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This biography is from HEROES OF ALBANY, by Rufus W. Clark, D. D.

Maj. William Wallace

Major Wallace was the son of Christopher Wallace and Catharine Dinnen, and born in the city of Albany January 8th, 1835. His parents were natives of Ireland, and have been respected citizens of Albany for the last forty years. The subject of this sketch received his education in a district school in this city, where he made great proficiency in his studies. He was a bright, active, mannerly boy, obedient and respectful to parents and teachers, and grew up to manhood having the same traits prominent in his character. At an early age he entered the job printing office of Messrs. Weed, Parsons & Co., in this city, where he served successively as apprentice, journeyman and foreman of that extensive establishment; and with the exception of a few months, continued his connection with that firm up to the day he resigned, for the purpose of raising a company of volunteers for the Army of the Union. In doing this, he was actuated wholly by patriotism, and a sense of the duty that he owed his country, in preserving her institutious.

Perhaps the only act of disobedience he committed towards his parents in his whole life, was in giving up his situation, and leaving his wife and only child, to assume the hardships and risk of a military life in a time of war, which, as they apprehended, lost to them a son, to his wife, a loving, kind, dutiful husband, and left his only child (a promising boy), an orphan.

He commenced and was not long in raising a company of volunteers in Albany; and, being very popular among firemen, printers, and indeed every class of young men in the city, he was not long in raising the number required to entitle him to the commission of Captain, which he obtained in September, 1862. His company was known as Company F, and, at the time of his leaving Albany for the seat of war, consisted of eighty-four men, only five or six of whom were left to return to Albany and relate their experience of the war. Four other Albanians, namely, Visscher, Newman, Mitchell and Burhans started at the time he did to raise each a company of volunteers, bit Wallace raised his in the quickest time, and by that means he came the senior of those captains in the regiment.

After joining the Army of the Potomac, his first engagement with the enemy was at Fredericksburg, in December, 1862, and the second at the same place in May, 1863. Here he was taken prisoner, and marched to Richmond, where he was confined a prisoner of war, in Libby prison, for more than six weeks, and until an exchange of prisoners was etfected by the commanders of the two armies. On the march to Richmond, and while confined in the Lil)by prison, he suffered great hardship and privation. After rejoining his regiment, he soon after engaged in the battle of Gettysburg, July, 1863. Shortly after this, he was ordered to Elmira, N. Y., upon recruiting service, in which he proved quite successful. After serving at Elmira for several months, he was ordered to join his regiment, which he did at Brandy Station, Va., where he remained during the winter, and until the opening of the spring campaign, with Gen. Grant in command of the Army of the Potomac.

Early in the month of April, 1864, he received the commission of Major from Gov. Seymour, to take rank from the 1st February before.

It will be recollected that on the memorable 4th May, 1864, the Army of the Potomac, under Gen. Grant, crossed the Rapidan. As soon as it was fairly across the river, and before Gen. Grant had time to put his army in fighting position, he was opposed by Gen. Lee, and a heavy column under Longstreet. A desperate and bloody fight was the consequence, thousands of lives being lost, and thousands of prisoners taken on both sides.

On the night between the 5th and 6th of May, Maj. Wallace was in charge of a line of pickets, extending between the two armies, and by some mistake or blunder, a New Jersey regiment, supposing them the enemy, opened a heavy fire upon the line.

Maj. W., in his endeavors to correct the fatal mistake (fatal to others), and save himself and his command from total destruction, had a most providential and narrow escape. Several of his men were shot down by their friends, and the full extent of loss by this blunder has never been ascertained.

On the day following, the battle of the "Wilderness" raged in its full fury, and thousands of the Union army lay dead and dying on the ensanguined held. On the afternoon of 6th May, while in front of his command, and leading them on to death or glory, poor Major W. met his fate. He was killed by a gun shot wound in the head, and is not known to have uttered a word afterwards. The senior field officers of the regiment, Col. Wilson and Lieut. Col. Fryer, also Albanians, had previously been carried from the field mortally wounded. The Forty-third Regiment was distinguished for the gallantry of its officers and men, and had been frequently selected for posts of extra hazard and danger, by which means it became decimated, whilst other regiments escaped the peril. Not long previous to Colonel Wilson being carried from the field, he, Lieut. Col. Fryer and Major Wallace were noticed lunching together under the shadow of a tree. This was the last repast either of the brave men ever partook of, in this world.

