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To National Park Service Site-Antietam
National Park Service
McKinley Monument at Antietam

William McKinley, who later became President of the U.S., has a monument honoring his courage at the battle of Antietam. Hughes Granite produced that monument. The monument is located just south of the Burnside Bridge. It was dedicated October 13, 1903.

The inscription on the monument reads:

January 29, 1843 - September 14, 1901
Fourteen Years Member of Congress
Twice Governor of Ohio 1892-3 and 1894-5
Twice President of United States
1897 - 1900 - 1901

Sergeant McKinley Co. E. 23rd Ohio Vol. Infantry, while in charge of the Commissary Department, on the afternoon of the day of the battle of Antietam, September 17, 1862, personally and without orders served "hot coffee" and "warm food" to every man in the Regiment, on this spot and in doing so had to pass under fire.

The Battle of Antietam took place in Maryland on September 17, 1862. It was Civil War Confederate General Robert E. Lee's first invasion of the North. It was the bloodiest single day battle in American history. The battle claimed 23,000 casualties, nine times greater than the number of American casualties on D-Day during World War II. Despite the battle's shocking carnage, Antietam provided President Abraham Lincoln with the victory he needed to announce the abolishment of slavery in the South.

President Rutherford B. Hayes recollected the incident in these words, in an 1891 speech introducing McKinley:

That battle began at daylight. Before daylight men were in the ranks and preparing for it. Without breakfast, without coffee, they went into the fight, and it continued until after the sun had set. Early in the afternoon, naturally enough, with the exertion required of the men, they were famished and thirsty, and to some extent broken in spirit. The commissary department of that brigade was under Sergeant McKinley’s administration and personal supervision. From his hands every man in the regiment was served with hot coffee and warm meats.

General J.L. Botsford described it in his battle report:

It was nearly dark when we heard tremendous cheering from the left of our regiment. As we had been having heavy fighting right up to this time, our division commander, General Scammon, sent me to find out the cause, which I very soon found to be cheers for McKinley and his hot coffee. You can readily imagine the rousing welcome he received from both officers and men. When you consider the fact of his leaving his post of security, driving right into the middle of a bloody battle with a team of mules, it needs no words of mine to show the character and determination of McKinley, a boy at this time about twenty years of age. McKinley loaded up two wagons with supplies, but the mules of one wagon were disabled. He was ordered back time and again, but he pushed right on.

[Quoted in The Life of William McKinley: Soldier, Lawyer, Statesman, by Robert P. Porter. Cleveland, 1896]

McKinley was promoted to second lieutenant for his conduct.

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