William Riley Lane has an estimated birth date of 1836 in Beaufort County, North Carolina. He was the son of Samuel Lane and Rhody Tomlinson. He married Anne Rowe, daughter of Asa Rowe and Frances Keel, between 1860 and 1861 in North Carolina. During the year 1861, William enlisted in Company E, 19th Regiment North Carolina Troops (later 2nd Regiment North Carolina Cavalry), to serve in the armies of the Confederacy during the War Between the States. The 2nd Cavalry unit was known as "Colonel Spruill's Cavalry Regiment." William Riley was taken prisoner on 3 July 1863, in the afternoon, at the Battle of Gettysburg and confined at Fort Delaware Prison on 15 October 1863. He died 3 February 1864 in Fort Delaware Prison, New Castle County, Delaware. William Riley Lane was buried in the Cedar Grove Cemetery in New Bern.