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Announcement of the Assassination of President McKinley to the Army

September 16, 1901

General Order No. 13.



Washington, D. C. Sept. 16, 1901 .

With great sorrow, the commanding general announces the death of William McKinley, President of the United States and, by statute, Commander-in-Chief of the District of Columbia Militia, which occurred at Buffalo, N.Y., at 2:15 o'clock A.M. on September 14, 1901.

Throughout his tragically terminated administration President McKinley was actively interested in the welfare of this organization and frequently gave it evidence of his sincere friendship. His distinguished services as soldier and civilian must incite to emulation and will result in purer patriotism and better citizenship wherever his career is studied.

The national flag will be displayed at half-staff on all armories from sunrise to sunset of each day until sunset of Thursday, the 19th instant, on which day the remains of the late Commander-in-Chief will be interred at Canton, Ohio.

The officers of the National Guard will wear the usual badge of mourning upon their swords, and the regimental and battalion colors will be draped in mourning for a period of thirty days.

By command of BRIG.-GEN. HARRIES.

Major and Inspector General, Acting Adjutant-General.

BY DIRECTION of the Acting Secretary of War, the National Guard of the District of Columbia will assemble for escort and parade duty on Tuesday, September 17, 1901, to participate in the funeral of William McKinley, late President of the United States and Commander-in-Chief of the District of Columbia Militia.

The brigade will assemble at 8:30 o'clock A.M., in column of companies, on Pennsylvania avenue facing east, its right resting on Nineteenth street northwest.

The order of formation, from right to left, will be as follows:

General staff and general non-commissioned staff.

Brigade Band.
Engineer Corps.
Second Regiment of Infantry.
First Regiment of Infantry.
Corps of field music.
First Separate Battalion.
Signal Corps.
Naval Battalion.
Ambulance Corps.

Undress uniform, forage caps, leggings, white standing collars, and white gloves will be worn; the Naval Battalion to be in its prescribed uniform.

All members of the general staff and general non-commissioned staff, and the field officers and adjutants of regiments will be mounted, and will wear the prescribed undress mounted uniform.

All commanding officers will assemble at the adjutant-general's office at 9:30 o'clock on the evening of September 16, to receive any special orders that may be issued.

Commanding officers of companies will furnish their battalion adjutants with "morning reports" immediately after the parade is dismissed, noting thereon the names of all officers and men absent from the parade without leave. Commanding officers of regiments, separate battalions, and separate companies will furnish these headquarters with consolidated morning reports before 10 o'clock A.M. of the 19th instant; will see that all enlisted men absent without leave are properly dealt with, and will report to these headquarters the names of all commissioned officers so absent.

By command of BRIG.-GEN. HARRIES.

Major and Inspector General, Acting Adjutant-General .



Secretary of State Hay and Secretary of the Treasury Gage, the only Cabinet officers in town, held a consultation on the morning of the 13th as a result of which the following order was issued:


Washington, Sept. 14.

To the Secretary of the Navy:

Out of respect to the memory of the President, the executive departments will be closed to-day and on the day of the funeral.


A similar order was communicated to all the heads and acting heads of the executive departments in Washington by government telegraph. They in turn issued the necessary orders for the closing of their respective departments, not only in Washington, but throughout the country. In a short time the large buildings were deserted, except by a few clerks detailed to aid their chiefs in the promulgation of necessary orders.

In addition to issuing the order closing the Navy Department, Acting Secretary Hackett dispatched the following order to every commander-in-chief, to every navy yard, and to every United States ship, stating simply:

It is with profound sorrow that the department announces to you the death of President McKinley at 2:15, September 14.

The Acting Secretary also issued the following order to the naval branch of the United States:

Special Order No. 12.


Washington, Sept. 14, 1901.

The President of the United States died this morning at 2:15, in the city of Buffalo, N.Y. Officers and men of the navy and Marine Corps need not to be reminded of the public and private virtues of their late Commander-in-Chief. The whole people loved William McKinley, for he loved and trusted them.

As soldier, statesman, husband, and as a pure-minded, great-hearted American, his fame now belongs to his country.

Under the Constitution, Theodore Roosevelt, previously Vice-President, has become President and Commander-in-Chief of the navy and Marine Corps of the United States.

Acting Secretary .

The ceremonies to be observed are provided for in the naval regulations as follows:

Upon the receipt of official intelligence of the death of the President of the United States, the senior officer shall direct that on the following day the ensign and union jack be displayed at half-mast from sunrise to sunset, and guns fired every half hour from all ships present. Similar orders shall be given at naval stations.

A naval regulation provides that salutes shall not be fired on Sunday except in eases wherein international courtesy would suffer from the breach. Therefore the firing of the guns will take place on Monday at those points where the department's announcement was received yesterday.


