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Alexander Leeds enlisted and was mustered on August 2, 1862 on at the age of 19 as a Private in Company H of the 6th Regiment Maryland Volunteer Infantry. During the war he received two promotions. The first was to Sergeant and later to 1st Lieutenant (February 21, 1865). His unit fought in many battles of the Civil War, including the Battles of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, Winchester, the assault on Petersburg, and the Appomattox Campaign in which the army pursued General Robert E. Lee. On September 19, 1864, Alexander was wounded at the Battle of Winchester when he was shot in the back. He spent September through December of 1864 recuperating at the U.S. General Hospital in Hagerstown, Maryland where many of his relatives lived. At the end of the war, because his regiment, along with Custis’ Cavalry, arrived late for the Grand Review, they had the honor of being reviewed separately by President Andrew Johnson.
Throughout the remainder of his life he suffered great pain, with numbness extending from his back down the entire length of his leg to his foot. According to his National Archive Pension Records (Certificate No. 738-114, Can No. 8-377, Bundle No. 16) , by 1892, when he was only 49 years old, he had “…a loss of mobility at various times in and about the hips, knees and inside of the feet and was kept awake by pain nearly every night for hours at a time.”
Alexander Leeds died at the age of 68 in 1912 leaving behind a widow, Maria Sheckles Leeds, and a daughter, Mary Cronyn Leeds, who never married before she died. He and his wife are buried alongside one another in the Grafton National Cemetery.
Alexander Leeds is an example of the thousands of men who fought for an ideal in which they greatly believed and for which they consequently suffered their entire life. His suffering for a noble cause that changed the course of history should cause him and many like him to be honored forever. Photograph and information submitted by Alexander Leeds' great grandniece, Patricia Leeds Fink.
1st Lieutenant Alexander Leeds