Just a boy here of 16 years in 1859…
In two years he will be Pvt. McKinley in the volunteer Army of the United States. This army raised to put down the rebellion and the secession of the southern states. In five years he will fight one of the hardest battles of the Civil War fought in the Shenandoah Valley.
Third Winchester or Opequon as it became known to the Southerners, was fought on and around September 19, 1864. This boy you see before you is innocent and loving. He is taught not to kill, not to steal, not to lie.
Yet, he will volunteer to fight for a cause which will require him to do at least one of these things. At this time he is not thinking of the training, advise, friendship, and experience he will receive during those four years between July 1861 and July 1865.
By the end of the war McKinley receives a commission of Major by brevet from President Lincoln “for gallant and meritorious services at the battles of Opequon, Ceder Creek, and Fisher’s Hill” just one month before Lincoln is taken by an assassin’s bullet.
Major McKinley will take these experiences and develop leadership skills which will carry him to the Capital City, Washington D.C. to represent a part of Ohio in Congress, and Columbus Ohio to represent Ohioans as governor, and finally go for the “Big Fish” becoming President of the United States.
But here, we keep him innocent, protected by his family for a little bit longer…
THE ILLUSTRIOUS LIFE OF WILLIAM McKINLEY
By MURAT HALSTEAD