William Harrow was born in Winchester, Kentucky, on November 14, 1822. His family moved to Lawrenceville, Illinois, where he grew up, studied law, and was admitted to the bar. According to a biographical sketch compiled by his daughter, he became friendly with Abraham Lincoln and traveled the Eighth Judicial Circuit with him. Harrow moved to Vincennes, Indiana, about 1859 and then to Mount Vernon, Indiana, his wife's home, where he remained until the outbreak of the Civil War. After appointment in April, 1861, by the governor to captain of the "Knox County Invincibles," a militia company which became part of the 14th Indiana, Harrow was successively promoted to major, lieutenant colonel, and colonel. The regiment began its service in West Virginia; its first important battle, however, was that of Sharpsburg (Antietam) where, as a part of Nathan A. Kimball's 1st Brigade of William H. French's 3rd Division of the II Corps, it fought for four hours within sixty yards of the Confederate line with casualties of 181 killed and wounded, representing more than half its strength. On April 4, 1863, Harrow was appointed a brigadier general of volunteers to rank from the preceding November 29 and at Gettysburg commanded first a brigade and, after the wounding of John Gibbon, the 2nd Division of the II Corps. After the Mine Run campaign of the fall of 1863, Harrow was transferred to the West and in the course of the Atlanta campaign commanded the 4th Division of the XV corps. In September, 1864, his division was broken up and its regiments transferred to other brigades and divisions. He then seems to have been without assignment until January, 1865, when Oliver O. Howard, commanding the Army of the Tennessee, refused to assign him to duty and ordered him to report to W. T. Sherman (at Savannah), who in turn ordered him back to Washington. On April 7, 1865, Harrow was ordered to report to Winfield S. Hancock at Winchester and on April 20, 1865, the records exhibit that his resignation was accepted. General Harrow then returned to Mount Vernon to resume his law practice and to interest himself in politics, in which he had engaged in Illinois. Originally a Radical Republican, he became identified with the liberal movement in the presidential election of 1872 and was campaigning for Horace Greeley when he was killed in a train accident at New Albany, Indiana, on September 27, 1872. He was buried in Bellefontaine Cemetery, Mount Vernon.
Reference: Generals in Blue. Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge.