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The Wallace's: Father and Son

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If we're lucky, we all gain inspiration and positive reinforcement from our fathers. What defines strength, character, a range of "proper paths" from which to choose (when at last we set out and make our own way.) Of the senior Federal commanders at Shiloh, the one who appears to be most influenced by his father, was Lew Wallace.

David Wallace was born in country Pennsylvania, midway between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, in 1799. The eldest of seven children, while young, David went with his family to a small town near Cincinnati, Ohio; got his basic schooling; attended Miami University; and received an appointment to West Point. Graduated 9th of 24 with the Class of 1821, Second Lieutenant Wallace was assigned to the Artillery; but he appears to have been kept at the U. S. Military Academy to teach Mathematics. About a year after graduating, David Wallace resigned his commission and returned "home" (his family had moved to Indiana) and studied Law. And married Esther Test. And entered politics: elected in 1828 as a Member of the Indiana House of Representatives (a year after Lew Wallace was born.)

Lew Wallace (in his Autobiography, page 5) records, "One of my earliest recollections was seeing my Father's gray West Point uniform." David joined the Indiana Militia shortly after resigning from the Regular Army. And while his political career progressed (elected Lieutenant Governor in 1831), his Militia Career advanced: he was serving as Colonel in 1832, when Lew Wallace remembers, "seeing his Father drilling a cavalry company during the Black Hawk War" (page 18). The Black Hawk War ended before David Wallace was needed. But, when Lew Wallace was old enough to "select a proper path" for himself, he decided to study Law (as had his Father, who served as Governor of Indiana from 1837- 1841; and was elected to U. S. House of Representatives for one term in 1843.) After returning to Indiana, David Wallace became Chairman of the WHIG Party (for State of Indiana.) And while serving in that capacity, the War with Mexico broke out.

Lew Wallace had studied for the Indiana Bar, but not to the level required to pass the Bar Examination. And he was distracted by the "war clouds" and torn between the excitement and adventure of "going off to war" versus "staying at home and settling down to a career as Lawyer." While studying for the examination, 19-year-old Lew Wallace raised a company of Militia. And when he failed the Bar Examination, he merely completed raising his company of troops, was elected Second Lieutenant, and was informed the company was to depart for New Albany, where it would be attached to one of the three Indiana regiments, and sent to Mexico.

Lew Wallace records, "We were to take wagons to Edinburg; and from there, take the train to New Albany. My father marched with me (through town, to where the wagons waited.) He was in the prime of manhood; a soldier by education, he should have been at the head of the whole Indiana contingent. At my side, keeping step with me, he trudged along through the dust. The moment came for me to climb into the wagon. Up to that he had kept silent, which was well enough, seeing I had only to look into his face to know he was proud of me and approved my going. Then he took my hand and said: "Good-bye. Come back a man." [Lew Wallace records that, "Suddenly, I gave him a shower of tears"] (page 115).

David Wallace went on to become a Judge; and he was serving in that capacity when he died, aged 60, in September 1859.

Just a bit more of the story of Lew Wallace...



References:   http://archive.org/stream/lewwallaceanaut02wallgoog#page/n135/mode/2up/search/father  Autobiography of Lew Wallace

http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Gazetteer/Places/America/United_States/Army/USMA/Cullums_Register/270*.html  David Wallace at West Point

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Wallace_(Indiana_politician)  David Wallace at wikipedia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zerelda_G._Wallace  Lew Wallace's step-mother (after death of mother in 1834)



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