Sunday, February 3, 2013

Midway's McKee Monument

As you might have noticed by some of my recent posts, I have developed somewhat of an interest in Kentucky's role in the Mexican-American War. I first noticed the Col. William McKee monument in Midway, Kentucky last summer when I took some photos of the Martyr's Monument. I didn't pay much attention to the McKee monument then other than noting it was placed in honor of a Mexican War veteran. 

Today, suffering somewhat from cabin fever, I took the short drive over to Midway and took some snapshots of the monument to share here.

If you have never been to Midway, you are missing out on a true gem.  Midway is a charming little Woodford County town midway (thus the name) between Lexington and Frankfort on the line of the Lexington and Ohio railroad. As the railroad neared completed in the 1830 the town developed.

The McKee monument was erected in 1847 to honor William Robertson McKee, colonel of the 2nd Kentucky Volunteers (the regiment's lieutenant colonel was Henry Clay, Jr.). Both Clay and McKee were killed at the Battle of Buena Vista on February 23, 1847. Engraved on one side of the monument is the following very mid-nineteenth century sentiment:

"This humble monument is graciously erected by the citizens of Midway and vicinity as an abiding memorial of their admiration of the pure and noble character and useful service, civil and military, of the accomplished gallant and much lamented COL. WILLm R. McKEE who in triumphantly defending his country's flag at the head of the immortal 2nd REGIMENT of KENTUCKY VOLUNTEERS fell gloriously in the last moment of the memorable battle of BUENA VISTA in which that regiment with its able and heroic leader, by unsurpassed skill and persevering valor, in a bloody conflict of an entire day, emblazoned the exalted character of their beloved Commonwealth, and achieved for themselves DEATHLESS HONOR AND RENOWN.  

William Robertson McKee graduated from the United States Military Academy (West Point) in the class of 1829, which also featured such notables as Robert E. Lee and Joseph E. Johnston.  His father Samuel McKee (1774-1826) was a Kentucky politician that served in both the state and United States House of Representatives. McKee was buried along with Henry Clay, Jr. in the Frankfort Cemetery. Both soldiers rest below the Kentucky Military Monument, which was authorized in 1848 by the state legislature and completed in 1850.

Also engraved on the monument is an oval that contains the symbol of the Union; a bald eagle holding arrows and an olive branch, with the motto E PLURIBUS UNUM - out of many one. Also included in the engraving is a plow (peace), a cannon (war), and American flag (Union).

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