April 18, 2021

Pages 5714-5718
Whole Number 199 ARCHIBALD WIMPY SPARKS (1843-1882)

by John A. Sparks,Jr. Archibald Wimpy Sparks, who chose to go by the name of "Wimpy Sparks, " was born in Lumpkin County, Georgia, in 1843. Noting that the name "Wimpy" may be considered to be at least an unusual name, I find that he may have been named for a family friend or neighbor. Living in the same town where he was born was an A. G. Wimpy family. Mrs. A. G. Wimpy was the president of the Ladies Aid Society during the Civil War period. (See the History of Lumpkin County for the First Hundred Years,1832-1932 by Andrew W. Cain, page 69, the Reprint Company Publishers, Spartanburg, South Carolina.)

Archibald Wimpy Sparks's father was Malone Sparks, born in Burke County, North Carolina, whose wife was Irene Branch, also from Burke County. Malone moved to Georgia in the 1830's; I believe that he was following the Gold Rush that occurred in Georgia in that decade. He was listed on the 1840 census of Habersham County. He and his family were shown on the 1850 census of Lumpkin County where his occupation was given as "Miner." They lived in the area of Dahlonega, county seat of Lumpkin County, and it was there that Malone Sparks died in 1863.

Wimpy Sparks grew up in this location and probably had not yet reached his eighteenth birthday at the formation date of July 9, 1861, of the "Blue Ridge Rifles" of Lumpkin County, Georgia. He obviously had the desire to join with his friends, but for some reason he remained behind when this company first left Dahlonega.

The unit which Wimpy Sparks would later join was commanded by Captain Joseph H. Hamilton, a West Point graduate who became a major and on December 13, 1862, be came a lieutenant colonel in the Confederate Army. (See page 144 of the History of Lumpkin County cited above.)

An article appearing in the Dahlonega Signal for July 14, 1861, describes the departure of the Blue Ridge Rifles:

On Saturday last this company under the command of Capt. Joseph Hamilton left here for Camp McDonald to perfect their discipline by the 11th of August. This company numbers about eighty rank and file, made up of the very best of our citizens, and commanded by a young man of decided ability and determination of purpose. No company from our state is better qualified for destruction, as they been from their earliest boyhood used to the rifle and shut one eye when the they shoot, and every time they pull the trigger a man will fall. The evening before they left, Rev. A. M. Thigpen preached them a farewell sermon. He presented each soldier with a Testament urging them to read it and. apply its counsels. They left with prayers and tears of all for their welfare. May the God of Battle bless them.

When the company reached Camp McDonald, they were connected with Phillips Legion. After remaining at camp a short time, they were ordered to Virginia and united with Wofford's Brigade, Longstreet Corps, according to reports on the company muster rolls for Company E.

The Georgia Phillips Legion Infantry Battalion was organized on July 2, 1861; it surrended at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, on April 9, 1865. The first commander and organizational influence was Colonel William Phillips. The Legion also contained a cavalry battalion. These units did not serve together, however; they were used as separate commands and placed in different theaters of operation until the war ended.

When the Blue Ridge Rifles joined with Phillips Legion, they were designated Company E, Infantry.

Using the muster roll records for Company E, I have been able to trace some of the battles to which this unit was assigned. Under Wofford's Brigade, this company was involved in battles at Fredericksburg, Virginia, Lynchburg, Virginia, and Richmond Ferry, West Virginia. At Fredericksburg on August 7, 1861, Private Jasper Bates was wounded and would lose his arm as a result of the injury. September 7, 1861, Private Fountain Davis died at Lynchburg, Virginia, and also on October 6, 1861, Private Samuel London died at Lynchburg. On October 18, 1861, Private G. F. Parker died at Richmond Ferry, West Virginia.

After these costly engagements, the company was returned to camp in South Carolina. On February 5, 1862, Private Rice N. Hulsey died near Harlessville, South Carolina.

I believe that while the troops were in South Carolina, First Lieutenant Hardy D. Price returned home to recruit replacements for the lost troops. It was during that trip home that Wimpy Sparks would join the Army.

