Colonel Orlando Bolivar Willcox

 

 

Colonel Orlando Bolivar Willcox  (Civil War)

 

Orlando Bolivar Willcox was born April 26, 1823 in Detroit, Michigan. He graduated 8th in his class from West Point in 1847. Following graduation he served in garrisons in Mexico City and Cuernavaca at the close of Mexican War and then served in garrisons in the New Mexico Territory, Massachusetts, and Florida. He resigned his commission in 1857 and returned to Detroit to practice law.  At the start of the Civil War, Willcox returned to the army in 1861 as Colonel of the 1st Michigan Volunteer Infantry. 
 
At the Battle of 1st Bull Run (1st Manassas) he wounded and captured while in command of a brigade. He remained a prisoner for more than a year. On the day of his release, August 19, 1862, he was commissioned a Brigadier General of Volunteers to rank from the date of the battle in which he had been captured the previous year and was given command of the 1st Division of Ambrose Burnside's IX Corps. He led the Division, and sometimes the Corps itself, at Sharpsburg, Fredericksburg, Knoxville, and during Grant's Overland Campaign against Richmond in the summer of 1864. 
 
Willcox was brevetted Major General in both the Regulars and the Volunteers.  In 1895, after 34 years, he was awarded the Medal of Honor for "most distinguished gallantry" at the battle of Manassas.  His MOH citation reads "Led repeated charges until wounded and taken prisoner."  He was mustered out of service in January 1866 and returned to Detroit to resume his law practice.  
 
With the enlargement of the Regular Army in July 1866, Willcox was reappointed as Colonel of the 29th US Infantry. He was transferred to the 12th US Infantry in 1869 and served at San Francisco almost continuously until 1878, when he assumed command of the Department of Arizona during a period when Apache warfare was at its height. He remained in this post until 1882.  The town of Willcox, AZ, was named for him. 
 
He retired from the Army in 1887.  Two years later he served as Governor of the U.S. Soldiers' Home at Washington, DC. He remained in Washington, DC for a time. 
 
General Willcox joined the District of Columbia Society and served as its fifth President from 1896-1897.  His National number is 1981 and his DC Society number is 181.  
 
He died at the age of 84 years on May 10, 1907 in Coburg, Ontario, Canada, of acute bronchitis. Brigadier General, Brevet Major General, Willcox is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.