Duel on the Fishing Shore

Jadon Gibson

Union Gen. William “Bull” Nelson had Col. Leonidas Metcalfe’s regiment arrest Richard H. Stanton and six other Southern sympathizers in Mason County, Kentucky in 1861. They were charged with aiding and abetting the confederacy and sent to Cincinnati and then transferred to Camp Chase, a federal penitentiary in Columbus, Ohio. A few days later they were sent to Fort Lafayette, a federal prison in the New York harbor. William T. Casto, a former mayor of Maysville, KY, was among those arrested.

Five of the men signed an oath of allegiance to the United States and were released on December 7. Casto refused to sign and remained in prison until February 22, 1862. He then signed a statement that he ‘would give no aid to the enemies of the United States and was allowed to return home to Maysville.

Col. Leonidas Metcalfe was the son of Thomas “Stonehammer” Metcalfe, Kentucky’s 10th governor and then a U.S. senator, for whom Metcalfe County was named.

Casto flt he had been mistreated during his incarceration and became obsessed with getting even with Metcalfe, feeling he was solely responsible for his incarceration and ill treatment. A decided to seek revenge for Metcalfe’s action. In that era men of his station in life sought redress by a duel “code duallo,” not by bushwhacking an unsuspecting adversary on a lonely road or by a shot through a window. Casto felt it was the honorable way to seek satisfaction and decided to challenge Metcalfe to a duel.

Col. Metcalfe was in Maysville on May 6, 1862 for a meeting of the Union Party and at the close of the convention he was handed a challenge note from Casto, delivered by Casto’s friend, Mr. Isaac Nelson.

“Sir, for having done me a great wrong, having added indignity to insult, you cannot deny me the purpose of this note to demand the satisfaction due from one gentleman to another,” Casto had written and signed.

Col. Metcalfe consulted with his friend, Thomas M. Green, after receiving the challenge. Green was not only a friend but the editor of the Maysville Eagle and a strong supporter of the Union cause.

“I feel this is totally inappropriate,” Metcalfe told Green. “I’ve never known Mr. Casto nor have I spoken to him. Last fall I acted on orders from Gen. Nelson in arresting him and didn’t add the slightest indignity by word or deed.”

Green told Metcalfe he wasn’t under the slightest obligation under code duello, the code of duelists, to grant Casto’s request. He said 99 men out of a hundred men wouldn’t honor it. Yet Metcalfe decided to accept the challenge despite Green’s admonition.

“My life is threatened regularly,” he explained. “If I should plead that my official duties was the reason for not accepting his challenge I would have a hundred more charges within a month’s time. Men who hate me due to my leanings would be encouraged by my refusal should I not accept this challenge. In no time at all I would be obliged to kill them or lose my own life.”

Metcalfe answered Casto only a couple hours after receiving his challenge, the message delivered by Isaac Nelson, his second.

“Mr. Casto you say I have done you a great wrong,” Metcalfe wrote. “I have never had an acquaintance with you, have never exchanged a word with you and didn’t do the wrong of which you speak. You have no right under the code to make any demand of me and I consider myself to be under no obligation to accept it. I make this statement lest in accepting your invitation I shall be understood as admitting your right to challenge me. I have no desire to allow anyone to gain reputation in that way at my expense so I will grant you the meeting you desire.”

Rumors of the proposed meeting were rampant by the next morning and continued to spread throughout the county and beyond. This unwanted publicity could have led to a discontinuance of the duel because there were penalties for dueling or being a party to the practice.

As an officer of the U. S. Army, Metcalfe could be court-martialed for accepting the challenge. Kentucky also had strict laws against anyone participating in duels including penalties for seconds, surgeons and other principal individuals who have any part in the activity.

There was a maximum $500 fine or a 12-month sentence and a $250 fine or six months in prison for accepting the challenge. There was a $250 fine or three month sentence for having some other role in the duel. All parties in a duel are also excluded from holding office in Kentucky for seven years following their conviction.

All parties to the duel continued their preparation despite these considerations but made every effort to keep it hush-hush. Colt rifles were selected as the weapons, at 60 yard distance, “on the fishing shore” on the Kentucky bank of the Ohio River. Copyright 2018 Jadon Gibson

Editor’s note: Prepare for a duel in the next posting at bereaonline.com. Gibson is a free-lance writer from Harrogate, TN. His writings can be read regularly at bereaonline.com. Don’t miss a single posting!

A Voice for God – A Voice for Good

My good Lord in Heaven has been so good to me. He’s given me opportunities to relay information that may be helpful to them. I wanted to talk about the sympathy cough. It’s been good for me and I’m pleased that I’ve been a giver as well as a receiver of a t imely sympathy cough.

Coughing at the wrong time is often embarrassing. Oh, I don’t cough all the time nor most of the time but I cough too much for me, sometime more than I wish.

I cough when I get too warm or when I wear a tie or shirt too tight around my neck. It’s okay to cough at home but I hate it when I cough in a restaurant or in church.

Thank God for the sympathy cough! Let’s say you are in church or in a restaurant where a lot of people are dining. What makes it worse is you don’t want to cough unduly because you don’t want to bother others… especially in church, at a restaurant or funeral home.

It’s really good at times like this when someone gives you a sympathy cough. That is when you begin to cough and then someone else in the room will cough a time or two mildly. It seems to help a lot when they do. It’s like they’re saying ‘it’s alright,’ or ‘don’t worry we all cough, or ’We’re with you.”

I try to guard against coughing by compensating. I ask the waiter or waitress to bring my water soon after sitting down. If you have a coughing tendency a sip of cool water can often keep you from coughing at all. I’ll often slip off my coat or jacket too because it helps when I cool down. Another aid is to eat slower, especially at first and begin by eating smaller bites.

Thank God, when all else fails there will be someone or two that will give you a sympathy cough. That is another diner in the restaurant, “a good Samaritan,” who gives you a sympathy cough. That is when someone else coughs slightly it often distracts the cougher and causes it to go away.
It’s strange but when that noble person or persons coughs slightly, it gives one an appreciative feeling of “thanks a lot.” It helps most every time. When this happens, the cougher, in this case me, doesn’t look around to see who sympathized with them nor will that helpful person giving the sympathy cough appear they had done so. Both individuals will have an inner appreciation however, one for giving aid or sympathy and the other for the relief they receive.

It is also helpful when the wife or friend you’re dining with with begins chatting to you idly in a normal manner. It’s helpful because it often distracts the individual who started coughing. They can talk about the weather, the kids, the dog, cat or whatever but it’s best if you don’t ask them a question. The idea here is to simply to distract them. This often helps immensely.

If you have a sympathetic heart and you are eating out and you sense that someone is beginning to cough unduly, be prepared to give that sympathy cough. It’ll make everyone appreciative.

My good Lord in Heaven has been so good to me and I pray He will be to you during this special holiday season.

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