Henry W. Parker was born in 1842 in Ohio, the son of Solomon (b. 1800).
Vermont native Solomon moved his family from Ohio to Michigan sometime after 1850, and by 1860 Henry was living with his family in Wayland, Allegan County.
Henry was reportedly 19 years old when he enlisted with his parent’s or guardians consent in Company A on May 13, 1861. Henry was described by one of his tentmates during the winter of 1861-61 as “about 17 years old, and a good fellow.”
He was absent sick from August of 1862 through September, and in fact it appears that he may haver either deserted from the field or was taken sick and not reported as such. Apparently Henry was at one point reported as a deserter since he was listed returned from desertion on April 9, 1863, at Camp Sickles, Virginia. Indeed, according to a statement issued by the War Department in 1894, Henry was taken sick on or about August 24, 1862, and then listed as having deserted from the parole camp as of November 1, 1862 -- thus inferring that he had been taken prisoner sometime in late summer of 1862, paroled and sent to (probably) Camp Parole, Maryland. He was returned to the regiment under the President’s Proclamation of April 18, 1863, granting amnesty to deserters.
On August 5, 1863, at the headquarters of the First division, Third Corps, a court martial was convened to try Henry on charges of misbehavior before the enemy. Specifically, Captain Dan Root, then commanding Company A, alleged that Henry left the company without permission on May 2, near Chancellorsville, Virginia, “while they were charging the enemy, and did remain absent four (4) days.”
Henry pled not guilty.
The prosecution called First Sergeant Charles Van Dusen. He was asked to describe what he knew of Henry’s absence from the company.
Answer: On the night of the 2nd of May, he went in with us, and charged when the regiment did, but when he came out he was not with us. The next time I saw him was the 6th of May after returning to camp.
Judge Advocate: Do you know where he was during his absence?
Answer: No I do not, sir.
Judge Advocate: How was he reported, in your morning report during his absence?
Answer: Absent without leave.
Judge Advocate: Is the accused a regularly enlisted and mustered man of the U.S. service?
Answer: Yes, sir.
Judge Advocate: At what time was the charge made?
Answer: I think about 10 or 11 o’clock at night.
Court: Was it possible for a man to lose his regiment in the confusion that existed after the charge?
Answer: Yes, sir, it was.
Court: Is the accused considered a brave man?
Answer: Yes sir, he is a good soldier.
Sergeant Joseph Evered of Company A was then called for the prosecution. He was asked by the Judge Advocate what he knew of Parker’s absence from the company.
Answer: I know that he was absent from the night of the 2nd of May till we got into camp on the night of the 6th.
Judge Advocate: Did he go with his regiment when they charged?
Answer: He did, sir.
Judge Advocate: How did he behave?
Answer: He behaved well and remained with the Company until we commenced to fall back. I cannot say he remained longer, as we badly mixed up and confused. I did not again see him till we went into camp in the 6th.
Judge Advocate: How did he return to his company?
Answer: He came of his own free will.
Judge Advocate: Has he been on duty since?
Answer: Yes, sir ever since his return.
Judge Advocate: How has behaved in action since that time?
Answer: I have never known him to be any other than a good brave soldier ought to be, either in action or in camp.
Judge Advocate: Has he ever been absent without leave before?
Answer: He has not, not that I am aware of.
Statement of the Prisoner: I charged with my regiment on the night of the 2nd of May. I suppose I went as far as any other man into the enemy’s line. Charles Wright, a Sergt. Of my company was struck by a limb of a tree (or something else) in the eye, and as the regiment was then falling back and Sergt. Wright could not see he asked me to lead him out, and I felt it my duty to assist him. I took him to a brick house used as a hospital and remained with him till morning. In the morning at daybreak every well man that had arms was ordered into the rifle pits on the left of the hospital, as the enemy were advancing in dense masses. I went cheerfully, with a number of other men and held the rifle pit that day and part of the next, when we were ordered to fall back and taken to a rifle pit on the road near a creek and remained there till the army recovered the river. I was prevented, both by cavalrymen and staff officers from joining my regiment, two or three times, and finding I could not get to them, I did what good I could where I was. Sergt. Wright is now sick in Alexandria.
Henry was found not guilty of leaving his company while they were charging the enemy. However he was found guilt of being absent without proper authority and sentenced to forfeit two months’ pay.
Henry was serving with the Regiment at Gettysburg on July 3, 1863, where, according to Dan Crotty of Company F, following “Pickett’s charge,” Henry, along with Regimental Quartermaster Captain Robert Collins and Sergeant Joseph Evered also of Company A, carried Confederate General Kemper off the field. (This has yet to be substantiated.)
He was reportedly treated for syphilis and/or gonorrhea from September 10-17, 1863 and again in mid-February of 1864, after which he returned to duty. Henry was absent sick from September through January of 1864, and was mustered out on June 20, 1864, at Detroit.
After his discharge from the army Henry returned to Michigan, probably to his home in Wayland.
Henry married Ohio native Julia B. (1842-1913), and they had at least two children: Grace (b. 1869) and Pearl (1877-1964).
By 1870 Henry was working as a farmer (he owned some $2000 worth of real estate) and living in Wayland. (His father was also living in Wayland that year.) By 1880 he was working as a farmer and living in Wayland with his wife and children. He was living in Wayland in 1888, 1890 and 1894 and probably lived most of his life in Wayland.
Henry was a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association and was a witness for James Babe’s pension. In 1885 he applied for and received a pension (no. 600002).
Henry died a widower, presumably at his home in Wayland, on February 4, 1915, and was buried in Elmwood cemetery, Wayland: 647-1.