Major-General Franklin Gardner was born in New York in 1823. His family moved West and he was appointed to the United States military academy from Iowa in 1839. After his graduation in 1843 and promotion to brevet second-lieutenant of the Seventh infantry he served in the garrison at Pensacola harbor, in scouting on the frontier, in the military occupation of Texas, and in the war with Mexico. He participated in the defense of Fort Brown, and the battle of Monterey, where he was brevetted first-lieutenant for gallant and meritorious conduct. He served at the siege of Vera Cruz; the battle of Cerro Gordo, where he was brevetted as captain; the battles of Contreras, Churubusco, Molino del Rey and other operations before the city of Mexico, and in the capture of that city. He was afterward on frontier and garrison duty at various posts in Florida, Louisiana and Arkansas, Wisconsin and Minnesota. At the commencement of the war between the States he was stationed in Utah Territory, and was captain of the Tenth infantry. He had spent a great part of his army life among the Southern people, and in sentiment and sympathy was one of them. The army officers who in such large numbers resigned their commissions and embraced the cause of the South, did not regard the Southern people as rebels against the government of the United States. They looked upon the Union as already divided into two governments, and felt that they had the right to choose the defense of that side whose cause not only their inclinations, but also their ideas of duty, led them to espouse. Thus, with the purest of motives, Franklin Gardner left the service of the old army and entered that of the Confederate States. He was immediately appointed lieutenant-colonel of infantry, his commission dated March 16, 1861. His services were during the first year mostly in Tennessee and Mississippi. At Shiloh he had command of a cavalry brigade. There was very little opportunity in that battle for the cavalry to take part; but they performed faithfully whatever duties were committed to them. A short while after the battle of Shiloh General Beauregard expressed his appreciation of Gen. Franklin Gardner in the following language: "The general commanding avails himself of this occasion to return his thanks to General Gardner for his services in the reorganization of the cavalry of this army." He had been commissioned a brigadier-general a few days before the battle of Shiloh. Soon after this he was appointed to the command of a brigade in Withers' division, Folk's corps. He shared in the marches and battles of the Kentucky campaign, and on December 13, 1862, he received the commission of major-general in the army of the Confederate States. Early in 1863 he was placed in command of the important post of Port Hudson. His gallant defense of that place, against greatly superior numbers, is a brilliant page of the Confederate history. The heroism of Gardner and his men is not dimmed by the fact that they were finally compelled to yield to the powerful combinations that were brought against them. After his exchange General Gardner was assigned to duty in Mississippi, at the last under the orders of Gen. Richard Taylor. After the war General Gardner lived in Louisiana the quiet life of a planter, near Vermilionville. There he died April 29, 1873.
Clement A. Evans, ed., Confederate Military History (Atlanta: Confederate Publishing Company, 1899), 10: 297-298.