Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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June 10, 2007

Group honors county's last Union veteran

Gordon Williams was a scrawny 15-year-old boy from Pennsylvania. He was 5 foot, 4 inches tall and barely weighed 100 pounds.

But Williams was determined to join his brothers in the war to preserve the union. The year was 1863. After receiving special permission from his father, Williams joined the Union Army. Due to his slight stature, he was deemed unfit for battle.

Nevertheless, he saw his share of battle scars as he worked with the medical unit until the Civil War came to an end.

Later in life, that scrawny boy from Pennsylvania would become an important figure in Howard County as he would be the last surviving Union veteran, dying in 1943. On Sunday, the Orlando A. Somers Camp 1 Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War honored Williams’ memory by placing a bronze memorial plaque at his gravesite in Albright Cemetery.

“Gordon Williams is just a symbol of all Union members,” said Tom Crawford, past camp commander for the Sons of Union Veterans. He explained the memorial was part of a national effort asking members of each county in each state to mark the grave site of their last Union soldier.

They were the soldiers who ended America’s hypocrisy, he said.

Before the Civil War, Crawford believed the nation was untrue to the Declaration of Independence which states “All men are created equal.” Crawford said that would change when the slaves were freed upon Union victory.

“As a nation, it was the time that we would live up to our promise and principles,” he said.

Crawford and his organization honored Williams, the 1,000 men from Howard County who enlisted in the Civil War and all Union soldiers by playing “Taps,” the posting of the American flag by two men dressed as Union soldiers and a reading of President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

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