Wimpy Sparks's Civil War record from the National Archives consists of only one page. This is the company muster record for Confederate Phillips Legion, Georgia. This record states that Private Wimpy Sparks was present for the months of May and June of 1862, Company E Infantry Batt'n. This report also states that Wimpy Sparks had enlisted on March 4, 1862, at Dahlonega, Georgia; signed by S. L. Hardy D. Price, for a period of three years.

Records shown on page 165 of the History of Lumpkin County, cited above, indicate that Lieutenant Price was wounded at Fredericksburg,Virginia, on December 13, 1862; he later died at Richmond.

A note found in the William Stevens Sparks family Bible states that Wimpy Sparks fought in two battles and died on August 23, 1862, on the Rappahannock River in Virginia. William Stevens Sparks was Wimpy Sparks's younger brother.

No one thus far has been able to state with certainty exactly where Wimpy Sparks died. However, with limited Information as support, I can say that he died in one of the four battles known as Rappahannock Station. These battles were located in Culpeper County and Fauquier County, Virginia. They were in the Northern Virginia Campaign from June to September of 1862. The commanding generals were Thomas J. ["Stonewall"] Jackson, C.S.A., and John Pope, U.S.

In early August, 1862, General Lee determined that General McClellan's Army was being withdrawn from the Peninsula ' to reinforce John Pope. He sent Longstreet from Richmond to join Jackson's wing of the Confederate Army near Gordonsville, and Longstreet arrived to take command himself on August 15. On August 20-21, Pope withdrew to the line of the Rappahannock River. On August 23, Stuart's Cavalry made a daring raid on Pope' s headquarters at Catlett Station, showing that the Union right flank was vulnerable to a turning movement. Over the next several days, August 22-25, the two armies fought a series of minor actions along the Rappahannock River, including Waterloo Bridge, Lee Springs, Freeman's Ford, and Sulphur Springs, resulting in a few hundred casualties. Together, these skirmishes held Pope's Army along the river while Jackson's wing marched via Thoroughfare Gap to capture Bristoe Station and to destroy Federal supplies at Manassas Junction, far to the rear of Pope' s Army. Although the results of this campaign were inconclusive, the estimated casualties were 225, total.

At the time of this campaign, Phillips Legion Infantry troops had joined Jackson's forces under Longstreet's command. Private Archibald Wimpy Sparks and Private F. A. McAfee must have been on patrol together as both were reported killed in an artillery duel along the Rappahannock River in Virginia on August 23, 1862. We may never know the exact location of Wimpy Sparks's death, but I feel that the dates of these battles and Wimpy's stated death date are so close that we can assume he was one of the estimated 225 casualties of this battle. He was only nineteen, at the most, when he died. This is only a reminder of the costliest war ever fought on American soil.

[Editor's Note: We are pleased that John A. Sparks, Jr. has shared his research on Wimpy Sparks (sometimes spelled "Wimpey") with us. Wimpy was his grand uncle. Should a member of the Association wish to correspond with Mr. Sparks regarding his branch of the Sparks family, his address is: 2420 Ballahack Rd., Chesapeake, Virginia, 23322.

[John wishes to express his appreciation to the Middle Georgia Regional Library's Genealogical and Historical Room; he extends his thanks also to Sally McHenry, 14225 Dickens St., No. 7, Sherman Oaks, California, 91423, for her valuable assistance in this project.

(In the Quarterly of March 1996, No.173, beginning on page 4603, we included an article entitled "John Sparks (Born ca. 1775--Died Prior to 1810) of Surry and Burke Counties, North Carolina." This John Sparks was, with little doubt, a son of William Sparks, Jr., who had been born ca. 1750 in Frederick County, Maryland. As a lad of about 13 or 14 in 1764, William Sparks, Jr. had accompanied his parents, William, Sr. and Ann, on their move from Maryland to the Forks of the Yadkin in Rowan County (now Davie County) North Carolina. (See the lengthy article on William, Sr. and his wife, Ann, in the Quarterly of June 1991, No.154.)

