Thomas Ogden Osborn

Thomas Ogden Osborn was born in the central Ohio hamlet of Jersey on August 11, 1832. He was graduated from Ohio University at Athens (not to be confused with Ohio State University at Columbus) in 1854, and then read law in the Crawfordsville, Indiana, office of the future Union general, Lew Wallace. Osborn began his law practice in Chicago in 1858, but with the outbreak of war in 1861 turned his attenton to recruiting the 39th Illinois Infantry, grandiosely styled the "Yates Phalanx" in honor of the governor.  He was appointed lieutenant colonel of this regiment on October 11, 1861, and colonel the following January 1. It was his fortune in the first years of the war to take a rather limited part in a series of relatively unimportant theaters, much of the time in command of his regiment but also directing a brigade of the XVIII Corps. However, in May, 1864, he lost the use of his right arm in Benjamin F. Butler's attack on Drewry's Bluff, and in the course of the siege of Petersburg he commanded a brigade of the XXIV Corps, Army of the James. On April 2, 1865, as the Federals finally penetrated R. E. Lee's lines, Osborn's brigade played an important part in the capture of Fort Gregg. He was brevetted brigadier and major general of volunteers and on May 1, 1865, was given the full rank of brigadier general. He then returned to his Chicago law practice; was Cook County treasurer from 1867 until 1869; served on the board of the National Home for Disabled Volunteers; spent a year in Texas investigating depredations committed by Indian and white renegades based on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande, and in 1874 was appointed minister to Argentina. Six years later his efforts and those of his opposite number in Santiago, Thomas Andrew Osborn (no relation), brought about a settlement of the long-standing Patagonian boundary dispute between Argentina and Chile. (The treaty was negotiated and ratified entirely by telegraph since no railroad existed at the time over the Andes.) Osborn received the official thanks of the Argentine government for his services. He resigned his post in 1885, but remained in South America, interesting himself in various railroad projects, one of which linked Paraguay and Bolivia. In 1890 General Osborn returned to Chicago and at the same time retired from business. He died on a visit to Washington, March 27, 1904, and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

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Reference: Generals in Blue. Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge.