Dan Macauley was born in New York City on September 8, 1839. His parents were Irish and when Dan was seven years old, the family moved to Buffalo, New York where his father died of cholera in August of 1849. Although he spent a little time acting on the stage, after the death of his father, he was apprenticed to a book-binding business where he stayed until about 1860. At that time he moved to Indianapolis to work for Mr. Bingham and Mr. Doughty at the Sentinel book-binding company.
When the war broke out in 1861, Macauley joined the Indianapolis Zouaves as a private but was soon elected first lieutenant. His unit was assigned to the 11th Indiana volunteers under the command of Colonel Lew Wallace. Wallace personally asked Macauley to serve as his adjutant (assistant). Promotions followed and within a year Macauley was a major, by September of 1862 he was a lieutenant-colonel, by March 1863 he was a colonel and during the war was made a brevetted a brigadier general. He was made Brevet Brigadier General by General Phillip Sheridan for gallantry on the field, having been specifically recommended for the promotion by General Grant.
Macauley married on March 26, 1863, and after the war he and his wife returned to Indianapolis where he again entered the book-binding business and they raised their family. In April of 1867, he was nominated by the Republicans for Mayor of Indianapolis. He won the election and served for six years from 1867 to 1873 as the youngest Mayor of Indianapolis up to that time. His Irish ancestry together with his Civil War record made him an appealing cross-over choice. In 1867, thirty-one percent of Indianapolis’ foreign population was Irish but most of the Irish were Democrats. Macauley contributed much to his adopted hometown including being one of the developers of the Woodruff Place suburb.
Dan Macauley had a varied career. After serving as mayor, he served as superintendant of the Indianapolis water works and as manager of the Academy of Music. In 1880, he left Indianapolis and in 1882 was engaged in developing Mexican mining interests, followed by stints managing hotels in New York City and Columbus, Ohio. During Benjamin Harrison’s administration he held the position of appointment clerk for the Treasury Department. In his last job he worked for the Nicaragua Canal Company that ran steamers on Lake Nicaragua. While on business for the company he died unexpectedly in Nicaragua in 1894 and was buried there with full military honors. Macauley’s family later brought his body home and he was buried with honors in Arlington National Cemetery. As Dan Macauley was laid to rest, one of the memorials stated: “The Eleventh Indiana Infantry was distinguished as one of the fighting and best drilled regiments, and from the date of its muster in until it finished its splendid career it never suffered defeat. When it is considered that such men as Gen. Lew Wallace and Dan Macauley were the directing influences that inspired this gallant command one has to look but little further to discover the reason for the success of the Eleventh Indiana.”
The revolver used by Macauley during the war as he fought beside Lew Wallace is part of the permanent collection of the General Lew Wallace Study & Museum and on display in the 2012 exhibit, Courage & Conflict: Lew Wallace in 1862.
The General Lew Wallace Study & Museum celebrates and renews belief in the power of the individual spirit to affect American history and culture.