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In the Army Engineering Corps, he determined the boundary-lines between Iowa and the Little Colorado river, and made the surveys for a rail-road from the Mississippi river to the Pacific Ocean, and was the chief surveyor of the party charged with the delimitation of the northwest boundary of the United States and British North America, 1857-1861.
He became brigadier General of volunteers in 1861 and commanded a brigade in the operations on the North Carolina coast in early 1862. He served as chief-of-staff to Ambrose Burnside during the battles of Antietam and Fredericksburg. He assumed command of the IX Corps and sent to the western theater. In campaign against Vicksburg he was a conspicuous actor. He was chief-of-staff in the Army of the Ohio in the defense of Knoxville and chief-of-staff to Burnside during the Overland Campaign and beginning stages of the Siege of Petersburg. After the Battle of the Crater, Burnside was relieved of command and Parke assumed command of the IX Corps. In 1865 while Army of the Potomac commander George G. Meade was in a conference, Parke being senior officer was acting commander of the army during the battle of Fort Stedman until Meade returned to the field. He led the IX Corps through the fall of Petersburg and the Appomattox campaign . In 1865 he was brevetted major-general and in 1889 retired.
Parke died in Washington, D.C. 16 December 1900.
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