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Judge William Dickson and Major General Lew Wallace | by elycefeliz
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Judge William Dickson and Major General Lew Wallace

William Martin Dickson

Sep. 19, 1827 - Oct. 15, 1889

Politician, Judge, Civil War Officer. William Martin Dickson graduated from Miami University (Oxford, Ohio) with a law degree and and was admitted to the bar in Kentucky in 1848 before attending graduate school at Harvard. He married Anna Marie Parker (first cousin of Mary Todd Lincoln) of Lexington, Kentucky in 1852. He was the Hamilton County prosecuting attorney for one year before he resigned to operate a law firm with Alphonso Taft and Thomas M. Key. In 1859, he was appointed as Judge of the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas.


Dickson was one of the founders of the Republican Party and was nominated as a Presidential elector in 1860. He soon associated with Abraham Lincoln, Edwin Stanton, and Salmon P. Chase and participated in the framing of the Emancipation Proclamation. Dickson was appointed by Cincinnati Mayor George Hatch in September of 1862 as the Acting Colonel of the Cincinnati Black Brigade.


Dickson first addressed his men (about 400 present) on September 4, 1862. He announced to them what his position was and that they were assembled for fatigue duty. He declared to them that they would receive the same protection and treatment as white soldiers. He dismissed them to their homes to report for duty the following day. When morning came, Dickson was surprised to see that over 700 men answered the call. The assignment lasted only three weeks and the Brigade was commended for their services by city officials. Dickson returned to his seat as a judge while most of the men in the Brigade formed into companies that were mustered into service with the 5th and 27th US Colored Troop Regiments eventually seeing action in the Civil War.


Lewis "Lew" Wallace (April 10, 1827 – February 15, 1905) was an American lawyer, Union general in the American Civil War, territorial governor and statesman, politician and author. Of his novels and biographies, he is best known for his historical novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1880), a bestselling book since its publication, and called "the most influential Christian book of the nineteenth century." It has been adapted four times for films.


In 1846 at the start of the Mexican-American War, Wallace was studying law. He left that to raise a company of militia and was elected a second lieutenant in the 1st Indiana Infantry regiment. He rose to the position of regimental adjutant and the rank of first lieutenant, serving in the army of Zachary Taylor, although he personally did not participate in combat. After hostilities, he was mustered out of the volunteer service on June 15, 1847. Wallace was admitted to the bar in 1849.


At the start of the American Civil War, Wallace was appointed state adjutant general and helped raise troops in Indiana. On April 25, 1861, he was appointed Colonel of the 11th Indiana Infantry. After brief service in western Virginia, he was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers on September 3 and given the command of a brigade.


Wallace's most controversial command came at the Battle of Shiloh, where he continued as the 3rd Division commander under Grant. Wallace's division had been left in reserve. At about 6 a.m. on April 6, 1862, when Grant's army was surprised and virtually routed by the sudden appearance of the Confederate States Army under Albert Sidney Johnston, Grant sent orders for Wallace to move his division up to support the division of Brig. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman located at Shiloh Church. Wallace claimed that Grant's orders were unsigned, hastily written, and overly vague. There were two main routes by which Wallace could move his unit to the front, and Grant (according to Wallace) did not specify which one he should take. Wallace chose to take the "upper" path, which was much less used and considered in better condition, and which would lead him to reinforce the "right" side of Sherman's last known (initial) position at Shiloh Church. Grant later claimed that he had specified that Wallace take the "lower" path (River Road), although circumstantial evidence suggests that Grant had forgotten that more than one path existed. Wallace finally arrived at Grant's position at about 7 p.m., at a time when the fighting was practically over. Grant was not pleased. The Union won the battle the following day.


At first, there was little fallout from this. Wallace was the youngest general of his rank in the army and was something of a "golden boy." Soon, however, civilians in the North began to hear the news of the horrible casualties at Shiloh, and the Army needed explanations. Both Grant and his superior, Halleck, placed the blame squarely on Wallace, saying that his incompetence in moving up the reserves had nearly cost them the battle. Sherman, for his part, remained silent on the issue. Wallace was removed from his command in June and reassigned to command the defense of Cincinnati in the Department of the Ohio during Braxton Bragg's incursion into Kentucky.


Taking up writing again after the war, Wallace published his first novel in 1873. While serving as governor, Wallace completed his second novel, which made him famous: Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1880). It became the best-selling American novel of the 19th century, surpassing Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin. The historian Victor Davis Hanson has argued that the novel drew from Wallace's life, particularly his experiences at Shiloh, and the damage it did to his reputation. The book's main character, Judah Ben-Hur, accidentally causes injury to a high-ranking commander, for which he and his family suffer tribulations and calumny. He first seeks revenge, and then redemption.


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Taken on June 27, 2012