Bernard Gaines Farrar, Jr.

Bernard Gaines Farrar, Jr., was born on August 5, 1831, in St. Louis, Missouri, to Bernard Gaines Farrar, Sr., and Ann O’Fallon Clark Thruston. Farrar’s father was a prominent St. Louis doctor and his mother was the niece of William Clark of the Lewis and Clark expedition. Prior to the war, Farrar studied at St. Louis University, the Norwich Military Academy in Vermont, and the University of Virginia from 1850 to 1852. On June 14, 1855, he married Isabella Jerdone Mitchell in Philadelphia. They had four children: Anne Clark Thruston, born around 1856; Alexander Mitchell, born around 1859; Bernard or “Bertie” Cecil, born around 1864; and Frank Jerdone, born and died in 1865. Although Farrar’s family owned slaves, he became a Free Soiler in 1854 and was a strong supporter of the Union. A history of Norwich University explains that: “In the winter of 1861 he assisted in organizing the loyal citizens [of St. Louis] and equipping them with arms, and did much to prevent the capture of the St. Louis arsenal by Southern sympathizers. He was among the first to offer his services to the government.”

Farrar first served as a major and aide-de-camp of General Nathaniel Lyon in Missouri starting on May 12, 1861. After Lyon’s death at the Battle of Wilson's Creek that August, Farrar served as an aide-de-camp to Major General Henry W. Halleck in Missouri. At the same time, Farrar also served as provost marshal general of the Department of the Missouri. He cracked down on rebel sentiment, censoring the press, instituting loyalty oaths, banishing disloyal citizens, and seizing property. On October 29, 1862, he earned a commission as colonel of the 30th Missouri Infantry Regiment, a unit which became known as the "Shamrock Regiment." The 30th eventually joined General Francis P. Blair’s brigade and participated in Ulysses S. Grant’s Mississippi Campaign. During the Siege of Vicksburg, Farrar took command of Blair’s brigade. 

Later, Farrar was ordered to duty in Natchez, Mississippi, with the 30th. He became a full colonel on January 21, 1864, with a commission as an officer of the 6th USCT Heavy Artillery Regiment, a unit he helped found with the permission of General Grant. To increase enrollment in his new regiment, Farrar later claimed, he raided nearby plantations and liberated enslaved men who agreed to join the Union army. Farrar assigned several of his white officers from the 30th as officers in the 6th. In the spring of 1864, Farrar took command of the District of Natchez. He succeeded General James M. Tuttle, whom Farrar repeatedly and publicly maligned after the war as an unfit commander. Although General Mason Brayman replaced Farrar as head of the district shortly afterward (in July 1864), Farrar and his regiment continued to serve in the Natchez area until the end of the war.  Later, in 1906, Farrar recounted a skirmish in which he and several of his men attacked a group of Confederate cavalry who outnumbered the small Union force 10 to 1. He captivatingly intoned, “I’ve been in tight places since and know what the hum of bullets sounds like, but I have always felt that the closest call I ever had was in that little narrow country lane near Fayette, Miss[issippi], in December, 1863.” On March 9, 1865, Farrar became a brevet brigadier general. He resigned his commission on May 8.

Following the war, Farrar traveled throughout Europe, seeking treatment for several ailments before returning to St. Louis. He became one of the city’s most prominent citizens. He was a vocal Republican, and President Benjamin Harrison appointed him Assistant U.S. Treasurer for Missouri, a position he held from 1891 to 1895. When Harrison floated Farrar’s name as a nominee for Secretary of the Treasury, the people of Natchez sent a letter lauding Farrar’s character. They explained their effusive praise as “partly and feebly discharging a debt of gratitude this people owe Gen. Farrar for his many acts of kindness manifested toward them when in command of the United States forces here in the long ago.” 

Farrar proudly joined the Ransom Post of the Grand Army of the Republic and the Missouri Commandery of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States (MOLLUS), both Union veteran organizations. He served as the Senior Vice Commander of the Missouri Commandery of MOLLUS from 1909 to 1910 and as the Commander from 1910 to 1911.

He suffered from a number of ailments after his service in the Civil War, including irritation of the prostate gland and urethra leading to stranguria and bladder issues. Farrar credited most of his health concerns to the hard riding he endured serving in the cavalry. After receiving a catheter during a medical trip to Belgium in 1878, he was forced to carry one the remainder of his life. He successfully applied for and received a pension for ailments related to his service. In an interview with the New York Times published July 24, 1887, Farrar stated, “I think our pension system is a fraud. I raised three regiments, in whole or in part, and I am annoyed to death with able-bodied men coming to me to help get them pensions. Unless the man is decrepit I invariably refuse.”

