For today's write-up we take a trip to Arkansas and highlight the life one of that state's more interestingly named judicial figures...Burrill Bunn Battle! A resident of Arkansas for nearly all his life, Battle served nearly three decades on the Arkansas State Supreme Court and had earlier distinguished himself in his state's House of Representatives, where he served for one term.
Battle was born in Mississippi on October 24, 1838, the son of Judge Joseph and Nancy Stricklin Battle, both North Carolina natives. The Battle family removed from Mississippi to Lafayette County, Arkansas when Burrill was six and he is recorded as receiving his education in schools local to that area. He went on to study at the Arkansas College and later graduated from Tennessee's Columbia University in 1858 with a degree in law.
Shortly after attaining his law degree, Battle set up a law practice in the town of Lewisville, Arkansas. This practice lasted until the dawn of the Civil War, at which time Battle joined up with an artillery regiment in the Confederate Army. Battle is mentioned as fighting at both the Chickamauga and Murfreesboro campaigns, as well as the battles of Shiloh, Perrysville, and Missionary Ridge. His military service extended until the close of the hostilities and in an interesting side note to Battle's military service, a memorial to him (featured in a resolution honoring him in 1919) states that during his service he "received injuries that impaired his hearing for the remainder of his life."
After returning to his home at Lewisville, Arkansas, Battle recommenced with the practice of law and resided here until 1869, when he removed to Washington County. In 1871 he was elected to a term in the Arkansas State House of Representatives and in that same year married Josephine Cannon. The couple were married until her death in 1899 and are recorded as being childless.
This portrait of Burrill Bunn Battle appeared in the Taylor-Trotwood Magazine in 1906.
In 1879 Battle removed to Arkansas's capital of Little Rock and here established another law practice. He continued in his vocation until 1885, when he was named to a vacancy on the Arkansas Supreme Court. This vacancy had been caused by the death of Associate Justice John Rogers Eakin (1822-1885) and in the following year, Battle was reelected to the court for a term of eight years. Battle would continue to serve on the Arkansas high court for the next two decades and is noted by one source as being "correctly regarded as one of the ablest jurists of the Southwest. He is a man of high mental and physical caliber, and the results of his election show in what light he is regarded by the people of Arkansas".
Burrill B. Battle retired from the court in October 1910 after twenty-five years of service. He returned to his home in Little Rock and is recorded as having an active involvement in the Missionary Baptist Church. He died at age 79 on December 21, 1917, in Little Rock and was subsequently buried alongside his wife in the Mt. Holly Cemetery.
Battle as he looked late in his court service.