Offering a 4 pp, 7 3/4 x 9 3/4, ALS from PkyK Twist to his friend Frank Banntin in Philadelphia, November 21st, 1855, on stationary for the Mine Hill & Schulykill Haven Railroad, with plain stamped cover. Very interesting coverage about a planned duel, our writer’s involvement, the dueling men’s seconds and the combatants’ arrests. Twist is happy that authorities didn’t discover his involvement. “I fortunately escaped having my name in the papers.” Dueling was outlawed in the United States in 1839. Our combatants were apparently heading for Canda, where dueling remained legal until 1873.
In this letter, our writer provides information about he and his walking partner defending themselves from aggressive deer. He then provides very interesting details about a duel, which, he’s sorry to say, “did not come off.”
“...Young Sam Whitney and I started out to come to Pottsville, and as we both seemed to be professed of a rather romantic term of mind we concluded to start off on foot and make a strait course over the broad mountain, and after walking about four miles through the woods, we were suddenly startled by something bustling amongst the bushes, turning our eyes in the direction from where the noise proceeded, we were surprised to see four very fine deer...bona fide deer...not more than a hundred feet from us...Fortunately I was armed with an umbrella and Sam with a stick. Sam asked them very politely to stop and I pointed my deadly weapon at them but all to no purpose. They seemed determined to keep on their wayward course...We were compelled to continue on our journey rejoicing...
“I would have been down on Saturday but for the awful tragedy that was to have been performed but which I am very sorry to say did not come off. I suppose you have heard about it. The dreadful Duel between Mac Weatherwill and Dolph Moon. They started off on Friday morning for Canada, myself in company with them as I had been up all night with them after the assembly trying to arrange matters between them determined to see the affair through but fortunately for them but very unfortunately for me as it spoilt my contemplated trip to Canada, they were arrested at Schulykill Haven by the Marshal of Police and forced to return home in company with their Seconds, Ely Bowen & Doctor Higer. But as it was not known that I was with the party, I fortunately escaped having my name in the papers, very glad of it as the whole matter turned out a regular farce in the end as they both went home, and got on a regular train together instead of shooting at each other. They [might have] got most completely shot. So taking all things into consideration and as my first trip had turned out so badly I thought I would defer my trip to Phila. till Thanksgiving when I was again doomed to disappointment, but a very short one it was...”
In a typical duel, each party acted through a second. The seconds' duty was to try to reconcile the parties without violence. An offended party sent a challenge through his second. If the recipient apologized, the matter usually ended. If he elected to fight, the recipient chose the weapons and the time and place of the encounter. Up until combat began, apologies could be given and the duel stopped. After combat began, it could be stopped at any point after honor had been satisfied.
The MINE HILL & SCHULYKILL HAVEN RAILROAD was operating by April 1831 in Schuylkill County, PA. It was one of the important early lateral railroads in the county, constructed to accommodate the Schuylkill Canal with coal from the more remote areas where mines were operating.
Folds, light expected toning. Punctuation added. The cover is clean with the original stamp. Very interesting letter written twenty years after dueling was outlawed in the United States.
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