In his early life, William was a seaman. In 1858, at the age of 17, he had left home, working in Portland, Maine as a ships carpenter.
He enlisted in the Navy on September
From September 22, 1859 he was an ordinary seaman aboard the USS
Pennsylvania until November 8, 1859.
Then, on March 31,1860, he joined the crew of the the USS Water
Witch. On October
30, 1860, he was promoted to seaman. The Water Witch was a Sidewheel
sloop built at the Washington Navy Yard in 1852. On October 26,
1860, it, and William, were forced home by yellow fever and laid
up at the Philadelphia Navy Yard.
On April 20, 1861, the Pennsylvania was sunk (the
one on fire in this picture) at the Norfolk, Virginia Navy Yard.
The Water Witch was sunk in 1864 during the war.
On October 5, 1861, at the age of 20, (he gave his age as 21) William
switched services and enrolled in the 1st
New York Mounted Rifles Regiment to serve three years.
mustered in as a private, Company A and was promoted to Sergeant
on October 7, 1862.
William Hearne and the Broadwater Bridge Battle
He was then mustered in as a Second Lieutenant
in Company H on June 10, 1863.
was disabled by rheumatism while serving
in Virginia in 1863, which was to debilitate him for the rest of
mustered out of Company H on November 11, 1864 at Varina, Virginia
when his service commitment was up. (He is listed in New York
in the Civil War Rebellion by Phisterer - third edition- 1909
on pages 1116 and 1125).