William Andrew Fletcher, lumberman and Civil War soldier, the son of Thomas and Eliza (Miller) Fletcher, was born in St. Landry parish, Louisiana, on April 23, 1839. In 1856 the family moved to Texas, where they settled first at Wiess's Bluff in Jasper County and in 1859 at Beaumont. In 1861 Fletcher joined Company F, Fifth Texas Regiment, Hood's Texas Brigade, at Richmond, Virginia. He fought at Chickahominy, Seven Pines, and around Richmond, served as the commanding general's scout at the battle of Gaines' Mill, and was wounded at the second battle of Manassas. He returned to the front, took part in the battle of Fredericksburg, and was made a temporary corporal. In 1863 he fought with Robert E. Lee's army and with James Longstreet's corps at the Round Tops and at Gettysburg. Under Joseph E. Johnston he was wounded again at Chickamauga. In 1864 he joined Company E of the Eighth Texas Cavalry (Terry's Texas Rangers) and accompanied the unit on campaigns in Tennessee and Georgia. He was captured briefly but escaped near Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and last served with Johnston's army near Bentonville, North Carolina. Fletcher recounts his experience in his book Rebel Private, Front and Rear, first published by the Greer Press at Beaumont (1908); much of the original edition was burned in 1924, and the book was reprinted by the University of Texas Press in 1955.
After Lee surrendered, Fletcher returned to Texas. In 1866 he married Julia Long, with whom he had five children. He opened a general repair shop in 1867 and went to work for his wife's brother James M. Long in 1869. Long and F. L. Carroll were involved in a steam sawmill operation built by John R. Ross and James R. Alexander, originally known as Long and Company and later as the Beaumont Lumber Company. Fletcher subsequently entered into the partnership in the Village Mills Company, later the Texas Tram and Lumber Company, which specialized in yellow pine. In 1901 he sold his part of the business to John Henry Kirby and retired to his farm. Fletcher at one time owned 1,000 acres of timber in Orange County, in addition to other property interests. He invented a steam log skidder to load timber, was a director of the Keith Lumber Company and the Neches Iron works, and promoted highways and canals in the region. He died on January 5, 1915.