Alfred D. Barksdale

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Alfred D. Barksdale
Barksdale in uniform, 1919
Senior Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia
In office
August 1, 1957 – August 16, 1972
Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia
In office
December 19, 1939 – August 1, 1957
Appointed byFranklin D. Roosevelt
Preceded byArmistead Mason Dobie
Succeeded byRoby C. Thompson
Member of the Virginia Senate
from the 12th district
In office
January 19, 1924 – January 10, 1928
Preceded byRobert A. Russell
Succeeded bySamuel C. Goggin
Personal details
Alfred Dickinson Barksdale

(1892-07-17)July 17, 1892
Houston, Virginia, US
DiedAugust 16, 1972(1972-08-16) (aged 80)
Lynchburg, Virginia, US
EducationVirginia Military Institute (B.S.)
University of Virginia School of Law (LL.B.)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
Years of service1916–1922
Rank Captain
Unit116th Infantry Regiment of the 29th Infantry Division
Battles/warsWorld War I
AwardsDistinguished Service Cross
Croix de Guerre
Chevalier Legion of Honor

Alfred Dickinson Barksdale (July 17, 1892 – August 16, 1972), frequently known as A. D. Barksdale,[1] was an American soldier, Virginia lawyer, state senator, state court judge, and a United States district judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia.

Early family life and education[edit]

Born at "Giant Poplars" in Houston, Virginia (now Halifax) to the former Hallie Bailey Craddock, and her husband, William R. Barksdale Sr. His paternal grandfather, Elisha Barksdale (1812–1887), had represented Halifax County in the Virginia House of Delegates during the final years of the Civil War (1863-5), after purchasing the Union Iron Works with partners Jonathan B. Stovall and John P Barksdale in 1862.[2] Though too young to enlist in the Confederate Army, as a militia cadet William Barksdale had fought at the Battle of Staunton River Bridge in 1864 before receiving his degrees and becoming a Virginia lawyer, circuit judge (initially perhaps the youngest at age 24, but elected to successive terms until his death in 1925), South Boston bank president and state senator (1897–1905)[3][4] Albert Barksdale 's mother died in 1900 but he had four elder brothers, one younger brother and four older sisters, and his father remarried. One brother become a surgeon in Lynchburg, another a Richmond Bank president and one of his sisters was supervisor of elementary education and Sunday school superintendent in Halifax County.[5] Educated at the local public schools and the Cluster Springs Academy, Barksdale received his college education in Lexington, Virginia, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree from Virginia Military Institute in 1911 at the age of 18.[6] He then earned a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Virginia School of Law, where he was president of his class, in 1915. Barksdale practiced law in Lynchburg, Virginia, from 1915 to 1916 before leaving to enter military service.[7]

Military service[edit]

Barksdale served in the United States Army from 1916 to 1922,[7] with the Virginia-based 116th Infantry Regiment of the 29th Infantry Division in Europe during World War I. Rising to the rank of captain, Barksdale received the Distinguished Service Cross, the Croix de Guerre, and the Chevalier Legion of Honor.[8]

Distinguished Service Cross citation[edit]

"Alfred D. Barksdale, captain, 116th Infantry. For repeated acts of extraordinary heroism in action near Samogneux, France, October 8, 1918; near Molleville, France, October 12; and in the Bois de la Grand Montagne, France, October 15, 1918. Commanding a support company during the attack of October 8, Capt. Barksdale discovered that his battalion had advanced ahead of the unit on the right flank, and was suffering heavy losses from machine gun fire. Without orders he attacked and captured the guns, taking many prisoners. On October 12 he worked for over an hour, exposed to a terrific bombardment, binding the wounds of his men. On October 15 he advanced alone in a thick wood and, with the aid of his pistol, put out of action a destructive machine gun which was pouring such a deadly fire his men could not raise their heads."[9]

University of Virginia presentation[edit]

At the centennial ceremonies for the University of Virginia, Captain Barksdale on behalf of the alumni presented the university with a plaque listing the names of 80 graduates killed in World War I.[10]

Virginia lawyer, state senator and judge[edit]

Barksdale returned to private practice in Lynchburg from 1922 to 1938. He aligned with the Byrd Organization, and won election to the Senate of Virginia, representing the 12th Virginia senatorial district (then Lynchburg and Campbell County and still a part-time position) from 1924 to 1928.[11][12] Following the Great Depression, the Virginia General Assembly elected Barksdale as Judge of the Virginia Circuit Court for the Sixth Judicial Circuit, where his father had served for so many years, and he served from 1938 to 1940.[7]

Federal judicial service[edit]

Barksdale received a recess appointment from President Franklin D. Roosevelt on December 19, 1939, to a seat on the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia vacated by Judge Armistead Mason Dobie. He was nominated to the same position by President Roosevelt on January 11, 1940. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on February 1, 1940, and received his commission on February 5, 1940. He assumed senior status on August 1, 1957. His service terminated on August 16, 1972, due to his death.[7]

Assigned a school desegregation case involving Pulaski County, which had no high school for black students, but three secondary schools for white students, as well as manifestly unequal elementary schools, Barksdale insisted that no two schools are ever precisely equal, and that the arguments of Spottswood Robinson and Oliver Hill concerning desegregation would be the death knell for consolidated high schools (black students were bused up to sixty miles per day to attend a training academy in Christiansburg). The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals soon reversed him in 1949, which stunned the Richmond News Leader, which printed an editorial by Douglas Southall Freeman acknowledging that 44 Virginia counties and cities had no accredited black high school.[13]

Personal life[edit]

Barksdale married Louisa Estill Winfree on December 15, 1934, and they had two daughters.[6]

Death and legacy[edit]

Barksdale died on August 16, 1972, in Lynchburg. His wartime papers from his World War I service are held by the VMI library, and those from his federal judicial service are held by the University of Virginia library.[14] VMI established a scholarship in his name in 1974–1975.[15]


  1. ^ "Results for "Judge A. D. Barksdale"".
  2. ^ Faye Royster Tuck, Yesterday--GOne Forever: a collection of articles (Halifax County Historical Society 2004) p. 260
  3. ^ Virginia. General Assembly. (1978). The General Assembly of Virginia, July 30, 1619–January 11, 1978 : a Bicentennial register of members. Leonard, Cynthia Miller. Richmond: Published for the General Assembly of Virginia by the Virginia State Library. pp. 484, 568, 572, 579, 584. ISBN 0-88490-008-8. OCLC 14412783.
  4. ^ Barbour, W.B. (1941). Halifacts. pp. 195–196.
  5. ^ Pocahontas Wight Edmunds, History of Halifax vol. I pp. 276, 404
  6. ^ a b Halifacts p. 198
  7. ^ a b c d Alfred Dickinson Barksdale at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a publication of the Federal Judicial Center.
  8. ^ "World War I officer Alfred Barksdale, 1919". Virginia Military Institute. Retrieved March 15, 2016.
  9. ^ Cutchins, John (1921). History of the Twenty-ninth Division, "Blue and Gray," 1917-1919. Press of MacCalla & Co.
  10. ^ "VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY TO MARK 100 YEARS" (PDF). The New York Times, May 29, 1921. May 29, 1921. Retrieved February 17, 2008.
  11. ^ Leonard pp. 630, 635
  12. ^ "A Guide to the Alfred Dickinson Barksdale Papers Barksdale, Alfred Dickinson. 10230".
  13. ^ Edds, Margaret, 1947- (2018). We face the dawn : Oliver Hill, Spottswood Robinson, and the legal team that dismantled Jim Crow. Charlottesville. pp. 183–5. ISBN 978-0-8139-4044-1. OCLC 989862652.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link) CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  14. ^ "University of Virginia library guide".
  15. ^ Edmunds p. 404


External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia
Succeeded by