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William Hervey Lamme Wallace (July 8, 1821 ‚Äď April 10, 1862), more commonly known as W.H.L. Wallace, was a lawyer and a Union general in the American Civil War, considered by Ulysses S. Grant to be one of the Union's greatest generals.

Early life and career

Wallace was born in Urbana, Ohiomarker, the son of John Wallace and Mary Lamme Wallace. In 1836, he was educated at Rock River Seminary in Mount Morris, Illinoismarker. Although he planned to study law with Abraham Lincoln in Springfieldmarker, he joined Theophilus Lyle Dickey's practice in Ottawa, Illinoismarker, instead. (Dickey was a friend of Lincoln's and would eventually be a justice on the Illinois Supreme Court.) In 1851 he married Dickey's daughter, Martha Ann. Wallace became licensed in law in 1846 and that same year he joined the 1st Illinois Infantry as a private. He rose to the rank second lieutenant and adjutant and participated in the Battle of Buena Vistamarker along with a few other minor engagements. After this brief experience in the Mexican-American War he became district attorney in 1853.

Civil War service

At the start of the Civil War, Wallace volunteered as a private with the 11th Illinois, which was assembled in Springfieldmarker. He was then elected the unit's colonel. He rose up the ranks and commanded a brigade of General John A. McClernand's division of Grant's Army of the Tennessee at the Battle of Fort Donelsonmarker in 1862. During the battle much of McClernand's division had been driven back with heavy losses and Wallace's coolness under fire was especially noted. General Lew Wallace described him as looking like a "farmer coming from a hard day's plowing". For his service at Fort Donelson he was appointed a brigadier general of volunteers. At the Battle of Shilohmarker, he was a new division commander, yet he managed to withstand six hours of assaults by the Confederates, directly next to the famous Hornet's Nest, or Sunken Road. When his division was finally surrounded, he ordered a withdrawal and many escaped, but he was mortally wounded and only later found barely alive on the battlefield by his troops. They carried him to his wife, who helped tend to him on the way back to General Grant's headquarters in the Cherry Mansion in Savannah, Tennesseemarker. He died three days later in his wife's arms; his last words were "We meet in heaven." He is buried in LaSalle County, Illinoismarker, in Ottawa. His war horse, Prince, is buried next to the General he carried into battle at Shiloh.

Wallace County, Kansas, was named in his honor in 1868.

See also


  • Daniel, Larry. Shiloh: The Battle that Changed the Civil War, Simon and Schuster, 1997, ISBN 0-684-83857-5.
  • Eicher, John H., & Eicher, David J.: Civil War High Commands, Stanford University Press, 2001, ISBN 0-8047-3641-3.
  • Wallace, Isabel, Life and Letters of General William Hervey Lamme Wallace, Lakeside Press, 1909.

Further reading

  • Huffstodt, Jim, Hard Dying Men: the story of General W. H. L. Wallace, General T. E. G. Ransom, and their 'Old Eleventh' Illinois Infantry in the American Civil War (1861-1865), Heritage Press, Bowie, MD, 1991.

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