Policeman Charles Hartsell Smelser

Policeman Charles Hartsell Smelser

Hot Springs Police Department, North Carolina

End of Watch Sunday, April 1, 1900

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Charles Hartsell Smelser

Policeman Charles Smelser succumbed to a gunshot wound sustained three days earlier while attempting to arrest three drunk men who left a bar and went on a rampage, shooting at everyone they saw.

Policeman Smelser confronted one of the men and was placing him under arrest when one of the other men approached and held him at bay with a shotgun. The first man then took Policeman Smelser's service revolver and shot him in the head. He then fired the shotgun in the face of another policeman arriving at the scene, blinding him in one eye and seriously damaging the other.

The men continued shooting other citizens, wounding two, one critically.until one of them was finally shot and wounded by the chief of police. All three were charged with Policeman Smelser's murder. The 22-year-old killer of Policeman Smelzer was found guilty of second degree murder and sentenced to 30 years. One was acquitted, and a mistrial was declared in the trial of the third subject. The killer was denied a pardon by Governor Robert B. Glenn in 1905. He escaped from a Wilmington prison camp in 1907.

Policeman Smelser was survived by his wife.


  • Age 33
  • Tour Not available
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Incident Date Wednesday, March 28, 1900
  • Weapon Officer's handgun
  • Offender Sentenced to 30 years

Most Recent Reflection

View all 5 Reflections

Proud of your service Uncle Hartsell! I look at your picture that was handed down to me and and grateful and honored to call you family!

Linda Greene Courtney
Great Great Niece (His brother William Henry Smeltzer was my G.Gran.)

September 9, 2021

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