Wyatt, Peyton Sterling (1804–1847)

By: Cecil Harper, Jr.

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: June 13, 2020

Peyton Sterling Wyatt, soldier and legislator, was born in Charlotte County, Virginia, on December 16, 1804. In the fall of 1835 Wyatt was employed as clerk of the United States District Court in Huntsville, Alabama. When word of the Texas Revolution reached Huntsville, he helped recruit and equip a group of twenty volunteers. With Wyatt as captain, the unit left Huntsville on November 2, 1838, to join the Army of the Republic of Texas. New recruits joined as the company marched toward Texas; the largest addition came in Paducah, Kentucky, where Wyatt recruited Amon B. King and about eighteen others. By the time it reached Texas in December, the force had grown to approximately seventy men. Wyatt's company was mustered into the Texas army by Sam Houston on December 25, 1835, and on December 28 Wyatt was ordered to station his men either at Copano or Refugio. When Wyatt arrived in the area in early January, however, he found Philip Dimmitt ready to disband his force at Goliad, and he instead relieved Dimmitt on January 10, 1836. Houston subsequently ratified Wyatt's action and ordered him to remain at Goliad until he could be replaced by the regular army unit commanded by Francis W. Thornton. After Thornton relieved him on January 22, Wyatt was ordered to Refugio; he left Refugio on furlough on February 4, 1836, with a commission from Houston to return to the United States to recruit more troops. Most of the men who had traveled with him remained and were killed at the Goliad Massacre or at the battle of the Alamo. Wyatt returned to Texas and settled in Red River County. He was elected to the House of Representatives of the Second Congress in 1837 and served on a committee of three whose recommendation led to setting aside the first public lands for education in Texas. After completing his term in the House, Wyatt entered the Texas army as a major. He was assigned to the First Regiment of Infantry and placed in command of a recruiting station on the Red River. On July 11, 1839, he received orders from the War Department to recruit 300 men to fight the Cherokees under Chief Bowl. He was able to recruit only twenty-eight men, and left Clarksville on July 17, the day after Bowl had been defeated. Apparently Wyatt and his men did a brief tour of duty on the western frontier before returning to Clarksville. Little is known of Wyatt's life after 1839. In November 1843, while apparently living in Clarksville, he was mentioned as a candidate for brigadier general of the Fourth Brigade. Because he had never been present for a major battle, his name evoked a storm of controversy, and he eventually circulated a letter asking that his name be withdrawn from consideration. Wyatt died on October 24, 1847, in Memphis, Tennessee.

Claude Elliott, "Alabama and the Texas Revolution," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 50 (January 1947). John H. Jenkins, ed., The Papers of the Texas Revolution, 1835–1836 (10 vols., Austin: Presidial Press, 1973). James M. Robertson, "Captain Amon B. King," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 29 (October 1925). Texas House of Representatives, Biographical Directory of the Texan Conventions and Congresses, 1832–1845 (Austin: Book Exchange, 1941).

Time Periods:
  • Texas Revolution
  • Republic of Texas

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

Cecil Harper, Jr., “Wyatt, Peyton Sterling,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 05, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/wyatt-peyton-sterling.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

June 13, 2020