I am bringing forward unlikely pairs of historical figures represented in the National Statuary Hall at the U. S. Capitol who have things in common with each other in this series called “Snapshots from the National Statuary Hall.”
I am pairing Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Europe during World War II and former President representing the State of Kansas, and Lew Wallace, Union General and former Governor of New Mexico Territory, representing the State of Indiana
So far in this series, I have paired Michigan’s Gerald Ford, a former President of the United States, and Mississippi’s Jefferson Davis, the former President of the Confederate States of America; Dr. Norman Borlaug, Ph.D, often called the “Father of the Green Revolution; and Colorado’s Dr. Florence R. Sabin, M.D, a pioneer for women in science; Louisiana’s controversial Governor, Huey P. Long, and Alabama’s Helen Keller, a deaf-blind woman who gained prominence as an author, lecturer, activist; Henry Clay, attorney and statesman from Kentucky, and Lewis Cass, military officer, politician and statesman from Michigan; and John Gorrie for Florida, a physician and inventor of mechanical refrigeration and William King for Maine, a merchant and Maine’s first governor.
Representing the State of Kansas in the National Statuary Hall, Dwight D. Eisenhower achieved the rank of 5-star general in 1944 during World War II; was the first Supreme Commander of NATO from 1951 to 1952; and the 34th President of the United States from 1953 to 1961.
Dwight D. Eisenhower was born in Denison, Texas, in October of 1890.
His Eisenhauer ancestors immigrated to America from Karlsbrunn, Germany, and settled in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in 1741, considered part of the what are called the Pennsylvania Dutch.
The Eisenhower family moved to Abilene, Kansas, in 1892, and Dwight graduated from high school there in 1909.
In 1911, Eisenhower accepted an appointment to the U. S. Army military academy at West Point in New York, and graduated in the middle of the class of 1915.
His 1915 class at West Point became known as the “Class the Stars Fell on” because 59 out of 164 graduates that year became general officers, besides Eisenhower, including the 5-Star World War II General Omar Bradley.
During the years of World War I, between 1914 and 1918, Eisenhower served in infantry and logistics at bases in Texas, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, and Pennsylvania, like Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio…
…Fort Oglethorpe in northern Georgia…
…Fort Leavenworth in Kansas…
…Camp Meade in Maryland…
…and Camp Colt in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
By the time he received orders to go to France, the war was over.
After the war, Eisenhower was promoted to Major, a rank he held for 16-years.
His assignments included being assigned to a convoy that drove the 3,000-mile, or 4,800-kilometer, length of the Lincoln Highway, from Washington, DC to California, to test vehicles and show the need for improved roads to the nation, and said to have inspired the National Highway System…
…and commanding a battalion of tanks at Camp Meade.
He was the Executive Officer under Major General Fox Conner in the Panama Canal Zone from about 1922 to 1924, under whom he studied military history and theory…
…and on General Conner’s recommendation, he attended the U. S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, between 1925 and 1926.
From there, he was a Battalion Commander at Fort Benning in Georgia until 1927.
Then he was assigned to the Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and graduated from there in 1928.
While Eisenhower was the Executive Officer to the Assistant Secretary of War George Mosely from 1929 to 1933, he attended the Army Industrial College at Fort McNair in Washington, DC, where he graduated from in 1933.
The Army Industrial College today is known as the Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy.
Eisenhower was posted as the Chief Military Aide to General Douglas MacArthur, and accompanied him to the Philippines in 1935, where he was assistant military advisor to the Philippines government in developing their army.
In December of 1939, Eisenhower returned to the United States and became the Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion of the 15th Infantry Regiment at Fort Lewis, Washington, later becoming the Regimental Executive Officer.
He was promoted to Colonel in March of 1941, and assigned as Chief of Staff to the newly activated IX Corps under Major General Kenyon Joyce.
Then in June of 1941, he was appointed Chief of Staff for General Walter Krueger, Commander of the 3rd Army at Fort Sam Houston.
Eisenhower participated in the Louisiana Maneuvers, a series of major U. S. Army exercises held in northern and west central Louisiana from August to September of 1941…
…and he was promoted to Brigadier General on September 29th of 1941.
Eisenhower was assigned to the General Staff in Washington, DC, after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December of 1941, where he served until June 1942, with the responsibility to create war plans to defeat Japan and Germany.
After going to London in May of 1942 with the Commanding General of the Army Air Forces, Lt. General Henry Arnold, to assess the effectiveness of the Theater Command in Europe, he returned to London in June of 1942 as the Commanding General of the European Theater of Operations, and was promoted to Lt. General on July 7th of 1942.
