Discussion Deerskin and Eagle Buttons - Ely Parker and His Two Worlds

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NH Civil War Gal

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Before Parker’s birth, his mother beheld her son’s future greatness. A vision struck her. It showed a rainbow broken in the middle with its landed ends reaching from the reservation to the home of the local Indian agent. Curious about her vision, Elizabeth visited a Seneca dream interpreter. The interpreter told Elizabeth of her son’s preeminence. He would bridge the gap between the white man and the Indians, predicted the interpreter. “His sun will rise on Indian land and set on the white man’s land.”


Ely-Parker.jpg

Ely S. Parker in his Civil War uniform
 

Canadian

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Thanks for posting. A fascinating life. In hindsight it’s bizarre that people like Seward who worked to abolish slavery could not see Native Americans as people.
 

James N.

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ACWAppomattoxLeeSurrenderstoGrantTh.jpg


Swarthy, dark-complexioned Parker figures prominently in paintings of Lee's Surrender at Appomattox, since he was an important member of Grant's staff and was present. He appears to the immediate left of Grant in artist and political cartoonist Thomas Nast's depiction above, and directly in front of Custer (who in fact was NOT present) at right in Tom Lovell's Centennial-era version below. According to the account of Horace Porter who is also in the group, when it was time for the formal surrender arrangements to be put on paper, Seth Williams or whoever's job it normally would've been was so nervous he was unable to continue following several mistakes, and Parker was substituted because all agreed he had the best writing! According to another possibly apocryphal account, when Lee shook hands with all present at the end of the ceremony he paused, looking into Parker's face - some thought he was offended because he might've thought Parker was a Negro - he instead smiled and said something like "I'm glad to see there's one real American here"; whereupon Parker supposedly replied, "General, we're all Americans."

surrender-at-appomattox-tom-lovell.jpg
 
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James N.

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I'll also mention that Parker was another of the original group of friends and neighbors from Grant's home town, Galena who served with him throughout the war. (Another was eventual Chief-of-Staff John A. Rawlins.) In Galena Parker was engaged as the town's civil engineer working on various engineering projects when war broke out.
 

damYankee

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Aug 12, 2011
Thanks for posting this, Parker is one of my favorite Civil War figures, his biography would make for a great film
 
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