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Collection Title: Parker (John) Collection

Collection Number: M223

Dates: January 28-February 2, 1864

Volume: 1 Folder

Provenance: Donated by Prudence Parker Cyr of Pass Christian, Mississippi, great grandaughter of Captain John Parker. Typescript prepared by Charles L. Sullivan of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Junior College, Perkinston Campus.

Copyright: This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code).

Biographical/Historical Sketch:

Captain John Parker of Prescott, Arkansas, was a member of the Confederate Army who was imprisoned at Johnson's Island Military Prison in the winter of 1863-1864. Johnson's Island Military Prison Camp for captured Confederate officers opened in April 1862. Located on Lake Erie, 2 miles from Sandusky, Ohio, Johnson Island was exclusively an officers' prison. At any one time, the prison averaged 2500 men. The officers had much better food, clothing, and shelter than the average soldier's prison camp but in 1864 the treatment became more cruel. The rations were reduced so much that many of the prisoners were emaciated. More escape attempts were made at that time. Still, even with the crueler treatment the officers were better off. The weather was pleasant in the summer, but freezing in the winter. For example, on New Year's Day in 1864 several men froze to death because of the cold winds blowing across Lake Erie. Also during January 1864, it is reported that the temperature fell to -30 degrees Fahrenheit. Johnson Island Military Prison closed in September 1865, having held a total of 7, 357 prisoners in its short history.

Scope and Content:

This collection consists of a photocopy (and typescript) of an autograph book which was signed by 309 Confederate officers incarcerated at Johnson Island Military Prison. On January 28, 1864, Captain John Parker of Arkansas began passing the book around his barracks and asked each officer's rank, military unit, hometown, and place of capture.

Every Confederate state except Florida and every border state but Delaware are represented. Arkansas has the most signatures, with 79, and Tennessee is next with 55. Only 19 of the officers were from Mississippi, but more than 100 of the other officers were captured in Mississippi during the Campaign and Seige of Vicksburg, the Battle of Champion Hill and the Battle of the Big Black River.

There are several tables appended to the collection which contains a state by state breakdown of the battles or locales where the prisoners were captured. Another series of tables contain a state by state breakdown of the prisoners and their hometowns, and for the 19 Mississippi officers, their unit, rank, and place of capture were included.


Created by: Bobs M. Tusa
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Revised: December 14, 2004