|William Riley Edwards was born in Cleveland, Bradley Co., Tennessee, 06/15/1837. He moved to Mount Pleasant, Titus Co., TX in 1858. He enlisted in Co. F, 18th Texas Infantry as a Private at Mount Pleasant, Titus Co., TX on April 25, 1862. He was enlisted by W.B. Ochiltree. From there he went to Camp Sidney Johnson, Marion Co., Texas. William is shown as 1st Sergeant, Co. F, on the Muster Roll for Sept. and Oct., 1862. He was soon elected to Third Lieutenant, and later promoted to 1st Lieutenant of Co. F. William is shown on the Company Roster as promoted to 2nd Lieutenant, Co. F, June 1, 1863. The Roster, dated February 1865 shows him as 1st Lieutenant, Co. F. The Muster Roll for January and February 1864 shows he was promoted by order of Gen Hawes, on Feb. 22, 1864. Date of rank April 9, 1864.William R. Edwards participated in the battles of Mansfield, Pleasant Hill, Burbois (Bayou Bourbea), and other fiercely contested engagements. At Burbois (Bayou Bourbea), Louisiana, 11/3/1863, he was badly wounded by a rifle ball piercing his right arm. On recovery he rejoined his command and served until the close of the Civil War.
After returning to Mount Pleasant he became a Colonel in the Texas Militia. He was called "Colonel Bill." "Col. Bill" Edwards is best remembered as Sheriff of Titus County from 1871 to 1882. He organized a vigilante system in Titus County in order to combat crime, which was widespread, after the Civil War. Tales of his exploits are documented in the books "Biographical Souvenir of the State of Texas", "Pioneers and Heroes of Titus County", "History of Titus County, Texas 1846 to 1960" and "History of Titus County, Texas, Volumes I and II." "Col. Bill" is the only person to legally hang a man in Titus County (James C. Rowland on 05/3/1872, for murder of an unknown foot peddler).
William Riley Edwards was a Mason, advancing to the degree of Royal Arch Mason in 1872. He died 07/9/1900 in Mount Pleasant, TX. W.R. Edwards is buried in the Edwards Cemetery, Mount Pleasant. A street, and a city park with extensive athletic facilities, are named after him in Mount Pleasant.
Several of his brothers were in Tennessee units during the Civil War.
Submitted by James Furr
Texans in the Civil War