|Death: ||Oct. 19, 1864|
Cedar Creek Battlefield
Born in Pennsylvania, William Pyers was the husband of Matilda (Heddings) Pyers, daughter of John Heddings. At the dawn of the Civil War, they were engaged in building a life together while raising two sons: Samuel Hunter Pyers (born 13 March 1848) and Franklin Pyers.
Enlisting as a Private on 23 April 1861 with Company F of the 11th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers, William Pyers became one of the early Pennsylvania responders to answer President Lincoln's 15 April call for 75,000 troops "to maintain the honor, the integrity, and the existence of our National Union, and the perpetuity of popular government; and to redress wrongs already long enough endured," which was issued following the surrender of Fort Sumter to Confederate forces.
After honorably completing his three months' service with the 11th Pennsylvania, William Pyers mustered out at Harrisburg, Dauphin County on 31 July 1861. He then promptly reenlisted with Company C of the 47th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers, mustering in on 2 September 1861. His son, Samuel, would follow in his footsteps less than two years later, mustering in as a drum boy with Company C on 27 March 1863. Known as the "Sunbury Guards," C Company was drawn largely from the men and boys of Sunbury and its surrounding farms and communities in Northumberland County.
Wounded while serving with the 47th at Pleasant Hill, Louisiana on 9 April 1864 during Nathaniel Banks' Red River Campaign, William Pyers' uncommon valor was lauded in Bates' "History of Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-1865" as follows:
"...after joining up with the Second Brigade of the First Division, XIX Army Corps, Union forces reached Pleasant Hill the night of 7 April and engaged the enemy in brutal fighting over the course of several days. On April 9, "the Forty-seventh was ordered from the right to the left of the line, and while passing by the flank, in the rear of the One Hundred and Sixty-fifth, repelled a charge made against that regiment, and before which they had fallen back. Then the Forty-seventh made an impetuous counter-charge, and a desperate encounter ensued, in which the rebels were driven back and several pieces of artillery captured. Lieutenant-Colonel Alexander was severely wounded, and Color-Sergeant Benjamin F. Walls was wounded, as was also Sergeant Pyers, of Company C, who seized the colors when Walls was obliged to relinquish them."
William Pyers continued to serve even after being wounded. On 19 October 1864, he was killed in action while serving with the 47th during the Battle of Cedar Creek, Virginia - one of the major engagements of Philip Sheridan's tide-turning 1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaign. His rank at the time was Fourth Sergeant.
Note: Surname was misspelled as "Piers" on the U.S. Register of Deaths of Volunteers completed by O.E. Ross, but does clearly document Pyers' regiment and company, as well as his combat-related death at Cedar Creek. Above and below the entry for Pyers/Piers, Ross also listed others from the 47th who died that same day at Cedar Creek: Sgt. F.A. Park (Co. E), Private Daniel Powell (Co. D), Private Jno. Price (Co. A).
Sources: Bates' "History of Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-5"; Death Certificates (Pyers, Matilda and Pyers, Samuel H.), Department of Vital Statistics, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; "Lebanon Semi-Weekly News" (16 July 1928); Pennsylvania Veteran's Burial Cards (Pyers, Samuel H. and Pyers, William), Pennsylvania Veterans Administration; U.S. Census (1860); U.S. Civil War Pension Index.
Matilda Heddings Pyers (1825 - 1908)
Samuel H Pyers (1848 - 1931)*
OCT 19 1864
Winchester National Cemetery
Plot: Section 9, Site 193
Created by: lesnyder1
Record added: Jun 04, 2014
Find A Grave Memorial# 130882371