William Von Wagner was born in 1829 in Braunschweig, Brunswick, Germany.
William was married Wurtemberg native Catherine (b. 1826) and they had at least two children: Mary (b. 1851) and Martin (b. 1859. William was living in Wurtemberg in 1851 and 1859, but eventually he and Catherine left Germany and immigrated to America, settling in western Michigan sometime before the war broke out. (He may have been living in Detroit’s Fourth Ward in 1860.)
He stood 5’6” with blue eyes, brown hair and a dark complexion and was a 32-year-old cigar maker probably living in Grand Rapids when he enlisted in Company C on May 13, 1861. (Company C was made up largely of German and Dutch immigrants, many of whom lived on the west side of the Grand River in Grand Rapids. This company was the descendant of the old Grand Rapids Rifles, also known as the “German Rifles,” a prewar local militia company composed solely of German troopers.)
“William” was reported AWOL in August of 1862 and was tried by a court martial in September for having deserted for 12 days while the regiment was on the march to Centreville, Virginia. The regimental surgeon testified that he was sick with piles and had given him a ‘straggling pass.” He was found not guilty.
William was in the Regimental hospital in October. By April of 1863 he was sick in the Division hospital where he apparently remained through May, and was again sick in the hospital in August. He apparently recovered his health, however, and reenlisted on December 21, 1863, at Brandy Station, Virginia, crediting Grand Rapids. William was presumably absent on veteran’s furlough in January of 1864 and probably returned to the Regiment on or about the first of February.
He was shot in the left side on May 12, 1864, at Spotsylvania, Virginia, admitted to Douglas hospital in Washington, DC on May 16, and was transferred to Summit House hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on May 27, listing Charles Houbel (also of Company C) as his nearest relative. He was still hospitalized when he was transferred to Company I, Fifth Michigan infantry upon consolidation of the Third and Fifth Michigan Regiments on June 10, 1864, and remained absent wounded through April of 1865. He was mustered out on July 5, 1865, at Jeffersonville, Indiana.
He apparently returned to Michigan.
In 1870 William was working as a laborer and living with his wife and two children in Detroit’s Fourth Ward in 1870. William was still living in Detroit in 1880. He was living in Detroit around 1893 when he provided an affidavit in the pension application of Rolandus Freet who had also served in Company C during the war.
In 1868 William applied for and received a pension (no. 174808).
William reportedly died in Detroit and was buried in Elmwood cemetery.
His widow applied for and received a pension (no. 239970).