An Everlasting Tall Duel

After all the vicissitudes, ups and downs of a soldier's life,

especially in such a campaign as that in Mexico, there is a great deal

of music mixed up with the misery, fun with the fuss and feathers, and

incident enough to last a man the balance of a long lifetime.

While camped at Camargo, the officers and privates of the Ohio volunteer

regiment were paid off one day, and, of course, all who could get

ve, started to town, to have a time, and get clear of their hard


The Mexicans were some pleased, and greatly illuminated by the

Americans, that and the succeeding day. Several of the officers invested

a portion of their funds in mules and mustangs. Among the rest, Lieut.

Dick Mason and Adjt. Wash. Armstrong set up their private teams. Now, it

so fell out, that one of Armstrong's men stole Mason's mule, and being

caught during the day with the stolen property on him, or he on it, the

high-handed private, (who, barring his propensity to ride in preference

to walking, was a very clever sort of fellow, and rather popular with

the Adjutant,) nabbed him as a hawk would a pip-chicken.

"If I catch the fellow who stole my mule," quoth Lieut. Dick, "I'll give

him a lamming he won't forget soon!"

And, good as his word, when the man was taken, the Lieutenant had him

whipped severely. This riled up Adjt. Wash., who, in good, round,

unvarnished terms, volunteered to lick the Lieutenant--out of his

leathers! From words they came to blows, very expeditiously, and somehow

or other the Lieutenant came out second best--bad licked! This sort of

a finale did not set well upon the stomach of the gallant Lieutenant; so

he ups and writes a challenge to the Adjutant to meet in mortal combat;

and readily finding a second, the challenge was signed, sealed, and

delivered to Adjt. Armstrong, Company ----, Ohio volunteers. All these

preliminaries were carried on in, or very near in, Camargo. The Adjutant

readily accepted the invitation to step out and be shot at; and, having

scared up his second, and having no heirs or assigns, goods, chattels,

or other sublunary matters to adjust, no time was lost in making wills

or leaving posthumous information. The duel went forward with alacrity,

but all of a sudden it was discovered by the several interested parties

that no arms were in the crowd. It would not very well do to go to camp

and look for duelling weapons; so it was proposed to do the best that

could be done under the circumstances, and buy such murderous tools as

could be found at hand, and go into the merits of the case at once. At

length the Adjutant and friend chanced upon a machine supposed to be a

pistol, brought over to the Continent, most probably, by Cortez, in the

year 1--sometime. It was a scrougin' thing to hold powder and lead,

and went off once in three times with the intonation of a four-pounder.

"Hang the difference," says the Adjutant; "it will do."

"Must do," the second replies; and so paying for the tool, and

swallowing down a fresh invoice of ardiente, the fighting men start to

muster up their opponents, whom they found armed and equipped, upon a

footing equal to the other side, or pretty near it, the Lieutenant

having a little heavier piece, with a bore into which a gill measure

might be thrown.

"But--the difference!" cried seconds and principals.

"Let's fight, not talk," says the Adjutant.

"That's my opinion, gentlemen, exactly," the Lieutenant responds.

"Where shall we go?"


"Better get out into the chaparral," say the cautious seconds; "don't

want a crowd. Come on!" continue the seconds, very valorously; "let's


"Here's the ground!" cries one, as the parties reach a chaparral, a mile

or so from town; "here is our ground!"

The principals stared around as if rather uncertain about that, for the

bushes were so thick and high that precious little ground was visible.

"It ain't worth while, gentlemen, to toss up for positions, is it?" says

the Adjutant's second.

"No," cry both principals. "Measure off the ground, if you can find

it; let us go to work."

"That's the talk!" says the Adjutant's second.

"Measure off thirty paces," the Lieutenant's second responds.

"No, ten!" cry the principals.

"Twenty paces or no fight!" insists the Adjutant's second. "Twenty

paces; one, two, three----"

And the seconds trod off as best they could the distance, the pieces

were loaded, the several bipeds took a drink all around from an ample

jug of the R. G. they brought for the purpose, and then began the

memorable duel. The principals were placed in their respective

positions, to rake down each other; and from a safer point of the

compass the seconds gave the word.

"Bang-g-g!" went the Adjutant's piece, knocking him down flat as a


"F-f-f-izzy!" and the Lieutenant's piece hung fire.

The seconds flew to their men; a parley took place upon a "question"

whether the Lieutenant had a right to prime and fire again, or not.

The Adjutant being set upon his pins; declared himself ready and willing

to let the Lieutenant blaze away! The point was finally settled by

loading up the Adjutant's piece, and priming that of the Lieutenant,

placing the men, and giving the word,

"One, two, three!"



The seconds ran, or hobbled forward, each to his man, both being down;

but whether by concussion, recoil of their fusees, force of the liquor,

or weakness of the knee-pans, was a hard fact to solve.

"Hurt, Wash.?"

"Not a bit!" cries the Adjutant, getting up.

"Hit, Dick?"

"No, sir!" shouts the Lieutenant; "good as new!"

"Set 'em up!"

"Take your places, gentlemen!" cry the seconds.

All ready. Wang! bang! go the pieces, and down ker-chug go both men

again. The seconds rush forward, raise their men, all safe, load up

again, take a drink, all right.

"Make ready, take aim, fire!"



Both down again, the Lieutenant's coat-tail slightly dislocated, and the

Adjutant dangerously wounded in the leg of his breeches! Both parties

getting very mad, very tired, and very anxious to try it on at ten

paces. Seconds object, pieces loaded up again, principals arranged, and,

"One, two, three, fire!"



All down--load up again--take a drink--fire! and down they go again. It

is very natural to suppose that all this firing attracted somebody's

attention, and somebody came poking around to see what it was all about;

and just then, as four or five Mexicans came peeping and peering through

the chaparral, Dick and Wash. let drive--Bang-g! wang-g! and though it

seemed impossible to hit one another, the slugs, ricochetting over and

through the chaparral, knocked down two Mexicans, who yelled sanguinary

murder, and the rest of their friends took to their heels. The seconds,

not quite so "tight" as the principals, took warning in time to

evacuate the field of honor, Lieut. Dick's second taking him one way,

and Ajt. Wash.'s friend going another, just as a "Corporal's Guard" made

their appearance to arrest the rioters. In spite of the poor Mexicans'

protestations, or endeavors to make out a true case, they were taken up

and carried to the Guard-House, for shooting one another, and raising a

row in general. A night's repose brought the morning's reflection, when

the previous day's performances were laughed at, if not forgotten. Wash,

and Dick became good friends, of course, and cemented the bonds of

fraternity in the bloody work of a day or two afterwards, in storming