Alfred Dickinson Barksdale was born in Halifax(then Houston), Virginia, on 17 July 1892. He was educated in local schools, with the exception of one year (1907-1908) which he spent at Cluster Springs Academyin Cluster Springs, Virginia. He attended the Virginia Military Institute from 1908 to 1911, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree after only three years. Following a year of teaching in a Halifaxschool, he entered the University of Virginia Law School, and received his LL.B. in 1915. He entered the practice of law in Lynchburg, Virginia, but soon left to serve as a first lieutenant in the First Virginia Infantry --known as the "Musketeers"--on the Mexican border from June 1916 to February 1917. Promoted to captain in July 1917, he served in the 116th Infantry, 29th Division, American Expeditionary Forces, and saw active service in Francefrom June 1918 to July 1919. Following the Armistice, he attended classes at the Sorbonne, in addition to acting as a judge-advocate for his battalion. He was released from service in August 1919, and received the Distinguished Service Cross, the Croix de Guerre, and the Chevalier Legion of Honor as a result of his military performance.
Upon his return to the United States, Alfred Dickinson Barksdale resumed his legal practice in Lynchburg. He served as a Virginia state senator from 1924 to 1928, and although this was the extent of his active political career, he formed many valuable political connections, including one with Harry F. Byrd, Sr., whom he assisted in his campaign for governor. In 1938, Barksdale was named judge of the Sixth Judicial Circuit of Virginia, this being the same position which his father, William Randolph Barksdale, had filled for many years in the early 1900's. In 1940 he was appointed judge of the United States District Courtfor the Western District of Virginia, and served in this capacity until he retired in 1957. Following his retirement from the bench he continued to do legal work, including service on the Trial Bench and the Court of Appeals, until his death on August 16, 1972.
Judge Alfred Dickinson Barksdale married Estill Winfree Phillipsin 1934, and they made their home in Lynchburg until the judge's death. Their family included Mrs. Barksdale's son from her previous marriage, William Causey Phillips, Jr., and the Barksdale's two daughters, Estill B. Lloyd, and Mary B. Garbee.
In addition to his legal career, Alfred Dickinson Barksdaleserved on the Board of Trustees of Hollins Collegefor over thirty years, was a member of the Board of Visitors of the University of Virginiafor ten years, and was a member of both the Virginia Bar Associationand American Bar Association.