Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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BOWIE, James, soldier, born in Burke County, Georgia, about 1790; died in Alamo, Texas, 6 March, 1836. He settled in 1802 in Chatahoula parish, Louisiana, with his parents, and became notorious from his participation in a severe contest that took place opposite Natchez, on the Mississippi, in August, 1827. A duel having been arranged between Dr. Maddox and Samuel Wells, they met on a low sand-bar near the City, outside the state limits. After the difficulty had been adjusted by the exchange of two shots without effect, parties of friends joined the principals, and a general mêlée took place, in which fifteen of the number were wounded and six killed. Bowie, who had been shot early in the engagement, drew his knife, which had been made from a blacksmith's rasp or large file, and killed Maj. Norris Wright with it. After the conflict, the weapon was sent to Philadelphia, where it was fashioned by a cutler into the form of a knife, which style of weapon has since become famous as the "Bowie knife." When Bowie received the original, he was told: " It is more trustworthy in the hands of a strong man than a pistol, for it will not snap." Later he immigrated to Texas with his brother, and took a prominent part in the Texan revolution. He fought in the engagement near San Saba, 2 November, 1831, and in the battles with the Mexicans near Nacogdoches and at Concepcion during 1835. He attained the grade of colonel and commanded at Grass Fight, 25 October, 1835. In January, 1836, he was ordered to Bexar; later he joined Cols. Travis and Crockett, and was killed with them at the taking of the Alamo.
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