William A. Hurd has been described by historians as both "swashbuckling" and "arrogant." In September 1835, Hurd commanded the privateer San Felipe during its engagement with the Mexican revenue cutter Correo de México, a duel considered by many as the opening battle of the Texas Revolution.
In November 1835, in a battle with another revenue cutter in Matagorda Bay, the San Felipe ran aground and was severely damaged. Hurd was then given command of the privateer William Robbins (later purchased by the Texas Navy and renamed the Liberty), during which time he captured a Mexican man-of-war and a prize ship, a move which caused outrage in some quarters because it was done before the William Robbins had received a letter of marque from the Texas government.
Hurd's final command was of the Texas Navy schooner Brutus. The Brutus convoyed ships to Texas from New Orleans and participated in the blockade of Matamoros. In the summer of 1836, Hurd got into a dispute with his commanding officer, Commodore Charles Hawkins, quit the blockade, and sailed for New York without permission. He was relieved of command upon his return with the ship in April 1837, and died in New Orleans the following year.
To all persons, to whom these presents
Know ye, that reposing full
faith and confidence in the honor, fidelity & patriotism,
and abilities of William A. Hurd,
We the delegates of the People of Texas
in the general convention assembled, have appointed and
by these presents, do appoint him, a captain, in the
naval service, of the Republic of Texas: as such
he will be delivered in the discharge of his duties, and
faithful in the execution of all orders which he may
from time to time receive from this convention, or
from the government hereafter to be established by
the Republic of Texas.
And we do strictly enjoin all officers,
seamen & others under his command, to respect him
in the discharge of his duty and yield a ready obe-
dience to all his lawful orders.
Done at the town of Washington
in full convention of the delegates of all Texas, this
12th day of March 1836 and in the first year of the
Independence of Texas.
Signed by the President
and his private seal hereto affixed.
Commission of William Hurd, March 12, 1836. Records of the Provisional Government, 1835-1836, Texas Secretary of State. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.