Leopold Oscar Parker
Commanding Officer, 22nd Infantry
March 26, 1899 - May 15, 1899
On March 26, 1899, Colonel Harry
Egbert, Commanding Officer of the 22nd Infantry, was killed in
at Malinta, Philippine Islands. The Executive Officer of the Regiment, Lieutenant Colonel Henry H. Humphreys,
was not with the Regiment at the time, as he was in the process of retiring from the Army.
The Major of the Regiment,
Leopold O. Parker, as Executive Officer, assumed command of the
immediately after Egbert was killed. That same day, Lieutenant Colonel John French, of the 23rd Infantry,
was promoted to Colonel of the 22nd Infantry, and officially given command of the 22nd Infantry.
However, French did not join the
Regiment until May 16, 1899. Until that time, Major Leo Parker
led the 22nd Infantry
through several engagements with the enemy in the advance from Malinta to the outskirts of San Isidro on the island of Luzon.
Military History of Leopold O. Parker
Leopold Oscar Parker was born in
Platte County, Missouri, on November 6, 1843.
He was the son of Josiah Cowper Parker. He was also the great-grandson of
Colonel Josiah Parker from Virginia of Revolutionary War fame.
Leopold O. Parker wished to
attend the U.S. Military Academy, but could not receive an
He was given a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 4th U.S. Volunteer Infantry on January 14, 1865.
He commanded Company E of the 4th Volunteers, at Fort Sully, Dakota Territory, until honorably
mustered out on June 18, 1866.
From June to October of 1866,
Parker applied to the Secretary of War, to grant him a position
as a Captain in the Regular Army. During the Civil War the Federal Army had been kept to a very small size.
Most of the organizations making up the huge Union Army which fought the South, had been volunteer formations
raised by the individual States, which, once the war was over, were demobilzed and their soldiers sent home.
At the end of the war, Congress passed acts establishing and enlarging the size of the Regular Army, and providing
for the commissioning of officers to fill the ranks. Parker applied to the Government to allow him to become
one of those officers.
In a letter to the Examining Board, Parker summed up his service in the 4th U.S. Volunteers:
To the U.S. Military Examining Board.
The following is the History of my services in the U.S. Volunteer Army.
On the 1st day of
January 1865 I was appointed 2nd Lieutenant in the 2nd Regt. of
U.S. Vol. Infty.
I was mustered into service to serve for the period of Three Years.
I was assigned to Co.
"E." The Regt. was stationed at Norfolk, Va. in the
Dept of Virginia & North Carolina,
where I remained until the 30th day of April 1865, when, in accordance with orders, the Regiment proceeded to
St. Louis Missouri. I arrived at St Louis on the 8th day of may and on the 10th may the Regt, under orders
proceeded, to Sioux City, Iowa, where I arrived on the 27th day of may 1865. The Regt. then received orders
to proceed to Fort Sully D.T. Left Sioux City on the 30th of may and arrived at Fort Sully, D.T. on the 19th day
of June 1865, Where I remained doing garrison duty, until the 9th day of June 1866 when I received orders to
report with my Co. at Fort Leavenworth for muster out of service. I arrived at Fort Leavenworth on the 14th day
of June 1866 and was mustered out of service on the 18th day of June.
The 1st Lieut of my
Co. was detached from the Company on the 2nd day of Sept. and
there being no Capt in the Co.
the Command devolved on me, being next in Rank. I retained command during the remainder of my term of service,
and was recommnded for promotion by the Cmdg Officer of the Regt.
Your Obt. Srvt.
Leopold O. Parker 1
The reference by Parker in the
above letter to his being appointed to the "2nd "
Regiment is somewhat of a mystery.
All of the details, locations, and activities he describes in his letter are those of the 4th Regiment, and not of the 2nd.
There is no mistaking that he wrote "2nd" in his original letter, since his handwriting is excellent and easy to read.
One can only assume that since he had just written the words "2nd Lieutenant," that the term "2nd" must have still
been on his mind when he wrote the designation of his Regiment.
In his above statement of
service in the U.S. 4th Volunteers, Parker made it apparent that
he was qualified for the position
of Captain, since, as a 2nd Lieutenant, he had commanded Company E for a period of ten months. (Command of a Company
was a position, and constituted duties, normally performed by an officer with the rank of Captain.) Parker also made it clear
that he was recommended for promotion by the Commanding Officer of his Regiment, Lieutenant Colonel Charles C.G. Thornton,
who also wrote a letter recommending that Parker be granted a commission in the Regular Army.
Another letter of recommendation
was written to the Secretary of War on Parker's behalf by Colonel
Charles H. Lewis,
ex-Secretary of the Commonwealth of Virginia. This letter was written at the Executive Mansion of the Governor of Virginia,
and in it Lewis acknowledged that the Governor of Virginia, Francis H. Pierpoint, was absent at the time, but, if he were present,
he also would endorse the recommendation on Parker's behalf. Lewis had been at one time aide-de-camp to BG John C. Kelton,
who was, at this time, Assistant Adjutant General.2
Parker's uncle and adoptive
father, Leopold Copeland Parker Cowper, Lieutenant Governor of
Virginia, wrote several letters
on Parker's behalf. One of these letters was to Senator James R. Doolittle, the fiery orator from Wisconsin, who took the
unpopular stand at the time of calling for reunification with the Southern states, rather than the punishment of them.
In the attempt to solicit support from prominent notables, Cowper sought help from Doolittle, who, he hoped, would
lend his influence to a Southerner who had been loyal to the Union.3
Leopold Copeland Parker Cowper
had been the Lieutenant Governor of the Restored State of
Virginia during the war, that is,
the government which existed in the federally controlled part of Virginia, and recognized by the United States as the true and
legitimate government of the Comonwealth of Virginia. When the war ended, and the Commonwealth of Virginia was reorganized
as one of the United States, Cowper continued as Lieutenant Governor of the State for several more years. He was Leopold Parker's
paternal uncle, and had adopted Parker and his seven siblings after their father died in Missouri and their mother brought them
to live with their Uncle Leopold in Virginia. In his letters, Cowper declared that Leo had always been loyal to the United States,
even though he was from the Southern State of Virginia, and that he and his four orphaned sisters had been "excommunicated
because of their allegiance to the Cause of the Union and its glorious Flag."4 Cowper also wrote to General Ulysses S. Grant,
Commander-in-Chief of the Army, asking for his consideration of a "noble boy" who "presents his claims to the Government
of his Country and offers his best efforts to serve the country".5
Another letter of recommendation
on Parker's behalf was written by Major General Oliver O. Howard,
the Commanding Officer
of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands (also known as the Freedmen's Bureau.) Howard addressed his
letter to the Secretary of War, and recommended that Parker be given a Lieutenancy in the Regular Army. Howard noted that
man served long and faithfully in our Army, during the war, and
on that account
has been ostracised by his former associates."
