Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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NORRIS, William Walton, soldier, born in Balls-ton Springs, No Y., 31 August, 1801; died in Baltimore, Maryland, 11 December, 1865. He was graduated at the United States military academy in 1820, became 1st lieutenant in 1823, participated in the attack on the Indian towns in the Arickaree expedition in that year, and in 1824 was transferred to the artillery. During the Seminole war he commanded a battalion of Creek volunteers, with the rank of major, formed the advance of General Thomas S. Jessup's command, and, marching into Florida to the assistance of the state troops and those under Colonel Zachary Taylor, participated in the battle of Wahoo Swamp, 26 November, 1836. For his conduct on that occasion he was promoted captain. His services in the subsequent engagements of this campaign won him the brevet of major in 1837. He served on the Canadian frontier in the border disturbances of 1839, during the Mexican war was major of the artillery battalion of the army of occupation, and was engaged at Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma. He had devoted much study to military law between 1839 and 1846, and in the latter year was appointed military governor and alcalde of the city of Tapico, subsequently assuming the same duties in Puebla, where he remained until the close of the war. He was promoted major in 1853, engaged in the Seminole war of 1856-'7, was on frontier duty the next year, and also served in quelling the Kansas disturbances. He became colonel in 1861, and during the civil war he was stationed at Fort McHenry, Baltimore, Maryland By training his guns on the insurgents, he quelled the riots that occurred in that city, 19 April, 1861. Shortly after assuming command at Fort McHenry, he refused to obey a writ of habeas corpus that was granted by a Maryland judge, to obtain possession of a soldier of the Fort McHenry garrison, resisting the execution of the writ on the ground that the habeas corpus act had been suspended by the beginning of hostilities. From 1 February, 1865, till his death he commanded the middle department and the 8th army corps. He received the brevets of brigadier-general and major-general in the regular army on 9 June, 1862, and 10 December, 1865, respectively.
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