Francis Asbury Roe was born at Elmira, New York, 4 October 1823. He entered the Navy as midshipman, 19 October 1841, and was enrolled at the Naval Academy at Annapolis in 1847–48. He left the service for eleven months from June 1848. In 1851–52 he served in the mail-steamer Georgia on the New York and West India line. He was attached to the brig Porpoise in the North Pacific exploring expedition.

He was commissioned master, 8 August, 1855 and lieutenant on 14 September. In 1857–58 he served in the coast survey. During the Civil War in 1862, he was executive officer of the Pensacola in Admiral Farragut's West Gulf Blockading Squadron and, on account of the illness of his commanding officer, took charge of the ship in passing Fort Jackson and Fort St. Philip. He was commissioned lieutenant commander, 16 July 1862, had charge of the steamer Katahdin in 1862–63 in the operations on Mississippi river, defeated General John C. Breckinridge's attack on Baton Rouge and assisted in the destruction of the Confederate ram Arkansas on 7 August 1862.

In 1864 he commanded the steamer Sassacus in the North Atlantic blockading squadron, captured and destroyed several blockade runners in the sounds of North Carolina, and co-operated in the defeat of the Confederate ironclad ram Albemarle 5 May. In this engagement, Roe rammed the ironclad, which then fired a 100-pound rifle shell through the Sassacus, killing and scalding many of the crew by exploding in the boiler. In the confusion caused by escaping steam, Roe skillfully handled his ship and compelled the Albemarle's consort, the Bombshell, to surrender.

After the war he commanded the steamer Michigan on the lakes in 1864-66. He was commissioned commander, 25 July 1866, and in 1866–67 commanded the steamer Tacony on a special mission to Mexico. His firmness as senior officer prevented a bombardment of Vera Cruz. On 3 August 1867, he was detached, and in recognition of his services was ordered as Fleet Captain of the Asiatic station, where he served until December 1871.

He was commissioned captain on 1 April 1872, and was attached to the Boston Navy Yard in 1872–73. His last cruise was in command of the Lancaster on the Brazil station in 1873–75. He was attached to the naval station at New London in 1875–76, was placed on special duty at Washington in 1879–80 and was promoted to commodore, 26 November 1880.

In 1883-84 he was Governor of the Naval Asylum at Philadelphia. He was commissioned rear admiral, 3 November 1884, and placed on the retired list, 4 October 1885.

Admiral Roe died 28 December 1901 at Washington, DC.

Source: Arlington National Cemetery.