Friday, May 31, 2013

Membership and Sponsor Appreciation Party


If you are a member of the Lew Wallace Study Preservation Society and haven't yet RSVPed for the Membership and Sponsor Appreciation Party on Sunday, June 2, make sure you do so today! You won't want to miss seeing Lew Wallace, Jr.'s Duesenberg automobile, here for this weekend only. We also have ongoing offerings including:


  • Refreshments by Juniper Spoon & Iron Gate
  • See Lew Wallace, Jr.’s Duesenberg
  • Meet Wallace family members
  • Update on the Making a Historic Difference Campaign
  • Take a Behind the Scenes Tour
  • History Beneath Us archaeology with Anne & Chris Moore
  • Enjoy live music by The Brass Masters Quintet
  • Play lawn games

You won't want to miss out on this fun and informative event. If you're not a LWSPS member, you can join online via Paypal by visiting the Join & Support page of our website.

We hope we'll see you on Sunday from 4-6 p.m.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Cooking With Susan: Memorial Day Edition


With Memorial Day weekend being a popular weekend for cookouts and picnics, we thought we would share some of Susan's recipes. This year Memorial Day looks like it's going to be a bit cool, weather-wise, but the weather is always right for ice cream!

Susan's Ice Cream
Beat yolks of 3 eggs til very light; add one small teacup sugar, one pint new milk. Set in a small metal bucket in a kettle of boiling water; stir til it begins to thicken, then remove from fire. When ice cold, pour this custard into 2-1/2 quarts of fresh, rich cream; add 2 cups of sugar (more or less according to your sweet tooth) then small teaspoon not quite full of vanilla. Ice cream is often spoiled by too much flavoring. Sugar often freezes out. Stir constantly while freezing. So far as I know, the White Mountain Freezer is the best.

-- taken from the Saturday Evening Journal, Dec. 25, 1880


Or if sherbet is more your style, try this one:

Spanish Sherbet 
One can of grated pineapple, two teacupsful or more of sugar, add one pint of cold water and whites of three eggs beaten very stiff, freeze quickly as possible; there is a sharp acid in the fruit which makes poison with tin should it stand melted; if wanted very rich at the last moment before freezing, stir in one pint of fresh cream thoroughly whipped.

-- taken from M. E. Church Cook Book, 1886


If you try one of Susan's recipes, let is know how it turns out! :)

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Armed Forces Day

According to the Department of Defense, Armed Forces Day was created in 1949, which means Lew would never have celebrated it. It would probably have been an important holiday to him, however. Lew was very proud of his military service and remained active in veterans' associations and war memorial efforts.

Lew served in both the Mexican War and the Civil War, and actually volunteered for the Spanish-American War. Because he was 71 at the time of the Spanish-American War, his offer was declined. He delivered speeches at occasions such as the dedication of the Greencastle's Soldiers Monument, the reunion of the 11th Indiana in Terre Haute, a United States Naval Academy graduation ceremony, and the dedication ceremony of the Indiana Soldiers and Sailors Monument. He even built a special case in his Study to display some of his military artifacts. With such evidence, we can say confidently that Lew would have appreciated Armed Forces Day.

Lew wasn't the first of his family to serve in the military--his father, David, was a West Point Cadet. Nor was Lew the last. His two grandsons, Tee and Lew, Jr., served in World War I. Tee enlisted in the American Field Ambulance in 1916, before U.S. entry into the war, and drove ambulances for the French Army. After his graduation from Yale, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. He was killed during a surveillance mission near St. Etienne in October of 1918.

Lew, Jr. was in the National Guard and served in Texas during the Mexican Revolution. In September of 1918, he was sent to France, where he served as a captain in the intelligence service. In 1919 his division was inactivated and he served as aide to General E.M. Lewis until 1920.

Later generations of the Wallace family also continued the tradition of military service. Lew's great-grandsons  III and Bill Wallace both served in World War II, and Lew's great-great-grandson Sanford Miller served in Vietnam.

