* OFFICIAL *
Regtl. Staff Chickamauga 2018
- Mar 15, 2013
Lieutenant (later Capt.) Virgil A. S. Parks, Co. D, 17th Georgia Infantry was a regular correspondent to the Savannah Republican. He signed his submissions only with his initials - "V. A. S. P." He must have held his pistol in very high regard -- it was a Colt Army Revolver U. S. M. R. (like the one pictured above.) And Parks knew the serial number - 14877. After the pistol was was stolen July 4, 1862, he enlisted the help of the newspapers and offered a handsome reward to get it back.
Virgil A. S. Parks enlisted as a Lieutenant in the "Decatur Guards." The company was ordered to Virginia and became Co. D, 17th Georgia, Toombs' brigade. On July 1, 1862, the 17th GA participated in the Battle of Malvern Hill, where they lost 5 killed and 30 wounded supporting the Fauquier Artillery.**
Lieut. Parks was not among the casualties, and he wrote to the Savannah Republican:
"Camp Near Richmond
July 14, 1862
....During this campaign there was of course no chance to get changes of clothes. We were scarcely recognizable by our best friends by reason of the dust, tattered garments, and almost bootless feet. I venture an assertion many of us would have taken our image in a looking glass for some other person - perhaps an Arab- for the long, uncombed hair and shaggy beards. In the battle of "Malvern Hill" (Tuesday, 1st July), I lost my sword scabbord[sic]: On the 4th July, some thievish soldier stole my pistol- Colt's Army Revolver, model U. S. M. R. No. 14,877- and sword belt. My feet rebelled against the "powers that be" and burst their prison bonds; my long worn fatigue suit showed signs of giving away; and the broiling sun threatened to crisp my little glazed cap into the size and shape of a tin dipper, leaving my brain to fry in the merciless heat of the sun.... "
It seems Parks hoped to recover the pistol - serial number 14877 - and he took out an ad in the Richmond Daily Dispatch which provides additional details:
"STOLEN - On the 4th of July, my large COLT'S ARMY PISTOL, model U. S. M. R., No. 14,877, brass mounted; and black Morocco Belt, with Georgia Coat of Arms on it, were stolen from me while in line of battle near Charles City Road. A handsome reward will be paid for their return to this office, or to Lieut. V. A. S. PARKS, Co. D, 17th Ga., Toombs's Brigade."
History does not record if the prized pistol was ever returned to Parks. The 17th GA went on with Toombs to 2nd Manassas and Sharpsburg. In March, 1863, Toombs resigned and Col. Benning was promoted to Brigadier General. At Gettysburg, the 17th GA, commanded by Col. Wesley C Hodges, fielded 350 +/- effectives and, on July 2, 1863, lost 22 killed, 70 wounded, and 11 missing. Captain Virgil A. S. Parks was among those killed.
I wonder where the pistol is today? Hopefully, in the collection of someone who will one day see this post and know that the Colt Army USMR SN 14788 was once owned by Captain Virgil A. S. Parks, Co. D, 17th Georgia Infantry, killed at Gettysburg July 2, 1863.
* Image from @ucvrelics.com Thanks Richard.
**The Savannah Republican. (Savannah, Ga.), August 18, 1862, page 1, column 5.
***The Savannah Republican. (Savannah, Ga.), July 19, 1862, page 1, column 3.
****The Daily Dispatch. (Richmond, Va.), July 22, 1862, page 2, column 5.
@Tom Elmore @Elmer R. Woodard III this may be of interest.