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Two Who Served Together

June 15, 2017

Will and his cousin had just heard a rousing speech which encouraged all young men to join the Union Army.  These two eighteen-year-olds watched as the other young men, in an apparently emotional response, were enlisting.  Didn’t they realize that enlisting would be a life-changing decision for them and their families?  The cousins needed time to think it over.

Daily the cousins were reminded of the speech and of the fact they had not enlisted.  They saw the new recruits drilling six days a week, sometimes on the church green, sometimes in the schoolyard.  Will’s cousin later remarked: “I decided to wait and study the situation a little more carefully first.”  After they both enlisted, Will said their decision was made “in cold blood and not through the enthusiasm of the moment.”

The cousins followed the new recruits when they left for Camp Jackson.  All, including the two cousins, were mustered into service on June 11, 1861.  On July 4 one of the officers read the Declaration of Independence to the regiment.

Will survived the war.  He might seem more interesting when you learn his full name: Will Osborne, or more properly, William McKinley Osborne.  He was the nephew of William McKinley, Sr.  His cousin, the fellow who wanted to “study the situation a little more carefully first,” was William McKinley, Jr., and he became the 25th President of the United States.

By the way, the officer who read the Declaration of Independence to the regiment was Rutherford B. Hayes, and he became the 19th President.  The regiment was the 23rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry, the only regiment to produce two Presidents of the United States.

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