Unfortunate, that is, for the boys age 14 to 17 who comprised the majority of Captain/Doctor William Watts Parker’s Sixth Virginia Light Artillery.
Meaning his friendship with Colonel Edward Porter Alexander, Longstreet’s chief of artillery. For as Alexander put it in his memoir:
“If I want a Christian to pray for the dying soldier, I call on Parker. If I wish a skillful surgeon to amputate the limb of a wounded soldier, I call on Parker. If I want a soldier, who with unflinching courage, will go wherever duty calls, I call on Parker.”
Which is why, at Knoxville, the “Boy Battery” had to haul their 3-inch rifled field pieces on a leaky old flatboat back and forth across the freezing Holston River in a snow storm.
“We’d came and went no less than three times in four days,” as sergeant-gunner Pichigru Pease put it, “to satisfy some damn fool generals who couldn’t make up their feeble minds.”