Lewis "Lew" Wallace

Lewis "Lew" Wallace, celebrated as the author of Ben Hur : A Tale of the. Christ and other literary works, was born in Brookville, Indiana, on April 10, 1827, but moved to Indianapolis as a small boy when his father was elected governor of the state. Wallace was a precocious youth and interested himself early in a number of fields of endeavor ranging from clerical duties through politics, history, and law to service as a first lieutenant of the 1st Indiana in the Mexican War. He was admitted to the bar in 1849 and in 1856 was elected to the state senate, meantime moving his residence to Crawfordsville. Upon the bombardment of Fort Sumter he was appointed state adjutant general by Governor Oliver P. Morton and on April 25, 1861, was made colonel of the 11th Indiana, a three-month regiment which was re-enlisted in August for three years. After some preliminary service in West Virginia, Wallace, who had been advanced to brigadier general of volunteers on September 3, 1861, took part in the capture of Fort Donelson and was made a major general to rank from March 21, 1862. At Shiloh a few days later the military opportunity of his life was handed him by U. S. Grant, who told him to march his division upstream from Crump's Landing to the battlefield. For some reason, Wallace lost his way, was compelled to make a circuitous countermarch, and, instead of smashing in the Confederate left at a crucial point of the battle, limped upon the field hours too late to do more than assist the day following. In the summer of 1864, however, with greatly inferior numbers, he checked Jubal Early's Washington-bound Confederates at the Monocacy River long enough for elements detached by Grant from the Army of the Potomac to prevent the capture of the capital. In 1865 he was a member of the military commission which tried the Lincoln conspirators, and he was president of the court-martial which tried and condemned Henry Wirz, commandant at Andersonville. After the war General Wallace once unsuccessfully sought public office by election, but twice won it by appointment, serving as governor of New Mexico Territory and United States minister to Turkey. In the meantime he wrote prolifically and was greatly in demand as a lecturer and speaker. He died in Crawfordsville on February 15, 1905, and was buried there in Oak Hill Cemetery.

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Reference: Generals in Blue. Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge.