|Walter Gale was the youngest surviving son of Norhtborough's Cyrus Gale Sr.who had led men into battle as a captain in the U.S.Army during the War of 1812.Cyrus Sr later became the town's postmaster.
Walter's brother Cyrus Jr. was the principal stockholder of the Norhtborough Nation Bank.He was responsible for the construction of the Gale Publiuc Library in Norhtborough's center.
Walter trained a lawyer under the tutelage of George F.Hoar of Concord who later became a U.S.Senator from MA. Walter was commissioned as lieutenant in the 15h Massachusetts Regiment on Jan.17,1862. Ten months later he was promoted to the rank of Captain.In June 1863 he and his men were at Edward's Ferry,Maryland. It was there that they learned Gen.Meade had ben placed in command of the Union Army.
On July 2,1863 Gale's regiment marched to the battlefield. By sunrise they were in position behind Cemetery Ridge where a large portion of the Second Corps was massed. No significant demonstration of warfare occurred until 1pm when the rebels opened artillery fire sending shells in the direction of Gale's position.
In response, the 15th was moved to a position over 300 yards in front of the main line of troops in order to install a barricade of rails. Just as sundown approached, the rebels launched a furious assault. As a result Gale and his men were exposed to enemy fire from the front and flank of their position.
The Union batteries were ordered to retaliate by opening fire with grape and case shot. The consequences of that order was later described as a "deplorable mistake." The grape shots fell shot of their target.
As a result, three 15th regiment officers were killed and eight were wounded. Nineteen enlisted men were also killed and 85 were wounded.Many of the 85 died later.Walter was wounded twice,but neither was life-threatening.
Gale and his surviving men were furious that they had been cut down by friendly fire. Their feelings were not assuaged when the officer who made the "deplorable mistake" was court-martialed.