General Lew Wallace

Today we come back to the Hall of Fame in Washington, D.C., our nation's capital. Each state is entitled to have two statues placed in this famous hall to represent two of their foremost citizens. Most of the states have chosen their honorees by a vote of their citizens so we have a cross-section of men and women whose statues stand in solemn splendor under the great dome of the Capitol building on Capitol Hill.
I have given history lessons on many of these honoree's from many of our states and today it is a great state in the Midwest that is to be featured. The State of Indiana. How many of you are from that state? The man whose statue stands tall in Washington is Lewis Wallace, better known as Lew Wallace. Do you recognize that name? Can you give me any details?
Lew Wallace was born in Brookville, Indiana in l827. He came from a prominent family and was given every educational opportunity. First, Lew Wallace was a great patriot. He volunteered to fight in the Mexican War where he made a distinguished record. After the Mexican War, he served four years in the Indiana State Senate. While in the State Senate, he organized and drilled a company of state militia. Four years later when the Civil War began, he was appointed Adjutant General and one year later he was promoted to Major General in the Union Army and commanded a division all through the war.
On two separate occasions, General Lew Wallace and his Indiana Division performed valiant and important service in the cause of the Union. On April 6 and 7, l862, two great armies, the south's armies of 40,000 commanded by Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston and the northern or Union Army, 63,000 strong commanded by Gen. Grant, met in a great battle at Shiloh, Tennessee. At the end of the first day's fighting, Grant's army was near defeat but during the night reinforcements arrived including Gen. Lew Wallace's division and the next day Grant was able to drive the Confederates from the field. Among the ll,000 casualties suffered by the Confederate Army was the commanding General Albert Sidney Johnston
The next time we hear of Gen. Lew Wallace came when Confederate General Jubal Early swept up the Sh enandoah Valley of Virginia defeating two Union armies, crossed the Potomac River into Maryland and headed for the capital, Washington, D.C. He reached the District of Columbia line just 5 miles from the city of Washington. But General Lew Wallace and his division met the Confederate forces and delayed their attack on the capital until Gen. Grant could send troops to protect the capital and to force Early back across the Potomac into Virginia. Lew Wallace was a fine patriot and a brave soldier, but he h ad other excellent qualities.
I read a book once about an old Scottish schoolmaster entitled "Beside the Bonnie Briar Bush," that said that when he found a gifted and intelligent student in his class, he would refer to him as "a lad of many parts." Well, Lew Wallace was a man of many parts: legislator, lawyer, soldier, author, government administrator and diplomat. After the war, he was appointed by President Grant as Governor of the Territory of New Mexico where he served with distinction for four years. Next Presid ent Garfield appointed him Ambassador to Turkey, an appointment he very adequately filled. But of all his many accomplishments, it was as an author that he reached the highest mark. One of his books has been referred to as one of the greatest novels ever written. Can you name this book? Ben Hur. It has been translated into every modern language and at least one oriental language. The moving picture that was made of this book was one of t he finest movies I have ever seen. The great chariot race where Ben Hur challenged the Roman drivers was one of the most spectacular and exciting scenes that I have ever witnessed on the screen.
An unusual thing about this book was that it was mostly written during the Civil War. General Wallace would, during the day, be a fighting general, but when day was done, he would retire to his tent and by lantern light work on his book until late at night.
The people of Indiana selecte d General Wallace to be honored by having his statue placed in the Hall of Fame, and his likeness in bronze was unveiled at a solemn ceremony on January 11, 1910. Senator Beveridge of Indiana made these remarks during the ceremony: "Indiana proudly unveils this statue of Lew Wallace-soldier and lawgiver, author and idealist, administrator and diplomat, dreamer of beautiful dreams for better things for his fellow men."
Lew Wallace was a man of many parts.

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