Pender, William Dorsey was born on February 6, 1834 in Edgecombe County, North Carolina, United States. Son of James and Sarah (Routh) Pender.
Graduated from the United States Military Academy, 1854.
Brevetted Second lieutenant, 2d Artillery United States Army, 1854, promoted First lieutenant, 1858. Appointed adjutant 1st Dragoons, 1860-1861. Commissioned captain artillery Confederate Army, placed in charge of recruiting, Baltimore.
Elected colonel 3d North Carolina Volunteers, then transferred to command 6th North Carolina Regiment, 1861. Served in Battle of Fair Oaks, 1862. Promoted to brigadier general, served with Jackson at battles of Cedar Run, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville.
Commissioned major general, 1863.
Married Mary Shepperd, March 3, 1859. Children: Turner, William D., Stephen Lee.