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Smith, Robert W. (1814–1851)

Biography Entry

Robert W. Smith, Indian fighter and soldier at the battle of San Jacinto, was born in North Carolina on December 9, 1814, and came to Texas in 1836. He enlisted in the Texas army on March 6, 1836, served as a first lieutenant in Capt. Hayden S. Arnold's company at San Jacinto, was discharged on June 6, 1838, and later served as a captain in the Cherokee War (1839). Smith is credited with firing the shot that killed Chief Bowl at the battle of the Neches; Bowl, according to some sources, was responsible for the death of Smith's father-in-law. Smith took Bowl's sword, a gift to the chief from Sam Houston, and presented it to the Masonic lodge at Henderson. The sword was lent to Col. James H. Jones during the Civil War, returned to the Masonic lodge, and finally presented in 1890 to the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma. During the Regulator-Moderator War Smith was a captain in the company of Gen. James Smith, and in 1845 he became the first sheriff of Rusk County. Smith married Mary Jane Watkins in 1837; they had four children. He died in 1851 and was buried in the Pleasant Hill Cemetery, Rusk County, on land donated by him for church and cemetery purposes.

Mary Ann Broome, "Captain Robert W. Smith," Junior Historian, September 1948. Sam Houston Dixon and Louis Wiltz Kemp, The Heroes of San Jacinto (Houston: Anson Jones, 1932). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.


  • Peoples
  • Native American
  • Military
  • Soldiers

Time Periods:

  • Texas Revolution

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Anonymous, “Smith, Robert W.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 24, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

March 19, 2019