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William Burr Wooster


Colonel William B. Wooster represented the state with honor and distinction in the field during the war, and is deserving of the highest recognition on account of his services. He was the lieutenant colonel of the Twentieth Regiment under Colonel Ross of the regular army, and won a brevet colonelcy for meritorious conduct. When the first colored regiment in Connecticut, the Twenty-ninth, was organized in 1864, Lieutenant-Colonel Wooster was selected by Governor Buckingham as its commander. The regiment was mustered into the service at New Haven, March 8, 1864. 

Colonel Wooster four days afterwards assuming the control. A few days before the organization left for the front it was presented with a set of colors by the colored women of New Haven, Fred Douglass making the presentation address. March 20th it left New Haven, under Colonel Wooster, for the front, and won the proudest of records in the field. Its behavior at the capture of Fort Harrison was especially commended. It was also particularly mentioned for gallantry on the Darby-town road and at Chapin Farm, before Richmond. When the confederate capital succumbed, the Twenty-ninth was the first infantry to gain access to the city. 

Colonel Wooster's associate officers in the regiment included Lieutenant-Colonel David Torrance, now of the supreme court of errors; the late Rev. Edward W. Bacon, son of Dr. Bacon of New Haven; and Captain George H. Goodwin of the Travelers Insurance Company. After remaining at Richmond for a few days after the capture of the city the Twenty-ninth was transferred to Texas, reaching Brazos de Santiago in July, 1865. Thence the command marched to Brownsville, where it remained until ordered home in November. The organization was paid off and mustered out in Hartford, Nov. 25, 1865. Colonel Wooster returned to his home in Derby and resumed the practice of law. He is a prominent member of the Grand Army, the Army and Navy Club of Connecticut, the Society of the Army of the Potomac, and of the Connecticut Union Prisoners' Association. He was honored with the position of assistant marshal on the staff of General Joseph R. Hawley Battle Flag Day, Sept. 17, 1879, an occasion of unsurpassed military interest in the history of Connecticut. But it is not for the service alone which Colonel Wooster rendered during the war that he is to be held in honor by his fellow-citizens of the state. Prior to the war he had won place and distinction in the public service. In 1858 he was a member of the house of representatives from the town of Derby, his associates in that body including the late Governor R. D. Hubbard of Hartford, Governor Charles R. Ingersoll and the Hon. Hiram Camp of New Haven, ex-Congressman Augustus Brandegee of New London; Robbins Battell of Norfolk, A. H. Byington of The Norwalk Gazette, who subsequently proved himself one of the most brilliant of war correspondents; A. A. Burnham of Windham, who occupied the position of speaker; the Hon. A. P. Hyde of Hartford, and the Hon. Hezekiah S. Sheldon of Suffield. In 1859 he represented the old Fifth Senatorial District in the senate, his colleagues in that body including Judge Dwight W. Pardee f Hartford, Judge James Phelps, and the Hon. Hiram Willey of East Haddam. In 1861, the initial year of the war, Colonel Wooster was again a member of the house. Ex-Congressman Brandegee was elected to the speakership, while on the floor were such men as the late Colonel Henry C. Deming of Hartford, Thomas H. Seymour, who had been governor of the state and minister at St. Petersburg; Abijah Catlin, the late Green Kendrick of Waterbury, and Carnot O. Spencer of the school-fund office. The legislative career of Colonel Wooster reflected honor on the state. In politics he has been a republican from the outset, and the honesty and uprightness of his political views have been exemplified in every step of his career. He believed in abolition, and led his troops with the idea uppermost in mind that the war would result in the abolition of slavery. But it required great moral courage not less than loyalty to one's convictions, to assume the leadership of a regiment of colored men even in 1864. All honor is due to Colonel Wooster for the frankness and manliness of his course. 

He was born in Oxford, Aug. 22, 1821, and received a common school and academic education, pursuing the latter course at the South Britain Academy. He graduated from the Yale Law School in 1846, being a classmate of Tilton E. Doolittle of New Haven. He is at present a member of the law firm of Wooster, Williams & Gager. He has traveled extensively, spending upwards of three years in Europe. His wife, who is still living, was Miss Jay A. Wallace. There are no children in the family. Colonel Wooster was formerly paymaster-general of the state, and is one of the worthiest citizens of Connecticut.

SourceIllustrated Popular Biography of Connecticut - 1891 Compiled and Published by J. A. Spalding Hartford Conn.  Press of the Case, Lockwood and Brainard Company 1891

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