Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Faces of the Civil War: Rebel surgeon William S. Parran

Mortally wounded at Antietam, Rebel doctor William Parran is buried in Elmwood Cemetery in 
Shepherdstown, W.Va., which was part of Virginia during the Civil War. 
Close-up of William Parran's gravestone. (CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE.)
The wives of at least five Connecticut soldiers who died at Antietam were pregnant at the time of the battle. Of course, Southern families weren't immune to such awful tragedy either. Mary Virginia Parran, wife of Confederate doctor William Sellman Parran, was pregnant with the couple's second child when her husband was mortally wounded at Antietam on Sept. 17, 1862.

The son of a doctor, William Parran was mustered in to
the Confederate army as a captain on April 17, 1861.
(Photo: Museum of The Confederacy, Richmond, Va.)
From Barboursville, Va., Parran was mustered into the Confederate army as a captain in Company F in the 13th Virginia on April 17, 1862, five days after the Rebels bombarded Fort Sumter. He became ill, apparently from jaundice, and resigned his commission and was dropped from the regiment's rolls by late April 1862. The son of a doctor, Parran rejoined the Army of Northern Virginia as an assistant surgeon later that year, and by the time of Antietam served with Courtney’s Artillery Battalion. After the Rebels captured the Union garrison at Harpers Ferry, Parran was detached and sent to Sharpsburg. As the Union army neared a breakthrough at Bloody Lane, Parran is believed to have helped man a short-handed battery of Washington Artillery on the Piper Farm. Apparently mortally wounded during the action, the 27-year-old doctor was taken across the Potomac River to Shepherdstown, where he died later that night.

"He was never backward in offering and rendering services whenever and wherever he thought they were needed and would be accepted," a friend wrote about Parran in November 1862. "He lost his valuable life while nobly working at another's battery, to which he had offered his services. He was a tender and affectionate father, and left a fond and devoted wife and a darling little daughter to mourn his untimely death. May the widow's God be her God, and a father to her fatherless!"

Parran's son, William S. Parran II, was born on April 19, 1863. His father lies buried in Shepherdstown, W.Va., in Elmwood Cemetery, where more than 100 other Confederates who were killed or mortally wounded at Antietam are also interred.

"Dr. Parran was ever an affectionate and dutiful son, a devoted husband and parent, a true friend, and an unswerving patriot," a short account of his life published in 1875 noted. "His genial social nature, his frank and manly qualities, made for him, wherever he went, hosts of friends, in whose memories and affections he has a monument to his honor more enduring and more to be coveted than brass or marble."

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