William H. McLaurin was the son of John C. McLaurin, a planter living in present-day Laurinburg, NC. He entered the University in 1859, became a member of the Dialectic Society, and left in 1861 to join the Confederate army. He attained the rank of lieutenant, was wounded at Chancellorsville, but survived the war and was present at the surrender at Appomattox. He spent the remainder of his life working on his family's plantation. In 1901 McLaurin contributed a history of the Eighteenth North Carolina Regiment to Walter Clark's Histories of the Several Regiments and Battalions from North Carolina in the Great War, 1861-1865, and in 1911 he received the BA degree "as of 1862."