With such a strong legacy, is it any wonder we think Lew would have approved of a holiday set aside for civilians to thank members of the military for their sacrifices?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

William Seward, Jr. and the Battle of Monocacy


A photo taken in 1906 of the 1832 Frederick, MD, B&O
station; photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
In the summer of 1864, John W. Garrett, President of the Baltimore & Ohio railroad, came to see General Lew Wallace. Mr. Garrett expressed concern for the safety of Washington (as well as his railroad). His personnel were reporting detachments of Confederate troops in the Shenandoah Valley and, according to him, such appearances were precursors of trouble. General Wallace decided to go to the western limit of his command, the Monocacy River, southwest of Frederick, Maryland. Upon his arrival at the blockhouse guarding the rail junction (Monocacy Junction) he found the country alive with rumor. A Confederate army, reported to be between 5,000 and 35,000 men strong, was thought to have crossed the Potomac River on the 2nd or 3rd of July. Its exact whereabouts and destination were both unknown. The civilians that General Wallace sent to gather information were turned back by rebel cavalry at every pass in the mountains west of Frederick. General Wallace believed this cavalry was screening a larger army.

Two miles north of the junction, a stone bridge called the Jug Bridge crossed the Monocacy, carrying the National Road that led to Baltimore. At the junction there was an iron railroad bridge and, a few hundred yards southwest of it, the wooden covered bridge of the Georgetown Pike, the road to Washington. Any invading army intent on Washington or Baltimore would have to come this way. After brief consideration, General Wallace believed that Washington was the objective. He began putting men in place. 

On July 9, 1864, 6,500 troops under the command of General Wallace met 14,000 battle–hardened veterans of the Army of Northern Virginia, commanded by General Jubal Early, on the farm fields near Monocacy Junction. Confederate troops held the field at day’s end, but Wallace and his men had delayed them long enough that reinforcements ultimately sent by Union General-in-Chief U.S. Grant would reach the lightly-defended U.S. capital just in time. Early’s plans to capture Washington were quashed. The battle of Monocacy is now known as the “battle that saved Washington.”

General Grant later wrote that Wallace had done more for the cause by losing this battle than many generals had accomplished by winning.

As the Battle of Monocacy loomed, the city of Washington panicked. One of the men in Wallace’s small army was Colonel William Seward, son of Lincoln’s Secretary of State, William Henry Seward, and the commander of the hard-fighting Ninth New York Heavy Artillery. Seward’s regiment was in the middle of the Monocacy battle and according to Wallace’s official report the Ninth New York had 102 killed and wounded with 99 missing for a total of 201 casualties. Seward’s family, in Washington, received continuing reports from the battlefield and was well aware of Wallace’s valiant defense but ultimate defeat.

William Henry Seward, Jr.
The Secretary of State stayed at the War Department reading telegrams coming in from the battle until almost midnight. He had just returned home when Secretary of War Edwin Stanton arrived at the Seward residence to tell the family that there were reports that young William was wounded and taken prisoner. Colonel Seward’s brother, Augustus, left early the next day to go to Baltimore in an effort to ascertain the truth of the rumors. Based on reports he could gather, Augustus determined that his brother had been wounded, but not captured—although his whereabouts were unknown in the panic and chaos that was gripping both Washington and Baltimore.

By that evening there was a telegram at the Seward home from General Wallace: “I have the pleasure of contradicting my statement of last night. Colonel Seward is not a prisoner, and I am now told he is unhurt. He behaved with rare gallantry.” While Colonel Seward was reported safe on July 10, Washington definitely was not—Jubal Early’s veterans were marching on the city. On July 11, Early’s army arrived in front of Ft. Stevens, the northernmost fort in Washington’s defensive chain. Early could see the flag flying on the dome of the U.S. Capitol.

The city was in real jeopardy--Grant’s reinforcements had not yet arrived--but luck was on the Union side because Early delayed his attack. Grant’s reinforcements arrived on the night of the 11th and battled with Early’s men on July 12. During this fighting, President Lincoln arrived at Ft. Stevens and insisted on watching the action from the ramparts. He was thus exposed to Confederate sharpshooters, who killed an officer standing nearby, whereupon the President was convinced to move off the walls.

