LUCIUS FAIRCHILD


From History of Dane County, Wisconsin, publ. by Western Historical Company, Chicago, 1880, page 984-985

LUCIUS FAIRCHILD, son of Jairus C. FAIRCHILD; was born in the town of Kent, Portage Co., Ohio, on the 27th of December 1830; he received a common-school education, and is by profession a lawyer; he came to Wisconsin in 1846, with his parents, who settled at Madison; in 1849, he made an overland trip to California, and remained there until 1855, when he returned to Madison. He was Clerk of the Circuit Court for Dane Co. in 1859 and 1860. In the spring of 1861, after the surrender of Ft. Sumter, FAIRCHILD promptly enlisted at Madison, in the "Governor's Guard," which was the first company in Wisconsin to tender its services under the President's call for three-months troops, and of which FAIRCHILD was elected Captain; it became Co. K, of the 1st (three months) W.V.I., which served its term from June 9, 1861, in Eastern Virginia, where, on the 3d of July, it skirmished at Falling Waters with a part of Joe Johnston's force - a skirmish interesting only as being the first in which Wisconsin troops were engaged. In August 1861, President Lincoln appointed FAIRCHILD Captain in the 16th Regulars, and about the same time he received from Gov. Randall a commission as Major in the 2d W.V.I. (three-years men); accepting both appointments, he was the first officer of the regular army to receive a leave of absence to serve with a volunteer regiment; shortly after, he was appointed Lieutenant Colonel of the same regiment, having declined the Colonelcy of another; Col. O'CONNOR being in poor health, Lieut. Col. FAIRCHILD commanded in his place most of the time; the 2d rapidly improved in discipline and efficiency, and acquired the reputation of being one of the best regiments in the service; after a varied career of forced marches and skirmishes, on the evening of the 28th of August the 2d Wisconsin, Col. O'CONNOR in command, as part of Gibbon's Brigade, engaged Jackson's famous corps in the battle of Gainesville; in this contest, Gibbon's command won the title of "The Iron Brigade of the West," and gained great military distinction; for twenty minutes, unsupported, it sustained and checked Jackson's onset; most of the time, the combatants were not more than twenty-five yards apart; in this fight, Col. O'CONNOR fell, mortally wounded, and Lieut. Col. FAIRCHILD succeeded to the command; the latter had his horse shot under him while leading his men where the balls flew thickest; his regiment, which went in with 400 men, lost more than half its number in killed and wounded.

During the next few days occurred the second battle of Bull Run; the Iron Brigade reached the scene near the close of the first day, the 2d Regiment being now reduced to 150 muskets; the second day of the fight, in consolidation with the 7th W.V.I., and took position on the right wing, under command of Lieut. Col. FAIRCHILD, all the other field officers of both regiments having been either killed or wounded; in the retreat which followed the defeat on this field, Gibbon's Brigade covered the rear; FAIRCHILD's regiment was in the extreme rear, and he was the last man to leave the field and cross the stone bridge; soon afterward, he was made Colonel of the 2d Regiment, and commanded it in the battle of South Mountain on the 14th of September following; at the opening of the battle of Antietam, on the 16th, he was absent in consequence of sickness, but re-joined his regiment during the action, in which it lost ninety-one of the one hundred and fifty men engaged; with his command, he took part in the disastrous battle of Fredericksburg, in the subsequent "mud campaign," in two predatory expeditions down the Potomac, and in the advance to Chancellorsville, where the "Iron Brigade" crossed the Rappahannock in boats at Fitz Hugh's Crossing under a galling fire, and carried the rebel rifle-pits so that the pontoons could be laid; during the battle which followed, Col. FAIRCHILD was employed on the staff of Gen. Wadsworth, his division commander; at Gettysburg, as the "Iron Brigade," early on the first day of the battle, engaged in a desperate conflict on Seminary Ridge, the 2d Wisconsin Regiment in advance lost, in less than half an hour, 116 men of the 300 engaged; there Col. FAIRCHILD fell, with his left arm shattered so that amputation near the shoulder became necessary; by the tenderest care and nursing he recovered sufficiently to return home. While in Madison recruiting his health, the Union Convention of Wisconsin nominated him with great unanimity as a candidate for Secretary of state; he accepted the nomination and, having been appointed Brigadier General, he resigned that office and his captaincy in the regular army, and was elected to the office of Secretary of State in the fall of 1863; in 1865 FAIRCHILD was elected Governor of the state, and was re-elected in 1867 and in 1869, serving six years as chief executive officer of Wisconsin - the only person who has held that office for three terms; he was afterward appointed Consul of the United States to Liverpool; then Consul to Paris; and is now Minister to Spain.


Transcribed and contributed to this site by Carol

 

 

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