Summary

Conflict Period:
Civil War (Union) 1
Branch:
Army 1
Rank:
Brigadier General 1
Birth:
27 Mar 1820 1
Eaton Canada 1
Death:
14 Jul 1897 1
Washington, D.C. 1
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Full Name:
John Franklin Farnsworth 1
Birth:
27 Mar 1820 1
Eaton Canada 1
Male 1
Death:
14 Jul 1897 1
Washington, D.C. 1
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Civil War (Union) 1

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Brigadier General 1

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John Franklin Farnsworth

Farnsworth was born 27 March 1820 in Compton City, Quebec Canada. He studied law in Ann Arbor, Michigan, was admitted to the bar in 1841 and established a practice in St. Charles, Illinois then in Chicago. Although originally a Democrat, he was elected to the House of Representatives from the 2nd Illinois district as a Republican in 1856 and served two terms from 4 March 1857 until 3 March 1861. 

He did not seek a third term opting to help raise a cavalry regiment, the 8th Illinois, of which he became the commander with the rank of colonel on 18 September 1861. He led the 8th on the Peninsula at Yorktown and during the Seven Days. He commanded the 2nd brigade in Alfred Pleasonton's cavalry division of the Army of the Potomac during the Maryland campaign. Farnsworth was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers on 29 November 1862. He commanded the 1st brigade of Pleasonton's cavalry division of the Right Grand Division, Army of the Potomac at Fredericksburg.

. Farnsworth was again elected to Congress by the 2nd Illinois district and resigned from the army on 4 March 1863 to take his seat. He was reelected to four additional terms. During his time in Congress he aligned himself with the Radical Republicans supporting the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment. He believed Congress should control reconstruction and supported all the radical measures in Congress including the impeachment of Andrew Johnson. Farnsworth left Congress on 3 March 1873 after failing in his bid for re-nomination in 1872. He failed again in1874 and returned to his law practice in Chicago. He moved to Washington DC in 1880 and continued to practice law until his death on 14 July 1897.

Farnsworth's nephew was Elon John Farnsworth who originally joined the army as 1st lieutenant and adjutant of his uncle's 8th Illinois. A captain on Pleasonton's staff, the younger Farnsworth was promoted most likely as a political favor to brigadier general on 28 June 1863 and given command of the 1st brigade in the 3rd division of the cavalry corps. While leading a charge against the Confederate right flank on the third day at Gettysburg, the young Farnsworth was killed.

 

FARNSWORTH, John Franklin, a Representative from Illinois; born in Eaton, Canada, March 27, 1820; completed preparatory studies; settled in Ann Arbor, Mich.; studied law; was admitted to the bar in 1841 and commenced practice at St. Charles, Ill.; moved to Chicago, Ill.; elected as a Republican to the Thirty-fifth and Thirty-sixth Congresses (March 4, 1857-March 3, 1861); was not a candidate for renomination in 1860; served in the Union Army during the Civil War; commissioned colonel of the Eighth Regiment, Illinois Volunteer Cavalry, September 18, 1861; brigadier general of Volunteers December 5, 1862; resigned March 4, 1863, to take up his duties as Congressman; elected to the Thirty-eighth and to the four succeeding Congresses (March 4, 1863-March 3, 1873); chairman, Committee on Post Office and Post Roads (Fortieth through Forty-second Congresses); unsuccessful candidate for renomination in 1872; resumed the practice of law in Chicago, Ill.; moved to Washington, D.C., in 1880 and continued the practice of law until his death on July 14, 1897; interment in North Cemetery, St. Charles, Ill.

 

 

 

 John Franklin Farnsworth

 

John Franklin Farnsworth, uncle of Elon J. Farnsworth and son of New England parents, was born in Eaton, a tiny village in Compton County, Quebec, Canada, on March 27, 1820. At an early age he became a resident of Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he studied law. He commenced practice in St. Charles, Illinois, but about 1852 moved to Chicago.  

In 1856, Farnsworth was elected to Congress, described at the time as "a full-blown Lovejoy abolitionist," although he had originally been a Democrat. He was re-elected in 1858 but was defeated for re-nomination in 1860. In September of the following year he recruited the 8th Illinois Cavalry of which he was made colonel. The regiment saw service on outpost duty in front of Washington and took part in the Penninsular campaign in the spring of 1862. During the Maryland campaign he was placed in command of a brigade in Alfred Pleasonton's division, which saw very limited service, its total casualties amounting to only thirty officers and men. Farnsworth was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers to the rank from November 29 and was with his brigade at Fredricksburg where, according to Pleasonton's report "the cavalry was massed...in rear of the ridge commanding the approaches to the upper bridges. This position was held...until the army had re-crossed the Rappahannock." Meantime, Farnsworth was again elected to Congress, this time from St. Charles, and took his seat on March 4, 1863, resigning his commission the same day. He was re-elected in 1864 and by virtue of successive elections held his seat until 1873. Allying himself closely with the Radical Republican element in Congress, Farnsworth voted for all the extreme Reconstruction measures, including the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson. With sentiment changing in favor of moderation, he failed to gain re-nomination in 1872 and in 1874 waged an unsuccessful campaign as a Democrat. General Farnsworth resumed his Chicago law practice when he left Congress and in 1880 moved to Washington, where he continued his practice until his death on July 14, 1897. He is buried in St. Charles.

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