Ohio Battlefield Commission History Essay

During the brutal battle of Antietam on September 17, 1862, soldiers of the 23rd Ohio Volunteers were under fire from confederate troops. Seeing his fellow soldiers were getting low on moral, future President William McKinley under no orders from a commanding officer, brought hot coffee and food to every soldier in his regiment. After the war, McKinley went on to become Governor of Ohio and Congressman of Ohio. He was elected twice as President of the United States before being assassinated on September 6th 1901.

On October 13th 1903, the Ohio Battlefield Commission dedicated the McKinley monument in his honor, on the spot where he delivered coffee and food to the men of his regiment. The Ohio Battlefield Commission was appointed by George K. Nash Governor of Ohio on June 11, 1902. The commission “was charged with the duty of erecting suitable monuments to mark the positions of Ohio troops on the battlefield of Antietam, Maryland, and to mark the place where Commissary Sergeant William McKinley issued rations to his regiment on the firing line on the evening of that memorable battle, September 17th, 1962.

Before the commission was appointed, a General Act had to be passed on May 12th. The Act, “Authorized the appointment of a commission to mark the positions occupied by Ohio troops on the battlefield of Antietam, with suitable monuments and to make an appropriation to pay the cost of the same and to pay the personal expenses of the commission. ” Ten monuments were to be built buy this commission, nine monuments dedicated to the Ohio regiments that served and one monument dedicated to William McKinley for his action during the battle.

A few years prior, the date is not exact but during McKinley’s tenure as governor of Ohio, he had created a commission of Ohio veterans who were tasked to locate the areas of Antietam in which they had served. The commission appointed by the state was given allowance to continue to work with the veteran commission to find suitable places and design for the monuments. The commission was granted $20,000 to use in construction of and design of the monuments, along with any funds that the veteran commission have acquired.

Out of the $20,000, $3,5000 was allocated for a suitable monument dedicated to Commissary Sergeant William McKinley at the spot where he issued rations to his regiment during the battle. On January 29th 1903, the commission held a meeting to allow manufacturers the opportunity to submit designs and proposals for the monuments. The Hughes Granite and Marble company of Clyde, Ohio was selected to erect the ten monuments. The sculptor who designed the monuments was Scottish man named James B. King.

When the monument was revealed it was a gem, “The McKinley monument is declared to be, by those who have seen it, one of the finest monuments ever erected on any battlefield. ” King designed the monument to be 33 feet, 6 inches high and 8feet 9 inches at the base. In the center is column surmounted with an eagle on top of a ball. “The die of the monument has an allegorical figure representing the spirit of the people in their devotion to the martyred dead, with one hand holding a palm branch over bronze busts of McKinley. while the other holds an American flag.

Each bust represents a different McKinley, one as a boy soldier and one of him as president. Beneath the busts, scene of McKinley handing out coffee and food has been created. It is a monument that represents the character of William McKinley. October 13th, 1903 was the dedication ceremony for the Mckinley monument and the other Ohio monuments. The event as described by the Oil City Derrick newspaper, as a “Notable Gathering”, featured many distinguished guests. These guests included, General lan Hamilton, Sir Kay Muir, Secretary of War Robert Shaw, and Governor George Nash of Ohio.

Many veterans of the war and local population were also in attendance. On September 3rd, 1903 Governor Nash of Ohio sent a letter to President Theodore Roosevelt asking him to attend the dedication ceremony. The Battlefield Commission also sent a cordial invitation to the President inviting him to the dedication ceremony. On September 9th, 1903 President Roosevelt sent this reply to the commission, “My Dearest Major Cunningham: Thave gone over my engagements, and I am very sorry to say that it is simply out of the question for me to accept your invitation.

So great is my desire to meet the wishes of the members of my predecessor’s old regiment, that if I were able to break through my rule in your factor I should certainly do so; had I been warned in time, I might have been able to make arrangements; but now that I have accepted an invitation to speak at Antietam, and in as much as I speak to another body of Grand Army men in the week of the dedication of Major McKinley’s monument, it is simply impossible for me to make another speech at this time.

You have no conception of the number of requests I receive for speeches, which I should like to make, were l able to. There is none that I have refused with greater regret than this. I shall ask the Acting Secretary of War and the lieutenant-General of the Army to be preset. Sincerely yours Theodore Roosevelt” Governor Nash was the chosen speaker at the ceremony and also the man who was charged to surrender the care of the monuments to the Acting Secretary of War.

For McKinley’s monument, he described the story that lead to McKinley’s immortalization at Antietam. Nash compared McKinley to Abraham Lincoln in his speech, “Like Lincoln he prayed that the passions of the Civil war might pass away and that the affection for the Union might be restored to all the people of this country. ” McKinley’s monument represented a man who thought of others before himself.

As a soldier, he offered care to his regiment during the fighting. As President, he worked to try to reduce the animosity between North and South and to restore the country to one set of minds. The monument stands as a testament to time, of a man who went above and behind the call of duty to provide for his men during one of the worst battles of the Civil War.