Howard went on to say that
Parker had been one of the "few faithful" from the
State of Virginia, and was deserving
of a "reward at the hands of the Government."6
On October 9, 1866, Parker was
offered a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant
in the 1st United States Infantry, which he accepted on October 22 of that year.
The Oath of
Office, signed and sworn to by Leopold O. Parker, on October 22,
indicating his acceptance of a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States 1st Infantry Regiment.
Leopold O. Parker as a young Company Grade Officer
Parker joined the 1st Infantry
at Jackson Barracks, New Orleans, Louisiana, on November 9, 1866.
He was Adjutant of the 1st Infantry from September 25, 1867, to May 20, 1868. He served on occupation
and reconstruction duty in Louisiana, taking leave between August 21 and September 16, 1868.
On September 16, 1868, he became
the aide-de-camp of Brevet Major General Robert C. Buchanan, who,
at the time,
was Commander of the District of Louisiana (and also Commander of the 1st Infantry Regiment). When Buchanan was
appointed Commander of the Department of Louisiana, Parker continued as his ADC until March 29, 1869, when
the 1st Infantry was relieved of its duty in the South, and re-assigned to Fort Porter, New York. Parker returned to
his Company, and went with the Regiment to Fort Porter, where he served until October 1869.
Parker was officially transferred to the 4th Cavalry, on September 16, 1869.
On February 19, 1870, he was
promoted to 1st Lieutenant of the 4th Cavalry. He accepted the
commission in a formal
letter to the Adjutant General's Office, written at the Cavalry Camp at Jefferson, Texas, on April 3, 1870.
In April 1870 he was at the
Cavalry Camp at Jefferson, Texas. In May he was at Austin, Texas.
In July of 1870
he was stationed at Fort Griffin, Texas, on the Brazos River.
Parker took leave intermittently
from November 13, 1871 to February 17, 1872. During that time he
went to Chicago
and married his first wife, Grace Graham, who had been living with her sister Estelle, and Estelles husband,
B.G. (Ret.) Martin D. Hardin, in Chicago. While at Fort Richardson, near Jacksboro, Texas, he was appointed
Adjutant of the 4th Cavalry, on January 1, 1872. He would remain in this position until May 6, 1875.
As Adjutant, he accompanied
Colonel Ranald Mackenzie and six companies of the 4th Cavalry on
raid into Mexico in May of 1873. At that time the 4th Cavalry was stationed at Fort Clark and Fort Duncan, Texas.
Elements of the Kickapoo and Lipan Indians living in Mexico were raiding into Texas, causing damage and injuring
American citizens there. On May 17, Mackenzie and his command crossed the Rio Grande into Mexico, surprising and
attacking the hostiles at their encampment. In his after action report, Mackenzie commended four of his officers
for their actions during the operation. One of those officers was 1st Lieutenant and Adjutant Leo O. Parker,
mentioned by Mackenzie in his report for "gallantry and good conduct."7
Parker continued to serve with
the Regiment in Texas, taking leave from June 14 to July 10,
1874. He returned from leave
on July 10, continuing to serve in Texas until January 30, 1875. He was at Fort Sill, Indian Territory (Oklahoma),
from January 30 to May 10, 1875, at which time he returned to Texas, serving there until May 3, 1876.
From May 3 to May 22, 1876, he
was alternately at Fort Sill, Oklahoma Territory, and Fort
He then took leave to be with his family in Berkley, Virginia, lasting until June. From June 18 to
July 7, 1876, he was a witness before a General Court Martial at Camp Supply, Indian Territory. He then took
leave until August. From August 1, 1876, to June 4, 1877, he was on recruiting service. He then was "awaiting orders"
until December 1, 1877, when he was again detailed to recruiting service, in Boston, Massachusetts.
On January 22, 1878 Captain
Andrew K. Long, of the Subsistence (Pay) Department, died in
leaving a vacancy in that Department. Leopold Parker applied for an appointment to the Pay Department after writing
to Brigadier General Robert Macfeely, the Commissary General of the Subsistence Department, asking for Macfeely's
help in securing an appointment to fill the vacant position. Parker had already enlisted help from his Senator from Virginia,
Robert E. Withers, and asked Withers to intercede with President Rutherford B. Hayes on his behalf.
In the application Parker sent
Withers to give to the President were impressive endorsements
from no less than
four Brevet Generals and one Brigadier General. Giving endorsements favorable to Parker were Colonel Ranald Mackenzie
(Brevet Major General of Volunteers) and Commanding Officer of Parker's Regiment, the 4th Cavalry;
Lieutenant Colonel John P. Hatch (Brevet Major General of Volunteers) and Executive Officer of the 4th Cavalry;
Retired Colonel Robert C. Buchanan (Brevet Brigadier General of Volunteers) and former Head of the Department
of Louisiana; Retired Colonel Lawrence P. Graham (Brevet Brigadier General) and former Commanding Officer of
the 4th Cavalry; and Brigadier General Christopher C. Augur, Commander of the Department of the South and former
Commander of the Department of Texas, under whom Parker had served in 1872-1875.
In his letter to Commissary
General Macfeely, Parker mentioned he had heard that recent
sweeping reductions in the Pay Department, giving Parker little chance to secure the appointment, but he
nevertheless asked Macfeely to meet with Senator Withers, and requested that the two of them go together
to meet with the President on Parker's behalf. Parker had learned that President Hayes had declined to fill the
vacancy in the Pay Department until after he had heard the recommendations from all of the Army's
Department Commanders. Parker felt that the endorsement of him by Brigadier General Augur would
thus carry the weight of a Department Commander that the President was looking for.8
However, Parker's desire to
transfer to the pay Department, with its accompanying promotion
was not to happen. On March 28, 1878, President Hayes promoted and appointed 1st Lieutenant Charles A. Woodruff
of the 7th Infantry, to the position. Parker remained on recruiting service until October 1, 1878, when he returned
to his regiment on duty in Texas.
