William Vandever was born March 31, 1817, in Baltimore, Maryland. He attended the local schools, but moved to Illinois in 1839 and to Iowa in 1851. He commenced the study of law in Iowa and, after admission to the bar in 1852, started a practice in Dubuque. In 1858 he was elected to Congress as a Republican and reelected in 1860, serving until September 24, 1861, when he was mustered into the Union army as colonel of the 9th Iowa Volunteers. Meantime he had been a member of the peace convention in the summer of 1861. He commanded a brigade of Curtis' forces at the battle of Pea Ridge (Elkhorn Tavern) in March, 1862, and was promoted to brigadier general on November 29. He then took part in the capture of Arkansas Post, and during the Vicksburg campaign on June 11, 1863, joined McPherson's XVII Corps, his brigade becoming a part of Herron's division. From then until the opening of the Atlanta campaign, Vandever was stationed in the vicinity of Vicksburg. On June 20, 1864, he assumed command of a brigade of the XVI Corps at Rome, Georgia, and on August 2 command at Marietta. In November he was sent to Louisville as a member of General T. W. Sweeny's court-martial but in January, 1865, he took charge of a brigade of Jefferson C. Davis' XIV Corps at Savannah; he lead this brigade throughout the campaign of the Carolinas and until the surrender of the Confederate army under General Joseph E. Johnston at Greensboro, North Carolina, in April. Vandever was brevetted major general in June, was mustered out in August, and returned to his law practice in Dubuque. He was appointed United States Indian inspector by President Grant in 1873 and served in this position until 1877. Seven years later he moved to Ventura, California (officially San Buenaventura, by which it was then known), and in 1886 was reelected to Congress after a lapse of twenty-four years, serving until 1891; he was not a candidate for reelection in 1890. General Vandever retired upon the conclusion of his term and died in Ventura on July 23, 1893. He was buried in Ventura Cemetery.
Reference: Generals in Blue. Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge.