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Untangling The Conflicted History Of Lew Wallace, One Summer At A Time

Stan Jastrzebski

Each summer, the General Lew Wallace Study and Museum in Crawfordsville takes a look back at an important moment or aspect of the "Ben-Hur" author's life.

But that life is a conflicted one and portraying it objectively can be a problem. For instance, how to deal with longstanding criticisms that Wallace's missteps at the 1862 Battle of Shiloh may have cost some of the more than 20,000 men who died there their lives?

That's the task of museum director Larry Paarlberg. He's a fan of history who downplays Wallace's shortcomings (he often disregarded his commanding officers and went off on whatever course he felt was best) and focuses on the man as a dedicated Civil War participant, an alternative learner and the author of the best-selling fiction book of the 19th Century.

This year's exhibit, "Vindication: Lew Wallace in 1864," calls upon a time where Wallace felt he was close to regaining his stature as a general and had escaped the shadow of whatever might have happened near Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee in 1862.

The latest in a series of lectures accompanying the exhibit will be given this evening. Historian Tony Trimble's talk is entitled "Campaigning With Sherman: Hoosiers March To The Sea."

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