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 Lewis “Lew” Wallace

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Lewis “Lew” Wallace Famous memorial Veteran

Birth
Brookville, Franklin County, Indiana, USA
Death
15 Feb 1905 (aged 77)
Crawfordsville, Montgomery County, Indiana, USA
Burial
Crawfordsville, Montgomery County, Indiana, USA GPS-Latitude: 40.0569806, Longitude: -86.9146925
Memorial ID
4279 View Source

New Mexico Territorial Governor, Author. He gained recognition in 19th-century American history as the governor of the New Mexico territory, as well as a United States military officer, diplomat, and a best-selling author. He is best remembered for his 1880 historical novel "Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ", which has remained in publication for nearly a hundred and fifty years and deemed by many as the most influential Christian book of the nineteenth century. His father was a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and served as Lieutenant Governor and Governor of Indiana. When he was seven years old, his mother died, and, two years later, he joined his brother in Crawfordsville, Indiana, where he briefly attended Wabash Preparatory School before rejoining his father in Indianapolis. In 1846, at the start of the Mexican American War, he was studying law, but left his studies to raise a company of militia. He was elected a 2nd Lieutenant in the 1st Indiana Infantry Regiment. He rose to the position of Regimental Adjutant and the rank of 1st Lieutenant, serving in the Army of General Zachary Taylor, although he personally did not participate in combat. After the war, he and William B. Greer operated a newspaper, "The Free Soil Banner", in Indianapolis. In 1849, he was admitted to the bar and established a law practice in Indianapolis with his older brother William. After relocating to Covington, he entered politics, being elected as Prosecuting Attorney of Indiana's 1st Congressional District. He moved to Crawfordsville in 1853, and, in 1856, was elected as a Democrat to the Indiana State Senate, serving a two-year term. The same year, he organized a militia unit in Crawfordsville called the Montgomery Guards, which would form the basis of his first American Civil War regiment, the 11th Indiana Volunteer Infantry. Prior to the start of the war, he joined the Republican Party. At the dawn of the American Civil War, Indiana's Republican governor Oliver P. Morton asked him to help rally troops. He agreed on the condition that he be given command of a regiment. He was appointed State Adjutant General, and, in April of 1861, was appointed colonel of the 11th Indiana Infantry. After reading about elite units of the French Army, he decided to train and outfit his men as Zouaves. In June of 1861, while stationed at Cumberland, Maryland, his regiment was victorious in a minor battle at Romney, West Virginia, and, the following September, he was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General of volunteers and given the command of a brigade. In February of 1862, he was engaged in combat at Forts Henry and Donelson in Tennessee and, the following month, he was promoted to the rank of Major General of volunteers. His most controversial command came at the Battle of Shiloh in Tennessee, where he continued as the 3rd Division commander under Major General Ulysses S. Grant. With poorly given orders, he took the wrong route to reach Shiloh Church, where the Union forces were being attacked by Confederate forces under General Albert Sidney Johnston. Initially, there was little fallout from this as he was the youngest general of his rank in the Union Army and was something of a "golden boy." However, when civilians in the North began to hear the news of the horrible casualties at Shiloh, they demanded explanations. Both Grant and his superior, General Henry Halleck, made Wallace their scapegoat, saying that his incompetence in moving up the reserves had nearly cost them the battle. He was removed from his command the following June and reassigned to command the defense of Cincinnati in the Department of the Ohio during Braxton Bragg's incursion into Kentucky. In July of 1864 at the Battle of Monocacy in Maryland, he was able to delay General Jubal A. Early's advance, although he lost the battle, toward Washington, D.C. for an entire day, giving the city defenses time to organize and repel Early. General Grant relieved him of his command after learning of his defeat at Monocacy, but reinstated him two weeks later on a review of the situation. His delaying tactics at Monocacy were mentioned in Grant's memoirs. He participated in the military commission trial of United States President Lincoln's assassination conspirators, as well as the court-martial of Henry Wirz, the Commandant in charge of the notorious Confederate Andersonville Prison Camp. In November of 1865, he resigned from the U.S. Army and was offered a Major General's commission in the Mexican Army, to help expel the French. Multiple promises by the Mexicans were never fulfilled, causing him to incur deep financial debt. In 1878, he was appointed Governor of the New Mexico Territory, serving until 1881. As Governor, he offered amnesty to many men involved in the Lincoln County War, a bloody Old West range war between two factions over the control of the dry goods trade in the county. In the process, he met with the notorious "Billy the Kid," and, in March of 1879, the pair arranged a full pardon for "Billy, the Kid" in exchange for testimony in several murder cases. Although "Billy, the Kid" fulfilled the part of the agreement, the governor reneged on the promise with the Kid escaping from jail and returning to his lawless ways. By 1880, he had penned his most-noted novel, "Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ," which was written as a result of a bet between him and his friend, Robert Ingersoll, who was nicknamed "The Great Agnostic." Ingersoll had challenged Wallace to prove that Jesus was the Son of God and the challenge was accepted, publishing as a result, "Ben Hur." By 1889, 400,000 copies had been sold, making the book the best-selling American novel of the 19th century, surpassing Harriet Beecher Stowe's 1852 "Uncle Tom's Cabin". In 1881, he was appointed U.S. Minister to the Ottoman Empire, serving in that position until 1885. When the U.S. declared war on Spain in 1898 during the Spanish-American War, he offered to raise and lead a division of soldiers, but his offer was not accepted. When he attempted to enlist as a private, he was rejected due to his age. He died from atrophic gastritis at the age of 77. Besides "Ben Hur", a collection of poetry and a play, he authored "The Fair God; or, The Last of the 'Tzins: A Tale of the Conquest of Mexico" in 1873, "The Boyhood of Christ" and "Life of General Ben Harrison" both in 1888, "The Prince of India; or, Why Constantinople Fell" in 1893, two volumes, and posthumously, "Lew Wallace: An Autobiography" in 1906, two volumes. A statue of him donned in his military uniform resides in the National Statuary Hall Collection in the U.S. Capitol. His writing study, which is adjacent to his residence in Crawfordsville, is now called the General Lew Wallace Study and Museum and was designated a National Historic Landmark and opened to the public. "Ben Hur" has never been out of print and has been adapted into films four times, the latest one being MGM's 1959 production starring Charlton Heston, which received 11 Academy Awards in 1960. In 1852 he married Susan Wallace, an author of six published books. The couple had one son, and she died two years after her husband's death.

