Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies: General Lew Wallace's Account of the Battle of Monocacy (Illustrated) by Lew Wallace
Long before he became best known for Ben Hur, Lewis "Lew" Wallace (April 10, 1827 – February 15, 1905) was an important Union general who played significant roles in the Western theater at the outset of the war.
Wallace was able to organize two full brigades and a third incomplete, and took up position in the center of Grant's lines besieging Fort Donelson. During the fierce Confederate assault on February 15, Wallace coolly acted on his own initiative to send a brigade to reinforce the beleaguered division of Brig. Gen. John A. McClernand, despite orders from Grant to avoid a general engagement. This action was key in stabilizing the Union defensive line. After this Confederate assault had been checked, Wallace led a counter attack which retook the ground that was lost. Wallace was promoted to major general to rank from March 21.
Wallace's most notable service came in July 1864, at the Battle of Monocacy, part of the Valley Campaigns of 1864. Although the some 5,800-man force under his command (mostly hundred-days' men amalgamated from the VIII Corps) and the division of James B. Ricketts from VI Corps was defeated by Confederate General Jubal A. Early, who had some 15,000 troops, Wallace was able to delay Early's advance toward Washington, D.C. for an entire day, to the point that the city defenses had time to organize and repel Early, who arrived at Fort Stevens in Washington at around noon on July 11, two days after defeating Wallace at Monocacy, the northernmost Confederate victory of the war.
General Grant relieved Wallace of his command after learning of the defeat of Monocacy, but re-instated him two weeks later. Grant's memoirs praised Wallace's delaying tactics at Monocacy: "If Early had been but one day earlier, he might have entered the capital before the arrival of the reinforcements I had sent. ... General Wallace contributed on this occasion by the defeat of the troops under him, a greater benefit to the cause than often falls to the lot of a commander of an equal force to render by means of a victory." Personally, Wallace was devastated by the loss of his reputation as a result of Shiloh. He worked desperately all his life to change public opinion about his role in the battle, going so far as to literally beg Grant to "set things right" in Grant's memoirs. Grant, however, like many of the others Wallace importuned, refused to change his opinion.
After the battle, Wallace wrote an account about the Battle of Monocacy that became part of The War of the Rebellion: Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. This edition of his account includes illustrations and maps of the campaign, and it also includes pictures of the important commanders of the battle.