Born in 1835 in Whitefield, Maine, Farley joined the Navy from Boston, Massachusetts in December 1860. He served during the Civil War as a boatswain"s mate on the United States Ship Marblehead. While on the Stono River on December 25, 1863, Marblehead came under fire from Confederate forces at Legareville on Johns Island.
Farley "animated his men and kept up a rapid and effective fire on the enemy throughout the engagement".
The Confederates eventually abandoned their position, leaving a caisson and gun behind.