Virgil A. S. Parks aka V.A.S.P. - Correspondent to the Savannah Republican Killed at Gettysburg

lelliott19

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I've always been interested in the war correspondents -- men who sent reports back to the newspaper. The Savannah Republican had at least two regular correspondents: Tout-le-Monde and a member of the 17th Georgia known as V.A.S.P.

As far as I know, the identity of Tout-le-Monde remains unknown, but the correspondent known as V. A. S. P. was Virgil A. S. Parks, Captain D/17th GA (Toombs/Benning's brigade). Parks served as a regular correspondent to the Savannah Republican until he was killed at Gettysburg and always signed his submissions with his initials - VASP.

In the past, I've tried without much luck to find out more about Virgil A S Parks. While looking for something else, I ran across this article, published in The Savannah Weekly Republican. (Savannah, Ga.), July 25, 1863, page 2 that provides some insight into the life of Virgil A S Parks, aka V.A.S.P. It was interesting to find that he was a protege of Confederate Vice President Alexander H. Stephens and recipient of his philanthropy. I had no idea that Stephens was so generous as to pay for the education of an orphan.

DEATH OF A REPUBLICAN CORRESPONDENT
It was only yesterday that we published another of the long series of interesting army letters from our faithful and intelligent correspondent "V. A. S. P." the initials of Captain V.A.S. Parks, of Company D, 17th Georgia Regiment, Benning's Brigade, Hood's Division. It was written soon after our army crossed the Potomac and but a few days previous to the battles around Gettysburg. We are truly grieved to say that it was his last letter.​
His co adjutor in the same army, "Tou-le-Monde" whose letter will be found on this page, records his death. He fell whilst gallantly leading his men into action on the bloody field of Gettysburg, after passing unscathed through all of the battles of Lee's army for two years past.​
It was not our fortune to know Capt. Parks personally. He originally volunteered in the services of the [Savannah] Republican, and our acquaintance had been confined to his regular correspondence and a large number of private letters which he addressed to us from time to time. Others who knew him better, represent him as a young man of noble character, fine talents and rising fortune.​
He was poor and friendless, but ambitious. In some way unknown to us, he came under the notice of that excellent man and liberal benefactor, to whom so many are indebted for all they are in life, Hon. Alexander H. Stephens, now Vice President of the Confederacy. The friendless youth became his protege, was sent to school, to college, instructed in the Law, and sent forth in the struggle of life, armed with the true weapons to conquer all its difficulties -- a mind well stored with knowledge, and a character above reproach. His entrance upon a professional career was encouraging and full of promise. He removed to the southwest and settled in Bainbridge [GA], where an honorable and useful career awaited him. But the struggle for independence commenced, and he was among the first to rally around the standard of his oppressed country. He has served her faithfully and well, first as Lieutenant and then Captain, and for her has now offered up his life.​
With his numerous and interesting letters all the readers of the Republican are familiar. He improved rapidly in his correspondence, was honest and truthful in all he wrote, and the high-toned morality that characterized his literary labors throughout, cannot have failed to strike the reader as one of their leading characteristics.​
But the gallant soldier is no more.​
"He sleeps his last sleep, he has fought his last battle,​
And no sound can awake him to glory again."​
P.S. If Capt. Parks left a mother or sister living, some kind friend will oblige us by a note stating their names and place of residence.​

Replies to the Postscript were soon received which provide additional insight into the life of Virgil A S Parks. Ill include some of them in separate posts.
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Additional reading:
Link to a previous thread about Virgil A S Parks' Colt Army Revolver Serial No. 14,877 stolen in 1862.
https://civilwartalk.com/threads/17...-usmr-stolen-4-july-1862.149223/#post-1880155
 
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lelliott19

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Our Late Correspondent, "V. A. S. P."
We have received the following letters in response to our request for information concerning the history and family of our late esteemed army correspondent, "V. A. S. P." , who fell at the head of his men in the recent struggle at Gettysburg. We take the liberty of giving them to our readers, with whom he had become a great favorite. His brief life contains a lesson of energy and laudable ambition which the young men of the country, however adverse their circumstances, would do well to lay to heart:
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The first reply is from Linton Andrew Stephens, brother of Confederate Vice President Alexander H. Stephens, and details the circumstances upon which the family became acquainted with Virgil A. S. Parks, as well as the way he attained his education.

