Private Burton Syms (sometimes spelled Symes) was born around 1844 in Albemarle County and worked as a farmer before the Civil War. He enlisted in the Union army in Richmond, Virginia, on April 6, 1865, shortly after Union forces captured the city. He joined as a private in Company E of the 117th United States Colored Troops Infantry Regiment on April 8. His enlistment record describes him as 5 feet, 4 1/2 inches tall, with black hair, black eyes, and a yellow complexion. Army officials promised him a $300 bounty for enlisting, but it is unclear if he ever received the money. He deserted the regiment at Camp Lincoln, Virginia, on May 24, 1865, and disappeared from the historical record.
Private Syms was profiled by the University of Virginia's John L. Nau III Center for Civil War History in 2017, as part of their Black Virginians in Blue digital project.
- Web. [ Burton Syms (117th USCT)], Website, John L. Nau III Center for Civil War History: Black Virginians in Blue, April 8, 2021, retrieved July 28, 2021.