Wikis > Lew Wallace

Personal Facts

  • Born Lewis “Lew” Wallace April 10, 1827 at Brookville, Indiana
  • Died: February 15, 1905, Crawfordsville, Indiana


    Major General Lew Wallas

  • Wallace was born in Brookville, Indiana, to David Wallace and Esther French Test Wallace. His father was a graduate of the United States Military Academy and served as lieutenant governor and Indiana Governor; his stepmother, Zerelda Gray Sanders Wallace, was a prominent suffragist and temperance advocate. When Wallace’s father was elected as lieutenant governor of Indiana, he moved his family to Covington, Indiana. Wallace’s autobiography contains many descriptive stories of this boyhood in Covington, including the account of the death of his mother in 1834. In 1836, at the age of nine, he joined his brother in Crawfordsville, Indiana, where he briefly attended Wabash Preparatory School. Afterward he joined his father in Indianapolis.

    Wallace was studying law at the start of the Mexican-American War in 1846. He raised a company of militia and was elected a second lieutenant in the 1st Indiana Infantry regiment. He rose to the position of regimental adjutant and the rank of first lieutenant, serving in the army of Zachary Taylor, although he personally did not participate in combat.[3] After hostilities he was mustered out of the volunteer service on June 15, 1847.[4] He was admitted to the bar in 1849. In 1851 he was elected prosecuting attorney of the First Congressional District of Indiana.

    On May 6, 1852, Wallace married Susan Arnold Elston by whom he had one son, Henry Lane Wallace (born February 17, 1853). In 1856, he was elected to the Indiana State Senate after moving his residence to Crawfordsville.

  • During the Civil War, Lew Wallace was the youngest soldier in U.S. history to obtain the rank of General. With a show of good leadership in several campaigns, he proved his worth on the field of combat. Then at the battle of Fort Donelson or Shiloh, a controversy ensued that stained his military career. Receiving (“vague and hastily written” according to Wallace) from Grant to advance to the relief of Union forces on the field, Wallace had two distinct routes to the battlefield. Wallace decided on the upper path and got bogged down in his approach, not arriving on the field til later in the day. Grant was extremely displeased, though Wallace insists that Grant did not indicate which route for Wallace to take, though Grant insists that Wallace defied the orders to go the lower route. The battle was still won by the Union the next day, though Wallace spent the remainder of his life to change the reputation resulting from the battle of Shiloh.

Appointments Held

  • Commander of defense of Cincinnati (Dept. of the Ohio)
  • Directed U.S. secret efforts to aid Mexico expulsion of the French occupation forces in 1864.
  • Participated in the Military commission trial of the Lincoln assassination conspirators.
  • Participated in the court-martial of Henry Wirz, the commandant in charge of the South’s Andersonville prison camp.
  • American Minister to Turkey (Ottoman Empire) 1881-1884.
  • Governor of New Mexico Territory 1878-1881.


  • The Fair God; or, The Last of the ‘Tzins: A Tale of the Conquest of Mexico (Boston: James R. Osgood and Company), 1873.
    Commodus: An Historical Play ([Crawfordsville, IN?]: privately published by the author), 1876. (revised and reissued again in the same year)
  • Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (New York: Harper & Brothers), 1880.
  • The Boyhood of Christ (New York: Harper & Brothers), 1888.
  • Life of Gen. Ben Harrison (bound with Life of Hon. Levi P. Morton, by George Alfred Townsend), (Cleveland: N. G. Hamilton & Co., Publishers), 1888.
  • Life of Gen. Ben Harrison (Philadelphia: Hubbard Brothers, Publishers), 1888.
  • Life and Public Services of Hon. Benjamin Harrison, President of the U.S. With a Concise Biographical Sketch of Hon. Whitelaw Reid, Ex-Minister to France [by Murat Halstad] (Philadelphia: Edgewood Publishing Co.), 1892.
  • The Prince of India; or, Why Constantinople Fell (New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers), 1893. 2 volumes
  • The Wooing of Malkatoon [and] Commodus (New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers), 1898.
  • Lew Wallace: An Autobiography (New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers), 1906. 2 volumes

General Lew Wallace Study & Museum


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