By age 79, Farrar had lost nearly all his money and accepted the appointment of sewer inspector after two terms as treasurer. Isabella had grown sick, and Farrar did not want to worry her by discharging their servants. He lamented to a local reporter that he had little income outside of his pension. On April 2, 1916, Isabella died of angina pectoris. Farrar soon followed his wife, dying of arteriosclerosis on June 6, 1916, at his home in St. Louis. He was buried beside her in Bellefontaine Cemetery in an underground family tomb.

Image: General Bernard Gaines Farrar (courtesy Wilson's Creek National Battlefield Park).


James O. Broadhead to Bernard Gaines Farrar, February 2, 1862

Bernard G. Farrar Calls for Arrest of Confederate Sympathizers

Bernard G. Farrar Enforces Emancipation

Bernard Gaines Farrar's New York Times Interview, July 24, 1874

Name:Farrar, Jr., Bernard Gaines
Alternative names:
  • Soldier
  • UVA (Union)
30th Regiment Missouri Volunteer InfantryF&S
6th Regiment Heavy Artillery U.S. Colored TroopsF&S
Branch of service:Army
Enlistment1861-05-12St. Louis, MOaccepted
Commission1862-10-29St. Louis, MO
Commission1864-01-21Natchez, MSaccepted33
Muster In1864-01-21Natchez, MS
Muster Out1865-05-08St. Louis, MO
Residence at UVA:St. Louis, MO
UVA Begin Year:1850
UVA End Year:1852
Residence at enlistment:St. Louis, MO
Rank In:Major
Rank Out:Brevet Brigadier General
Highest rank achieved:Brevet Brigadier General
Person 1Person 2NumberRelation Type
Farrar, Jr., Bernard GainesFarrar, Jr., Bernard Gaines705080application-invalid
Farrar, Jr., Bernard Gainesnoneapplication-minor
Farrar, Jr., Bernard Gainesnoneapplication-parent
Farrar, Jr., Bernard Gainesnoneapplication-widow
Farrar, Jr., Bernard GainesFarrar, Jr., Bernard Gaines676189certificate-invalid
Birth date:1831-08-05
Birth date certainty:Certain
Birth place:St. Louis, MO
Death date:1916-06-06
Death place:St. Louis, MO
Causes of death:old age, disease: arteriosclerosis
Occupations:Farmer, Tanner, U.S. Assistant Treasurer, Gentleman
Person 1Relation TypePerson 2
Farrar, Isabella Jerdonewife ofFarrar, Jr., Bernard Gaines
Farrar, Jr., Bernard Gainesparent ofFarrar, Anne Clark Thruston
Farrar, Jr., Bernard Gainesparent ofFarrar, Alexander Mitchell
Farrar, Jr., Bernard Gainesparent ofFarrar, Frank Jerdone
Farrar, Jr., Bernard Gainesparent ofFarrar, Bernard Cecil

Compiled Service Record and Staff File for Bernard Gaines Farrar, RG 94, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Washington, D.C.; Pension record for Bernard Gaines Farrar, RG 15, NARA; File for Bernard Gaines Farrar, Letters Received by the Adjutant General's Office, 1860-70, During and After the Civil War Period, RG 94, NARA; Ann C. Farrar, 1850 and 1860 Slave Schedules, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, and 1910 U.S. Federal Census, accessed on; Bernard G. Farrar, Jr. Collection, LaBudde Special Collections Library, University of Missouri, Kansas City; B. G. Farrar Papers, Hill Memorial Special Collections Library, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA;  Bernard Gaines Farrar, MOLLUS Collection, Archives of the Heritage Center of the Union League of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA; U.S., “Marriage of Bernard Gaines Farrar,” Presbyterian Church Records, 1701-1970, accessed on; Death Certificates for Bernard Gaines Farrar and Isabela Jerdone Farrar, “Missouri Death Certificates, 1910 - 1968,” Missouri Digital Heritage,; The New York Times, July 24, 1887; The Burlington Democrat (Kansas), August 12, 1887; Evening Star (DC), May 15, 1889; Boston Globe, March 2, 1891; St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 3, 1895; The Virginia (Minn.) Enterprise, August 31, 1906; St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 30, 1909, June 6, 1916; Norwich University: Her History, Her Graduates, Her Roll of Honor (Rumford Press, 1898); Francis Bernard Heitman, Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army: From Its Organization, September 29, 1789, to March 2, 1903, Vol. 1 (U.S. Government Printing Office, 1903); Frederick A. Dyer, A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion, (New York: T. Yoseloff, 1959); Richard S. Brownlee, Gray Ghosts of the Confederacy: Guerrilla Warfare in the West, 1861—1865 (LSU Press, 1983);  Gari Carter, Troubled State: Civil War Journals of Franklin Archibald Dick (Truman State University Press, 2015); “Bernard Gaines Farrar, Jr.,” Jefferson’s University: Early Life,; “Bernard G. Farrar, Jr. Collection,” LaBudde Special Collections Library,; “Bernard Gaines Farrar, Jr.,”,