James Burnet, Confederate officer, was born on December 6, 1829, in Dumfriesshire, Scotland, the son of Edward and Janet (Rae) Burnet. He immigrated to Texas before the Civil War and lived in Lamar County. He enlisted in the Ninth Texas infantry during 1861. Casualties taken at the battle of Shiloh, illness, and the changes necessitated by the Conscription Act passed by the Confederate Congress led to dramatic changes in the Ninth Regiment's leadership. During this reorganization, Burnet was elected, along with Col. William Hugh Young and Lt. Col. Miles A. Dillard, to serve as field officer for the Ninth Texas.
Major Burnet did not remain long in his new position but was instead detached from the Ninth to command the newly organized First Texas Infantry Battalion, Burnet's Sharpshooters. On February 24, 1863, Burnet's Sharpshooters helped to sink the Federal ironclad, Indianola. Assigned to Maxey's Brigade, Burnet and the First Texas Sharpshooters participated in the Vicksburg operations, most notably in the battle of Milliken's Bend on June 7, 1863.
In December of 1863 Burnet and the First Sharpshooters crossed the Mississippi River and served out the war in Arkansas and the Indian Territories, where they participated in several actions. After the war Burnet farmed in Bexar County. He died April 12, 1874, at Rancho Escondido, near San Antonio.