John William French
Commanding Officer 22nd Infantry
March 26, 1899 - November 11, 1901
John W. French was born on June 2, 1843 in Washington, D.C.
He enlisted as a Private in
Company F of the 7th N.Y. Infantry (State Militia) on April 17,
1861. He was discharged
on June 3, 1861 and received a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 8th U.S. Infantry on October 24, 1861,
accepting his commission on November 2nd of that year. French served on recruiting duty and mustering services
and with the 8th Infantry in the Gettysburg campaign.
From December 1863 to April 25,
1864 he was the Aide-de-camp to Brigadier General George J.
and on staff duty and as pass officer in New York City.
He rejoined the 8th Infantry on
April 30, 1864 and served with it through the Wilderness campaign
to James River. French was noted in Powell's "Records of Living Officers" as having
to, and did, sink obstructions in Trent's Reach, James River,
under Rebel batteries,
to prevent descent of ironclads to raid on depots at City Point."
Powell also notes that French
was "Engaged in
battles about Petersburg Mine" (Battle
of the Crater, July 30, 1864,
during the Siege of Petersburg),
French was breveted to 1st
Lieutenant on August 19, 1864 for gallant and meritorious service
in the Battle on Weldon Railroad, Virginia. On October 28, 1864 he was given the brevet rank of Captain
for gallant and meritorious service in the Battle of Hatcher's Run, Virginia. At the same time French occupied
the position of Assistant Commander of musters, 2nd Division, 9th Army Corps from June 14, 1864
to January 18, 1865. He also was the Acting commander of musters for the 9th Army Corps from
September 30 to December of 1864. He was Aide-de-camp to Brigadier General of Volunteers Rufus Ingalls,
who at the time was Chief Quartermaster of the Armies and on staff duty of the Armies operating against Richmond
from January 18 to September 19, 1865.
French was promoted to 1st
Lieutenant of the 8th Infantry on January 9, 1866 and served as
Regimental Adjutant from January 31 to November 20, 1866. He was appointed Captain in the 40th Infantry
on July 28, 1866, which he accepted on November 20 of that year.
He transferred to the 25th
Infantry on April 20, 1869 and served in the Carolinas and
Louisiana until 1870,
then in Texas until July 1880. Powell notes that while on duty in the Carolinas French was Assistant Adjutant General
of the Department of North Carolina and that while on duty in Texas he was
Judge Advocate, in charge of Inspector's office and Chief
Commissary of Subsistence (twice)
of the Department of Texas."
While a Captain with the 25th
Infantry French commanded the post at Fort Davis, Texas
from Dec. 15, 1870Feb. 12, 1871, June 18, 1871July 9, 1871 and Oct. 29, 1876Nov. 26, 1876.
French was transferred to the
Dakota Territories on recruiting service and served in that
October 1, 1884 to October 1, 1886. He was stationed at Fort Meade, South Dakota from October 1886
to May 1888 and at Fort Custer, Montana from June 10, 1888 into 1891.
He was promoted to Major of the
14th Infantry on November 1, 1891. On July 5, 1895 French was
to Lieutenant Colonel of the 23rd Infantry. On August 27, 1898 he was appointed Brevet Colonel of the 23rd
and was serving with that organization in the Philippines when called upon to take command of the 22nd Infantry.
The above illustration
of Colonel John W. French appeared on page 7 in the El
Friday April 14, 1899 announcing his promotion to Colonel of the 22nd Infantry.
Library of Congress website
When Colonel Harry Egbert,
Commander of the 22nd Infantry was killed in action at Malinta,
on March 26, 1899 Lt. Col. French was promoted to Colonel of the 22nd Infantry and assigned
command of the Regiment.
French joined the 22nd Infantry
on May 14, 1899 and was on detached service commanding a brigade
in General Henry Lawton's Division until May 27 when he assumed command of the 22nd Infantry
at Candaba, Island of Luzon.
French commanded the 22nd
Infantry in engagements with the Insurgents from the end of May
into February 1900. From February 20-25, 1900 he was on detached service at 2nd Division Headquarters
in Manila. On February 25 he resumed command of the 22nd Infantry.
This article appeared in
Ottumwa Courier Ottumwa, Iowa
Text of the above
article. French is described incorrectly
in the article as being
Colonel of the 23rd Infantry. He was in fact Colonel of the 22nd Infantry at that time.
From The Ottumwa
Courier Ottumwa, Iowa
March 22, 1900 page 11.
Library of Congress website
French was absent and sick in Hospital No. 3 at Manila from March 12 through April 14, 1899.
On April 16, 1899 he departed
the Philippines enroute to the United States on account of
arriving in the U.S. on May 13. He was in the U.S. on a leave of absence with a Surgeon's Certificate
from May through August 1900. On August 27 he was detailed to Fort Wood, New York on Liberty Island.
Above: The buildings
which constituted Fort Wood on Liberty Island in New York harbor.
Colonel John French
commanded this post while on leave of absence due to sickness from August 27, 1900 into March of 1901.
Photo taken February 27, 1933 from the CDSG AerialCollection via John Stanton and the Fort Wiki website
In March 1901 French was ordered
to report on detached service to Fort McPherson, Georgia.
From March to November of 1901 he was at Fort McPherson in conjunction with the organization
and establishment of the 26th United States Infantry.
The 1904 22nd Infantry
Regimental history lists Colonel French as dying of disease on
November 11, 1901,
at which time Colonel James Miller assumed command of the 22nd Infantry.
French died at Fort McPherson, Georgia where he was listed as being Commander of the Post.
John W. French was an Original
Companion of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United
He was mustered in to the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) on July 17, 1896.
He became a member of the Society of the Sons of the American Revolution in June 1897.
John W. French's decorations
The signature of Colonel John W. French
on an enclosure to the
Returns of the 22nd Infantry dated June 10, 1899.
The death notice for John W. French in the San Francisco Call, Tuesday, November 12, 1901
CDNC California Digital Newspaper Collection
Funeral notice for Colonel John W. French
Photo by Marsha from the Find A Grave website
Memorial to Colonel John W. French in
the United States Military Academy Post Cemetery
at West Point, New York
Photo by Josie from the Find A Grave website
Top illustration from The Ottumwa Courier Ottumwa, Iowa March 22, 1900 page 11.
Library of Congress website
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