Frederic Denison was born in Stonington, Connecticut on September 28, 1819. His early education was at Bacon Academy in Colchester, Connecticut; he later attended the Connecticut Literary Institute in Suffield, earning his way through school by means of carpentry. It was during his time at Suffield that Denison, who had already joined the Baptist church, found his calling to preach. He subsequently entered Brown University in 1843 as a member of the Class of 1847.
After Brown, Denison became preacher at the First Baptist Church in Westerly, Rhode Island, and married Amey Randall Manton in 1848. During this period, he earned an A.M. degree from Brown (1850) and became the father of a daughter, Frederica. Four years later, he moved from Westerly to Norwich, Connecticut; in 1859 he moved on to pastor a church in Central Falls, Rhode Island, where he remained until 1861.
A man of strong opinions on the slavery question, Rev. Denison was among the first to enlist when the Civil War erupted. He served during the war as Chaplain to the First Rhode Island Cavalry, and later the Rhode Island Heavy Artillery. The author of two books at the time of his enlistment, Denison put his literary gifts to good use during the war. His wartime experiences took him to South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, and he wrote long, eloquent letters to the newspapers in Rhode Island as well as several narratives of his battlefield experiences.
Following the end of the war, Denison resumed pastoring, and served Baptist congregations in Westerly, New Haven (Connecticut), Woonsocket (Rhode Island) and Providence, where he would remain for the rest of his life. He also continued to write, publishing histories of the two Army units with which he had served as well as sermons, poetry, hymns, newspaper articles, memorial addresses, tracts on Baptist history, and several works of antiquarian local interest. He belonged to the G.A.R. and many historical organizations and was, for a time, the official poet of the R.I. Society of the Sons of the American Revolution.
At his death, in 1901, one obituary noted,
"He was a good and useful man, firm in his principles, indefatigable in toil …. He reverently found God's work in nature and in history and, obedient to God's voice in his own soul, he enjoyed the work of seeking to lead other men to the same…. He was benevolent and kind and died revered and beloved."