From October 1, 1878, to October
9, 1879, Parker served with Company M, 4th Cavalry in Texas. He
was sent to Fort Hays,
Kansas, on October 9, 1879, and commanded the post there. Under Parker's command at Fort Hays were six companies
of the 4th Cavalry, with a total of 428 enlisted men. The following episode occurred while he was at Fort Hays:
On November 1,
1879, Lieutenant Leopold Parker..., 4th Cavalry, in command of
Fort Hays, came to the aid of
three civilian teamsters. They were penniless and hungry. So Lieutenant Parker, out of the goodness of his heart, gave them
$10 out of his own pocket so they could buy themselves some food while on their way to Fort Garland, Colorado.
Actually, it turns out it was more like a loan than a gift. On that same day, November 1, the Lieutenant wrote a letter
to the Quartermaster at Fort Garland. He wanted to make sure, when the teamsters arrived there and were finally paid
for their services, that $10 be withheld from their pay so as to reimburse the Lieutenant for his kindheartedness.9
On November 12, 1879, Parker was
promoted to Captain of the 4th Cavalry, and officially given
command of Company A.
He continued to command Fort Hays until May 28, 1880, at which time he rejoined his Regiment, now stationed in
New Mexico. While at Fort Cummings, New Mexico, Parker wrote to the Adjutant General in Washington, D.C.,
requesting a transfer to the 1st Infantry Regiment. Parker and an officer of equal rank in the 1st Infantry desired
a mutual "swap" of positions, which would be advantageous to both, and would not place an unfair burden on the Army.
In his letter of October 16, 1880, Parker outlined his reasons for the mutual transfer. The following is the body of his
letter to the Adjutant General:
I have the honor to
request that I may be transferred from the Fourth Cavalry to the
First Infantry in the place of
Captain Allen Smith who desires to be transferred from the First Infantry to the Fourth Cavalry. I desire this transfer
believing, at my age and having children whose ages require my presence more than Cavalry service will admit of,
that it is to my interest and for the welfare of my family to do so.
The First Infantry is
the Regiment to which I was assigned when first appointed in the
service in 1866, and my transfer
to the Regiment would place me where I would have been had I remained in that Regiment viz next above
1st Lt. R.G. Armstrong, therefore no injustice would be done to any Officer of that Regiment by the transfer.
Captain Smith is a younger man than I and entered the Service before any officers of the 4th Cavalry who are junior to me.10
In November of 1880, Parker
returned to Fort Hays, Kansas. His request for transfer was
approved, and on
December 6, 1880, Parker was officially transferred to the 1st Infantry Regiment. On December 9, 1880,
he took leave, and was in Chicago, Illinois, with his wife and children, at the home of his wife's brother-in-law,
General Martin Hardin.
On February 14, 1881, from his
home in Mandarin, near Jacksonville, Florida, he sent a formal
letter to the
Adjutant General, of his acknowledgment of his commission as a Captain in the 1st Infantry, and the duly signed
Oath of Office to accompany such.11 (In the Army Registers after 1882, Parker's date of rank as Captain
in the 1st Infantry is given as being retroactive to May 21, 1880.)
When his leave ended, Parker
reported to the 1st Infantry, and took command of Company F, on
June 1, 1881.
At that time the 1st Infantry was stationed in Texas, at Fort McKavett, Fort Davis, and other sub-posts.
In February 1882, Parker wrote a testimony on behalf of a former fellow officer in the 4th Cavalry,
Captain William W. Webb, who was appealing for a disability rating in his retirement. Parker's letter
was dated February 13, 1882, from Fort Davis, Texas. In the letter Parker stated that he had witnessed
Webb suffer from impaired eyesight while he served with him in the 4th Cavalry, and that he knew
Webb's illness came as a direct result of his service in the South during the Civil War. Parker further
testified that while in Florida in 1880-1881, he also saw Webb there, and personally observed that Webb
was still suffering from the same malady.12
In the spring of 1882, a
widespread Indian outbreak in Arizona, mostly by Apache tribes,
caused the 1st Infantry
to be sent to the Department of Arizona. On May 1, 1882, Parker went with his Regiment to Arizona, where,
as part of their duty, they guarded Apache Pass, near Fort Bowie, an important passageway between
the Dos Cabezas Mountains and the Chiricahua Mountains.
On August 1, 1882, Parker's
wife, Grace, living with their children in Chicago, wrote to the
Secretary of War, Robert Todd Lincoln (the son of Abraham Lincoln), and asked that her husband
be transferred away from the frontier. At the time Parker's wife and children were living with her
brother-in-law, General Martin D. Hardin, a retired General of the Civil War, who was a close personal
friend of the Lincoln family.
In her letter, Mrs. Parker wrote
that her husband had served almost continually on the frontier.
that her health was not good, she had three little children, and that she could not go to Arizona to be with her
husband. She asked that her husband be given " a detail some where in civilization" where she could be with him.13
The letter was forwarded by the War Department to the Commander in Chief of the Army, General (4-star)
William Tecumseh Sherman, for resolution. Sherman endorsed the letter in his own handwriting, with a refusal,
"I know of
no legitimate duty for a Captain of Infantry except to command
his company wherever duty calls it.
It is impossible to consider a family in any details."14
Parker continued to command
Company F of the 1st Infantry, and in September and October of
1883, he was
the commander of Fort Bowie, in southern Arizona, near the present day city of Wilcox.
While Parker was commandant of
Fort Bowie, alcoholism was a problem in the Army on the frontier.
The center of
social life for the enlisted men at the Fort was the Post Trader's store, owned and operated by Sidney Delong.
In an attempt to curb excessive drinking, Captain William A. Rafferty, Commander of Company M of the 6th Cavalry,
and previous commander of Fort Bowie, had ordered DeLong to sell whiskey to enlisted men only by the glass, and
not by the bottle. The following episode occurred while Parker held command at Fort Bowie:
traders were not prohibited from keeping whiskey for sale to
authorized persons, abuses were bound to happen.
