Wagner was instrumental in the planning of the public funeral held to honor Octavius Catto. Catto's body laid in state at the City Armory at Broad and Race Streets on October 16, 1871. Wagner and Catto had become friends as they both worked on the recruitment and training of black troops. It was he, who encouraged Catto to join the Pennsylvania National Guard. General Wagner, an abolitionist and ardent Republican, served as the commander of Camp William Penn. The General Louis Wagner public school in the Oak Lane section of Philadelphia was named to honor him.