Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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FAIRCHILD, Lucius, statesman, born in Kent, Portage County, Ohio, 27 December 1831. He was educated in the public schools of Cleveland, and at Carroll College in Waukesha, Wisconsin In 1846 his father removed to Wisconsin, then a territory, and settled in Madison. On the discovery of gold in California, the son, at the age of eighteen, joined with others, and with a four-yoke ox-team set out for the gold fields across the plains. After months of toil and travel the party arrived in San Francisco with a capital of twenty-seven cents. For six years he worked as digger, miner, prospector, and laborer, then returned to Wisconsin in 1855, not much richer than when he left. His entrance into politics began in California with his election as delegate to a convention for the nomination of governor. On his way to the gathering his mule fell off a height, carrying with him all of young Fairchild's baggage. He finished the remainder of his journey on foot, and sat in the convention without a coat and without a cent in his pocket. He was elected clerk of the circuit court in 1858, and in 1860 admitted to the bar. At the beginning of the civil war he was a member of a local company known as the " Governor's Guard," and promptly enlisted. He entered the service as captain in the 1st Wisconsin regiment, and served in the three months' campaign.
In August 1861, he was commissioned by President Lincoln a captain in the 16th regiment of the regular army, also about the same time a major in the 2d Wisconsin infantry. He accepted both appointments, and was the first officer of the regular army to receive leave of absence to serve with a volunteer regiment. At Bull Run he commanded the consolidated 2d and 7th Wisconsin regiments, forming part of the famous "iron brigade." At the beginning of the battle of Antietam he was sick in an ambulance at the rear, but went into action, where his regiment lost more than half its force. As colonel of the 2d Wisconsin, in the battle of Gettysburg, he led a charge at Seminary Hill, where he lost his left arm. While recovering from his wounds he was commissioned a brigadier-general, 19 October 1863, and shortly afterward elected secretary of state in Wisconsin, where he remained two years. He was then elected governor, and served for six consecutive terms, during which time he aided the Soldiers' orphans' home in Madison, and was one of the founders of the State board of charities and reform. General Fairchild was appointed United States consul at Liverpool in November 1872, and served six years. He was consul-general in Paris in 1878-'80, and then United States minister to Spain till 1882, when he resigned and returned to Madison, Wisconsin In 1886 he was elected commander-in-chief of the Grand army of the republic.
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