(04-16-1823 - 05-10-1907)
Born at Detroit, MI, he graduated from the Military Academy eighth
in the Class of 1847 with a commission as 2nd Lieutenant, 4th Artillery, July 1, 1847. He
served in the War with Mexico, in garrison at the City of Mexico and Cuernavaca,
1847-1848; at Ft. McRee, FL, 1848-1849; and Jefferson Barracks, MO, 1849-1850. He was
promoted to 1st Lieutenant, 4th Artillery, April 3, 1850.
He was on Frontier Duty at Ft. Leavenworth, KS,
1850; on the New Mexican Plains, 11850; at Ft. Leavenworth, KS, 1850; in garrison at Ft.
Washington, MD, 1850-1852; Ft. Ontario, NY, 1852-1853; Ft. Mifflin, PA, 1853; Ft.
Independence, MA, 1853-1855; escorting Recruits to Texas, 1855; in garrison at Ft.
Independence, MA, 1855-1856; and in the Florida Hostilities against the Seminole Indians,
1856-1857. He resigned September, 18, 1857 to enter private law practice at Detroit, MI.
Willcox was commissioned a Colonel, 1st Michigan
Volunteers, May 24, 1861 and served in the Defense of Washington, D. C., May-July, 1861,
being engaged in the Capture of Alexandria, VA, May 24, 1861. In the Manassas Campaign,
July, 1861, he commanded a brigade in Heintzelman's division in the Battle of Bull Run,
July 21, 1861, where he was wounded and captured. He was a prisoner of war, July 21,
1861-August 19, 1862, kept in prison at Charleston and Columbia, SC, November,
1861-February, 1862, as a hostage for Rebel privateers whom federal authorities had
threatened to hang as pirates.
On the day of his release, August 19, 1862,
Willcox was commissioned a Brigadier-General, U. S. Volunteers, to rank from July 21,
1861, the date of his capture. He was given command of the 1st Division of Ambrose E.
Burnside's IX Corps.
In the Maryland campaign (Army of the Potomac),
September- November, 1862, he was engaged in the Battle of South Mountain, September 14,
1862; Battle of Antietam, September 17, 1862; and the Skirmish at Warrenton, VA, November
In the Rappahannock Campaign (Army of the
Potomac), December, 1862-February, 1863, he was engaged in the Battle of Fredericksburg,
December 13, 1862; in temporary command of the IX Corps and District of Central Kentucky,
April 10-June 9, 1863; and in command of the District of Indiana and Michigan, during the
draft riots in Indiana, June 10-September 11, 1863. In command of Operations in East
Tennessee, September 17, 1863-March 16, 1864, he was engaged in the Combat at Blue
Springs, October 10, 1863; Retreat from Bull's to Cumberland Gap, November, 1863; Action
of Walker's Ford, Clinch River, December 2, 1863; Skirmishes at Strawberry Plains, and
near Knoxville, on the retreat from Dandridge, January 21-22, 1864; and in subsequent
operations against General Longstreet, January 26-March 16, 1864.
In the Richmond Campaign, commanding Division of
IX Corps, May, 1864-April, 1865, he was engaged in the Battle of the Wilderness, May 6,
1864; Battle of Ny River, May 9, 1864; Battle of Spottsylvania, May 12, 1864; Skirmishes
at Tolopotomy, May 31-June 1, 1864; Battle of Bethesda Church, June 3, 1864; Actions
before Petersburg, June 17-18 and July 30, 1864. He was breveted to Major-General, U. S.
Volunteers, August 1, 1864, for distinguished and gallant services in the several actions
crossing the Rapidan.
Willcox was next engaged in the Actions on Weldon
Railroad, August 19, 21 and 25, 1864; Action at Pegram House, September 30, 1864; Skirmish
near Pegram House, October 2, and at Hatcher's Run, October 27, 1864; and Siege of, and
Operations about, Petersburg, VA, to April 26, 1865.
He was in command of District of Washington, DC,
April 26-July 28, 1865; and of the District of Michigan, August 7, 1865 to January 15,
1866. Willcox was mustered out of service on January 15, 1866. Returning briefly to his
law practice, he was re-appointed to the Army upon its reorganization as Colonel, 29th
Infantry, July 28, 1866. He served in command of the District of Lynchburg, VA, November
30, 1866-March 17, 1869. On March 2, 1867 he received a brevet to Brigadier-General, U. S.
Army, for gallant and meritorious services at the Capture of Petersburg, VA, some two
Orlando Butler Willcox
Willcox was in command of regiment and Alcatraz
Island, CA, March 24, 1869-August 20, 1873; as Superintendent of General Recruiting
Service, at New York City, August 28, 1873-October 1, 1874; in command of regiment and
post of Angel Island, CA, November 12, 1874-February 18, 1878; in command of the
Department of Arizona, March 5, 1878-September 4, 1884; and of Madison Barracks, NY, to
October 15, 1886. He was promoted to Brigadier-General, U. S. Army, October 13, 1886 and
commanded the Department of the Missouri, October 18, 1886-April 16, 1887 when he retired.
Willcox was breveted to Major-General in both the
U. S. Army and the Volunteers in 1895 for "most distinguished gallantry" at the
Battle of Manassas some 34 years previous. He lived in retirement in Washington, D. C.
until 1905 when he moved to Ontario, Canada. He died there in 1907 and was buried at
Arlington National Cemetery.