New Mexico Territorial Governor, Author. He gained recognition in 19th-century American history as the governor of the New Mexico territory, as well as a United States military officer, diplomat, and a best-selling author. He is best remembered for his 1880 historical novel "Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ", which has remained in publication for nearly a hundred and fifty years and deemed by many as the most influential Christian book of the nineteenth century. His father was a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and served as Lieutenant Governor and Governor of Indiana. When he was seven years old, his mother died, and, two years later, he joined his brother in Crawfordsville, Indiana, where he briefly attended Wabash Preparatory School before rejoining his father in Indianapolis. In 1846, at the start of the Mexican American War, he was studying law, but left his studies to raise a company of militia. He was elected a 2nd Lieutenant in the 1st Indiana Infantry Regiment. He rose to the position of Regimental Adjutant and the rank of 1st Lieutenant, serving in the Army of General Zachary Taylor, although he personally did not participate in combat. After the war, he and William B. Greer operated a newspaper, "The Free Soil Banner", in Indianapolis. In 1849, he was admitted to the bar and established a law practice in Indianapolis with his older brother William. After relocating to Covington, he entered politics, being elected as Prosecuting Attorney of Indiana's 1st Congressional District. He moved to Crawfordsville in 1853, and, in 1856, was elected as a Democrat to the Indiana State Senate, serving a two-year term. The same year, he organized a militia unit in Crawfordsville called the Montgomery Guards, which would form the basis of his first American Civil War regiment, the 11th Indiana Volunteer Infantry. Prior to the start of the war, he joined the Republican Party. At the dawn of the American Civil War, Indiana's Republican governor Oliver P. Morton asked him to help rally troops. He agreed on the condition that he be given command of a regiment. He was appointed State Adjutant General, and, in April of 1861, was appointed colonel of the 11th Indiana Infantry. After reading about elite units of the French Army, he decided to train and outfit his men as Zouaves. In June of 1861, while stationed at Cumberland, Maryland, his regiment was victorious in a minor battle at Romney, West Virginia, and, the following September, he was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General of volunteers and given the command of a brigade. In February of 1862, he was engaged in combat at Forts Henry and Donelson in Tennessee and, the following month, he was promoted to the rank of Major General of volunteers. His most controversial command came at the Battle of Shiloh in Tennessee, where he continued as the 3rd Division commander under Major General Ulysses S. Grant. With poorly given orders, he took the wrong route to reach Shiloh Church, where the Union forces were being attacked by Confederate forces under General Albert Sidney Johnston. Initially, there was little fallout from this as he was the youngest general of his rank in the Union Army and was something of a "golden boy." However, when civilians in the North began to hear the news of the horrible casualties at Shiloh, they demanded explanations. Both Grant and his superior, General Henry Halleck, made Wallace their scapegoat, saying that his incompetence in moving up the reserves had nearly cost them the battle. He was removed from his command the following June and reassigned to command the defense of Cincinnati in the Department of the Ohio during Braxton Bragg's incursion into Kentucky. In July of 1864 at the Battle of Monocacy in Maryland, he was able to delay General Jubal A. Early's advance, although he lost the battle, toward Washington, D.C. for