Friday, March 30, 2012

James C. Parrott


The long and useful career of Gen. James C. Parrott, begun in Maryland in 1811, was closed in Keokuk in 1898. Between these dates much of interest occurred in which General Parrott performed a useful and honorable part. No other man in the service was so thoroughly a part of Iowa history. We have already noted his pioneer journey up the Des Moines River as far as Boone in 1835, before Fremont explored the interior of Iowa Territory and before Captain Allen founded Fort Des Moines.

Born in Easton, Maryland, in 1811, in 1834 he joined the First United States Dragoons, of which Henry Dodge was commander. After serving three years as sergeant, young Parrott located in Fort Madison and engaged in business. In 1852 he moved to Keokuk. When the war broke out, deeming it his duty as a military man to serve his country, in June, 1861, he raised a company for the Seventh Iowa Infantry. As compared with most officers in 1861, he was a veritable graybeard, for he had rounded his half century!

In the battle of Belmont he assisted Colonel Lauman from the field, and before the battle was over he found he, himself, had received four wounds. He was conveyed to a steamer, and told he had less than two hours to live. Grant sent him home to recuperate. Colonel Lauman in his report emphatically commended Captain Parrott and other of his officers for their bravery at Belmont. In December he came back as lieutenant-colonel. Later he participated in several battles in Tennessee. His was the charging brigade that captured Fort Henry, and at Donelson he commanded his regiment. He it was who brought back from Buckner the offer of capitulation. At Shiloh he bravely led his regiment into the ''Hornet's Nest,'' and at Corinth he received a wound from which he never wholly recovered. Colonel Rice in his report said:

"I must make especial mention of Lieutenant-Colonel Parrott, who cheered and encouraged the men and performed his duty with great bravery.''  He made the March to the Sea, and was one of the few far western commanders who in 1865 were privileged to ride through the Confederate capital. The only mounted officer on the left flank, he was the gratified recipient of a beautiful bouquet of flowers from a Richmond lady. Though he was never a full colonel, his depleted regiment not having sufficient numerical strength to entitle it to a colonel, after his retirement in 1865 he was made a brevet brigadier-general. A valued tribute to the love his men bore him is a sword presented by them after his gallantry at Belmont.

For ten years after the war General Parrott was postmaster at Keokuk. In 1874-76, he was G. A. R. commander of the Department of Iowa. Ho died May 17, 1898, aged eighty-seven. His funeral, held in Keokuk, was a generous tribute of love and affection from comrades, friends and neighbors.

SOURCE: Johnson Brigham, Iowa: Its History And Its Foremost Citizens, Volume 1, 415-6

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