Then in November of 1942, Eisenhower was appointed the Supreme Commander Allied Expeditionary Force of the North African Theater of Operations through the new Allied Expeditionary Force Headquarters.
Under the command of Lt. General Eisenhower, Operation Torch, the Allied invasion of French North Africa took place from the 8th through the 16th of November of 1942, and was planned in the underground headquarters at the Rock of Gibraltar.
Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory located at the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula.
By December of 1943, President Roosevelt had chosen Eisenhower, by this time a four-star general, to be the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe.
He was tasked with planning and carrying out Operation Overlord, the Allied assault on the coast of Normandy, starting with the D-Day landings on June 6th of 1944.
Eisenhower was promoted to the highest officer rank in the Army of 5-star General, known as “General of the Army,” on December 20th of 1944.
By the end of the War in Europe on May 8th of 1945, Eisenhower commanded all Allied Forces.
After World War II ended, Eisenhower was appointed Military Governor of the American Occupation Zone, located primarily in southern Germany, and headquartered at the IG Farben building in Frankfurt, the world’s largest office building in Europe until the 1950s.
Besides documenting evidence of the atrocities of Nazi concentration camps for the Nuremburg Trials, he arranged for the distribution of American food and medical equipment in response to the post-war devastation in Germany.
Eisenhower went back to Washington, DC, in November of 1945 to replace General George C. Marshall as Chief of Staff of the Army.
Eisenhower became President of Columbia University in 1948, and one of his accomplishments there was establishing the Institute of War and Peace Studies.
Eisenhower became the Supreme Commander of NATO in December of 1952, and was given operational command of NATO forces in Europe.
He retired from the Army on June 3rd of 1952, and was also elected President of the United States in November of 1952.
He held the office of President of the United States from 1953 – 1961.
Eisenhower gave his final televised address as President on January 17th of 1961, one in which he raised the issues of the Cold War, the role of the U. S. Armed Forces, and raising the alarm about the need to guard against the unwarranted influence of the Military-Industrial complex.
He was also a published author, writing books about World War II, his Presidency and his personal life.
Eisenhower died on March 28th of 1969 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC, from Congestive Heart Failure.
After numerous viewings of his body around Washington, he was returned to Abilene, Kansas via a special funeral train, and laid to rest inside the Place of Meditation on the grounds of the Eisenhower Presidential Center.
As mentioned previously, Union General Lew Wallace and former Governor of New Mexico Territory represents the State of Indiana in the National Statuary Hall.
He was best known to the general public for writing “Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ” in 1880.
Lew Wallace was born in April of 1827 in Brookville, Indiana.
Wallace’s father David was a graduate of West Point, and after he left the military in 1822, he moved to Brookville where he became a lawyer and entered politics, serving in the Indiana General Assembly, later becoming the State’s Lieutenant Governor, Governor and a member of Congress.
After moving to Covington, Indiana in 1832, Lew’s mother Esther died from tuberculosis in 1834.
His father remarried in 1836, to Zerelda Gray Sanders Wallace, who later became a prominent suffragist and temperance advocate.
In 1837, when he was 10, the family moved to Indianapolis when his father became Governo
By 1846, at the start of the Mexican-American War, Lew Wallace was studying law at his father’s law office, but he left there in order to become a 2nd Lieutenant for the Marion Volunteers on June 19th of 1846, a local militia group that he was already a part of, until he departed that service in the military, after not seeing combat, on June 15th of 1847, and returned to Indiana to pursue law.
Wallace was admitted to the Bar in February of 1849, and he established a law practice in Covington, Indiana.
In 1851, he was elected the prosecuting attorney of Indiana’s 1st Congressional District.
From 1849 to 1853, his law office was in the Fountain County Clerk’s Building, said to have been built in 1842, and known today as the Lew Wallace Law Office.
He resigned from that position in 1853 to move to Crawfordsville, Indiana, where he continued to practice law and was elected to a two-year term in the Indiana Senate in 1856.
The General Lew Wallace Study & Museum in Crawfordsville, a National Historic Landmark, contains his personal mementoes and houses the Ben Hur Museum as well.
Wallace organized an independent Militia called the Crawfordsville Guards, later called the Montgomery Guards, which would later form the core of the 11th Indiana Volunteer Infantry, his first military command during the Civil War.
Wallace adopted the Zouave uniform and training style of the elite units of the French Army in Algeria for the unit.
Wallace began his full-time military career shortly after the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter, which took place on April 12th of 1861, considered the beginning of the Civil War.
