Lucius Fairchild was born in Franklin Mills, now Kent, Ohio, December
27, 1831 to Jairus Cassius Fairchild and Sally Blair Fairchild. The
family moved to Cleveland, Ohio in 1834 and then to Madison, Wisconsin
"When a lad of only seventeen years he made the trip across the plains
to California by ox teamand spent six years in the Golden State,
accumulating some gold and much pratical experience. Speaking of his
life there he said: "I was forced to depend upon my own energy to attain
anything, and there was no alternative but incessant labor. Since that
perios I have always been fond of work and glad to have plenty of it."
History of Dane County
Soon after returning to Madison he was elected to the position of Dane
County Circuit Court Judge on the Democratic ticket. He was admitted to
the Bar in 1860 but cut short his legal career by being one of the first
to volunteer for military service. He enlisted as a private in the
"Governor's Guard"(Co. K, 1st WI Vol. Infantry) and was elected Captain
of his Company. He was offered the position of Lieut. Colonel by
Governor Randall but declined on grounds of not being qualified. His
subsequent military career had him see hard service, as Colonel of the
2d Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry in the Iron Brigade of the West. As
General he participated in Gainsville, Second Manassas, South Mountain,
Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. His left arm
was shattered and amputated at Gettysburg and that forced him to return
to Madison to heal. There he received an appointment as
Brigadier-General of Volunteers. While healing in Madison the Democratic
Party made him their candidate for Secretary of State and friends
convinced him that due to his medical condition he would be of most
service in that position. He later said he regretted that he did not
follow his inclination to remain in the Army. A friend cited his
brillinat military career, rising from Private to Brigadier-General in a
little over two years and doing it on merit. He was thirty-two when he
lost his arm and resigned from his positions in the Regular and
He became Secretary of State of Wisconsin and at the end of his term
proceeded to be elected Governor for three terms as a Republican. He
then retired to private life but within a year was appointed by
President Grant as Consul to Liverpool, England, In 1878 he was promoted
to the post of Counsul-General in Paris and then
Minister-Plenipotentiary to the Court of Madrid.
In March 1881 he resigned his post at Madrid and returned to America to
have his children partially educated in the United States having married
Francis Bull in 1864 and now having three children (eventually having 5
On arriving in March of 1882 he was greeted by enthusiastic military
veterans and was subsequently made Senior Vice-Commander of the
Wisconsin Department of the GAR. He became State Department Commander in
February, 1886 and Commander in Chief as of August 1886.
During this time he called 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.
He was also involved in the Loyal Legion being State Commander from May
of 1884 to May 1887 and became Commander in Chief on Octover 11, 1893.
He was also active in educational improvements and building the
Wisconsin State Historical Society.
During World War II (1943) he had the honor to have a Liberty Ship
nammed in his honor.
He died May 23, 1896 and is buried in Forest Hill Cemetery in Madison,
Editor's Note: Due to us both living near an amazing bakery, I found
myself meeting the late Gov. Lee Dreyfus on Sunday mornings while
waiting for our treats of the day. With both of us being interested in
the Civil War, the subject was bandied about on a regular basis. One
morning he shared the following re Lucius Fairchild.
When Fairchild lost his left arm after being wounded, he had the arm
buried in a metal case in the East. After returning to Wisconsin he
found himself becoming disturbed about the arm being at such a distance
and had it disinterred and brought back to his home in Madison and
buried in his yard. Years later, when the Fairchild property was being
dug up to allow for the building of a municipal building, then Governor
Dreyfus had the construction workers keep an eye out for the metal box
as, to his knowledge, it had never been moved. It was never found and
may still be under the imposing cement structure.