David Sprowle was born in 1811 in Lisbon, New York. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in May 1840, and then enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps on June 13, 1845, in Brooklyn, New York. Orderly Sergeant Sprowle served aboard the steam sloop USS Richmond during the U.S. Civil War, and was awarded the Medal of Honor on December 31, 1864, for action aboard the Richmond at the Battle of Mobile Bay on August 5, 1864. He was medically retired from the Marine Corps on December 1, 1866, but his date of death and place of burial are both unknown.
His Medal of Honor Citation reads:
On board the U.S.S. RICHMOND during action against rebel forts and gunboats, and with the ram TENNESSEE in Mobile Bay, 5 August 1864. Despite damage to his ship and the loss of several men on board as enemy fire raked her decks, Orderly Sergeant Sprowle inspired the men of the Marine guard and directed a division of great guns throughout the furious battle which resulted in the surrender of the rebel ram TENNESSEE and in the damaging and destruction of batteries at Fort Morgan.