As it turned out, Wallace’s information relayed to the Seward family was still not correct. Colonel Seward had in fact been injured. He suffered a slight wound to his arm and broke his leg when his horse was shot and fell on him during the battle. Seward was unable to walk off the battlefield and only escaped capture when he found a mule and, using his silk handkerchief as a bridle, was able to ride off the field ahead of the Confederates. Within eight weeks Seward was promoted to brigadier general and served throughout the remainder of the war. A banker before the war, General Seward returned to a successful career in banking after his time in the military. He followed politics, supported charitable causes, served as a director for a number of corporations, and was involved in historical and patriotic societies until his death in 1920, over 50 years after Lew Wallace’s battle that saved Washington—a battle that directly affected the outcome of the Civil War and likely changed the history of the nation.

Many years later General Wallace encountered one of the Confederate commanders, J. B. Gordon, at a White House reception. Gordon told Wallace he was the only Yankee who ever whipped him. Wallace replied that, in the end, his men ran from the field. “In that sense you are right,” Gordon countered, “but you snatched Washington out of our hands.”

Sources: Shadow of Shiloh, Gail Stephens, Indiana Historical Society Press, 2010
                Seward, Lincoln’s Indispensable Man, Walter Stahr, Simon & Schuster, 2012

The General Lew Wallace Study & Museum celebrates & renews
belief in the power of the individual spirit to affect
American history & culture.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

We need your help with our Strategic Plan

This Thursday, May 16, we are hosting a public comment meeting at Crawfordsville High School. The Lew Wallace Study Preservation Society and Study staff are hard at work developing a new strategic plan. The strategic plan is a vital document that guides how we serve the community and our visitors. It helps us shape our programming and exhibits.

We would love to have your input in this process. We invite everyone to come to the public comment meeting and share thoughts, questions, concerns, and ideas. The General Lew Wallace Study & Museum celebrates and renews belief in the power of the individual spirit to affect American history and culture--and one way to do that is through helping shape our future efforts here at the Study.

Please join us at 7 p.m. at Crawfordsville High School and share your thoughts with us!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day!

Lew Wallace called two women mother in his life, and for Mother's Day, we'd like to talk a little about both of them.

A silhouette done of Esther Wallace
Esther Test married David Wallace in 1824, and they had four sons: William, Lew, John, and Edward. Lew described her in his autobiography as a woman who was fond of parties and dancing. When she was 27, she died of tuberculosis and was buried in Covington, Indiana. Lew was only seven years old.

After Esther's death, the boys went to live with neighbors and the family home was shut up. One day William wanted something from the house. A few minutes after going into the house with a friend, he came rushing back out, "white with terror," as Lew recalled. They said they had seem Esther sitting in the rocking chair. Lew wrote, "Both of them lived to be men, always insisting upon their assertion" that they had seen Esther's ghost.

Three years later, David married nineteen-year-old Zerelda Sanders. She was immediately faced with becoming stepmother to three boys (John died when he was three), the oldest of whom was only six years younger than she. Lew's older brother was an instant fan, but Lew resisted her charms. As he recounted in his autobiography,
I met her first at table in the tavern. She gave me every attention, but I was sulky and stubborn, and, refusing every overture, resumed intimacy with the woods and the creek. The poor woman dead in her youth and lying in her lonely grave at Covington crept back into my thoughts. The others might forget her, but I would not. She was my mother, and I would have no other--I would die sooner. But the stranger in the little old public-house up-town seemed oblivious to my obstinacy. She bided the time when I would need her, knowing it would certainly come; and so it did. One evening I returned from a two days of truancy nearly dead of croup. She put me to bed, and nursed me with infinite skill and tenderness. I had sense enough to know she was the savior of my life, and called her mother, and in speech and fact mother she has been to me ever since.
Zerelda was the inspiration for Judah Ben-Hur’s mother in Lew Wallace’s masterwork, Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ.  When he asked Zerelda for her opinion of the book, she replied, “O, my son, it is a nonesuch of a story, but how did you ever invent that magnificent character, the Mother?” Answering with a kiss, “Why, you dear, simple heart, how could you fail to know that the original of that picture is your own blessed self.”

