November 2, 2020

Pages 5263-5265
Whole Number 188

[John W. Sparks, Died 1862, and James W. Sparks, Died 1863,
in Stones River National Cemetery, Murfreesboro, Tennessee].

A sustaining member of our Association for the last several years, Pamela Sparks Ennamorato, 3565 Steiner St., Columbus, Ohio, 43231, has shared with us her photographs taken of two Civil War Soldiers' gravestones shown above. Although they probably never knew each other, these two young men named Sparks were buried not far apart in the same military cemetery at Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Mrs. Ennamorato wrote to us in February 1999 that while on vacation in Tennessee, she and her husband had visited the Stones River National Cemetery where she had found the graves of these two soldiers. Writing in June 1999, she reported that "our travels took us there again for our son's wedding on Memorial Day weekend, and we had a chance to take pictures of the two headstones." Records at the Stones River National Cemetery show John W. Sparks to have been a member of Battery A, 1st Regiment Kentucky Artillery Volunteers, and James W. Sparks a member of the 5th Battery, Wisconsin Light Artillery. The identification number for John W. Sparks is D-1739 while that for James W. Sparks is M-5068,

It happens that we have published information regarding both of these soldiers in earlier issues of the Quarterly, which we here review to accompany our publication of the above photographs. John W. Sparks was a son of Richard W. and Mildred (Satterwhite) Sparks and had been born ca. 1841 in Henry County, Kentucky, although by 1850 he had accompanied his parents on their move to Johnson County, Indiana. (For a record of his parents and siblings, see the Quarterly of March 1987, Whole No. 177, beginning on page 4769.) John W. Sparks had been mustered into service in the U.S. Army on September 15, 1861. Unmarried, he was described as being five feet, ten inches tall, with a fair complexion, grey eyes, light hair, and by occupation a farmer. When his mother applied for a pension following John's death, she sent a letter he had written to her on April 23, 1862, along with her application. It reads in part:

I have been paid at last. I send you here enclosed $25.00. I stand in need of some things & Will keep a part of it. We are still at the same camp Cb I don't know when we will moved from it. I have had my Likeness taken $ will also send it....

I had almost forgot to tell you about the big battle we had here. Buregard attacked Genl. Grant at Pittsburg Landing on Sunday and drove our troops back to the river. Genl. Buell arrived Monday morning and took command and the battle was resumed. The rebels were defeated with great loss. The Louisville Legion was in the fight and done well. We got our battery across the river just as the battle was over. Then we went out on Tuesday and was in the cavalry fight that day but none of us got hurt. The battlefield was a terrible sight. Sam Shook who was in the Sixth Kentucky was among the missing. We don't know whether he was killed or not. Balard Bellis was in it but was not hurt.....

John W. Sparks was killed accidentally on September 2, 1862. The circumstances pertaining to his death were described in a letter from his commanding officer, Capt. D. C. Stone, to a family friend named John Gay in Louisville, Kentucky, as follows:

Being told that you are personally acquainted with Mrs. Sparks Living in your neighborhood, it becomes my painful duty to announce through you to Mrs. Sparks the death of her son, John W. Sparks, a member of my Battery--he joined at Camp Joe Holt. The circumstances are as follows. A large lot of captured flour was being loaded on the cars at Murfresboro, Tenn., a number of barrels being broken, a quantity of flour was spilled. He and another comrade was gathering up some of the flour about the cars when the freight cars were struck by a locomotive, he being in the act of jumping out of the way, was caught between the cars and crushed. He lived but a few minutes. The deceased was a good soldier and a brave young man. He was buried with military honors by the Battery in the City Grave Yard at Murfresboro, side by side with Kentuckians. His effects and pay will be made out and sent in due form. My kindest regards to Mrs. Sparks and anything I can do to aid in the settlement of the affairs of her son, I will cheerfully do. In the death of John W, Sparks, I have lost a noble soldier and always ready to do his duty. A brave and noble young soldier has fallen to sleep doing service for his country.

John W. Sparks's mother did not receive a pension based on her son's service, the Circumstances of which were described in some detail in an abstract of the documents in her pension file at the National Archives published in the Quarterly of September 1975, Whole No. 91, pp.1757-61.

45.6.1 87.x.6.1 James W. Sparks, whose middle name was William, whose gravestone was also photographed by Ms. Ennamorato, was born ca. 1837 in Wayne County, Indiana. He was a son of 45.6 87.x.6 Eli and Sarah Sparks. His mother died prior to September 8, 1841, on which date his father married his second wife, Emily Bracklin, at Centerville, Wayne County, Indiana.

45.6.1 87.x.6.1 James W. Sparks married Elizabeth Cummins on February 28, 1858, in Green County Wisconsin. He enlisted to serve in the 5th Battery Wisconsin Light Artillery on September 5, 1861, at Monroe, Wisconsin. We have learned little regarding the military service of James W. Sparks other than a record supplied by the Adjutant General's Office when his widow applied for a pension, that being that the muster rolls of his battery showed he had been present for duty until he had "died of disease in hospital, Murfreesboro, Tenn. April 1, 1863."

When James W. Sparks's widow, Elizabeth, made application for a pension on February 13, 1864, based on his military service, she stated that they had no children. She was a resident of Cadiz, Green County, Wisconsin, and her signature was witnessed by her late husband's father, 45.6 87.x.6 Eli Sparks, and by his second wife, Emily (Bracklin) Sparks. A monthly pension of $8.00 was approved for Elizabeth (Cummins) Sparks.

It is an interesting fact that Eli Sparks, father of James W. Sparks, who had no other children by either of his wives, enlisted on February 23, 1864, at Janesville, Wisconsin, to serve in Company M, 4th Regiment Wisconsin Volunteers. He was then about 46 years old. Like his son, he also died in service on April 18, 1865, just at the close of the war. He died in the U.S.A, General Hospital, Greenville, Louisiana, of "chronic diarrhea." His widow was placed on the pension rolls for $8.00 per month.

Abstracts of the pension files for these two women, Elizabeth (Cummins) Sparks and Emily (Bracklin) Sparks, were published in the Quarterly of September 1993, Whole No. 163, pg.4177 and pg. 4178.