Hugh Wilson McKee

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Hugh Wilson McKee

Birthdate: (27)
Birthplace: Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky, United States
Death: June 11, 1871 (27)
Fort Mckee, Kang Hoa Island, Korea
Place of Burial: Lexington Cemetery, Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky USA
Immediate Family:

Son of William Robertson McKee and Jane McKee
Brother of Major George Wilson McKee and Margaret Robertson Jones

Managed by: Judith "Judi" Elaine (McKee) Burns
Last Updated:

About Hugh Wilson McKee

United States Naval Officer.

The son of Colonel William R. McKee, who served as commander of the 2nd Kentucky Volunteer Infantry during the Mexican War, and was killed at the Battle of Buena Vista, he graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1866, and received a commission of Lieutenant, United States Navy.

During his time from his graduation until 1871, he served on the warships “USS Michigan”, “USS Franklin”, “USS Canandaigua” and, lastly, the “USS Colorado”. 

In May and June 1871, while part of the “Colorado” crew, he participated in the naval action against Korea, which had been hostile and isolationist against all Western ships and personnel. When a fleet of five American Warships, under the command of Admiral John Rodgers, was fired upon by Korean artillery in the defenses of Kanghwa Island, Admiral Rodgers demanded an apology from the Korean leadership, which was rebuffed. Admiral Rodgers then ordered an assault on the forts. After landing unopposed and capturing two smaller forts that were abandoned without a fight, they made their way to the largest fort, known as the Citadel, which the Koreans had chosen defend. Hugh McKee lead the assault on this fort, and was the first man to scale it's walls. Once inside, he was both shot and speared by the Korean defenders. A number of American’s followed him into the fort and immediately came to his rescue (the Korean who speared him with a sword was shot by Lieutenant Winfield Scott Schley, later to be an Admiral and hero of the Spanish-American War). The defenders were soon overwhelmed, with over 350 of them being killed (many committing suicide to fulfill a vow to “fight to the death”).

The American dead consisted of Lieutenant McKee, one sailor and one marine. While the remains of the two enlisted men were buried near where they fell, Lieutenant McKee’s body was sent back to the United States, where, under escort of troops from the 4th United States Infantry, they were interred in his hometown of Lexington, Kentucky. T

he intended end result of the military action, the breaking of the Koran isolation, never occurred, despite the Korean defeat. 15 men were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for their bravery in the action, but Lieutenant McKee was excluded, due to the fact that regulations prohibited United States Naval officers from receiving the award until a revision in 1917. (bio by:Russ Dodge)

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Hugh Wilson McKee's Timeline

April 23, 1844
Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky, United States
June 11, 1871
Age 27
Fort Mckee, Kang Hoa Island, Korea
June 11, 1871
Age 27
Lexington Cemetery, Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky USA