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Wallace Scholar Gail Stephens to Speak in Cincinnati


For those of you who live in Ohio or southern Indiana, here's a great opportunity to connect with Lew locally!

Gail Stephens, a Lew Wallace Study Preservation Society board member, is scheduled to speak to the Cincinnati Civil War Roundtable a week from today (5/16/2013). Gail, a volunteer at Monocacy National Battlefield and author of Shadow of Shiloh: Major General Lew Wallace in the Civil War, is one of our Wallace scholars. She will be presenting about Lew and may spend some time speaking specifically about Lew's defense of Cincinnati, since that was one of his major contributions during the war.

Drake Center, 151 West Galbraith Road, Cincinnati, Ohio 45216 (telephone 513-418-2544).  The normal schedule is 7:15 PM for the meeting and program. Attendance at the talk costs $5.

For further information, please visit the Cincinnati CWRT's website.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Genealogy Lecture Series Opens with "Cemeteries"

Join us Thursday evening at 7 p.m. in the Carriage House for the first of our genealogy lectures!

Cemeteries can be invaluable resources for genealogists and historians. They serve as community museums in some respects. Many a genealogist has pored over cemetery records and traipsed across overgrown rural cemeteries to find an elusive ancestor.

Jeannie R. Regan-Dinius, Director of Special Initiatives for the Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology, will discuss the state of cemeteries in Indiana, what is being done at various levels to protect and restore them, and what we can do to help.


Jeannie Regan-Dinius has a life-long interest in history, family history, and research.  She earned her Bachelors in Public History from Ball State University, where she studied also anthropology and American Studies.  She has her Masters in Urban Planning and Information Management/Library Science from Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis with additional graduate course work in public history.

Our "Cemeteries" lecture is free and open to the public, but we ask that you RSVP ahead of time. Email us at study@ben-hur.com or call 765-5769 to register.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

It might surprise you to learn that Lew Wallace may have celebrated Cinco de Mayo, but the idea isn't as crazy as you might think!

Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. Lew was busy with the aftermath of the Battle of Shiloh in the area of Corinth, Mississippi, at the time, and may not have heard about the battle until long afterwards. Puebla certainly had little impact on his life for two years.

Then in 1864, Lew was sent to Mexico under Grant's orders. During an interview with Frank G. Carpenter, Lew related the circumstances of that mission:

I was the agent of General Grant in giving the Mexicans such assistance as enabled them to keep their country a republic; Louis Napoleon wanted to make it a monarchy. He was backing Maximilian, and was in a fair way to succeed. This was just at the close of the rebellion, when we were still in an unsettled condition, and did not dare risk a war with France.
I was sent by General Grant, without the knowledge of Secretary Seward, to consult with General Juarez, the Mexican President, to see if we could not in some way assist the republic. I went to the Rio Grande and pushed my way through the country to Chihuahua, where I met Juarez. He was in a bad way; had but few troops and but few arms, and it looked as though Maximilian must succeed. We discussed the matter, and as a result he sent the Governor of Tamaulipas with me back to the United States; and there in connection with Matias Romero, the Mexican Minister to Washington, we bought about $5,000,000 worth of Winchester rifles, cannon, and other munitions of war, and paid for them with Mexican Government bonds.
We put these arms on a ship and, in broad daylight, started for New Orleans as our nominal port. After a while we changed our course and made for the mouth of the Rio Grande, where we unloaded the guns and passed them on to the Mexican troops. These guns changed the tide of victory. From that time on President Juarez conquered, until finally he executed Maximilian at Queretaro.

It's safe to say Lew had a strong interest in the Mexican Republic. According to Wikipedia, Cinco de Mayo was first celebrated by Californians during the Civil War, as well as in Mexican-American communities in the western parts of the United States. So Lew probably didn't spend May 5 drinking margaritas and singing Mexican folk songs, but he definitely contributed to the overall cause behind Cinco de Mayo.