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 reelected 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 Peninsular 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. Farns-worth was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers to rank from November 29 and was with his brigade at Fredericksburg 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 reelected 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 renomination 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 in practice until his death on July 14, 1897. He was buried in St. Charles.

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Reference:  Generals in Blue.  Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner.  Louisiana State University Press.  Baton Rouge.