[William Sparks, Jr. moved from the Forks of the Yadkin to Surry County, North Carolina, ca. 1771. His parents and some of his siblings made the same move a little later. William Sparks, Sr. died in Surry County in either 1801 or 1802.

[by the summer of 1798, William Sparks, Jr. had moved with his family from Surry County to Burke County, also in North Carolina. His two youngest brothers, Benjamin and Jeremiah Sparks, followed William, Jr. to Burke County a few years later. (See the article entitled "Benjamin Sparks (1769/70-1850), Son of William and Ann Sparks," beginning on page 5682 of the June 2002 issue of the Quarterly, No. 198.)

[William Sparks, Jr. appeared on the 1800 census of Burke County, but not on that for 1810. We believe that he had died before 1810. We have found no record to reveal the maiden name of his wife. Genealogical research in Burke County is extremely difficult because the courthouse there burned in 1865, destroying a large portion of the county's records. From those that do survive, however, we know that William Sparks, Jr. was the father of at least two sons, John, born ca. 1775, and Larkin, born ca. 1784. There were also four daughters.

[John Sparks, doubtless the older of William, Jr.'s two sons, had been married for a few years when his father moved to Burke County. John remained in Surry until after the 1800 census was taken, but soon thereafter he, also, moved his family there. Before the 1810 census was taken, however, John also died. William, Jr. was in his late 50's or early 60's when he died, but John was still in his 30's, leaving his wife with four young sons, all under the age of 10 years.

[Shown as head of her household on the 1810 census of Burke County, John's widow was recorded by the census taker as "Eliza Sparks, " but Eliza was likely an " abbreviation for Elizabeth.

[Fortunately, many of Burke County's court records survived the fire of 1865, among which there is a transcript from the meeting of the County Court in April 1812 ordering that 14-year-old William Sparks, called "an orphan of John Sparks, " be bound (i.e. apprenticed to) Jesse Hall to be taught a trade. Earlier, at a sitting of the Court in January 1812, 12-year-old orphan Absalom Sparks was bound to Crispin D. Gibbs. No apprenticeship was provided for Malone Sparks, son of John; at age 9 or 10, he apparently remained with his widowed mother. We have found no record of thefourth son of Elizabeth Sparks whose household on the 1810 census had been enumerated with four males under 10 years.

[On October 17, 1814, Elizabeth Sparks married (second) a Burke County widower named George Hodge. Born in 1761, Hodge had been a soldier in the American Revolution and received a pensIon based on that service. He died In 1845. When the U. S. Congress passed an act in 1853 enabling widows of Revolutionary War veterans to qualify for pensions, even though their marriage had been after the war ended, Elizabeth successfully applied. This was before the 1865 courthouse fire in Burke County, so copies of several records burned in that fire are preserved in Elizabeth's pension file at the National Archives. For further details of how these records have aided us in accounting for the events and relationships noted above, see the Quarterly of March 1996, No. 173, pp.4605-10.

[It is interesting to note that two of the sons of John and Elizabeth Sparks were married to daughters of George Hodge by his first wife after their bondage ended at age 21. William, who had been bound to Jesse Hall, married Rachel Hodge on May 2, 1819, and Absolom, who had been bound to Crispin D. Gibbs, married Esther Hodge on July 19, 1823. (Bondage for orphans normally ended when they reached age 21.)

[ Malone Sparks married Rachel Haney in Burke County, North Carolina, on November 16, 1822. Rachel apparently died childless, and Malone Sparks was married, second, to Irene Branch. Based on census records, it appears that Malone and Irene (Branch) Sparks were the parents of nine children, the first three of whom were born in North Carolina between 1834 and 1838, while the last six were born in Georgia. These nine were: Rachel Sparks, born ca. 1834. Valencia Sparks, born ca. 1836. Judy E. Sparks, born ca. 1838. Mary Sparks, born ca. 1840. Archibald Wimpy Sparks, born 1843. Nancy Sparks, born ca. 1845. William Stephen Sparks, born April 28, 1849. Joseph W. Sparks, born ca. 1852. Rebecca Sparks, born ca. 1855.]