Gilbert Van Zandt
Gilbert Van Zandt was one of the youngest Ohioans to serve in the Union Army during the American Civil War.
Van Zandt was born on December 20, 1851. He spent his youth in Port William, Ohio. In July 1861, at the age of ten years, seven months, and sixteen days, Van Zandt enlisted in Company D, 79th Ohio Volunteer Infantry with his father and uncles. Before enlisting, Van Zandt had volunteered as a drummer for the local recruiting office. He hoped to encourage men to enlist in the Union Army at the beginning of the American Civil War. He wore a uniform designed by his mother.
Van Zandt remained with the 79th Ohio Volunteer Infantry for the rest of the war, and served as a drummer boy and a courier. He participated in General William T. Sherman's March to the Sea in the autumn of 1864 and was mustered out of service with his unit in 1865.
At the end of the war, Van Zandt met President Andrew Johnson. Johnson offered the young veteran the choice of attending the United States Military Academy at West Point or of keeping a pony that Van Zandt had used in the war. Van Zandt chose to keep the horse, which he had named Fannie. Johnson arranged for the horse to be sent by train to Van Zandt's home in Port William.
Van Zandt died in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1944 at the age of 92. His age at enlistment made him one of the youngest soldiers to fight in the Civil War. His lengthy life also made Van Zandt one of the last surviving Civil War veterans.
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