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A U.S. President who was Wounded four times in the Civil War

Rutherford B. Hayes

This could be a great Trivial Pursuit question. What American President was also wounded four times and had four horses shot out from under him during the Civil War? The answer, of course, is Rutherford B. Hayes.

Hayes, this country’s 19th President, was also a Congressman and was twice City Solicitor for Cincinnati and twice Governor of Ohio.

The future president was born in Delaware, Ohio in 1822. He attended law school at Harvard. When the war started, he joined the Burnett Rifles, a local militia company. Soon after that, he was appointed Major of the 23rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry, USA.

Hayes’ military career took him to places like western Virginia (today West Virginia) where his regiment joined forces led by General Rosencrans. It was there that he sustained his first wound – a gunshot to the knee. It slowed him down but did not send him home.

On September 14, 1862, while leading his forces at Fox’ Gap during the battle of South Mountain (just three days before the battle of Antietam), Hayes was wounded a second time – this time more seriously as he received a gunshot wound in his left arm just above the elbow. Undeterred, he sat on the ground in pain, bleeding profusely and continued to command his men.

Although he was pretty sure he would lose his arm to amputation, a Union doctor convinced him that his arm could be saved. And it was. But his recuperation was long, taking him back to Ohio.

During the Valley Campaign of 1863 and 1864, Hayes was wounded twice more. In August 1864, his supporters from Ohio nominated Hayes for Congress. He accepted the nomination but stayed in the field saying “An officer fit for duty who at this crisis would abandon his post to electioneer for a seat in Congress out to be scalped.”

General Ulysses S. Grant said of Hayes “his conduct on the field was marked with conspicuous gallantry as well as the display of qualities of a higher order than that of mere personal daring.”

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