2nd Corporal William Oliver Sawyer was born ca. 1837 in the British West Indies.
Prior to the war, Sawyer lived with his wife and daughter at Key West; his occupation was mariner.
Late in 1861 he, along with Alfred Lowe, Marcus Oliveri, and Robert Watson stowed away aboard an English schooner bound for Nassau. After reaching that port they got a vessel to land them at Cape Florida, and walked from there to Jupiter Light, and there got a small boat and went to New Smyrna. Thence they walked to Enterprise where they took the steamer Darlington to Jacksonville, and continued their journey until they reached Tampa.
He was mustered into service as a “Seaman” December 1st, 1861 with Captain Henry Mulrenan’s Florida Volunteer Coast Guards, and served on the crew of the boat Mollie Post. He remained in this unit until mustered into Confederate service on April 25th, 1862 when was enlisted as a 2nd Corporal in Captain Smith’s Company (Key West Avengers), 7th Regiment Florida Infantry by Major R. B. Thomas at Tampa, Florida for a period of 3 years or the war.
He is reported present for the period March 25th, 1862 through June 1862 and due $50 bounty and clothing money. He is is reported absent on the Company Muster Roll for the period April 30th through November 14th, 1862. He is reported absent sick at Knoxville, Tennessee since August 12th, 1862; this roll also documents his appointment as 1st Corporal on August 8th, 1862 (likely as a result of the vacancy caused by 1st Corporal Samuel Morgan’s transfer to the C.S. Navy on the same date).
On an undated Hospital Muster Roll to August 31st, 1862, he is documented as received a $50.00 bounty; it also documents his rank as “Sergt.”
His name appears on an undated Register of Officers and Soldiers of the Army of the Confederate States who were killed in battle, or who died of wounds or disease. This register documents his death from [unspecified] disease on December 28th, 1862 at Fair Grounds Hospital.