Botts, Walter Browne (1835–1894)

By: Stephanie P. Niemeyer

Type: Biography

Published: March 17, 2011

Updated: September 17, 2016

Walter Browne Botts, lawyer and Confederate infantry officer, was born on September 7, 1835, in Fredericksburg, Virginia, son of Thomas Hutchinson and Mary Scanrett (Stone) Botts. He graduated sixth in his class from the Virginia Military Institute in July 1854. He studied law at Charleston (now West Virginia), and in 1857 migrated to Houston, Texas, where he entered into a law practice with Peter W. Gray.

On September 4, 1860, Botts married Martha Elizabeth McIlhenny. They had eleven children.

At the outbreak of the Civil War, Botts enlisted in the Fifth Texas Infantry on July 19, 1861, and was the original captain of Company A. This unit was mustered into service in the Confederate Army on August, 1, 1861, and Botts was promoted to major on November 4, 1861. The Fifth Texas Infantry was part of Hood's Texas Brigade and saw action in all the major campaigns of the Army of Northern Virginia, from Seven Pines to Cold Harbor, except when it was attached to James Longstreet's army at Suffolk, Chickamauga, and Knoxville. Botts was wounded in action at the battle of Seven Pines, which earned him a promotion to lieutenant colonel on June 1, 1862. However, on June 11, 1862, Botts became ill and went to the hospital in Lynchburg, Virginia. He resigned and returned to Texas on July 17. His men, according to Robert Campbell's war-time diary, were not fond of him and "no tears were shed—for he was neither honored or loved."

Botts returned to Houston and resumed his law practice with Peter Gray and formed what became one of the most well-known law firms in Texas. In 1866 they established Gray and Botts, and in 1872 when James Addison Baker joined the firm it was renamed Gray, Botts, and Baker. In 1874 Gray left the firm when he was appointed to the Supreme Court of Texas and the two remaining partners adopted Baker and Botts as the name of the firm. Botts became merchant and cotton broker William Marsh Rice's personal attorney.

Botts was active in the Houston community and was a Mason. He died on March 7, 1894, in Houston.

Baker Botts L.L. P.: History (, accessed January 26, 2011. Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Texas, National Archives and Records Service, Washington. George Skoch and Mark W. Perkins, eds., Lone Star Confederate: A Gallant and Good Soldier of the Fifth Texas Infantry (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2003).

  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Lawyers
  • General Law
  • Education
  • Military Institutes and Flight Schools
  • Military
  • Confederate Military
  • Regimental and Staff Officers
  • Soldiers
  • Religion
  • Freemasonry
Time Periods:
  • Antebellum Texas
  • Civil War
  • Reconstruction
  • Late Nineteenth-Century Texas
  • Houston
  • Upper Gulf Coast
  • East Texas

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

Stephanie P. Niemeyer, “Botts, Walter Browne,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 22, 2022,

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March 17, 2011
September 17, 2016

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