John Edwards was born in Louisville, Kentucky, on October 24, 1815. After a common-school education and admission to the state bar, he moved successively to Indiana, California, back to Indiana, and then to Iowa. Meantime he served in both houses of the Indiana legislature, as justice of the peace during the California gold rush, and as member of both the Iowa constitutional convention and the lower house of the legislature where he was speaker from 1858 to 1860. He also founded a newspaper, the Patriot. In the early months of the Civil War, Edwards was appointed lieutenant colonel on the staff of Governor Samuel J. Kirkwood and in August, 1862, colonel of the 18th Iowa Infantry. This last command served in the Army of the Southwest under John M. Schofield; was garrisoned at Springfield during most of 1863; and in the fall of that year composed part of the garrison of Fort Smith, Arkansas, with Edwards as post commander. In the spring of 1864 the regiment took part in Frederick Steele's ill-fated Camden campaign, fighting at Prairie d'-Ane, Moscow, and Jenkins' Ferry. On September 24, 1864, Edwards was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers, and commanded first a brigade and then a division in the District of the Frontier with headquarters at Fort Smith; he remained at this post until the close of the war. Although not a recipient of the brevet of major general, Edwards was in 1866 rewarded by President Andrew Johnson with the post of assessor of internal revenue at Fort Smith, where he had settled. In 1870, General Edwards ran for Congress as a Liberal Republican, against the incumbent Thomas Boles, a former Confederate officer and native Arkansan who ran on a moderate ticket. Edwards presented credentials of election to the Forty-Second Congress and served from March 4, 1871, until February 9, 1872, when he was succeeded by Boles, who had successfully contested the election. With the day of the carpetbagger rapidly coming to a close, Edwards was not a candidate for renomination and thereafter made his home in Washington, D. C, where his legal talents and his army service procured him a living. He died in Washington on April 8, 1894 and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
Reference: Generals in Blue. Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge.