Wednesday, August 31, 2016

A.W. Perkins

Fred Liljegren and Delmer Schmidt placing a Veteran’s Star at AW Perkins’ grave.

On a small hill north of Parkers Prairie, on the property of Demer Schmidt, is a solitary government issue limestone grave marker. There lies the body of A.W. Perkins, who fought for the Union for the entirety of the Civil War. This past week The Parkers Prairie History Club, along with Mr. Schmidt, placed a Veteran’s Star at this site to honor Mr. Perkin’s service.

According to the Otter Tail County Historical Society, Perkins was 17 years old when he enlisted in October of 1861. Joining him at Fort Snelling were his father and two brothers. They served in the 4th Minnesota Infantry Company D, and their first stop was Fort Abercrombie in North Dakota. Their job was essentially to keep peace on the frontier between Native Americans and settlers. Needless to say, this is assignment was not what many of the men who signed up wanted. In March of 1862 the Company was sent to St. Louis.

The adventure that many of the enlistees sought came quickly at this point. After participating in the Battle of Corinth, a fight that came down to hand to hand combat before a Confederate retreat, The Siege of Vicksburg followed. This was another crucial Union victory orchestrated by Ulysses S. Grant. It was brutal, forcing the Confederate soldiers and civilians of the town to be reduced to eating dogs, cats, and rats. This was the last Confederate hold of the Mississippi River and ended at the same time as the Battle of Gettysburg, providing the Union two major victories.
Perkins then took part in William Tecumseh Sherman’s March to the Sea, destroying everything along the way and crippling the South.

While the Historical Society was unable to find a cause of death, it is known that Perkins moved to Elmo Township to be with his parents and a younger brother, Abe Lincoln Perkins, who is buried on the same hill without a marker. This area was the frontier at the time, and death records were not always kept consistently. Gravestones were also not easy to get or afford during this time. However, Andrew Wattson Perkins was issued his marker for his service to the country.

Special thanks to Missy Hermes of the Otter Tail County Historical Society for researching A.W. Perkins and Delmer Schmidt  for allowing us access to his property and for joining us in honoring Perkins with his Veteran’s Star.