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Friday, September 13, 2013

Civil War Photo Friday: A Duel Between Confederate Generals

"You're a coward!"
Remember Confederate General John Sappington Marmaduke? He was best known for raiding Missouri, although he had some fatal flaws as a cavalry commander.

This didn't stop him from being judgmental about his fellow officers. After the Battle of Helena, Marmaduke felt General Marsh Walker had let the side down. He accused him of "avoiding danger", basically saying he was a coward. The fact that Walker was later given some of Marmaduke's troops didn't help matters.

That was in July of 1863, but in September, 150 years ago this month, Marmaduke began to be vocal about Walker's supposed cowardice. Walker heard of this and, being a Southern gentleman, demanded satisfaction.

Both were in command of troops defending Little Rock, Arkansas, from an advancing and considerably larger Union army, but they didn't let little things like a military crisis from standing in the way of their egos.

"Wanna fight?"
At dawn on September 6, the two met at a plantation seven miles north of the city. With a crowd of officers looking on, the two men stood back to back with drawn pistols. They then marched fifteen paces, spun, and fired. Both missed. Marmaduke was the first to get another shot off, putting a bullet into Walker's side. The general staggered back, firing off a shot that went wild as he fell to the ground.

Walker lingered for a whole day, during which time he wrote a statement to his friends and family that they should forgive Marmaduke and not do him any harm. Soon after, Walker died, a gentleman to the last.

Marmaduke's commander General Sterling Price could have had him court marshaled and shot, but with the enemy at the gates he kept him in command. The Union army pushed the rebels out of Little Rock on September 10 and as the Confederate army retreated everyone seemed to forget about Marmaduke's deed. He continued to command troops until he was captured in the autumn of 1864.


  1. Too busy with a war to bring him to justice.

  2. So I learn about more American duels. We brought this 'gentlemanly' habit from the old country, I suppose. (egos, men and guns - bad combo) I've read that there were a few in New Orleans in the old days as well. War overlooks many an ill deed.


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