Report of Commander Parker, U. S. Navy, regarding complaints of his conduct made by Lieutenant-General Grant, U. S. Army.1
Hampton Roads, Va., January 26, 1865.
Sir: In obedience to your order of the 24th instant, I arrived here yesterday afternoon at about 4 o’clock and reported by telegraph.
Lieutenant-General Grant informed me that he had asked to have me removed from the command of the James River Squadron for the following reasons, viz: I had not collected a sufficient number of vessels at the front, and that I had allowed the obstructions in the river to be removed by the freshet without reporting the fact to him.
With regard to the first complaint, I can prove that I have constantly endeavored to have more vessels sent to me. I have written many letters to Rear- Admiral Porter, to Captain J. M. Berrien, commandant of the Norfolk navy yard, to the naval constructor, Mr. Hauscom, and to the chief engineer, Mr. Zeller, urging them to send me more vessels; and finding that there was a deadlock at the navy yard, I sent the U. S. S. Don to communicate with Rear- Admiral Porter and ask him to send me more vessels at once. This I thought the quickest way to get the monitors up the river to the front. I can produce copies of these letters for the inspection of the Navy Department.
I had the obstructions in the river examined after the freshet, and the officer reported that, although they had been injured, they were not passable for an ironclad.
I was not aware that General Grant was dissatisfied with me until I received your telegraphic order detaching me from the command.
I pray that you will order an investigation of the facts.
I kept the monitor Onondaga out of range of the enemy’s batteries by direction of Rear- Admiral Porter, but when the rebel ironclads came down in sight I attacked them and Howlett’s battery. We struck the rebel ironclads several times and they withdrew from the fight and went up the river. We were assisted by our batteries on shore.
I shall be most happy to return to my command in the James River or be otherwise employed.
Nearly all the vessels in James River are in want of repairs, which I have reported to Rear- Admiral Porter several times.
I humbly trust that the Department will allow me the opportunity to prove that I have done my duty.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Wm. A. Parker,
Hon. Gideon Welles,
Secretary of the Navy.
- Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Volume XI, pages 644-645 ↩