10/16/2004

William Prior Derr

Derr, William Prior
b.10/15/1838; d.3/13/1908.
CSA, 4th Arkansas Infantry Regiment, Co.C; Private.
Old Fairlawn cemetery; Stephens County, OK.

W.P. was born in Giles County, Tennessee.

On June 6, 1860, twenty-one year old William Prior
Derr exchanged wedding vows with eighteen year old
"Pamelia Catherine Batey" (1844; 1933) in Montgomery
County, Arkansas. However, less than a year later (on
8/17/1861), W.P. and his brother, John, enlisted
together in the Confederate Army at Mt. Vernon,
Missouri.

W.P. and John went on to serve as a Privates in Co.C
("The Caddo Rifles") of the CSA, 4th Arkansas Infantry
Infantry (McNair's) Regiment [aka: "Southwestern
Arkansas Regiment"]. Composed primarily of men
recruited from Calhoun, Hempstead, Lafayette,
Montgomery, Pike and Polk counties in Arkansas,
Company C was originally composed of seventy-nine
men from the southern half of Montgomery County,
of whom W.P. was one.

The 4th Arkansas would see its share of combat and
suffering in the Army of Tennessee through the course
of the war, suffering 24% casualties at Chickamauga
(Sept. 1863) alone. Few men of the 4th either
continued with the unit or survived (about 20%
died during the war) to finally surrender in late
April 1865. A roster of the 4th Arkansas is online at:
www.couchgenweb.com/civilwar/mcnairdx.htm

However, W.P.'s military service was relatively brief
since he one of the 4th's earliest casualties. Early in
March 1862, the 4th was engaged in the Battle of
Elkhorn Tavern (aka: Pea Ridge). W.P. was one of
fifty-five (55) casualties the 4th Arkansas suffered in
that fight. Though shot in a hand and in a breast, he
recovered and was discharged.

I know virtually nothing else about W.P.'s life at this
time save that at some point following the war he and
Catherine moved to Comanche, Oklahoma (where
W.P. died) and that his widow, "Catherine," who
outlived him twenty-five years, received a CSA pension
from the State of Oklahoma (reel # 2, # 456) in his
name ("W.P. Derr") while she was living in Waurika,
OK.

There is no indication of his military service on his
gravestone.

If you can tell me more about this veteran's life before,
during or following the Civil War, I would enjoy
hearing from you.