Friday, September 4, 2009

Lincoln's Duel

"The Saturday Evening Post", 11/30/1861 -

The above newspaper (yes, it was a newspaper back at that time) ran a story that they had picked up from the "Chicago Press". It concerns a story about a series of events involving Abe Lincoln around 30 years prior to this paper. This was when Lincoln was still in Springfield, Illinois. Evidently, Abe was attracted to the same woman as General Shields.

The story implies that Lincoln went around the state singing a song that had something to do with this lady. For some reason, General Shields took offense. It sounds like Abe, once he saw how jealous the General was about this situation, did it even more.

Shields challenged Mr. Lincoln and he accepted. Associates of both met to discuss the rules of the challenge. The place was to be "Bloody Island", in the middle of the Mississippi River, near St. Louis. This was a popular spot for the settlement of such matters at that time. The date was set and it was the choice of Lincoln as to what weapons would be used. He selected long cavalry swords with the rules for each man to be on opposite sides of an erected rail barrier that would be four and a half feet high. All blows were to be exchanged over this barrier with each having liberty to approach or withdraw from the rail barrier.

These terms were rejected by Shields, but when Lincoln refused to accept any other rules, the General accepted rather than not have his fight. Then, all parties went to Bloody Island to have the confrontation. At this point, friends interfered and the fight was canceled. Abe told his friends, at a later time, that he placed great reliance on the rail fence.

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