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How Hoosier Veteran Benjamin Harrison Helped All Veterans

He fought in the Civil War and later pushed help for veterans, including a pension.

Terri Stacey contributed to this report.

INDIANAPOLIS--A Hoosier who did a lot for veterans and later became president, also served as an officer in the Civil War. Benjamin Harrison insisted on volunteering, though he had no military experience and when he later was elected Senator helped pass a law to provide for veterans and their families.

Harrison and the War Effort

In 1862, Harrison asked how he could help in the war effort and was told he could help recruit, said Charlie Hyde, president of the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site.

"Harrison said he would be happy to help recruit, but not unless he himself were going to serve. He set about that task straight away and he ended up raising a full regiment, 1,000 men for the Union cause," said Hyde. But, he also fulfilled his wish to serve.

"He himself had no military training. So he set about teaching himself military strategy and actually insisted upon starting out as a second lieutenant and rose throughout the years of his command all the way to brigadier general," said Hyde.

Lincoln signed Harrison's commission.

After the War

After the war ended and Harrison was elected U.S. senator from Indiana in 1880, he made it a priority to help veterans.

"He really pushed forward during his time as senator some important initiatives that he would pick up as president. Among those was expansion of the Navy, but also then to insure that the veterans and their families were well-provided for."

Hyde said Harrison wanted to make sure the country fulfilled its obligation to veterans who had been wounded and to the families of people who served and had been lost.

"He was able to get a pension act passed and that was one of the major accomplishments of his administration."

You can visit the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site in Indianapolis.

PHOTO: Chris Davis/Emmis

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