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W.S. King

W.S. King

Federal (USV)


William Sterling King

(1818 - 1882)

Home State: Massachusetts

Education: Union College, Class of 1837

Command Billet: Company officer

Branch of Service: Infantry

Unit: 35th Massachusetts Infantry

Before Antietam

Son of a New York City lawyer and politician, he attended Yale and graduated from Union College in 1837. He was himself a lawyer in New York until 1843, when he moved to North Providence, Rhode Island. In 1852 he relocated to Roxbury, Massachusetts, his home for the rest of his life. He was elected to the Massachusetts legislature in 1855.

He enlisted on 4 August 1862 and mustered on the 10th as Captain, Company K, 35th Massachusetts Infantry.

On the Campaign

He was wounded in action on 17 September at Antietam. Two newspaper pieces describe the extent:

Capt. Wm. S. King, of the 35th Massachusetts, who arrived at the Astor House on Saturday last, received seven wounds at the recent battle of Antietam. He was hit twenty times during the engagement, and was pretty thoroughly bound up in bandages when he left this city for his home in Boston. He has lost no limbs, and hopes are entertained of his speedy recovery.
American and Commercial Advertiser/Baltimore American (October 2, 1862; Page 1, column 8) and in The Adams Sentinel (Gettysburg, PA - October 7, 1862; Page 3, column 3)

The escape of Captain William S. King, of Roxbury, from instant death, in the battle of Antietam, seems almost miraculous, there being twenty-one holes in his clothing, made by shot and shell, seven of which took effect on his person, one bullet hitting him in the leg, which was afterwards extracted; one in the fleshy part of his thigh; one, the most severe, in the shoulder, a minie ball entering at the collar-bone in front; one on each side of the spine, making deep flesh wounds; one passing just above his ear, raising a blister as it passed; and a piece of shell hitting him on the head, making a severe wound. He is now lying unable to move or be moved, but in good spirits.
New Jersey Mirror and Burlington County Advertiser (Mt. Holly, NJ - November 20, 1862; Page 1, column 4)

The rest of the War

King was promoted to Major of the regiment on 15 December, and Lieutenant Colonel on 25 April 1863. By late 1864 he had served as chief of staff of the 2d Division, 9th Army Corps, provost-marshal of Kentucky, and military commander of the district of Lexington, Kentucky. He was discharged on 14 November 1864 to take the appointment as Colonel of the 4th Massachusetts Heavy Artillery on the 22nd of that month.

He was honored by brevet to Brigadier General on 12 March 1865, and mustered out of the service 17 June 1865 at Washington, DC.

After the War

After the War he lived in Lynn, MA, and was appointed Chief of Massachusetts state police, was assessor of United States Internal Revenue, and returned to the Massachusetts Legislature in 1875-76. He was a member of GAR Post # 5 (General Frederick West Lander).

References & notes

The photograph above is from a CDV in the collection of Scott D. Hann, who also provided the research material behind this bio sketch. Scott's sources include the Historical Data Systems1 database which cites:

- Massachusetts Soldiers, Sailors and Marines in the Civil War,
- Dyer: A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion,
- Heitman: Register of United States Army 1789-1903,
- Brevet Brigadier Generals in Blue,
- GAR Dept of Massachusetts 1866-1947 (Sargent)

Additional bio material from Appleton's.2


10/06/1818; New York City, NY


06/29/1882; Roxbury, MA


1   Historical Data Systems, Inc., American Civil War Research Database, Published 1997, first accessed 01 January 2008, <>  [AotW citation 942]

2   Fiske, John, and James Grant Wilson, editors, Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, 6 vols., New York City: D. Appleton and Company, 1887-1889  [AotW citation 943]