While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


Thomas W. Cutrer

WALTON, WILLIAM MARTIN (1832–1915). William Martin (Buck) Walton, attorney, Confederate army officer, and politician, was born on in Canton, Mississippi, on January 17, 1832, the son of Samuel Walther and Mary (Wilkerson Loe) Walton. At an early age he moved with his parents to Carroll County, Mississippi, on the Indian frontier. Walton's father died in 1839, and in 1842 his mother married B. C. Strange. After a brief career as a school teacher Walton enrolled in the University of Virginia in 1849 but returned to Carroll County in 1851. There he studied law in the office of James Z. George, later a Confederate general and United States senator, and was admitted to the bar in 1852. Walton then moved to Texas by way of Arkansas and Indian Territory, arriving in Austin on February 19, 1853. There, after a term as deputy district clerk, he established a partnership with Andrew Jackson Hamilton. This partnership lasted from 1853 until 1857, when Hamilton was elected to Congress. In addition to practicing law Walton, a slave owner, farmed and, for a while, prospected for gold on the Llano River. In 1854 Walton married Letitia A. Watkins of Carrolton County, Mississippi. In the fall of 1858 he established a partnership with Sebron G. Sneed that lasted until the outbreak of the Civil War. An ardent secessionist, Walton served through the first year of the war as private secretary to Governor Francis R. Lubbock. On March 2, 1862, Walton enlisted as a private in Capt. William Rust's Company B of Col. George Washington Carter's Twenty-first Texas Cavalry (also known as the First Texas Lancers) and was soon elected first lieutenant. In Arkansas this regiment was united with two other regiments to become part of Parsons's Brigade, and Walton saw much service as commander of a picked band of scouts near Helena. "The expeditions I went on," he later wrote, "were at times full of danger-and the men had to have the eye of an eagle and the tread of a panther as well as the endurance of a camel." In the spring of 1863 he commanded the vanguard of Maj. Gen. John S. Marmaduke's Cape Girardeau [Missouri] raid. Walton was later promoted to major and attached to the staff of Lt. Gen. Theophilus Hunter Holmes, commander of the Trans-Mississippi Department, and stationed at Little Rock, Arkansas, until after the battle of Helena and the Confederate evacuation of Little Rock. Walton was then furloughed but returned to the army to take part in the Red River campaign. He arrived too late for the battle of Mansfield, but led his company at the battles of Pleasant Hill and Yellow Bayou. Walton spent the remainder of 1864 attached to Brig. Gen. Alexander Watkins Terrell's regiment in south Louisiana and then returned to Texas in the winter of 1865. That spring he learned of his wife's severe illness and left the army without leave. Although threatened with punishment, he was not arrested due to the breakup of the Confederacy.

Impoverished by the war and barred from the practice of law, Walton was, in his words, "in a bad row of stumps." At first he hunted and fished for a living, marketing his kill and catch. In 1866 he was elected attorney general of Texas but was removed from office by United States officials as "an impediment to Reconstruction." With the end of military rule, however, he returned to the practice of law. During this period Walton's partners included W. P. de Normandie, Jonathan A. Green, Robert J. Hill, and his son, Newton S. Walton, who later served as Austin city attorney. After 1899 Walton practiced alone until his retirement in 1904. "I suppose no lawyer in Texas or in the South has defended more men charged with murder than I have," he later wrote. From 1866 until 1872 he served as chairman of the state's Democratic executive committee. Walton's wife died in 1914, and he spent much of his last two years compiling his memoirs, which, in 1965, came into the possession of the Austin History Center. Walton died in Austin on July 1, 1915, and was buried in Oakwood Cemetery. In 1965 the Friends of the Austin Public Library published Walton's memoirs as An Epitome of My Life. Walton's second son, Early, was a well known New York physician.


Austin Statesman, July 1, 1915. Anne J. Bailey, Between the Enemy and Texas: Parsons's Texas Cavalry in the Civil War (Fort Worth: Texas Christian University Press, 1989). Lewis E. Daniell, Types of Successful Men in Texas (Austin: Von Boeckmann, 1890). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Thomas W. Cutrer, "WALTON, WILLIAM MARTIN," accessed July 12, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fwa47.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on March 8, 2011. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...