John William French

Commanding Officer 22nd Infantry

March 26, 1899 - November 11, 1901

 

 

Born on June 2, 1843, in Washington, D.C., John W. French 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 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. Stannard,
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

"...volunteered 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),

He 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 the
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

"Acting 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, 1870—Feb. 12, 1871, June 18, 1871—July 9, 1871, and Oct. 29, 1876—Nov. 26, 1876.

French was transferred to the Dakota Territories on recruiting service, and served in that capacity from
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 promoted
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 Paso Herald
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, P.I.,
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 1899
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.

 

     

Left:

This article appeared in several newspapers
in the United States in early 1900 describing
the provision of American flags to public schools
in the Philippines by Colonel John W. French
made during early March 1900.

From The Ottumwa Courier Ottumwa, Iowa
March 22, 1900 page 11.

Library of Congress website

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 sickness,
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 States.
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

 

 

 

Burial:
Westview Cemetery
Atlanta
Fulton County
Georgia

 

 

 

 

Memorial to COL 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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