William Harris was born in 1828 in Kent, England.
William eventually left England and immigrated to the United States, settling in western Michigan by 1858 when he married Susannah A. Cheney in Ottawa County.
He stood 5’3” with gray eyes, brown hair and a fair complexion and was 35 years old and employed as an engineer possibly living in Muskegon County or perhaps in Spring Lake, Ottawa County when he enlisted in Company H on December 26, 1863, at Grand Rapids for 3 years, crediting Spring Lake, Ottawa County (or Dalton, Muskegon County), and was mustered December 30 at Grand Rapids. (Company H, formerly the “Muskegon Rangers,” was made up largely of men from the vicinity of Muskegon and Newaygo counties.) He joined the Regiment on March 11, 1864, at Camp Bullock, Virginia, and was severely wounded in the left shoulder, either on May 6 at the Wilderness, Virginia, or on May 12 at Spotsylvania, Virginia; in any case, he was hospitalized on May 18 at McClellan hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
William was still absent hospitalized when he was transferred to Company A, Fifth Michigan infantry upon consolidation of the Third and Fifth Michigan Regiments on June 10, 1864, and he remained absent sick until he was discharged for disability on April 3, 1865, at Philadelphia.
After he was discharged from the army William returned to Michigan, eventually settling in Muskegon, Muskegon County.
In April of 1865 he applied for and received a pension (no. 43792).
William was working as a laborer and apparently suffered from acute alcoholism when he died in Muskegon on October 21, 1873, of delirium tremens, and was buried in either Muskegon or Ottawa County.
In 1877 his widow applied for a pension (no. 234562).