Henry Wax Karnes (September 8, 1812 – August 16, 1840) was notable as a soldier and figure of the Texas Revolution, as well as the commander of General Sam Houston's "Spy Squad" at the Battle of San Jacinto.
Both Karnes County and Karnes City, its county seat, are named after him.
Henry Wax Karnes, a native of Tennessee, first visited Texas in 1828. He returned to Texas during the Texas Revolution, he was one of Sam Houston's most important spies and worked closely with Deaf Smith. He fought with Smith, Seguín and James Bowie in the battle of Concepción and then joined the siege of Bexar. While serving in a volunteer company, Karnes was sent with Smith to bring word about the fate of the Alamo. Karnes was one of the men who found Susanna Dickinson after the fall of the Alamo. By the time of the Battle of San Jacinto, he had become a captain and later was a colonel.
After the war, he served in the Texas Rangers. Karnes and Seguin teamed up as part of a campaign to calm the Comanche threat in Texas. He was wounded by an arrow in the Arroyo Seco Fight, an operation against the Comanches in August 1838. He died of yellow fever during 1840 in San Antonio, Texas.
Karnes was buried outside of Old Campo Santos Cemetery as he was a Protestant and only Catholics were allowed to be buried there. This cemetery was later moved and Santa Rosa Hospital was built in its place across from Milam Park. A monument to Karnes was erected in 1932 in Milam Park as this was the closest to his grave that the city knew of. The monument remains there to this day.
Karnes is the great great uncle of Patsy Yvonne Karnes aka Patsy Swayze, the mother of actors Patrick Swayze and Don Swayze. There are lots of descendants still in Texas to this day.
- ^ Moore (2006), p. 228.
- ^ Telegraph and Texas Register, Vol. 4, Saturday, September 1, 1838
- Account of Karnes fight on the Arroyo Seco in 1838 from Indian Wars and Pioneers of Texas by John Henry Brown, published 1880.
- Moore, Stephen L. (2006), Savage Frontier: Rangers, Riflemen, and Indian Wars in Texas, Volume II, 1838-1839, Denton, TX: University of North Texas Press, ISBN 1574412062