March Meeting

Date: March 8, 2011

Time: 7:30 PM

Place: Thomas Balch Library, 208 West Market Street, Leesburg, Virginia 20176

March Speaker:  Gail Stevens.

Subject: “The Shadow of Shiloh; Major General Lew Wallace in the Civil War”

Historian Gail Stephens has a Bachelor’s Degree in International Politics from George Washington University in Washington DC, and has done graduate work at Johns Hopkins and Harvard Universities.  She worked for the Department of Defense for 26 years, retiring in 1994 as a member of the Department’s Senior Executive Service.  Upon retirement, she began to study the American Civil War.  She volunteers at Monocacy National Battlefield near Frederick, Maryland, lectures on the Civil War, teaches courses at area colleges and gives battlefield tours.  In 2002, she won the National Park Service’s E.W. Peterkin award for her contributions to public understanding of Civil War history.  Her book about Major General Lew Wallace’s Civil War service, Shadow of Shiloh; Major General Lew Wallace in the Civil War, was released in October 2010 by the Indiana Historical Society Press.

“The Shadow of Shiloh; Major General Lew Wallace in the Civil War”

In the spring of 1862, Major General Lew Wallace was a Union military hero.  At the age of 35, he was the youngest major general in the Union Army, rising to that rank from colonel in 11 short months. Devoted to the Union, he was also a romantic about war, pursuing honor, fame and glory in combat.  Then in early April 1862, though only a short distance away, Wallace mysteriously failed to appear on the bloody battlefield of Shiloh with his division until the end of the first day of that battle.  The common perception is that this was a death blow to his career, until Lincoln decided to give him another chance, assigning him to command in Maryland where in the summer of 1864, with his army vastly outnumbered, Wallace fought the battle of Monocacy, “the battle that saved Washington,” restoring his fighting reputation.  The truth, however, is never that simple.  Wallace was a genuine hero, but he made mistakes and he was a scapegoat for the mistakes of others.  The story of Lew Wallace and the Civil War is fascinating and complex, highlighting some important truths about battles fought within the Union Army as well as those with the Confederates.


About Craig Swain

"Historical marker hunter" and Civil War enthusiast.
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