Williams was born in 1843 in Jay County, Indiana, and joined the Union Army September 1863, probably in Anderson. He moved to Camp Joe Holt where his unit drilled before being put on duty in the field. His regiment spent most of the war on guard and garrison duty in the Western Theatre, including New Orleans where he was stationed before his unit joined the army forming for the invasion and occupation of Texas in spring of 1865. He first saw action in the Battle of Palmito Ranch near Brownsville, Texas where he died May 13, 1865. Williams is recognized as being the last soldier to have been killed in action during the Civil War.