Born between 1838 and 1839, Wallace Campbell served as a captain in Company F, 12th Illinois Infantry. The day after Christmas, 1863, Campbell received a promotion to colonel and command of the 110th United States Colored Troops (USCT). In the spring of 1864, Campbell commanded the Union garrison in Athens, Alabama. The Athens fort, later known as Fort Henderson, guarded the Nashville and Decatur Railroad, a line critical to supporting Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman's operations during the Atlanta Campaign. Campbell apparently was not a popular officer. One of his subordinates accused him of drunkenness and gambling in August.
Following a two day battle, Campbell surrendered the fort and 571 men to Maj. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest on September 24, 1864. Campbell's superiors severely criticized his decision to capitulate and his former officers submitted a letter of protest through the chain of command. As a result, Campbell demanded a court of inquiry, however, it never convened. Campbell received an honorable discharge on May 6, 1865.