Sarah A. Bowman (1813-1866)
“Heroine of Fort Brown” 1846
“She could whip any man, fair fight or foul, could shoot a pistol better than anyone in the region, and at blackjack could outplay the slickest professional gambler.” ~ John S. Ford, Texas Ranger
Most historians believe that Sarah Bowman was born Sarah Knight in Tennessee in 1813, however the records of her early life are incomplete. She first shows up in historic records in 1845 when her husband joined the U.S. Army in Missouri. Sarah signed on to the unit ( 7th Cavalry) at the same time as a camp aid. Her duties included cooking, laundry and nursing the wounded. The unit was dispatched to Fort Brown, Texas at the opening of the Mexican War. It was there on May 3, 1846 that the Mexican army began a siege of the garrison. During the bombardment Sarah not only kept the troops fed and tended to the wounded, she was also issued a musket in the event their position was overrun.
During the Battle of Buena Vista, Sarah was again on the front lines during the height of the battle reloading weapons and removing the wounded from the battlefield. She was hailed as a hero and when the Mexican War had ended she continued on with the Army eventually settling at Fort Yuma, California. There Sarah operated a hotel until her death on December 22, 1866.
Sarah A. Bowman was buried at Fort Yuma and remained there until it’s closing in 1890. In that year Sarah was reburied at the San Francisco National Cemetery with full honors. Her simple headstone reads “Sarah A. Bowman”.