On one occasion in 1883, Captain Leo O. Parker, temporarily commanding Fort Bowie, saw a soldier "about half drunk
going from the bar room towards the commissary store house, he had a bottle up to his mouth and appeared to be drinking.
He then threw the bottle on the stones." When Parker asked the clerk, Jack Dunn, if he had sold a bottle to the man,
Dunn denied having done so. Parker nevertheless reminded the clerk of Captain Rafferty's order that liquor was not
to be sold by the bottle. A few days later, Dunn, who would later become a founder of Bisbee, Arizona, sold two bottles
of whiskey to a sergeant sent in from the field to obtain supplies for his company. Parker immediately informed the clerk
that he would be fired for defying orders, but allowed Dunn to keep the store open until DeLong could return to replace him.15
Parker requested and was granted
in November a change of station to Fort Lowell, near Tucson,
for a short time, he commanded the post there. He took an extended leave, beginning on December 20, 1883.
Leopold O. Parker in the dress uniform of a Company Grade Officer.
Parker returned from leave, and
resumed command of Company F in Arizona on April 10, 1884.
By now, twenty years of service, most of it spent in the harsh conditions of the frontier,
began to take a toll on his health. He was granted sick leave on November 28, 1885. On May 11, 1886,
Senator Joseph C.S. Blackburn, a U.S. Senator from Kentucky and his wife's paternal uncle, wrote a letter
to William C. Endicott, the Secretary of War, on Parker's behalf, asking what action had been taken concerning
Parker's application for an extension of his sick leave. Blackburn indicated that Parker's ill health had necessitated
the filing of his application, and trusted that Endicott would act favorably upon the request.16 The request
was granted, and Parker remained on sick leave for another four months.
With the surrender of Geronimo
in early 1886, the troubles with the Indians in Arizona were
the 1st Infantry was transferred, in July of that year, to the Department of California. Parker returned from
extended sick leave, and joined Company F at Camp Reynolds, Angel Island, California, on September 27, 1886.
From October 17 to November 3 of that year he was sick in his quarters at the post. He remained in command
of Company F at Camp Reynolds until October 14, 1887, when his Company took station at Benicia Barracks,
next to Suisun Bay in Benicia, California.
On January 18, 1888, Parker
received a telegram from Assistant Adjutant General Major
notifying him that he would shortly receive orders to report before an Army Retiring Board.
Special Orders No. 10, Paragraph
9, dated January 13, 1888, ordered Captain Leopold O. Parker to
an Army Retiring Board convened at San Francisco, California. President of the Board was Major General
Oliver O. Howard, Commander Division of the Pacific, who twenty-two years earlier had recommended Leo for
a lieutenancy in the Regular Army. Members of the Board were Colonel William R. Shafter,
Commanding Officer 1st Infantry Regiment; Colonel Elisha I. Baily, Surgeon; Colonel Chauncey McKeever,
Assistant Adjutant General and Adjutant General of the Division of the Pacific; Major Henry R. Tilton, Surgeon;
and First Lieutenant Gilbert P. Cotton, 1st Artillery, Recorder. The purpose of the Board was to determine
whether or not it was necessary to retire Captain Leopold O. Parker for the reason of disability. The Board
met for two days, on January 24 and 25, 1888.
Parker's military record was
presented to the Board, and he was questioned by the Board
The questions concerned his service in Arizona and his state of health during that service. It was read
into the record that he served on active duty in Arizona for over three years, and that his health deteriorated
during his service there. It was also entered into the record that since leaving Arizona and serving in
California, he had been excused from all night duty, upon the recommendation of the post surgeon.
The medical officers on the
Board then presented the results of their medical examination of
They listed his condition as suffering from dyspepsia, extreme nervousness, digestive troubles and
great liability to colds. Doctor Tilton gave his opinion that Parker's condition was a result of his physical stature,
that is, it was a result of improper proportion between Parker's height and chest measurement,
not severe enough to cause heart trouble, but severe enough to account for his present maladies.
Parker was asked if he desired
to give testimony concerning his condition.
He testified that while engaged in target practice at Fort Bowie, he was afflicted by a severe cold,
which steadily became worse, and though treated for it by the surgeon at the Fort, any change in
weather would cause the cold to return with severe symptoms. He had requested and received a change of
station to Fort Lowell, where his condition only grew worse. His found that his voice whistled when
he spoke in ordinary conversation, and his illness caused him to lose weight drastically. Though
the post surgeon recommended sick leave, Parker related that since he was the only line officer at the Fort,
he continued to perform all the duties of commander for several months before taking sick leave.
Captain William E. Hopkins,
Assistant Surgeon and the doctor at Fort Lowell when Parker was
then came before the Board, and testified that he treated Parker and determined him disabled, and
authorized him sick leave for a period of ten months. He also told of how, upon Parker's return to
duty in California, he treated Parker for acute bronchitis and possible pneumonia. Hopkins indicated
that Parker's illness was contracted by him during the performance of his duties incident to the Service.
Hopkins further testified that he had insisted Parker go on extended sick leave while at Fort Lowell, as,
in his medical opinion, if Parker were to remain on duty in Arizona, it might well cause his death to do so.
Hopkins related that he
continued to treat Parker after his return to duty and at first,
Parker had seemed
to have recovered well, until an acute attack of bronchitis caused his health to decline. Hopkins was then asked
by the Board if Parker was fit to remain on duty. Hopkins replied that Parker could perform most of the duties
assigned to an officer, unless he had another attack of illness. More questions answered by Hopkins gave
the picture of Parker as an energetic and conscientious officer, right up until the attack of illness in Arizona.
Hopkins went on to report that only last year, Parker had led a long field march of his command from
San Francisco to Santa Cruz and back, even though his physical condition was not good, and that
no other officer would have done so, suffering in the way Parker did. Hopkins went on to say that it was
Parker's energy and will power that allowed him to lead such a march.
Parker then testified that he
had not been on sick call for the past six months, but instead
all of his duties, including the long field march and an encampment in the field lasting two months, with
all that required. He further related that when examined by the surgeon and told he would be excused from
night duty, he had been in full performance of all of his duties, but when he saw the doctor's diagnosis,
stating that it was possible for him to contract pneumonia at any time, he was alarmed, realizing that such
an attack would prove to be fatal. He then felt it was his duty to himself and his family that he should request
to be excused from certain duties until his condition could be determined by the Board, to prevent any
dangerous risks to his health.
