William Russell Pease was born in Utica, New York on July 8, 1831. He was the son of John and Louisa Pease.
He was admitted to the United States Military Academy in July of 1851 and graduated with the West Point Class of 1855. He entered the infantry as a brevet second lieutenant, serving for the summer of 1855 at Carlisle Barracks before being promoted to second lieutenant in October and assigned to Fort Crawford, Wisconsin. He was transferred to Fort Smith, Arkansas in 1856, then served on recruiting service in 1857-1858. Pease joined the Utah Expedition in 1858, then took a sick leave of absence from 1859 to 1861.
With the outbreak of the Civil War, Pease was promoted on March 23, 1861 to First Lieutenant in the 7th United States Infantry Regiment and served as mustering officer in Cincinatti, Ohio. On June 8 he was promoted to captain in the 7th Infantry and assigned as the Mustering and Disbursing Officer at Utica, New York.
Pease was appointed Colonel of the 117th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment on August 15, 1862. The regiment was moved that month to Washington D.C. and assigned to the Defenses North of the Potomac of the Military Distrct of Washington. He took command of his brigade, the 3rd Brigade of Haskin’s Division, as senior colonel on December 25.
On April 15, 1863 Pease and his brigade was moved to Suffolk, Virginia. He took part in several engagements during the Siege of Suffolk by Confederate Lieutenant General James Longstreet’s troops, which continued until May 4. Pease was made a Brevet Major in the United States service for Gallant and Meritorious Service during the Siege.
After the Siege Pease was given command of a brigade of the 9th Corps covering the approaches to Norfolk and Portsmouth, Virginia. He left on June 5 on a sick leave of absence, then resigned his volunteer commission on August 26 and retired from active service two days later “for disability resulting from long and faithful service and disease contracted in the line of duty.”
Regular Army Service
Pease was assigned to the Provose Marshal General’s Office in Washington D.C. and was put in command of the Bureau of Deserters. He served there until April of 1864, when he was made Chief Mustering and Disbursing Officer for the State of Connecticut. On March 13, 1865 he was award the rank of Brevet Brigadier General of United States Volunteers for Gallant and Meritorious Service. In November of 1865 he was awarded the rank of Brevet Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Regular Army for “Faithful and Meritorious Services connected with the Mustering Out and Disbanding of the Volunteer Armies of the United States.”
After the war
Pease was appointed Assistant Provost Marshal General for the States of Connecticut and Rhode Island from January to December of 1866. He was then made Chief Mustering and Disbursing Officer for the State of New York until December of 1867.
From February of 1868 until April of 1869 the War Department appointed Pease as Professor of Military Science and Tactics at the University of Wisconsin, where he would train 347 students in Military Tactics and Engineering. Pease set up a four year course and an armory was built. Drills were held three times a week for all male students.
Pease married Rowena Cythera Pease. They had no children.
William Russell Pease died on June 7, 1895, at Walingford, Connecticut. He is buried in Greenwood Union Cemetery in Rye, New York.