Brig Gen. Lucius Fairchild (USA), 10th Governor of Wisconsin

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Brig Gen. Lucius Fairchild

Death: May 23, 1896 (64)
Place of Burial: Madison, Dane County, Wisconsin, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Jarius Cassius Fairchild and Sally Fairchild
Husband of Frances Fairchild
Father of Mary Fairchild; Sarah Blair Bacon and Caryl Frances Fairchild
Brother of Colonel Cassius Fairchild (USA); Sarah Fairchild; Charles Fairchild and James Blair Fairchild

Managed by: Private User
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About Brig Gen. Lucius Fairchild (USA), 10th Governor of Wisconsin

Lucius Fairchild (December 27, 1831 – May 23, 1896) was an American politician, Union Army general, and diplomat. He served as the tenth Governor of Wisconsin and represented the United States as Minister to Spain under presidents Rutherford B. Hayes and James A. Garfield.

Military career

General Fairchild, as a Private in 1858, enlisted in a Wisconsin volunteer militia known as the "governor's guard". Under his guidance the militia was titled Company K, 1st Wisconsin volunteers and by 1861, was serving in the Civil War at Falling Waters against the "Stonewall Brigade" of General Thomas J. Jackson. In August 1861, Fairchild was appointed Captain of the 16th US Regulars as well as Major of the 2nd Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regiment. During the prior month of July 1861, General William T. Sherman commanded the newly-formed regiment for the First Battle of Bull Run and due to its poor performance, all upper chain of command needed replacement. Electing to stay with the 2nd, Major Fairchild was soon commissioned Lieutenant Colonel and, with his regiment now apart of the famed Iron Brigade within the Army of the Potomac, participated in the Second Battle of Bull Run. One week thereafter, on September 8, 1862, was promoted to the rank of full Colonel of the 2nd Wisconsin Volunteers. On February 27, 1863, the Iron Brigade, now under the command of Brig. Gen. Solomon Meredith, was redesignated the "1st Brigade, 1st Division, I Corps". This gave Colonel Fairchild the distinction of being the pointman for all commissioned officers within the I Corp of the Army of the Potomac during the Spring and Summer of 1863.

Fairchild, and his WI 2nd Volunteers, distinguished themselves at The Battle of Antietam, then culminating at Battle of Gettysburg, at Seminary Ridge on July 1, 1863, being the first infantry regiment to make close contact with the CSA Army. While drawing first blood, at roughly 10:00, the WI 2nd Vols delivered a striking blow capturing the first Confederate General Officer of the war, Brig. Gen. James J. Archer. Almost immediately after this success, the regiment was ambushed from a northern flank to their right, and lost seventy-seven percent of their ranks, including most officers. Colonel Fairchild was shot in the upper arm, captured, tended to and released. While recovering from his amputated left arm, Lucius Fairchild was fully commissioned as Brigadier General of the 2nd Wisconsin Volunteers by President Abraham Lincoln on October 19, 1863.

Political and diplomatic career

Fairchild resigned from the military in November, 1863 and was appointed Secretary of State of Wisconsin (1864–1866), before being elected three term Governor of Wisconsin (1866–1872). After his time as governor, Fairchild was appointed U.S. consul at Liverpool (1871) and then consul general at Paris (1880–1881), Fairchild was Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Spain. Fairchild's final role was as Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, (1886–87), calling upon God to "palsy" U.S. President Grover Cleveland for ordering some captured Confederate standards returned to the appropriate southern states. General Fairchild also received 95 degrees in the Masonic Order "Egyptian Masonic Rite of Memphis."


Lucius Fairchild is a descendant of Thomas Fairchild who emigrated to North America in 1639. His father was Democrat, Jairus C. Fairchild, the first Treasurer of the State of Wisconsin and the first Mayor of the city of Madison, Wisconsin. His brother, Cassius Fairchild served as Democrat Party Leader in the Wisconsin State Assembly, and also served in the Union Army during the American Civil War with the rank of Colonel (brevet Brigadier General). He also had a brother named Charles who served in the Union Navy during the war. His wife was Frances Bull Fairchild, and together they had five daughters, Mary, Sarah, Caryl, Lucia, and Charlotte.


The town of Fairchild, Wisconsin is named in his honor. The 422 foot WW II Liberty Ship SS Lucius Fairchild was named in his honor, built in 1943 in Portland, Oregon for the United States War Shipping Administration. A John Singer Sargent portrait of General Fairchild is housed at the Wisconsin Historical Museum located in Madison, Wisconsin.[

The Great Peshtigo Fire News of the disaster did not immediately reach the outside world. Isaac Stephenson, the Marinette lumber baron, on learning of Peshtigo's fate, had an emissary sent to Green Bay--the nearest place where the telegraph lines had not been burned out--to transmit a message to Governor Lucius Fairchild. The message did not reach Madison until the morning of the 10th. Fairchild and all state officials were in Chicago, whence they had gone with carloads of supplies to aid the stricken city. A capitol clerk took the telegram to Mrs. Fairchild, who immediately swung into action. For a day this remarkable woman, then less than twenty-four, was to all intents and purposes the governor of Wisconsin. As her daughter, Mrs. Mary Fairchild Morris, recalled in a letter to Joseph Schafer in May, 1927, her mother commandeered a boxcar loaded with supplies destined for Chicago, ordered railroad officials to give it priority over all other traffic, and then discovering that the car contained food and clothing but no defenses against the October cold, rallied Madison women to supply blankets to stuff into the already loaded car. After the car was dispatched, Mrs. Fairchild issued a public appeal for contributions of money, clothing, bedding, and supplies, with the result that a second boxcar left Madison that night.

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Brig Gen. Lucius Fairchild (USA), 10th Governor of Wisconsin's Timeline

December 27, 1831
December 16, 1865
October 26, 1867
May 2, 1875
May 23, 1896
Age 64
Forest Hill Cemetery, Madison, Dane County, Wisconsin, United States