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Francis Redding Tillou Nicholls

1834 1912

Francis Redding Tillou Nicholls was born on August 20, 1834, in Donaldsonville, Louisiana. He graduated from West Point in 1855, and served for one year. He resigned his commission and went to the University of Louisiana to study law. Nicholls practiced law in Napoleonville until the War for Southern Independence. After joining the Confederate forces in 1861, he took part in the First Battle of Bull Run, then in the Shenandoah Valley Campaign. In May of 1862, he was wounded at Winchester, and had to have his left arm amputated. On October 14, 1862, he was promoted to brigadier general. Commanding the District of Lynchburg until 1863, he later led a brigade in the Chancellorsville Campaign. During that campaign, his left foot was ripped off by a shell, and he was unable to return to combat service. Nicholls was transferred to the Trans-Mississippi Department to direct the Volunteer and Conscript Bureau until the end of the war.

After the War for Southern Independence ended, he resumed his former law practice and in 1876 was nominated for governor by the Democrats in a desperate effort to end the carpetbag rule in Louisiana. He was thus involved in the disputed state and presidential election returns of 1876 and shared in negotiations that placed him in the governorship and swung the electoral votes to Rutherford B. Hayes.

A conservative, Nicholls served with ability. He retired to private life in 1881 but in 1887 ran for governor again as the foe of the notorious Louisiana Lottery. The destruction of the lottery was the chief event of his second administration. He was a state supreme court justice from 1892 until 1911.