Parker further testified that he
had never been on sick leave, or even sick call, before serving
He explained that for twenty years he had been ably performing all of his duties in locations throughout
the country and out of the country, eleven years of which had been spent in the cavalry. While in the cavalry
he "...performed much hard and arduous riding, scouting after Indians." He claimed that if his present illness
were caused by an abnormally small chest, as one doctor reported, then he would have been struck by
illness prior to serving in Arizona and also would not have passed the medical tests for entrance into the Service.
He therefore asked the Board, that if he be retired, it would be for the reason of long service and illness
contracted in the line of duty, or else he be allowed to remain on active duty, where he could
"...perform all my duties whether sick or well until I die or attain sixty-four years of age, as I value my
reputation more than life."
The Board re-convened on January
26, 1888, at 11 o'clock A.M., and gave its findings, that
Captain Leopold O. Parker, 1st Infantry, was "incapacitated for active duty by reason of
debilitated constitution and weakened condition of the lungs and chest, and that such incapacity
is an incident of service."17
When Major Schwan had first
notified Parker that he was to appear before the Board, Parker
wrote a reply
the next day, on January 19, 1888, indicating that, should the Board recommend retirement, he be
ordered home to await retirement as soon as possible. He explained that the winter that year in California
was quite severe, and the cold weather was affecting his health. He further requested that the order sending
him home be worded as to secure passage to Florida by a southern route, so as to avoid cold climates
while traveling. He requested the orders send him from San Francisco through San Antonio, Texas and
New Orleans, Louisiana, as it would be dangerous for him to travel by the more northern routes during
the cold season of winter.
Parker made sure to request that
the orders sending him home specify his home in Florida, worried
since he entered the Army at Portsmouth, Virginia, the Army might issue him orders to travel there,
thinking it was his home of record. He further asked that he not be retired immediately, but to be retired
in the order of his number of recommendation, presumably that by such, it would be some time before
he was actually retired, and would thus remain in an active duty pay status until then. The reasons for this,
he explained, were because he had not yet financially recovered from the expenses he incurred during his
extended sick leave, and his return to active duty had placed a further burden on his finances.18
On January 25, 1888, the day the
Retiring Board convened, Parker wrote another letter to the
General's Department, stating that he had been informed of the Board's recommendation for retirement, and
again worried that he might be given orders sending him to Virginia, he asked that his orders sending him home
be worded as to send him to Mandarin, Florida, some 14 miles from Jacksonville, as he owned a house there,
and he had considered that house to be his home since 1878.19
On February 22, 1888, as a
result of the Board's findings that he was incapacitated, Parker
to his home in Florida to await retirement. His status was now that of being on sick leave. He remained
in that status, away from the Army awaiting retirement, for the next three years.
On February 14, 1891, his case
was referred to the Surgeon General's Office in Washington, D.C.,
and disposition concerning his disability and retirement. The Surgeon General of the Army, Brigadier General
Charles Sutherland, issued his findings to the Adjutant General's Office, on February 18, 1891. In his findings,
Sutherland stated that the medical testimony did not warrant the retirement of Parker. He recommended that
Parker's sick leave be ended, and that Parker be returned to duty with his Company.20
Accordingly, in Special Orders
No. 42, Paragraph 16, dated February 24, 1891, Captain Leopold
was ordered to appear before another Retiring Board, this time at Washington, D.C., on March 5, 1891.
The findings of this Board, on March 7, 1891, were as follows:
"That he is not incapacitated for active military duty appertaining to his office.
The board expresses the opinion that Captain Parker is able to return to duty."21
From Falls Church, Virginia,
where he and his family had moved to escape annual outbreaks of
in Florida, Parker, on March 8, 1891, wrote to the Adjutant General, asking that he not be made to return to active duty
immediately, but rather to remain out on leave until May 10, 1891. In his letter he gave the following reasons for his desire
to report at the requested date:
I had every reason to
believe that I would be retired in accordance with the
recommendation of the first Board,
which caused me to make financial investments and arrangements for myself and family in civil life which I
would not have made had I known that it was probable that I would not be retired. I have important business
to attend to which has been neglected on account of sickness in my family. To join my Company sooner
will cause me great embarrassment and probable future loss. All private business arrangements made by me
with a view to entering civil life will have to be altered to suit the changed condition of my military status.
In as much as the present state of my military affairs could not have been anticipated by me I trust the
indulgence asked will be granted.22
Parker's request for a delayed
reporting date was granted, in Special Orders No. 54, Paragraph
Special Orders No. 70, Paragraph 13, 1891.
On April 24, 1891, Parker again
wrote to the Adjutant General, asking for a further delayed
this time asking the date to be changed from May 10 to June 10. He outlined his reasons for this request:
A larger portion of
the time heretofore assured has been occupied by me in arranging
for the care of
property in Florida, and since my return to Falls Church Va. I have hastened my business there as
rapidly as possible, yet I find that it will be impossible for me to complete all the matters necessary
for the comfort, health, and convenience of my family in time to enable me to join my station by the
10th of May. It is my intention to leave my family at Falls Church Va. and it will probably be a number
of years before I will return east. I desire to leave my family in as comfortable a situation as practical
under the circumstances.
I desire to say that I
may find that I will not require all of the time I ask, in which
case I will start at once
for my station. My having the amount of time asked will not detain me one day longer from my Company
than is absolutely necessary.23
Parker's request was granted in Special Orders No. 94, dated April 25, 1891.
Parker returned to active duty
with the 1st Infantry, in June of 1891, at Benicia Barracks,
He was given command of Company K. In December of that year, when it came time to send his annual
report to the Adjutant General, of his personal progress as an officer, he found himself in the position of
having to explain why he couldn't make such a report. In a form letter to the AG's office, he related
that since his return to active duty, he had been studying the Army Regulations of 1889, the Army's
Infantry Tactics and Guard Manuals, and Winthrop's Military Law and Precedents, in an effort to
re-acquaint himself with the necessary knowledge pertaining to the drill, discipline and administration
of his duties as an officer. Parker explained his peculiar circumstances of having been separated from
the Army for several years, with the belief that he would be retired from all Army life and all things
military. During those years in which he anticipated being retired, he considered his military life was over
and had not kept up with the latest changes and revisions to the duties of an officer and life in the Army.
