William McKinley Jr. got his first initiation into politics under the tutelage of a good politician, statesman, Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes in the fall election of 1863. He was fortunate in drawing with a volunteer commanding officer, rather than a West Point graduate, and professional soldier. West Pointers as a rule avoided politics.
By this time, December 1863, William McKinley, and the troops of the 23rd O.V.I. (Ohio Volunteer Infantry) were involved in a Winter Campaign that began on December 8, 1863. The operation involved a cavalry raid against the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad, with the main force striking at Salem. McKinley was chosen by Colonel Hayes as one of his aides. On this day, December 16th, 150 years ago McKinley, and his comrades would spend a brief time at a Mrs. Jones’ house, on their way to Gauley, Loup Creek, and finally to Charleston by way of the steamer Viola.
McKinley Biography, 1967, Volume I., pp. 154-157 E.T. Heald