James Bowie


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Bowie, JAMES, military officer, Alamo Defender, Hero ; born in Logan county, Kentucky, in 1796. 

Bowie was once described by his brother as "a stout, rather raw-boned man, of six feet height, 180 pounds in weight." He had light-colored hair, keen grey eyes "rather deep set in his head," a fair complexion, and high cheek-bones. Bowie had an "open, frank disposition," but when insulted or challenged, his anger was terrible.

During the War of 1812, James and his brother Rezin P. Bowie joined the Second Division, Consolidated, a unit that contained the Seventeenth through Nineteenth regiments, drawn from Avoyelles, Rapides, Natchitoches, Catahoula, and Ouachita parishes. In January 1815, according to family records, the brothers were on their way to join Andrew Jackson's forces at New Orleans when the war ended.

In 1818-1820 Bowie engaged with his brothers, John J. and Rezin P., in smuggling slaves into the United States from the headquarters of the pirates led by Jean Lafitte on Galveston Island.

On 1827 Jim Bowie participated in the Sandbar Fight near Natchez, Texas. This fight  evolved from a duel between Samuel Wells and Thomas Maddox. After the principals had exchanged shots without effect, two observers continued the scrape. Alexander Crain fired at Samuel Cuny, and when Cuny fell, Bowie fired at Crain but missed. Wright shot Bowie through the lower chest, and Bowie "drew his butcher knife which he usually wears" and chased Wright. The Blanchard brothers shot Bowie in the thigh, and Wright and Alfred Blanchard stabbed him in several places. As Wright bent over him, Bowie plunged the knife into his assailant's breast, then raised himself and slashed Blanchard severely. All the witnesses remembered Bowie's "big butcher knife," the first Bowie knife. Reports of Bowie's prowess and his lethal blade captured public attention, and he was proclaimed the South's most formidable knife fighter. Men asked blacksmiths and cutlers to make a knife like Jim Bowie's.

Bowie moved to Texas in 1828 and took a prominent part in the revolt against Mexico, being present at the battles of Nacogdoches (1832), Concepcion (1835), and the Grass Fight (1835). In January, 1836, Bowie was ordered to San Antonio de Bexar, where he joined Colonels Travis and Crockett, and was killed with them at the taking of the ALAMO, March 6, 1836.




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