Battleground National Cemetery

William E. Leach

Company K. 150th Ohio National Guard

Private Leach is believed to be the first man killed at the battle of Fort Stevens.

James Calkins Cannon in his 1903 book Record of Service of Company K, 150th O. V. I. 1864 gives this short biography of Private Leach:

William E. Leach Age 20
From Litchfield, O. In Preparatory Class. Fatally wounded by a shot from one of Early's skirmishers as they advanced toward the fort on the morning of July 11, 1864. He was taken in from the field on the horse of a cavalryman and died July 13 at Fort Slocum.

Cannon gives the following account of what happened to Leach on July 11th.

Before they [Early's cavalry coming down the 7th Street Road] were in sight Leach had received permission to take the canteens to fill them at a house back a short distance on the road to the fort, and in a field between this road and Seventh street. After he had left, Corporal Hudson noticed that the sounds of the skirmishing seemed to be coming more from his rear on the Seventh street side, and going through the scrub till he could see the open field, found that the enemy's skirmish line was nearer the fort than his position and between him and Seventh street, and that he would probably be cut off from Fort Stevens, but decided in that case to withdraw toward Fort Slemmer, the next fort east-ward. While thinking this over, he was startled by a cry from the direction in which Leach had gone. “Then,” he says, “running out to the road, I met the other men there, and running down the road, about two-thirds of the way to the house, we found Leach shot through the thigh and bowels, while, down across the fields were the rebel skirmishers leisurely advancing toward the fort on a line that would pass us. * * * As they had fired across at Leach, it did not seem safe to stay there with a wounded man.” Two Union cavalrymen were with them, who had come in shortly before, and one of them took Leach on his horse, and by an east-ward turn reached Fort Slocum. Leach's wound was mortal, and though he was kindly nursed by Comrade Wildman, he died on the 13th, having crowned his service with the sacrifice of his life for his country.

Leach is not buried at Battleground National Cemetery. He is said have been buried at Arlington National Cemetery.