Battle, Nicholas William (1820–1905)

By: Thomas W. Cutrer

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: July 1, 2011

Nicholas William Battle, judge and soldier, was born on January 1, 1820, in Warren County, Georgia, the son of Thomas and Mary (Baker) Battle. The elder Battle was a Methodist minister. Nicholas Battle was educated in Monroe County, Georgia, and in 1842 graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in law. He returned to Georgia, continued his legal studies, and was admitted to the bar at Macon in 1844. In 1846 he married Mary Ann Cabaniss. He established a practice in Forsythe, but in 1850 moved to Texas and settled in Waco.

In 1854 and 1856 Battle was elected district attorney, and in 1858 he was elected judge of the Third Judicial District. In May 1852 he was a leader in the movement to bring the railroad to Waco. In December 1852 he was appointed chairman of a committee to plan and build the Waco Masonic Institute, a "Female Academy and Male High School." With the outbreak of the Civil War Battle resigned his seat on the bench to join the army and was soon elected lieutenant colonel of Col. Edward Jeremiah Gurley's Thirtieth Texas Cavalry, also known as the First Texas Partisan Cavalry. This regiment was organized in late 1862 and served primarily in Indian Territory. In August 1862, soon after the regiment's formation, Battle transferred to the staff of Brig. Gen. Samuel Bell Maxey and served as his inspector general.

At the end of the war Battle resumed his practice in Waco and in 1874 was appointed district judge by Governor Richard Coke. One of his decisions on the bench was that no freedman could sell himself into slavery under the laws of the state of Texas and that any such contract was ab initio null and void. His opinion was upheld by the Texas Supreme Court in the case of Westbrook vs. the State. Judge Battle's district was abolished by the Constitution of 1876.

Battle was a Baptist. In 1888 he moved to Seattle to live with his sons. He died there August 22, 1905, and is buried in Seattleā€™s Lake View Cemetery. The community of Battle in southeast McLennan County was named for him.

Biographical Encyclopedia of Texas (New York: Southern, 1880). James D. Lynch, The Bench and Bar of Texas (St. Louis, 1885). A Memorial and Biographical History of McLennan, Falls, Bell, and Coryell Counties (Chicago: Lewis, 1893; rpt., St. Louis: Ingmire, 1984). Texas State Gazette, June 19, December 25, 1852.

  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Politics and Government
  • Judges
Time Periods:
  • Civil War

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

Thomas W. Cutrer, “Battle, Nicholas William,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 27, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

July 1, 2011

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