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Capt. Leander Gage King’s regiment got lost on the way to Gettysburg. But even after death, he found his way home.
The 16th Massachusetts Infantry started out on the wrong road to Gettysburg, then about-faced, according to regimental records. They finally got within three miles of the town at 1 a.m. July 2, 1863, when the men were able to sleep.
They were up at first light, and King was among the thousands of soldiers who died that day. He left behind a trove of documents, and one is on display in Vancouver.
The Fort Vancouver National Historic Site opened an exhibit to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address. King is represented in the Fort Vancouver exhibit by his pocket-sized Army infantry manual.
King, 31, was captain of C Company, 16th Massachusetts Infantry. According to a summary for July 1863 written by another captain, King was among 81 members of the regiment reported killed, wounded or missing on July 2.
Things tapered down after that.
One officer was wounded on July 3. The entry for July 4 noted that “the enemy were skeddadling.”
King wrote 116 letters to his wife, Sarah, who died in 1933. He also left behind more than 130 documents related to his military service, according to an online resource.
And another document in the archive showed a turn in King’s path.
Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg speech on Nov. 19, 1863, helped dedicate a cemetery for soldiers killed in the three-day battle.
King died there, but he’s not buried there. The archive includes a list of expenses from the man who recovered the remains of Capt. King and Sgt. Jerome Parker from Gettysburg. King was buried in Ayer, Mass.
Off Beat lets members of The Columbian news team step back from our newspaper beats to write the story behind the story, fill in the story or just tell a story.