In a word, he told the Adjutant General that it would be a while before he felt himself comfortable
enough as an officer once again to be able to report his progress.24
Parker continued to command
Company K at Benicia Barracks until March 11, 1892. On that date
on recruiting duty in San Francisco. Also starting in 1892, he was officially assigned to Company C. He took
leave from March 8 to August 6, 1893. At the beginning of 1893, he learned that Major Jeremiah H. Gilman,
in the Subsistence Department, was in line for promotion to Lieutenant Colonel. Realizing that Gilman's promotion
would therefore create an opening in that Department, Parker made an application for the position, with the
knowledge that being approved for the position would also give him a promotion to the rank of Major.
Five of Parker's fellow
officers, who served with him in either the 1st Infantry or the
4th Cavalry, submitted
letters of testament to his character, to assist him in securing the position in the Pay Department.
Major Charles Bentzoni of the 1st Infantry, who had known Parker for fifteen years, wrote that Parker was an
officer of scrupulous integrity, was diligent, faithful and painstaking in the discharge of every duty entrusted to him.25
Captain James S. Pettit of the
1st Infantry, writing from Yale University where he was detailed
as Professor of
Military Science, stated that Parker was an officer of unusual zeal, ability and integrity, and perfectly competent
to fill any position in the service of his country to which he could be appointed.26
Captain Robert G. Armstrong of
the 1st Infantry testified that he had known Parker for
twenty-six years, and that
Parker displayed marked intelligence, untiring zeal, and that efficiency which marks the competent officer.27
Captain Abram E. Wood of the 4th
Cavalry certified that he had known Parker for over twenty years,
was one of the most patriotic, painstaking and conscientious officers he had ever known, and that the President
could not appoint a more reliable officer to the Pay Department.28
Captain Joseph H. Dorst of the
4th Cavalry related that he had known Parker for nearly 20 years,
had served with him
in the 4th Cavalry, when Parker was Regimental Adjutant, a Lieutenant in a Troop, and finally a Captain commanding
a Troop. During part of that time, Dorst had been Adjutant himself, and that from his position as Adjutant, he had been
in a position to know the feelings of the Regimental Commander, Colonel Mackenzie, toward Parker. Dorst told of how
no officer stood higher in Colonel Mackenzie's esteem than Parker for integrity, zeal, fidelity to duty, and physical and
moral courage. Dorst went on to say that Parker's deportment in both official and private life was consistent with very
high ideals of honor and duty.29
Again, Parker's transfer to the
Pay Department, and the promotion that would have accompanied it,
was not to be.
Captain John J. Clague, who had been with the Subsistence Department for thirteen years, was promoted and given
Parker took leave from March 8
to August 6, 1893, at which time he returned to his recruiting
duties. Recruiting duty
by an officer could constitute as short a period as a couple of months, or as long a period as a couple of years. In this
case, Parker was on recruiting duty for a couple of years, and in 1894 his assignment to this duty was about to expire.
On February 16, 1894, Parker wrote a rather lengthy letter to the Adjutant General of the Department of California, as a
formal request that he allowed to remain on that duty until October of that year.
In his letter Parker put forth
the case that the Army gave him the impression he was to be
due to physical disability, then restored him to active duty. While awaiting his retirement orders, he invested all
of his and his wife's money, into property and business enterprises designed to provide a secure and comfortable
retirement income for himself and his family. He secured property and a house in Florida, including agricultural
property developed and intended to provide income. Because of yellow fever prevalence in Florida during a
certain part of the year, he found it necessary to secure a second home in Virginia, where he and his family
could live in safety for short periods of time when the danger from the fever was greatest.
Parker listed in detail the
financial costs and burdens incurred by him as a result of the
Army's decisions made
concerning his Army career. Because of his return to the service, his agricultural property could not be properly
tended to, resulting in its loss as profitable income. Without that income he could not pay off the loans he secured
to buy and improve the properties in Florida and Virginia. He related the fact that if he had not been misled
into believing he would be retired, he would not have made the investments he did, and would now be free from debt.
Parker therefore requested an
extension of his recruiting duty, as that duty paid a higher
income than duty commanding
a line Company, and thus it would allow him to pay off more of his debt. Parker further explained that, once free from debt,
he intended to apply for retirement from the Army in 1895, as part of the law providing for retirement after thirty years' service.
Parker made it clear that by applying for retirement by his own choice and under the thirty years' law, his retirement would
be more of a sure thing, as its approval would be a decision made by the President, as opposed to the opinions of Army
medical officers. (Leo had asked a military doctor, before the Washington board was convened, if he should do anything
to make sure his medical retirement would last. That doctor said to leave it alone. That same doctor turned up on the board
that found he was fit to return to duty.) He stated that his commanding officers in the Regiment and the Recruiting Service had
no objections to his remaining on recruiting duty.30 Parker was granted the request.
Parker was still on recruiting
duty in October 1895, when he apparently had become free of his
debt and requested
that he be relieved of recruiting duty and returned to his Company. On November 13, 1895, he wrote to the Adjutant
General's office and repeated his request, explaining that his pending retirement after thirty years' service had been
disapproved, therefore he wished to return to his Regiment.31 On December 12, 1895, he was relieved of recruiting duty,
and returned to his Company at Benicia Barracks.
He continued to command Company
C 1st Infantry at Benicia Barracks until April 20, 1897, when he
San Diego Barracks, where he was given command of Company H. He returned to Benicia Barracks on December 5,
1897, where he remained until April 17, 1898. From April 17 to April 20, 1898, he was at the Presidio in San Francisco,
awaiting his transfer to the 22nd Infantry. On April 20, 1898, he went to New Orleans, Louisiana, and while there,
he was promoted to Major of the 22nd Infantry, on April 26, 1898.
On April 29, 1898, Parker joined
the 22nd Infantry at Tampa, Florida, as they prepared for
deployment to Cuba.
