CASSIUS FAIRCHILD


From History of Dane County, Wisconsin, publ. by Western Historical Company, Chicago, 1880, page 535-536

CASSIUS FAIRCHILD was born at Franklin Mills, now Kent, Ohio, December 16, 1829. He was the second son of Sally BLAIR and J. C. FAIRCHILD, first Treasurer of the State of Wisconsin, first mayor of the city of Madison, and a gentleman of fine ability, high character, and great prominence in the early history of the State. His mother's grandfather, Capt. George HOWARD, died in the service of his country, just before the close of the Revolutionary war. He had been in Nova Scotia, most prosperously situated, at the declaration of independence, and, sacrificing all his property, had hastened home to fight for his country. His mother's other grandfather, BLAIR, had also served with honor in the French and Indian war. The elder son died early; and the family removed to Cleveland, in 1834, where Cassius received his education, with the exception of one year spent at an academy in Twinsburg, Ohio, and a longer period, later, at the school which afterward became Carroll College, in Waukesha, Wis. He learned slowly, but had an accurate and retentive memory. Fond of fun, he had yet caution and self-control, so that he never got into difficulties.

At fourteen,he came to Milwaukee with his uncle, F. J. BLAIR; and after his return to Cleveland, by most urgent entreaties, he obtained permission from his parents to go all the way back to Milwaukee on horseback, in company with a young man well known to them. This first taste of adventure was enjoyed by him with a keen relish, and made him feel himself a man at once.

With his uncle in Milwaukee, in school at Waukesha, in the duties and pleasures of home life in his father's house in Madison, with an occasional business visit to New York City, his life passed smoothly on, with no more starting incident than his repeated election as Alderman (one year President of the Common Council), and an election, in 1859, as member of the Legislature from the city of Madison.

Though previously known to most acquaintances merely as a young gentleman in society, he is said to have possessed at this time an unusual keenness and discrimination as to men, and to have so won their respect as to wield a controlling influence over many of his seniors in years and experience.

At about this time, little knowing for what they prepared themselves, some young gentlemen of the city formed a military company called the Governor's Guard. So rare was even the smallest knowledge of military tactics in the State, that nearly every member of this company took high rank, and served with distinction during the war. Among its most indefatigable members were the brothers Cassius and Lucius FAIRCHILD.

At the breaking-out of the war, Cassius was in the wilds of the Northern Pineries, attending, with patience and tact, to a most wearying and vexatious business, in which misplaced confidence and kindness had involved his father. Immediately after his return home, he offered his services to the Governor, and in October 1861, was appointed Major of the Sixteenth Wisconsin Infantry. In December following, he was promoted to the office of Lieutenant Colonel. At the battle of Shiloh, a ball entered his thigh, so close to the hip-joint, that amputation was impossible, and all tampering dangerous. By the almost superhuman exertions of his father's friend, Judge Thomas HOOD, who went for him, he was brought home on a stretcher, down the Tennessee and the Ohio, and up the Mississippi to Prairie du Chien. During the eight months of emaciation and suffering, the ball and seven pieces of his clothing remained in the wound, baffling the search of a score of surgeons. Through all this suffering and anxious suspense, his cheerful courage and ever-flowing wit made his bedside a delight to his friends. The melancholy satisfaction of witnessing the last days of a revered and beloved father, and of sustaining his mother and sister through the bereavement, were secured to him by his prolonged suffering. The ball was found by Dr. BRAINARD, in December, and the foreign substances removed; but they had remained so long embedded in the bone that a new formation of bone had grown over them, and the consequent irritation was very slow to heal. He returned to the field and active service in May, while his wound still required dressing twice a day; and twice during the succeeding campaign he received injuries which opened his wound, and prostrated him upon a sick bed. During the siege of Vicksburg, they lamented Gen. McPherson was his kind and constant friend; and Gens. Force, Belknap and others of his companions remember him with expressions of affectionate respect.

In March, 1864, he was appointed Colonel. His regiment belonged to the Seventeenth Army Corps, which achieved such a noble record at Atlanta and in Sherman's march to the sea. He remained in the service to the close of the war, and, upon being mustered out, was brevetted Brigadier General for gallantry.

In the summer of 1866, he was appointed United States Marshal, and again removed to the city of Milwaukee, where he resided till he received a strain while acting as pall-bearer at the funeral of a friend, which caused the breaking-open of his wound, with fatal results. He died October 24, 1868. He left two brothers - Lucius FAIRCHILD, the Governor of the State, and Charles FAIRCHILD, of Boston, who had also served in the navy during the blockage of James River, and participated in the siege of Charleston. He also left one sister and a widow, to whom he had been married ten days before his death. He is interred in Madison.


Transcribed and contributed to this site by Carol

 

 

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