an entire day, giving the city defenses time to organize and repel Early. General Grant relieved him of his command after learning of his defeat at Monocacy, but reinstated him two weeks later on a review of the situation. His delaying tactics at Monocacy were mentioned in Grant's memoirs. He participated in the military commission trial of United States President Lincoln's assassination conspirators, as well as the court-martial of Henry Wirz, the Commandant in charge of the notorious Confederate Andersonville Prison Camp. In November of 1865, he resigned from the U.S. Army and was offered a Major General's commission in the Mexican Army, to help expel the French. Multiple promises by the Mexicans were never fulfilled, causing him to incur deep financial debt. In 1878, he was appointed Governor of the New Mexico Territory, serving until 1881. As Governor, he offered amnesty to many men involved in the Lincoln County War, a bloody Old West range war between two factions over the control of the dry goods trade in the county. In the process, he met with the notorious "Billy the Kid," and, in March of 1879, the pair arranged a full pardon for "Billy, the Kid" in exchange for testimony in several murder cases. Although "Billy, the Kid" fulfilled the part of the agreement, the governor reneged on the promise with the Kid escaping from jail and returning to his lawless ways. By 1880, he had penned his most-noted novel, "Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ," which was written as a result of a bet between him and his friend, Robert Ingersoll, who was nicknamed "The Great Agnostic." Ingersoll had challenged Wallace to prove that Jesus was the Son of God and the challenge was accepted, publishing as a result, "Ben Hur." By 1889, 400,000 copies had been sold, making the book the best-selling American novel of the 19th century, surpassing Harriet Beecher Stowe's 1852 "Uncle Tom's Cabin". In 1881, he was appointed U.S. Minister to the Ottoman Empire, serving in that position until 1885. When the U.S. declared war on Spain in 1898 during the Spanish-American War, he offered to raise and lead a division of soldiers, but his offer was not accepted. When he attempted to enlist as a private, he was rejected due to his age. He died from atrophic gastritis at the age of 77. Besides "Ben Hur", a collection of poetry and a play, he authored "The Fair God; or, The Last of the 'Tzins: A Tale of the Conquest of Mexico" in 1873, "The Boyhood of Christ" and "Life of General Ben Harrison" both in 1888, "The Prince of India; or, Why Constantinople Fell" in 1893, two volumes, and posthumously, "Lew Wallace: An Autobiography" in 1906, two volumes. A statue of him donned in his military uniform resides in the National Statuary Hall Collection in the U.S. Capitol. His writing study, which is adjacent to his residence in Crawfordsville, is now called the General Lew Wallace Study and Museum and was designated a National Historic Landmark and opened to the public. "Ben Hur" has never been out of print and has been adapted into films four times, the latest one being MGM's 1959 production starring Charlton Heston, which received 11 Academy Awards in 1960. In 1852 he married Susan Wallace, an author of six published books. The couple had one son, and she died two years after her husband's death.

Bio by: William Bjornstad


Inscription

I would not give one hour of life as a Soul
For a thousand years of life as a man.
Ben-Hur


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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 2 Jan 1999
  • Find a Grave Memorial ID: 4279
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/4279/lewis-wallace: accessed ), memorial page for Lewis “Lew” Wallace (10 Apr 1827–15 Feb 1905), Find a Grave Memorial ID 4279, citing Oak Hill Cemetery, Crawfordsville, Montgomery County, Indiana, USA; Maintained by Find a Grave.