He left with the Regiment aboard the transport Orizaba when it set sail for Cuba on June 14, 1898. He is listed as
being sick in his quarters beginning June 18, while he was still aboard the transport. He must have either recovered
sufficiently or returned to duty while still sick, as during the fighting in Cuba in 1898, he was recommended for
brevet promotion to Lieutenant Colonel, for "meritorious service in presence of the enemy,
Santiago de Cuba, July 1, 1898".32
July 1, 1898 was the date of the
battle of El Caney. With Colonel Charles Wikoff killed in action
that day and
Lieutenant Colonel John Patterson being wounded in action the same day, command of the Regiment devolved
upon Major William Van Horne and Parker thus became the acting Executive Officer of the Regiment.
At the outset of the war,
unknown to Parker, his son William, who was a student at
had dropped out of school and enlisted as a Private in the U.S. Infantry, on April 9, 1898.
Between April 1898 and March 1899, William served in B Company 7th Infantry and B Company 1st Infantry.
William was involved in the
fighting in Cuba. Like so many American soldiers in the campaign,
William was not
injured in battle, but succumbed to one or more of the many tropical diseases that affected the American troops
during the war. Nearly three thousand U.S. military personnel died from those diseases, so many that camps were
set up in Cuba where soldiers were simply laid out in makeshift medical wards, with the belief that nothing could be
done for them. Many were literally laid out to die.
William was one of those
soldiers. Upon learning of his son's actions, Leopold Parker went
in search of his son
after hostilities ceased. He found Will laid out with a number of other similarly infirm soldiers on a beach,
hope for them all but given up. Parker managed to get enough ice water in him to at least temporarily lower his
temperature and raise his weight to where the doctors would agree to ship him out.
Parker and his son were sent to
Camp Wikoff, Montauk Point, New York, where the 22nd Infantry and
returning from Cuba were quarantined for a couple of months. Parker was able to get his son into a hospital in New York,
where he recovered from his illness, and in February of the next year, Will was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant
in the 1st Infantry, his father's old unit, and served with that unit in the Philippines.
Leopold O. Parker
"Comrade" - the
Parker returned with the
Regiment to Fort Crook, Nebraska, and prepared for deployment to
At the end of January, 1899, he accompanied the 22nd Infantry to San Francisco, California, the port of embarkation.
The Regiment was split into two components for the voyage overseas and loaded on to two ships, the Senator and the Ohio.
Parker was in command of the Army personnel on the Ohio, in charge of 42 officers and 760 enlisted men.
The Ohio sailed on February 1, 1899, and reached Manila Bay on March 5, 1899.
Parker and the 22nd Infantry
were engaged in battles and skirmishes at Pasig, Guadalupe Ridge,
Caloocan, Malabon and San Pedro Macati, all leading up to the confrontation at Malinta.
On March 26, 1899, when the
Commander of the 22nd Infantry, Colonel Harry Egbert, was killed
during the battle for Malinta, Parker, as Egbert's Executive Officer, assumed temporary command of the Regiment.
He would command the 22nd Infantry from March 26 to May 15, 1899, at which time Colonel John French
was able to take command. During that time, Parker led the Regiment in the advance from Malinta to San Isidro,
where one of the pivotal battles of the campaign against the insurgents on the island of Luzon took place.
After Malinta, Parker led the
Regiment in engagements through the end of March, at the Marilao
Guiginto, and the battle and occupation of Malalos.
On April 22, 1899, he led the 22nd Infantry in a fight at Novaliches.
In May he commanded the Regiment in action at San Rafael, Baliuag and Bustos.
On May 16, 1899, Parker turned command of the 22nd Infantry over to its new Colonel, John W. French.
By now, Parker's thirty-four
years of service on the frontier and in the tropical environments
of Cuba and the
Philippines, finally took its toll on him. He was truly worn out from the long years of Cavalry and Infantry duty.
An examination of Parker by the Regimental Surgeon, Captain John S. Kulp, led the doctor to declare him
unfit for further duty. At the end of May, 1899, Kulp convinced Parker to apply for a leave of absence
on account of sickness, and endorsed the application with the following remarks:
...I do hereby
certify that I have carefully examined this officer, and find
that he is suffering from a mixed
infection of malarial fever of an especially severe type, which was contracted in Cuba, in line of duty,
during the late war with Spain. This fever has manifested itself at more or less regular intervals since
July 1898, a period of over nine months. At present he is in a state of both mental and physical debility,
is feeble, emaciated, without appetite, amnesic, and in my opinion unable to serve longer with troops.
The disease has been aggravated by the unavoidable severities of the campaigns of the last two months,
he having left a bed in the 2nd Reserve Hospital to participate in the first. (campaign)
In my opinion, a
change of climate is absolutely necessary, not only to prevent
but actually to save this officer's life. Any portion of the United States, more especially the northern
or western sections is recommended.
No treatment by
a specialist is considered necessary, and this officer is, in my
incapacitated from all duty.
I declare my
belief that, in consequence of the disability above specified,
this officer will not be able to
resume his duties in a less period than four (4) months; and I recommend, as necessary for the good of
this officer and the best interests of the service, that a leave of absence for that period be granted him,
subject to the conditions stated in the body of this certificate.33
The above application was signed
by Captain John S. Kulp, Regimental and Assistant Surgeon,
on May 27, 1899, at San Fernando, Philippine Islands.
Parker was granted leave for one
month by the Commanding General of the Department of the Pacific,
on June 9, 1899. Accordingly, he left the Philippines in June 1899, stopping at Nagasaki, Japan on June 28,
and arriving in San Francisco on July 31, 1899.
Parker was later awarded a Silver Star Citation for his actions in the Philippines.
Leopold O. Parker retired from
the Army with the rank of Major on September 20, 1899.
He received a disability in the line of duty.
On April 23, 1904, his
retirement was increased to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel
a position which he accepted on April 25 of that year.
In 1914, as tensions along the
border escalated, war with Mexico became a very real possibility.
At the age of 71, Leopold Parker wrote the following letter to the Adjutant General:
In the event
of war with Mexico I place myself subject to the
War with Mexico was averted and Parker did not return to duty.
A patriot, and Officer mindful
of his duty to the end, Leopold O. Parker died in Smithfield,
on July 12, 1928.
He was an Original Companion of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States.
Leopold O. Parker's decorations
The silver star on his
Philippine Campaign Medal indicates the
Silver Star Citation he was awarded for actions during that campaign.
In 1932 the War Department allowed recipients of the Silver Star Citation
to have their awards converted to the Silver Star Medal.
Obituary for Leopold O. Parker in the Smithfield Times, July 19, 1928
Courtesy of Laurie Parker Nesbitt
Leopold O. Parker is buried in Arlington National Cemetery
Plot: Sec: 2, Site: 1217
Grave monument for Leopold O. Parker
Photo from the Official Arlington National Cemetery website
Top photo of Leopold O. Parker:
Photo taken later in life, and most likely very close to, or during, his service with the 22nd Infantry.
He is wearing the uniform of a Field Grade Officer, with a black armband on his left sleeve,
indicating that he is in mourning.
From Laurie Parker Nesbitt, the great-grandaughter of Leopold O. Parker
This page was prepared
under the direction and assistance of Laurie Parker Nesbitt,
late Captain, United States Army and great-grandaughter of Lieutenant Colonel Leopold Oscar Parker.
The 1st Battalion
website is grateful to Laurie for the copying and loaning
of original and other documents belonging to and concerning Leopold Oscar Parker,
and for her expert guidance in the preparation of the story of Lieutenant Colonel Parker.
Her preservation of the history of her ancestors is a fine testament to a family that
has served our country admirably dating back to our nation's beginnings.
1 Letter to the U.S. Military Examining Board, from Leopold O. Parker, written at New York City, October 25, 1866.
2 Letter to the Honorable E. M. Stanton, Secretary of War, from C.H. Lewis, Colonel & Aid de Camp, written at the Executive Mansion, Virginia June 18, 1866
3 Letter to Senator James R. Doolittle, from Leopold C.P. Cowper, written at Portsmouth, Va. June 12, 1866
5 Letter to U.S. Grant, Commander in Chief, from Leopold C.P. Cowper, written at Washington City, October 3, 1866.
6 Letter to the Honorable E. M. Stanton, Secretary of War, from MG Oliver O. Howard, written at Washington, D.C., September 21, 1866.
7 General Orders No. 6 Headquarters Department of Texas, Assistant Adjutant General Chauncey McKeever, written at San Antonio, Texas, June 2, 1873.
8 Letter to BG Robert Macfeely, from Leopold O. Parker, written at the Cavalry Recruiting Rendezvous, No. 6 Portland St., Boston, MA., January 30, 1878.
9 Fort Hays State Historic Site, November 1, 2012, https://mbasic.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=484987684869047&id=234910416543443&set=a.234926973208454.61510.234910416543443&refid=17
10 Letter to the Adjutant General U.S. Army, from Leopold O. Parker, written at Fort Cummings, NM, October 16, 1880.
11 Letter to the Adjutant General, U.S. Army, from Leopold O. Parker, written at Mandarin, Duval County, FL, February 14, 1881.
12 Letter from Leopold O. Parker, written at Fort Davis, TX, February 13, 1882.
13 Letter to the Honorable Robert T. Lincoln, Secretary of War, from Mrs. Leopold O. Parker, written at Chicago, IL, August 1, 1882.
14 1st Endorsement War Department Record 3444/C 1882 by General William T. Sherman, written at Washington, D.C., August 17, 1882.
15 FORT BOWIE, ARIZONA Combat Post of the Southwest, 1858-1894, by Douglas C. McChristian, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman OK, 2005, pp.235.
16 Letter to the Honorable Wm. C. Endicott, Secretary of War, from Senator Joseph C.S. Blackburn, written at Washington, D.C., May 11, 1886.
17 Proceeds of an Army Retiring Board 599 1/ACP 1888 Case of Captain Leopold O. Parker, San Francisco, California, February 8, 1888.
18 Letter to Major Theodore Schwan, Assistant Adjutant General, from Leopold O. Parker, written at Benicia Barracks, CA, January 19, 1888.
19 Letter to the Adjutant General, from Leopold O. Parker, written at San Francisco, CA, January 25, 1888.
20 3rd Endorsement F.B. 47/167 Adjutant General's Office February 14,1891.
21 Proceedings of Retiring Board War Department Washington, D.C., case of Leopold O. Parker Captain 1st Infantry, March 7,1891.
22 Letter to the Adjutant General, from Leopold O. Parker, written at Falls Church, VA, March 8,1891.
23 Letter to the Adjutant General, from Leopold O. Parker, written at Falls Church, VA, April 24,1891.
24 Letter to the Adjutant General, from Leopold O. Parker, written at Benicia Barracks, CA, December 22, 1891.
25 Testimonial by Major Charles Bentzoni, written at Angel Island, CA, February 23, 1893.
26 Testimonial by Captain James S. Pettit, written at Yale University, New Haven CT, February 1893.
27 Testimonial by Captain Robert G. Armstrong, written at Los Angeles, CA, March 1, 1893.
28 Testimonial by Captain Abram E. Wood, written at the Presidio of San Francisco, CA, February 21, 1893.
29 Testimonial by Captain Joseph H. Dorst, written at the Presidio of San Francisco, February 26, 1893.
30 Letter to the Adjutant General, from Leopold O. Parker, written in San Francisco, CA, February 16, 1894.
31 Letter to the Adjutant General, from Leopold O. Parker, written at the Recruiting Station, San Francisco, CA, November 13, 1895.
32 Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America Fifty-fifth Congress Vol II pp1273.
33 Form of Medical Certificate signed by Captain John S. Kulp, Regimental & Assistant Surgeon, San Fernando, Philippine Islands, May 27, 1899.
34 Letter to the Adjutant General, from Leopold O. Parker, written at the Albermarle, Apt. 201, Washington, D.C., May 10, 1914.
Official US Army Registers 1866-1904
A HISTORY of the Twenty-second United
States Infantry, Major O.M. Smith, U.S.A. (retired) late 1st
Lieutenant 22nd Infantry,
Captain R.L. Hamilton adjutant 22nd Infantry, Captain W.H. Wassell 22nd Infantry, E.C. McCullough & Co. Press, Inc., Manila, P.I. 1904
Annual Reports of the War Department for the Fiscal Year ended June 30, 1899, Part 3, Washington, D.C. Government Printing House 1899
Powells Records of Living Officers of the United States Army by William H. Powell, Major 22nd Infantry U.S.A. , Philadelphia, L.R. Hamersly & Co. 1890
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