a Significant Award, Feat, or Service Record
Return to FFA Home Page
French was born ca 1833-1834, in New York. He married Mary A. Unknown, who was born January 8, 1839 in
New York. Will and Mary had a son,
Charles Byron French, born May 1, 1859 in Fayette, Wisconsin, and possibly also
a daughter Nettie. They were living in McHenry, Illinois at the time of Will's
August 4, 1862 enlistment in the 95th Illinois U.S. Infantry
Regiment, Company F. He was
28. Will French, who was 5'4"
with brown hair, gray eyes and a light complexion, worked as a blacksmith.
a note in a little Bible saying, "I am going into the Army, and I may
never return," and he did not. He was wounded in battle at Vicksburg,
Mississippi on May 22, 1863. He
was captured June 10, 1864 at Guntown, Mississippi. He was sent to Camp Lawton, Millen, Georgia, on October 31,
1864. He was imprisoned at the
notorious Andersonville Prison and survived Andersonville. Paroled, he died of disease at
Annapolis, Maryland on April 8, 1865.
He is buried at Annapolis National Cemetery. He was recognized for Distinguished Service.
95th Illinois Infantry Regiment History Adjutant General's Report: Red River
expedition. Fort De Russey, Old River, Cioutierville, Mansura. Yellow Bayou,
Guntowns. June 10,1864. "The
Ninety-fifth was in the thickest of the fight at Guntown and fought with
undaunted bravery, In the early part of the action Colonel Humphrey fell
mortally wounded and the command devolved upon Captain William H. Stewart of
Company F, but he, soon receiving a severe wound through both thighs, was
carried helpless from the field. Next Captain E. N. Bush of Company G assumed
command, but he was soon counted among the killed, when Captain Schellenger of
Company K was called to the command of the gallant band, and though their brave
Colonel and other commanders had fallen one after another, yet the fight was
continued with indescribable desperation. Finally both flanks of the Regiment
were turned by overpowering numbers of the enemy and it was obliged to fall
back or suffer entire capture. Soon afterward a general and hasty retreat was
ordered by General Sturgis, when his whole army fled precipitately in the
direction of Memphis. The enemy, victorious at all points, lost no time in
pursuit of the routed and demoralized troops. The remnant of the Ninety-fifth
was led back to Memphis by Captain Schellenger, but amid the excitement each
man looked out particularly for himself. In this engagement the Ninety-fifth
was nearly annihilated, and on this account it was given a few weeks rest on
its return to Memphis.