Lew Wallace was a totally fascinating man. As a young man he did not do well in his studies, but this appears to be perhaps because they did not catch his interest. We watched the video of his life, and the question is not what he could do, but rather, what could he not do.
In his study we saw drawings, sculpture and paintings he created. He was a lawyer, author, and Civil War General that was credited with perhaps saving Washington DC during the Battle of Monocacy. After the War he was in charge of the Lincoln conspirator’s trial and then headed up the trial for Henry Wirz, commandant of the notorious Andersonville Prison. Wallace resigned his commission on November 30, 1865, and was honorably discharged from the service.
In September 1878, President Rutherford Hayes appointed Wallace as Governor of the New Mexico Territory. The website shares, “Described by some as a reward for his Republican support, the appointment was not a favor; the Lincoln County Wars and Apache land disputes made the appointment dangerous and tense.”
Over the years he wrote several other publications and he served as Ambassador to Turkey as well enjoying the culture. His wife Susan and recently widowed sister-in-law Joanna accompanied him during this tenure. The story of his life could easily be a movie. Lew Wallace did write his biography and it would make an interesting read. Looking for a place where he could have a sanctuary from his literary fame and work on his projects, Wallace built what today we would call a man cave. The website provides a better description of his study than I could begin to write. “General Lew Wallace’s study is a separate building that was constructed fifty yards north of his residence in Crawfordsville, Indiana. The study was built between 1895 and 1898 and cost the then-remarkable sum of $30,000. The building is an eclectic combination of three types of architecture: Romanesque, Byzantine and Periclean Greek. The building is composed of a concrete and steel undercarriage, brick walls, limestone friezes and porches, and capped with a copper roof and cupola. …Today, Wallace’s study sits on 3.5 acres, which is entirely enclosed within a brick wall, which was an addition after Wallace’s lifetime. The General Lew Wallace Study is now a museum containing artifacts that chronicle almost every aspect of his varied life. At the same time, the study grounds (once Wallace’s backyard) are an idyllic location for a picnic, stroll, or a relaxing afternoon with a good book.”
General Lew Wallace’s Study and Museum is located at 200 Wallace Ave., PO Box 662, Crawfordsville, IN 47933. Call 765-362-5769 for more information or log onto www.ben-hur.com.