William Cameron was born in Ontario in 1842 and joined the Union Army as a private in the First Regiment of the Wisconsin Cavalry Volunteers on January 26, 1862. He was subsequently assigned to the Army of the Tennessee, under the command of Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, where he served as one of several clerks to Capt. W. K. Kennedy in the Quarter Masters Department. He was discharged from service at Nashville, Tennessee in 1865. He apparently lived in St. Louis for a few years immediately after the war ended, but ultimately settled in Providence, R.I., where he was employed as Manager of R. G. Dun & Co. in 1873.