His 11th Indiana Volunteer Infantry Regiment was mustered into the Union Army two-weeks later, on April 25th of 1861, and he received a commission as a Colonel the next day.
On June 5th of 1861, his regiment won a minor battle at Romney, West Virginia, near Cumberland, Maryland, leading to the Confederate evacuation of Harper’s Ferry on June 18th.
Wallace was promoted to Brigadier General in September of 1861, and given command of a brigade.
On February 4th and 5th of 1862, Union troops made their way towards the Confederate Fort Henry on the Tennessee River in western Tennessee.
Wallace’s brigade was ordered to occupy Fort Heiman, called an uncompleted Confederate fort across the river from Fort Henry.
They watched from Fort Heiman as Union troops attacked Fort Henry on February 6th, resulting in a Union Victory and the Confederate surrender of Fort Henry.
Wallace was left in command of Fort Henry as another general moved troops overland towards Fort Donelson on the Cumberland River.
Then on February 13th, Wallace received the order to move out towards the Cumberland River, and his brigades took positions in the center of the Union Line, facing Fort Donelson.
Wallace’s decisions in the battlefield led to checking the Confederate assault and stabilizing the Union defensive line.
He was promoted to Major General, and became the youngest Major General in the Union Army.
Wallace was the 3rd Division Commander under General Ulysses S. Grant at the Battle of Shiloh, which took place on April 6th of 1862.
There was controversy surrounding Wallace’s actions in the field concerning whether or not he followed General Grant’s orders that led to a significant setback in his military career, even though overall Shiloh was considered a Union victory because Confederate forces ended up retreating, and ending their hopes of blocking the Union advance into northern Mississippi.
Wallace’s most notable service during the Civil War was said to have been the Battle of Monocacy, which took place on July 9th of 1864 near Frederick, Maryland, in which even though they were defeated by Confederate troops, Wallace’s men were able to delay a Confederate march towards Washington, DC, for a day giving the city time to organize its defenses and force the Confederates to retreat to Virginia.
Among other duties after the Civil War ended, Wallace was appointed to the military commission that investigated the Lincoln assassination conspirators that began in May of 1865, and ended on June 30th of 1865 after finding all eight conspirators guilty.
In 1867, Wallace returned to Indiana to practice law, but it no longer appealed to him, so he turned to politics.
He lost two Congressional elections, in 1868 and 1870, but as a reward for supporting the candidacy of President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876, Wallace was appointed Governor of the New Mexico Territory, a position in which he served from August of 1878 to March of 1881.
From May 19th of 1881 to March 4th of 1885, Wallace served as the U. S. Minister to the Ottoman Empire (now Turkey) in Constantinople (now Istanbul).
As an author, Lew Wallace was best known for writing “Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ” in 1880…
…which was turned into an award-winning movie in 1959 starring Charlton Heston as the wealthy Jewish Prince, Ben-Hur.
Wallace returned to Crawfordsville, Indiana, from the Ottoman Empire.
Among other pursuits, he was given the credit for building the Blacheme in 1895, a 7-story apartment building in Indianapolis.
He lived in Crawfordsville until his death in February of 1905, where he was buried in the Oak Hill Cemetery there.
I am bringing forward unlikely pairs of historical figures who are represented in the National Statuary Hall who have things in common with each other, as mentioned at the beginning of this post.
In this pairing, both men didn’t see the theater of war they were prepared for, as Eisenhower missed out on the action in Europe in World War I because the war ended as he was receiving his orders to go to France, and Wallace was an officer in a volunteer militia in June of 1846 in readiness to fight in the Mexican-American War, but he never saw combat, leaving volunteer service almost exactly a year later.
Both Eisenhower and Wallace were involved in the entirety of their major wars, with Eisenhower being involved in World War II directly from the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7th of 1941 to its end on September 2nd of 1945 and Wallace was involved in the American Civil War from its beginning with the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter on April 12th of 1861 and its end on April 9th of 1865 and were successful generals in their respective wars.
They were both involved in events concerning crimes in the aftermath of their wars, with Eisenhower being involved in the documentation of evidence of Nazi atrocities for the Nuremburg trials as the Military Governor of the American Occupation Zone and Wallace was appointed to the military commission that investigated the Lincoln assassination conspirators from May to June of 1865, that found all eight conspirators guilty.
Both men were Chief Executives, Eisenhower as President of the United States, and Wallace as Governor of the New Mexico Territory.
Lastly, both men were published authors, although in different genres of literature.
In the next pairing from the National Statuary Hall, I am going to showcase Missouri’s Francis Preston Blair and Florida’s Edmund Kirby Smith for things they have in common.