World War I -- Life Histories/Section 019/Frank Parker

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Overview[edit | edit source]

Frank Parker was a Major General in the United States Army 1st Division during World War I. Several of his letters and documents were collected and donated to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library Archives.

Major General Frank Parker

Biography[edit | edit source]

Early Life and Primary Education[edit | edit source]

Frank Parker was born in Georgetown County, South Carolina on September 21st, 1872. He is a descendant of Arthur Middleton, a prominent southern planter and one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and Emma Middleton (neé Izard). He graduated from the U.S Military Academy at West Point in 1894. [1]

Military Education and Career[edit | edit source]

His first experiences in war came during the Spanish American War in 1898, and the Puerto Rican conflict in 1900. After these two events, he served as an instructor at the US Military Academy from 1900 to 1903. He then attended the Calvary School in Saumur, France, where he studied reconnaissance and strategy. After graduating, he served as a military attaché in Caracas, Venezuela from 1904 to 1905. In 1912, he graduated from the École Supériure de Guerre in France, where he studied more war strategy.

Eventually, his great knowledge of wartime strategy helped him become an important commanding officer in World War I. Before his tenure as a Major General, he observed the beginning of the war in France, learning how to properly organize and successfully command an army. Parker kept very detailed notes of what he learned in several diaries, and used his knowledge when the United States entered the war. One entry in his diary outlines all of the preparations needed for "La continuation de la lutte pendant la nuit" (the Continuation of battle during the night). [2] He started the war as the Colonel of the 18th U.S Infantry, was promoted to Brigadier General of the 1st Infantry Brigade in 1918, and eventually became the Brigadier General of the entire 1st Division.

For his service to the U.S Army, Parker received the Distinguished Service Medal, one the Army’s highest awards for individual effort, and two Silver Star citations. For his duty and service in the French and other European armies, he also received the French Legion of Honor, the Belgian Order of the Crown, the French War Cross with 3 Palms, the Cuban Order of Military Merit, the Italian Grand Cross Order of Crown, and several other awards. [3]

Later Years[edit | edit source]

After World War I, Parker became an assistant chief of staff of the army in 1927, the commanding officer of the 6th Corps in 1929, and the director of the Illinois War Council after his retirement in 1936. He also returned to school to earn an LLD from the University of South Carolina and a degree in Agriculture and Applied Sciences from Michigan State College. He married sometime after the war ended, but not much is known about his immediate family. Parker died in his home in Chicago on March 13th, 1947.

Social Issues[edit | edit source]

The Second Battle of the Marne[edit | edit source]

The Second Battle of the Marne occurred from July 15th to July 18th, 1918. It was one of the last large German offensives of the First World War, and Frank Parker was one of the commanding officers for the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF). German Commander Erich Ludendorff believed that luring the American forces from Belgium to the Marne, and then attacking the vulnerable North France could win the war. By July 15th, The German forces were quickly pushing their way across the Aisne-Marne River in Northeast France, which created a bulge in the Allied lines. This bulge, called the Marne Salient, was the main focus of the battle. Allied troops attacked the salient on July 18th, taking the German forces by surprise. Three days later, the German troops retreated to their former lines, shifting the balance of the Western Front. [4] When the battle officially ended on August 6th, 1918, the Germans had suffered 168,000 casualties, France 95,000, Britain 13,000, and the U.S. 12,000. [5] As a consequence of the disastrous result in the Marne, no further large-scale attempt to win the war was ever taken by the German army. [6]

The Battle of St. Mihiel Salient[edit | edit source]

The Battle of St. Mihiel Salient took place from September 12th to September 18th, 1918, and was a critical battle determining the outcome of the war. Before the battle had even started, the German forces were quickly retreating, and the Allied offensive was gaining strength and confidence. The commanding officer of the 1st Division, General John J. Pershing, believed that the acquisition of the St. Mihiel Salient would loosen the German restrictions on the railroad lines and road communications into Paris and Verdun. However, Pershing's plan would require the untested American troops to battle the Germans at St. Mihiel, and then quickly move to another great battle, all within the span of 2 weeks. [7] When the St. Mihiel Offensive started on September 12, it was the largest battle in American history to date. It included 550,000 Americans and 110,000 Frenchmen in four different corps, as well as over 1,400 American, French, British, and Italian aircraft. [8] Ultimately, the AEF were successful in taking the salient, only having lost about 7,000 soldiers. In comparison, the German forces lost around 20,000 men who were killed, wounded, or taken prisoner. [9]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Profile Detail - Frank Parker." Marquis Biographies Online. Marquis Who's Who LLC, 1 Jan. 1945. Web. 5 Mar. 2015. <>.
  2. Frank Parker Papers, 1890-1948, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library Archives
  3. "Profile Detail - Frank Parker." Marquis Biographies Online. Marquis Who's Who LLC, 1 Jan. 1945. Web. 5 Mar. 2015. <>.
  4. "Second Battle of the Marne". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2015. Web. 03 Mar. 2015 <>.
  5. John Whiteclay Chambers II. "Marne, Second Battle of the." The Oxford Companion to American Military History. 2000. 3 Mar. 2015 <>.
  6. Duffy, Michael. "Battles - The Second Battle of the Marne, 1918." First World 22 Aug. 2009. Web. 10 Mar. 2015.
  7. Smythe, Donald. "St. Mihiel: The Birth of an American Army." Journal of the US Army War College 12.2 (1983). Parameters. Web. 2 Mar. 2015. < smythe.pdf>.
  8. Grotelueschen, Mark E.: Warfare 1917-1918 (USA), in: 1914-1918-online. International Encyclopedia of the First World War, ed. by Ute Daniel, Peter Gatrell, Oliver Janz, Heather Jones, Jennifer Keene, Alan Kramer, and Bill Nasson, issued by Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin 2014-10-08. DOI:
  9. "Saint-Mihiel". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online.Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2015. Web. 03 Mar. 2015<>.