BURROUGHS' BATTERY,Tennessee Light Artillery,CSA

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Captain William H. Burroughs, CSA, Biography

"Conscientious people are apt to see their duty in that which is the most painful course"
George Eliot

This biography of Captain Burroughs was published in 1899


Captain William H. Burroughs


Captain William H. Burroughs, a prominent attorney of Norfolk [Virginia] is a native of Princess Anne County [Virginia], born February 20, 1832. his family, originally of English descent is one of the oldest in Virginia. His father, John J. Burroughs, born in Essex county in October, 1798, was the son of Capt. Elzy Burroughs, a native of Stafford County, who served on the staff of Gen. Robert E. Taylor in the war of 1812. Captain Burroughs' mother was Eliza, daughter of William Thomson, a merchant of Norfolk and collector of the port at Norfolk under the presidency of Thomas Jefferson, who migrated from Scotland to America in the latter part of the eighteenth century, crossing the same boat which brought the Whittle family.

Captain Burroughs, as a boy of thirteen, entered a school at Norfolk which was taught by William R. Galt, a celebrated teacher of that day, and he studied there from 1845 to 1848, then entering the Virginia military institute at Lexington, where he was graduated in 1851. Having received an excellent education, he became a teacher in the Norfolk military academy, holding that position for two years. Then deciding to turn his attention to the law, he entered the law department of William and Mary College, and after his graduation, which occurred on July 4, 1854, he embarked in the practice at Princess Anne Court House. Then he removed January, 1859 to Lee Court House [Jonesville, Virginia], and a few months later to Jacksboro, Campbell County, Tenn., where he continued in the practice until the beginning of the war, in 1861. At that time he was a staunch supporter of the old Union, and opposed secession until his State took that action, when he loyally enlisted in her service.

Repairing to Knoxville, early in 1861, he utilized his military training by drilling a regiment mustered in under command of William M. Churchill, and then received a commission as captain of a company in this command in June, 1861. He accompanied the regiment to Cumberland Gap in September, and in the February following the company under his command was detached by order of the secretary of war, and organized as a battery of light artillery. As such it was subsequently attached to the brigade of Col. Tom Taylor, in Gen. Carter L. Stevenson's brigade of E. Kirby Smith's corps. On their evacuation of Cumberland Gap it was occupied by the Federals under command of General [George Washington] Morgan, and Captain Burroughs participated in the campaign against them, which occupied August, and resulted in the Federal evacuation. His command followed the retreating enemy into Kentucky and were about to give battle when ordered to move to Danville, Ky., where they remained until after the battle of Perryville, when they joined in Bragg's retreat to Tennessee.

Captain Burroughs' battery was then assigned to duty at Cumberland Gap during the winter of 1862-63, and in the spring following was engaged in guarding bridges at Zollicoffer and vicinity. In the fall of 1863 they captured the Federal blockhouse at Limestone, Tenn., being led in this action by Gen. Wm. L. [Mudwall] Jackson. They were again engaged that fall at Blountville, and in the following winter were stationed at the salt works near Abingdon, and in May, 1864, when all troops were withdrawn from that military district, Burroughs' battery went to the protection of the lead mines in Wythe County, Va., acting with a force of home guards.

In October, 1864, Gen. John C. Breckinridge was assigned to that territory, and under his command the battery moved to Wytheville and subsequently fought in the battles of Bull's Gap and Marion, intending to join the army of Lee at Lynchburg. But at Christiansburg they learned that the army of Northern Virginia had surrendered and Captain Burroughs, with twenty-five of his men, moved toward Johnston's army, joining it at Greensboro about the time of its surrender, in which they participated, and were paroled May 4, 1865.

Returning then to his home, Captain Burroughs resumed the practice of law at Norfolk in 1866, soon becoming distinguished in the profession. In 1870 his attainments were recognized by his election to the position of corporation judge by the legislature, a post he filled with eminent ability until 1877. He is the author of two works of a legal nature, one entitled "Law of Taxation, Federal, State, and Municipal," published in September 1877, and one on "Public Securities of America," published in 1881, which have become widely accepted as authorities on those topics. He is an active member of Pickett- Buchanan camp, United Confederate Veterans.

Source: Evans, Clement, ed. Confederate Military History, Vol. III, Confederate Publishing Company, Atlanta, GA, 1899