastern theater of the war in October. He was appointed brigadier general of volunteers on 23 November. He commanded a brigade during Ambrose Burnside's expedition to the North Carolina coast, seeing action at Roanoke Island, New Burn, and Fort Macon. Parke was promoted to major general on 20 August 1862 to rank from 18 July. He spent the summer in operations in Virginia as the commander of the 3rd division in Burnside's new IX Corps. Parke was Burnside's chief of staff at South Mountain but took division command following the death of Isaac P Rodman at Antietam. Parke was again in charge of Burnside's staff at Fredericksburg. Parke accompanied the IX Corps when it was transferred west on 19 March 1863. With Burnside in departmental command, Parke commanded the corps in Kentucky, at Vicksburg, at Jackson, Mississippi, and again in Kentucky. He was back on staff duty during the siege of Knoxville, Tennessee. The IX Corps was recalled to Virginia in the spring of 1864. He served on Burnside's staff throughout the Overland campaign seeing action at the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, and Petersburg. When Burnside was relieved after the disaster following the explosion of the mine under Confederate lines at Petersburg, Parke was again place in command of the corps. He commanded Army of the Potomac from 30 December 1864 until 11 January 1865 while George Meade was on leave. Parke saw action at Hatcher's Run and coordinated the Union defenses at Fort Steadman. He was brevetted brigadier general and major general in the regular army on 13 March 1865. Following a stint of occupation duty at Petersburg, Parke headed to the Washington vicinity. He commanded the XXII Corps and the District of Alexandria until the end of the war.

Following the war Parke was mustered out of the volunteer service on 15 January 1866. He remained in the regular army with the rank of major in the engineers and returned to surveying. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel on 4 March 1879 then colonel on 2 July 1884. In 1887 he was appointed commandant at West Point. He remained in that position until he retired on 2 July 1889. After retiring Parke moved to the District of Columbia where he died on 16 December 1900.

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