The Life of Ely S. Parker: Last Grand Sachem of the Iroquois and General Grant's Military Secretary

 
9781889246505: The Life of Ely S. Parker: Last Grand Sachem of the Iroquois and General Grant's Military Secretary
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The Life of Ely S. Parker: Last Grand Sachem of the Iroquois and General Grant's Military Secretary by Arthur C. Parker with New Foreword by David J. Coles Reprinted by Patrick A. Schroeder Feb. 2005 Among those American Indians who participated in the American Civil War, Ely Samuel Parker remains the best known of those who fought on the Union side. Brevetted a brigadier general, Parker was outranked among American Indians only by Confederate Brigadier General Stand Watie. Parker's fame, of course, is not based solely on his rank. During the last year of the war, he served as Ulysses S. Grant's military secretary; at Appomattox, Parker prepared the official copy of the document that formalized the capitulation of Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. Parker, a full-blooded Seneca, was born in 1828. He grew up on the Tonawanda Reservation in upstate New York. In addition to his white name, Parker also bore the Indian names of Ha-sa-no-an-da, meaning Leading Name; and Do-ne-ho-ga-wa, Keeper of the Western Door. The young Seneca graduated from Renssalear Polytechnic Institute in 1849. Parker worked as a civil engineer and supervised the building of a customhouse and hospital in Galena, Illinois. There, in 1860, Parker met U. S. Grant. This friendship eventually led to Parker's wartime association with the future Union commander. During the 1840s-1850s Parker rose to a leadership position among the Iroquois, and in September 1851, he was chosen as Grand Sachem of the Six Nations. Upon the outbreak of the Civil War, Parker made several attempts to join the Union army, but was rebuffed. Finally, in the Spring of 1863, an old Galena acquaintance, General John E. Smith, requested Parker's services as an assistant adjutant general, a request endorsed by then Major General Grant. Parker served briefly with Smith, but Grant soon appointed the Seneca an assistant adjutant general on his own staff. Parker stayed on Grant's staff throughout the remainder of the war. In August 1864, Parker received an appointment as Grant's military secretary with the rank of lieutenant colonel. During the Appomattox surrender meeting, Parker recalled when Grant introduced him to Lee: After Lee had stared at me for a moment, he extended his hand and said, I am glad to see one real American here. I shook his hand and said, We are all Americans. After the war, Parker remained Grant's aide-de-camp until the latter's inauguration as president in early 1869. The Seneca leader subsequently became the first American Indian to serve as Commissioner of Indian Affairs, a position he held until August 1871. Parker then invested in Wall Street enterprises, and later, joined the staff of the New York Police Department as a clerk. Suffering from declining health for a number of years, he died on August 30, 1895. 377 pages; 27 photos; index.

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