Captain Oscar C. Fox

was born at Pitcher Springs, Chenango county, N. Y., August twenty third, 1830. His father, Daniel Fox, was a native of Massachusetts, and his mother, Harriet A. Chapman, of Connecticut. The Captain attended district school during the winters, working at home, and for the neighboring farmers, summers, until he was sixteen years of age, when he engaged in teaching district school. Here he succeeded admirably for one of his age. In 1852 he entered the preparatory department of Central College at MCGrawville, N. Y., where he remained until the fall of 1856, when he went to Ohio as Principal of Nelson Academy, in Portage county. He remained in this position three years, his labors being crowned with excellent success.

In 1860 he left the Academy and returned home to make arrangements for a tour of Europe; but before his departure, the bombardment of Fort Sumter changed his whole plan. He determined to remain and serve his country. In May he proceeded to Binghamton and enlisted in "Balcom's six foot company," remaining there about a month; but as there was little prospect of being mustered into service, he came to Cortland and entered a law office temporarily, holding himself in readiness to take the field.

When the project of raising a regiment in Cortland County was started, Captain Fox entered heartily into the work. Proceeding to his native town he soon enlisted the minimum of a company, and on the first day that the camp was opened at Cortland, (September twenty-sixth, 1861), he proceeded with about forty men to the rendezvous. For several months he commanded at Fort Slemmer, D. C., it being occupied by his company (B) only.

At the battle of Gainesville, August twenty-eighth, 1862, Company B was at the angle where the rebel fire was the most severe. While urging his men on, Captain Fox received a ball in the breast, which passed through his lung. It was a terrible and dangerous wound-one from which he can never fully recover. The fall of the Captain, whom the company idolized, created some unsteadiness for a moment, but they immediately recovered, and the rebels paid dearly for the cruel shot they had given the Captain. It is no disparagement to other good officers, to say that no better combination of talent and moral worth entered the large army of Freedom's noble defenders. Had he not been crippled at the very outset of his military career, there is no position in the army to which he might not have attained.

When the Regiment left Fredericksburg for Culpepper, Captain Fox was unfit to march, but his Lieutenants being away on sick leave, he felt it necessary to make the attempt. He was put in command of three companies of skirmishers, and thus, regardless of his health, he kept in the advance.

With all his heroism he was extremely modest. He loved his men, and they would have died for him. He says in a communication to the writer (A.P. Smith):

"I felt proud of these noble, faithful boys. Uncomplaining, kind and gentlemanly always. I have always felt that whatever success or popularity attained in the Regiment was owing to these men who always seemed to be striving to assist and encourage me-to overlook my faults and mistakes and to set me right with those who knew me less intimately. * * Lieutenants Crandall and Wolcott were noble men - invaluable as men of taste and culture - men of principle. Without them I cannot conceive of such a thing as success in Company B."

- From the Regimental History of the 76th New York, A. P. Smith, 1867


Return to 76th Roster (F)

Return to Letters from the 76th NY

Return to 76th NYSV Homepage

- Last Updated January 2, 1999