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Jesse J. Finley
Member of the United States House of Representatives
In office
February 20, 1879 – March 3, 1879
March 4, 1881 – June 1, 1882
Preceded by Horatio Bisbee, Jr. (twice)
Succeeded by Robert H. M. Davidson (1879)
Horatio Bisbee, Jr. (1882)
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 2nd district

In office
April 19, 1876 – March 3, 1877
Preceded by Josiah T. Walls
Succeeded by Robert H. M. Davidson
Personal details
Born Jesse Johnson Finley
November 18, 1812
Lebanon, Tennessee
Died November 6, 1904(1904-11-06) (aged 91)
Lake City, Florida
Resting place Evergreen Cemetery, Gainesville, Florida
Political party Democratic
Military service
Allegiance Confederate States of America Confederate States Army
Service/branch Confederate States Army
Rank 35px Brigadier General
Battles/wars American Civil War

Jesse Johnson Finley (November 18, 1812 – November 6, 1904) was a member of the United States House of Representatives from Florida and the mayor of Memphis, Tennessee. He was also a brigadier general in the Confederate Army during the American Civil War.

Early life

Finley was born near Lebanon, Tennessee. He pursued an academic course. He served as captain of mounted volunteers in the Seminole War in 1836. Finley studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1838. He moved to Mississippi County, Arkansas, in 1840, where he practiced law. Finley served in the State senate in 1841. He moved to Memphis, Tennessee in 1842, and continued the practice of law. He served as mayor of Memphis in 1845. He moved to Marianna, Florida, in November 1846 and was elected to the state senate of Florida in 1850.

Finley was a presidential elector on the Whig ticket in 1852. He served as a judge of the western circuit of Florida from 1853 to 1861.

Civil War

With the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, Finley was appointed judge of the Confederate States court for the district of Florida in 1861. He resigned in March 1862 and volunteered as a private in the 6th Florida Infantry of the Confederate Army, and was successively promoted to be the colonel of the regiment. He took part in the Kentucky Campaign in Maj. Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith's column, but his first significant combat came at the Battle of Chickamauga, where his regiment captured a battery of Union artillery, but was unsupported and forced to withdraw with 165 casualties. He was promoted to brigadier general on November 8, 1863 (with date of rank of November 16), commanding all of the Florida infantry in the Army of Tennessee. Finley's Brigade, part of Maj. Gen. John C. Breckinridge's division, was caught up in the Confederate rout at the Battle of Missionary Ridge, but performed well in protecting the rearguard of the army as it withdrew. Army commander Gen. Braxton Bragg expressed his thanks to Finley for "his gallant bearing and prompt assistance in every emergency." Finley's brigade saw heavy fighting in the Atlanta Campaign of 1864. He was badly wounded at Resaca and placed on medical leave until the army reached Atlanta. At the Battle of Jonesborough, his horse was killed by artillery shell fragments, which severely wounded him again, but he refused to be evacuated to Atlanta until all of his wounded men had been taken care of. Finley was unable to return to his brigade for the rest of the war. He tried to reach it in North Carolina after he recovered from a second wound, but Federal troops blocked his way. He surrendered with Maj. Gen. Howell Cobb in Columbus, Georgia, and was paroled in Quincy, Florida, on May 23, 1865.[1]

Postbellum career

Following the war, he settled in Lake City, Florida, in 1865 and resumed the practice of law. He moved to Jacksonville, Florida, in 1871. He successfully contested as a Democrat the election of Josiah T. Walls to the Forty-fourth Congress and served from April 19, 1876, to March 3, 1877. Finley successfully contested the election of Horatio Bisbee, Jr., to the Forty-fifth Congress and served from February 20 to March 3, 1879. He presented credentials as a Member-elect to the Forty-Seventh Congress and served from March 4, 1881, to June 1, 1882, when he was succeeded by Horatio Bisbee, Jr., who contested his election. He presented credentials on December 5, 1887, as a Senator-designate to the United States Senate for the term commencing March 4, 1887, but was not permitted to qualify for the reason that the appointment was made before the vacancy occurred.

Finley died in Lake City, Florida. He was interred in Evergreen Cemetery, Gainesville, Florida.


  • Eicher, John H., and Eicher, David J., Civil War High Commands, Stanford University Press, 2001, ISBN 0-8047-3641-3.
  • Jones, Terry L., "Jesse Johnson Finley", The Confederate General, Vol. 2, Davis, William C., and Julie Hoffman (eds.), National Historical Society, 1991, ISBN 0-918678-64-1.
  • Jesse J. Finley at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress Retrieved on 2008-02-13


  1. Eicher, p. 235; Jones, pp. 129-30.
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Josiah T. Walls
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 2nd congressional district

1876 – 1877
Succeeded by
Robert H. M. Davidson
Preceded by
Horatio Bisbee, Jr.
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 1st congressional district

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 1st congressional district

1881 – 1882
Succeeded by
Horatio Bisbee, Jr.

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