Ann Dickey and Will Wallace knew each other from childhood days. He was eleven days older than her, and was a longtime friend of the family. When Ann was sixteen, she married Wallace. They lived in Ottawa, Illinois and it was from there that Will left when he joined the Union Army at the start of the Civil War.
In the months to follow, Ann often wrote to Will trying to be brave, but also letting him know how much he was loved and missed. Will wrote that he was stationed at Pittsburg Landing in Tennessee and wasn't feeling well. Ann felt it was her duty to go to him. Knowing that he would not approve, she didn't let him know of the arduous and difficult trip she was about to undertake.
She arrived by boat at Shiloh on the very day that the battle began, April 6, 1862. Late that day Ann was told her husband had been killed on the battlefield, his body left behind. She spent that night, an endless night, fighting her feelings of despair by tending the Union wounded.
The next day Mrs. Wallace got another shock. Will was still alive! He had been found by Federal troops. He had been wrapped in a blanket by some kindly confederate. He was weak but still alive. His staff rushed him aboard a steamboat where she joined him. She wrote, "Will recognized my voice right off and clasped my hand. I had believed him dead! And he was alive! And he knows me!"
Wallace was taken to General Grant's headquarters where his wife kept a vigil at his bedside. "His pulse was strong and healthy," she wrote, "And we could not but hope that he would recover." His wounds, however, would prove untreatable. They became infected, and on April 10 he died.
The General was buried at home in Illinois, where at the door of his home is his portrait in uniform, his horse, and the flag for which he died in the Shiloh battle.