A dispatch was received at the War Department on the afternoon of the 13th from Secretary Root approving the draft of the order to the army, announcing the death of President McKinley. It was sent to all officers in command. The order follows:



Washington, September 14 .

General orders:

1. The following order of the Secretary of War announces to the army the death of William McKinley, President of the United States:

WAR DEPARTMENT, Washington, September 14.

The distressing duty devolves upon the Secretary of War of announcing to the army the death of William McKinley, President of the United States, which occurred at Buffalo, N. Y., at 2:15 o'clock A. M., on the 14th day of September, 1901.

The grief into which the nation has been plunged at the untimely death of its Chief Magistrate will be keenly felt by the army of the United States, in which, in his early manhood, he rendered distinguished and patriotic services, and in whose welfare he manifested at all times a profound and abiding solicitude.

Appropriate funeral honors will be paid to the memory of the late President and Commander-in-Chief at the headquarters of every military division and department, at every military port, at the United States Military Academy, West Point, and at every camp of troops of the United States in the field.

The Lieutenant-General of the army will give the necessary instructions for carrying this order into effect.

Secretary of War.

2. On the day after the receipt of this order at the headquarters of military commands in the field and at each military station and at the Military Academy, at West Point, the troops and cadets will be paraded at 10 o'clock, A.M., and the order read to them, after which all labor for the day will cease.


3. At dawn thirteen guns will be fired at each military post, and afterward at intervals of thirty minutes between the rising and setting sun a single gun, and at the close of the day the salute of the Union of forty-five guns.

The national flag will be displayed at half-staff at the headquarters of the several military divisions and departments, and at all military posts, stations, forts, and buildings and vessels under the control of the department until the remains of the late Chief Magistrate are consigned to their final resting place at Canton, Ohio, on the afternoon of Thursday, the 19th instant, on which day all labor will he suspended at all military posts and stations and on all public works under the direction of the department, and at 12 o'clock meridian twenty-one minute guns will be fired from all military posts and stations.

The officers of the army of the United States will wear the usual badge of mourning on their swords and the colors of the various military organizations of the army will be draped in mourning for the period of one month.

4. The following officers of the army will, with a like number of officers of the navy selected for the purpose, compose the guard of honor, and accompany the remains of their late Commander-in-Chief from the National Capital to Canton, Ohio, and continue with them until they are consigned to their final resting place:

The Lieutenant-General of the Army.
Maj.-Gen. John R. Brooke.
Maj.-Gen. Elwell S. Otis.
Maj.-Gen. Arthur MacArthur.
Brig.-Gen. George L. Gillespie.
By command of Lieut.-Gen Miles.

Acting Adjutant-General.

The following order then issued:


Washington, Sept. 14.

The Secretary of War announces to the army that upon the death of William McKinley, President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, Vice-President, has succeeded to the office of President of the United States, by virtue of the Constitution.

Secretary of War .

Secretary Root also gave directions to the officers of the department to make the necessary arrangements and issue orders for the participation of the army in the funeral ceremonies, following the Garfield precedent.

The following order was issued by the Secretary of the Treasury to the Revenue Cutter Service:

The department announces to the service the sad tidings of the death of the President. The flags of all vessels of the Revenue Cutter Service will be carried at half-mast until otherwise ordered.



Secretary Gage issued the following announcement of the death of President McKinley:

It has been thought proper to make sad but official announcement in this issue of Treasury Decisions of the tragic death of William McKinley, twenty-fifth President of the United States, and to give some expression of that tribute which his character and deeds compel.

It needed not the shadows of death to make the figure of the late President loom large in the estimate of mankind.

The republic he loved he lived to broaden and unify as no previous President had done. Under his prudent and far-seeing statesmanship it took exalted place in the community of nations.

From his place as private citizen, on through many and increasing honors to his final post as ruler of his people, he remained true to the highest ideals.

By the people of the nation at large and by the world he was known and will live in grateful annals as a gentleman of noble heart, an affectionate husband, a sturdy friend, and a faithful and illustrious President.

In a long public life, ever open to his fellows, nothing was ever found, even by intemperate partisan zeal, that would cast a shade upon his character.

The kindly and unselfish attributes which his colleagues knew and loved, the public felt, and now men of every faith and following join in reverent acknowledgment of those distinctive virtues and abilities that lift him among the truly great of all ages.

The passing of Presidents and Kings usually evokes tributes of praise, but in William McKinley's life there was an element that made him more than ruler, and which, in the hour of his death, is above the tribute of speech and tears.

The ordinary tributes paid to the memory of the great when they pass from earth utterly fail to satisfy the mind in an attempted application of them to our dead President.


William McKinley, Announcement of the Assassination of President McKinley to the Army Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/206002

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