Date of Award
The way in which the American Civil War is remembered varies from one region to another. People, places, and events bring moments of pride and sorrow for those who remember, and distinct figures rise and fade into memory over time. Some individuals, however, cling to their place in history through the words of those who remember them. For the state ofIndiana, I feel as if one individual in question is overlooked. We remember Benjamin Harrison, the future president, born in Ohio, serving as a colonel to the 70th Indiana, and eventually a general over an entire brigade. We remember Governor Oliver Morton, the man who led Indiana politically through the great Civil War. However, only a handful of people remember Lew Wallace, who had also been a military leader, a politician, and a widely renowned author. Wallace had mingled with all of these highlighted figures of the nineteenth century: he was Adjutant General under Oliver Morton, he was a Major General under Ulysses S. Grant, he served alongside William Sherman, he had been swayed to the Republican party because of his experiences with Abraham Lincoln, and he had negotiated with infamous outlaws such as Billy the Kid. He fought valiantly in many battles during the Civil War, his actions at the Battle of Monocacy arguably saving the capital from Confederate capture. He had been an established politician and lawyer, and he had held such positions as the governor of the New Mexico Territory and the United States Minister to the Ottoman Empire. He had written the book Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, which made him a renowned author of the century. Despite his impressive list of accomplishments, it is difficult to see how he had been so easily forgotten. When historians discuss the history of Indiana, Lew Wallace gets little more than a mention. When students learn about the history of their state, Lew Wallace is not a part of these lessons. If you ask Hoosiers who Lew Wallace was, the response is often a blank stare accompanied with a shrug. The purpose of this writing is to highlight key moments in Mr. Lew Wallace's life; to demonstrate how and where this man had made a real impact on American history; to discuss his strengths and accomplishments as well as his flaws and shortcomings; but ultimately to shed some light on a figure who I believe absolutely deserves to be remembered as an indispensable figure of Hoosier history during the nineteenth century.
Lee, Jordan C., "Lew Wallace: An Unsung Hoosier Hero" (2014). Undergraduate Honors Thesis Collection. 240.