Francis Jefferson Coates was born on August 24, 1843 in Grant Co., Wisconsin. He was living in Boscabel, Wisconsin at the start of the war.

On August 29, 1861 he enlisted in Company H of the 7th Wisconsin Infantry Regiment, becoming a corporal. He was wounded on September 14, 1862 at the Battle of South Mountain, and again on July 1, 1863 at Gettysburg, when both his eyes were shot out. He mustered out for disability on September 1, 1864, with the rank of sergeant.

Francis Coates was awarded the Medal of Honor “In action at Gettysburg, PA on July 1, 1863 for
unsurpassed courage in battle where he had both eyes shot out.”

Coates died on January 27, 1880, and is buried in the Dorchester City Cemetery in Dorchester, Nebraska.