Ordnance Corp selects former Watervliet commander for Hall of Fame
October 6, 2011
By Mark Koziol
WATERVLIET ARSENAL, N.Y. -- Earlier this year, former Watervliet Arsenal Commander Lt. Col. Francis H. Parker (1838 - 1897) was inducted into the 2011 Class of the Ordnance Corps' Hall of Fame. On Sept. 7, 2011, in the presence of Arsenal employees, including former Arsenal employee and Ordnance Hall of fame member Fred Clas, Col. Clark W. LeMasters Jr., Chief of Ordnance, visited the Arsenal to present Parker's certificate and ribbon to Col. Mark F. Migaleddi, the Arsenal's current commander.
During the ceremony, Migaleddi praised Parker's contributions to the growth of the Arsenal into becoming the country's premier cannon manufacturer. The certificate and ribbon is on display at the Arsenal Museum's "Ordnance Hall of Fame" exhibition among 11 other Hall of Fame members that commanded, worked or significantly supported the Arsenal.
Parker, an 1861 graduate from West Point, served as an Ordnance officer at several arsenals and in the field during the Civil War. He served in the Army of the Potomac, commanded by Gen. George McClellan, during the Battle of Bull Run, 1861. Parker stayed with the Union Army through the Battle of Antietam, 1862. Following the battle he was responsible for the shifting the ammunition train to Frederick, Md., and establishing a depot there.
Following the end of the war, he served at or commanded nine arsenals and depots in both the Northern and Southern states. In 1887, Parker served on an Ordnance board that decided that the Watervliet Arsenal would be the best place to manufacture cannons. Two years later, he became commander of the Watervliet Arsenal, in part because of his experience in gun manufacturing.
Accomplishments during Parker's tenure, 1889 to 1892, included the building of a steam-powered electric power plant; connecting the arsenal to the West Troy Waterworks Company, construction of the south wing of the Big Gun Shop and recommending to the Ordnance Board Carl Christiansen be made manager of the 16-inch gun program.
Chronic pneumonia, tuberculosis and his workload took its toll on Parker's health. In early July 1892, he took a six month leave of absence from the Watervliet Arsenal for medical reasons, eventually resigning as commander in December 1892. He died at age 59 on Feb. 22, 1897 at the Allegheny Arsenal in Pittsburgh, Pa. He was buried in his hometown of Owego, New York.