"He came among us without money and without acquaintance; and the academic and legal education which he afterwards attained, was procured with means tendered to him unasked by one who was struck with admiration for his character and sympathy for his forlorn situation. When he joined the army his residence was in Bainbridge, but his home, with the dear ties that cluster round the name, was in Sparta."
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lelliott19

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The second reply came from Mr. John M. Potter, a merchant, of Bainbridge, GA

....He was a high minded, modest, honorable man, and a consistent Christian. Had he lived he would have attained a high position, and his amiable qualities would have created troops of friends.​

When quite a child his parents moved to Texas from Middle Georgia, taking him with them, and leaving, I think, a son and, perhaps, two daughters. His mother died soon after reaching Texas; his father married again and shortly died. His step mother moved to Arkansas, and then went somewhere North, leaving him in Arkansas among strangers. Poor and infirm, and with but twelve and a half cents in his pocket, he started for Middle Georgia, where he knew he had relatives, and succeeded in reaching them.​
His early education had been neglected. His friends sent him to school and college, and coming under the notice of Judge Linton Stephens, he received that aid and countenance that enabled him to finish his education and enter upon the study of law. Then he made the friendship of Hon. A. H. Stephens and T. R. R. Cobb, to whom he was warmly attached, and whom (the three) he seemed never to tire of praising...​
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bdtex

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I don't know how y'all do it scouring through those newspaper archives. I reckon you have ways to narrow your search to be more efficient with your time. Thanks for posting your find. @ucvrelics is right. Great read. Lotta tragedy in his life and kindness by others too.
 

lelliott19

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The third and apparently final reply was a second letter from merchant John M. Potter of Bainbridge, GA. This one was published in The Savannah Republican, (Savannah, Ga.), August 11, 1863, page 1. (I don't have a copy of this article. Source - page 122)

Death of "V. A. S. P."
Bainbridge, Aug. 6, 1863.
Mr. Editor:--
I received a letter to-day from Lieutenant J. H. Martin, now commanding the company of the late Capt. Parks, and as I know you feel an interest in all that related to our friend, I copy a portion of the letter:

"Capt. Parks was wounded when we first entered the field, but remained in command until we had charged the battery and ran the Yankees off the hill. He was then persuaded to go to the rear. He started back, saying that he would to go shelter himself behind a rock, that was the last that any of the company saw of him until after the firing had almost ceased, when we were informed that he was killed.—He was found in the most dangerous and exposed spot on the field. He was shot through the head. I have been told by one who saw him fall that he was instantly killed—having fallen without speaking. His loss to the company is great, and in conjunction with his friends and relatives we mourn his loss. He was truly a Christian soldier, and exerted a beneficial influence in the circle in which he moved."

What Lieutenant Martin writes is true—he was a Christian and a brave soldier, and I am constantly hearing of the "beneficial influence he exerted."
"None knew him but to love him,
Nor named him but to praise."
Yours truly,
John M. Potter.
@Tom Elmore this may be of interest to you.
 

Drumshanbo

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I think I recall hearing somewhere that the correspondent Toute Le Monde may have been Frank Vizatelly, but I can't swear
that to be correct or anything. From a research perspective, I have a pretty narrow view, but its hard to avoid the conclusion that the
longer the war progressed, the quality and number of the correspondents diminished greatly. After Gettysburg, things get really reduced and this is just another example of that. Cool post.
 
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Tom Elmore

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1st Lieutenant John Henry Martin succeeded Parks. On August 15, 1863, Martin "was unanimously elected as captain of his company, which position he held until the close of the war, refusing to run for any higher position." Martin entered Oglethorpe University in 1858, and was at the head of his classes until he left for the war in May 1861. In college he acquired the nickname "Ackie." He was seriously wounded three times during the war, at Second Manassas, Chickamauga and the Wilderness. He missed the surrender at Appomattox, being detailed to Danville to guard the removal of President Jefferson Davis and cabinet from Danville to Greensboro, North Carolina. (Memoirs of Georgia ... Atlanta: The Southern Historical Association, 1895, vol. II, p. 711)

Martin wrote an account of Gettysburg that appears in Confederate Veteran magazine, vol. 12 (March 1904), p. 114.
 

johncla

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On August 15, 1863, Martin "was unanimously elected as captain of his company, which position he held until the close of the war, refusing to run for any higher position."
That's interesting. How common was it for officers to be elected?
More common on the Confederate side than Union?

VERY interesting thread. Thanks to lelliott19!
 

Gettysburg Guide #154

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As usual, we get an interesting story from our friend lelliott19! Like most of you, I am in awe of her research.

Isn't it curious that a newspaper in Savannah, GA is named the "Republican". Perhaps they had the name before the foundation of Mr. Lincoln's fledgling political party.
 
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