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Lew Wallace Settles Squabbles Among Officers While Serving on Lincoln Assassination Commission
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While Lew Wallace was in Washington as second-in-command of the military commission that tried the conspirators involved in President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination and the attempted assassination of Secretary of State William H. Seward, his junior officers squabbled in Baltimore. This brief letter attempts to establish the proper chain of command.

LEW WALLACE. Autograph Letter Signed, to William L. Marshall, Washington, D.C., May 18, 1865. 1 p., 7¾ x 9⅝ in.

Inventory #21386.09       Price: $380

Complete Transcript

                                       Washington City

                                       May 18, 1865.

Maj. Marshall,

            The difficulty between yourself and Col. Lawrence has been reported to me. You will of course see the propriety and necessity of obeying the Colonel’s orders. As Chief of Staff, he is responsible and in my absence, must govern in all the business of the Mid. Department.

                                                                        Resy / Yr. friend,

                                                                        Lew. Wallace,

                                                                        Maj. Gen Comg

Duplicate for Col. Lawrence

[Endorsement:] Colonel Saml Lawrence, U.S. army / chief of Staff Middle Dept 8th Army Corps

Lew Wallace (1827-1905) was born in Indiana. His father was an attorney and served as Governor of Indiana from 1837 to 1840. The younger Wallace served in the Mexican War, and returned to Indiana to practice law. Elected to the Indiana Senate in 1856 as a Democrat, Wallace later became a Republican and organized the 11th Indiana Volunteers as its colonel. Promoted to brigadier general in September 1861, and to major general in March 1862, Wallace held a series of commands throughout the Civil War. In March 1864, Wallace became commander of both the 8th Corps and the Middle Department, which initially included New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Virginia, and other portions of Maryland, including Baltimore. After the war, Wallace was a member of the military commission that tried the Lincoln assassination conspirators. Wallace later served as territorial governor of New Mexico (1878-1881), as U.S. Minister to the Ottoman Empire (1881-1885), and became most famous as the author of Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1880), the best-selling novel of the nineteenth century.

William L. Marshall (1803-1879) was born in Kentucky and served as the U.S Attorney for the District of Maryland from 1845 to 1850 and as Judge of the Court of Common Pleas in Baltimore from 1852 to 1861. He was a delegate to the 1860 Republican Convention in Chicago. He was a nephew of Chief Justice John Marshall and a brother-in-law of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Lincoln appointed Marshall as surveyor of the port of Baltimore, and Marshall later served as a judge advocate in Baltimore from March 1863.

Samuel B. Lawrence (c. 1834-1908) was born in New York and served in the Army of the Cumberland. Promoted after the battle of Shiloh to captain, Lawrence later served as assistant adjutant-general with the rank of lieutenant-colonel under Major General Lew Wallace at Baltimore, and the two remained close friends. Lawrence lived in New York City after the war.


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