Major W., as has already been said, was, from his childhood, moral and sedate. Reticent in manner, he was, nevertheless, witty, genial and agreeable in company. He had read a great deal, and was well informed on most ordinary subjects. His taste for reading, combined with his occupation of printer, gave him facilities for improvement not possessed by other young mechanics. He was brought up in the Catholic religion, and was a zealous, sincere Catholic Christian throughout his whole life; giving proof of the sincerity of his faith, by a strict observance of the doctrine and discipline of that church, down to the day of his death. The Catholic Chaplain of General Meagher's Brigade frequently was the guest of Major W. in camp. Owing to the location, and the circumstances attendant upon the great battle of the "Wilderness" (the rebels retaining for a long time, the possession of the field within their lines), it was impossible for his friends to recover the body of the deceased at that time. It has since been ascertained that his remains, with those of other brave Union men, and rebels, were buried, promiscuously, on the field, leaving no mark or trace by which his grave could be discovered, or his person identilied.

Major Wallace was a prominent leading member of the Typographical Society of Albany, and, at one time, President. He was also a delegate from that body to a National Convention of Printers, composed of delegates from a large number of the States of the Union. He was, besides, an active, energetic member of the fire department of the city for several years, having served in Hook & Ladder No. 2, and was Secretary and Foreman of that association at diiferent periods.

The following resolutions were unauimously adopted by different bodies, expressive of the high esteem in which our hero was held by his fellow citizens:

Monday Evening, May 30th, 1864.
Alderman Johnson, from the committee heretofore appointedcon the subject, offered the following resolutions, which wereunanimously adopted:
Resolved, That the Common Council on behalf of the citizens of Albany, deem it their duty to place upon record a memorial of their grief and respect for the gallant and patriotic Major William Wallace, who fell fighting for his country in the battle of the "Wilderness," on the 6th May inst.

Born in our city, on the outbreak of the war he raised a company for the Forty-third Regiment N. Y. S. V., being then twenty-seven years of age, and was among the first to march to the field. He encountered not only the dangers of battle but endured the horrors and privations of the Libby prison. He had just attained the rank of Major when he gave his life to his country, on the dark and bloody ground of the "Wilderness."
Resolved, That in the estimation of this Common Council, the youthful hero, whose public life presents so noble a record, and whose personal career was virtuous and honorable, deserves the highest honors which a grateful people can offer to its patriot dead. His body is buried on the distant battle field, but his memory is cherished in the hearts of our people.
Resolved, That these resolutions be entered upon the minutes of the Common Council, and printed, and that copies be sent to the family of the deceased, and to his surviving comrades in his regiment.



At the first regular meeting (June 2) of Albany Typographical Union, held since the sad intelligence was received of the death of Major Wallace, the following resolutions were unanimously adopted:
Whereas, We have learned with deep sorrow of the death of our former President, Major William Wallace, who was killed whilst in the performance of his duty, during the recent brilliant movements of the Army of the Potomac: therefore
Resolved, That the lamented deceased was endeared to us by the purity and gentleness of his character, respected for his unobtrusive talents, and admired for his unselfish patriotism.
Resolved, That by his death our country has lost an ardent defender—our city a public spirited and honorable citizen, and our society an energetic and useful member.
Resolved, That we sincerely sympathize with the widow and relatives of our deceased friend in their great affliction—trusting that the nobleness of his death in defence of his country may, in a measure, alleviate their sorrow.
Resolved, That the Charter of this Union be draped in mourning for the usual period: and that these resolutions be transmitted to the family of deceased, and duly spread upon the minutes.
James O'Sullivan, Recording Secretary.


At a special meeting of "Red Jacket" Company, Hook and Ladder No. 2, held at their house on the 19th day of May, 1864, the following resolutions were unanimously adopted:
Resolved, That we have heard, with deep regret, of the death of Major William Wallace, former Foreman, and Honorary member of this company, who was killed while marching with his regiment on to victory, in the late battles in Virginia.
Resolved, That in the death of Major Wallace, this company has lost a warm and kind friend; his wife a loving and dutiful husband; his son a loving father; his parents a faithful son; the country a true and faithful servant.
Resolved, That our former intercourse with him, as an officer and member, is full of pleasant recollections; and that while we cherish his memory and mourn his fate, our sorrows are mingled with pride, that he laid down his life in defence of our beloved country.
Resolved, That we deeply sympathize with his family, parents and relatives of the deceased, and trust that to the condolence of earthly friends, there may be added the Heavenly consolations of Him "who giveth and taketh away," for his wise, though inscrutable purposes.
Resolved, That the foregoing resolutions be engrossed, and presented to the widow of the deceased; and that this house be draped in mourning for the space of thirty days.


M. A. SHEHAN, Foreman.
N. A. FINNEGAN, Secretary.

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