Francis Fessenden, younger brother of General James Deering Fessenden and son of Senator William Pitt Fessenden, Secretary of the Treasury under Abraham Lincoln, was born in Portland, Maine, March 18, 1839. After preliminary schooling in Portland he was graduated from Bowdoin College in 1858, studied law at Harvard, and gained admittance to the bar. Upon the outbreak of the war in 1861, Fessenden was at once commissioned a captain in the newly authorized 19th U. S. Infantry by Secretary of War Simon Cameron. Although his Civil War career was not undistinguished and he lost a leg in the Red River campaign, it is impossible to account for this appointment or for his subsequent advance to the full grade of major general on other grounds than his father's political prominence. Fes-senden's first field service was at Shiloh, where he was wounded. After returning to duty, he became colonel of the 25th Maine Infantry in September, 1862, and served with this regiment in the defenses of Washington, until he was mustered out of volunteer service on July 10, 1863. From then until the following January, when he was re-mustered as colonel of the 30th Maine, he seems to have performed routine duty at his regular rank of captain. His regiment was ordered to New Orleans to take part in N. P. Bank's Red River campaign. At the battle of Pleasant Hill, Fessenden succeeded to the command of the 3rd Brigade of Emory's division of Franklin's XIX Corps upon the death of Colonel Lewis Benedict. At Monett's Ferry, Fessenden is credited with directing a charge which saved the retreating army. He was wounded, and his right leg was amputated a few days later. He was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers on May 10, 1864, and to major general on November 9, 1865; his duties after his recovery were mainly of an administrative nature in the neighborhood of Washington. During this period he was a member of the military commission which tried and condemned Henry Wirz, former Confederate commandant at Andersonville Prison. Upon the reorganization of the army in 1866, Fessenden was tendered a lieutenant colonelcy but declined it; he was retired with the rank of brigadier general. Resuming his law practice in Portland, he served a term as mayor of that city, was an overseer of Bowdoin for many years, and compiled his father's letters and papers. He died in Portland on January 2, 1906, and was buried there.
Reference: Generals in Blue. Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge.