William Burr Wooster was born on August 22, 1821 in Oxford, Connecticut, the son of Russell and Avis Burr Wooster. He attended the South Britain Academy and in 1846 graduated from Yale Law School. In 1858 he was elected to the state House of Representatives from the town of Derby, and in 1859 he was elected to the state senate. In 1861 he returned to the state house of representatives.

William Wooster 20th & 29th Connecticut Infantry Regiments

William Wooster
20th & 29th Connecticut Infantry Regiments

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.”

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

On Sept. 8, 1862 he became lieutenant colonel of the 20th Connecticut Infantry Regiment. Captured at Chancellorsville and taken to Libby Prison in Richmond, he was paroled in time to command the 20th at Gettysburg.

On March 8, 1864 he became colonel of the 29th Connecticut Infantry Regiment , Connecticut’s first black regiment. It was commended for the capture of Fort Harrison and its gallantry on the Darbytown road and at Chapin Farm before Richmond. When the defence of Richmond collapsed the Twenty-ninth was the first infantry to enter the city. After remaining at Richmond for a few days the Twenty-ninth was transferred to Texas, reaching Brazos de Santiago in July, 1865.

Wooster mustered out on August 21, 1865, returning to Derby to resumed his law practice as a partner in the firm of Wooster, Williams & Gager. He became a 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. In 1867 he became Paymaster General of the State of Connecticut and later served as the president of the Derby Gas Company and the Birmingham Water Company. He was also honored with the position of assistant marshal on the staff of General Joseph R. Hawley Battle Flag Day, Sept. 17, 1879.

He married Jay A. Wallace, the daughter of Thomas Wallace of Ansonia. They had no children.

William Wooster died on Sept. 20, 1900 in Ansonia, Connecticut.