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Hayes, Rutherford

With the start of the Civil War, Rutherford Hayes left a life of leisure to accept a commission as a major in the 23rd Ohio Infantry. Hayes enjoyed the rugged military life and fought bravely, receiving four wounds in action during his service. In the fall of 1862, he led a charge in the Battle of South Mountain, Maryland. Despite receiving heavy losses in his unit and a musket wound himself, Hayes held his position. Hew was promoted to colonel and in 1863 his troops helped stop Morgan’s raiders at Buffington, Ohio. During the Battle of Winchester, Virginia, 1864, his unit’s flags were the first to enter the town. Later that year, Hayes was wounded for the fourth time in the Battle of Cedar Creek. After the battle, he was promoted to brevet brigadier general on the recommendation of General George C. Crook. In 1865, Hayes was elected to the House of Representatives without campaigning. He believed that “any officer fit for duty, who at this crisis would abandon his post to electioneer for a seat in Congress, ought to be scalped.” He was brevetted a major general of volunteers “for gallant and distinguished services during the campaign of 1864 in West Virginia . . .” Rutherford Hayes became the 19th president of the United States in 1877. He looked back on his wartime service as “the best years of our lives.”