Wednesday, March 5, 2014

More on the Duel in Bladensburg, February 1819

[From the (Leesburg) Ge[]ins of Liberty]

            General Mason having determined upon his course, contrary to the advice, the entreaties, the supplications of his best friend, who were in his confidence, he had arranged his business, resigned his commission, made his will and prepared to meet his fate. On Tuesday he left home and repaired to Georgetown and the city on business, with his usual cheerfulness. Dr. Brenaugh of the United States Army, one of his second, in the meantime, was corresponding with McCarty, and negotiating the terms of the duel; the particulars of this correspondence we have not been able correctly to ascertain, but the final conclusion was the fight with muskets, at the distance of only 10 feet, with one ball in each muskets. As ration daring as this measure was, it was acceded to on the part of Ge. Mason. The meeting was to have taken place on Friday evening at 5 o'clock, preparatory to which Gen. M. wrote letters to several of his friends, gave a memorandum in writing to two of his particular friends, requesting in case he should fall, one of them to repair to Leesburg and request Dr. Claget, and also to send for Dr. Heaton [sic] (the elder) to repair to his house and render any medical aid that might be necessary to his wife and mother on their hearing the news of his fate— the other was to repair to some of his relation and request that his female friend in particular should visit his afflicted wife and mother, and render them all the constellation in their power. He left his most valuable papers and money with his friends, and requested them in writing to have his body conveyed to Leesburg and buried in the Episcopal Church yard. After making these arrangements, he wrote to Bladensburg with the utmost composure, and without any sensible agitation, appeared on the fatal spot at 5 o'clock on Friday evening— but his antagonist did not appear. He was now, it appears by the rules of duelling [sic], of dissolved from every obligation to fight. His triumph was complete. His honor, if it ever had suffered, was now relieved. But Mr. McCart's seconds appeared on the ground with an apology that Mr. McCarty could not be found, and pledge themselves that he should meet him on the following morning at 10 o'clock.— Notwithstanding this uncommon request it was complied with on the part of M, who spent the evening in Bladensburg with his usual cheerfulness and slept with great composure. In the morning at the appointed hour, the parties met. A melancholy event is known. Gen. Mason received the contents of his antagonist musket in his left breast and sell. His left arm was literally torn to pieces and his body was perforated in three places, at the distance of nearly 3 inches apart, which gave rise to suspicion this honorable to Mr. McCarty's seconds. These suspicions however, we are happy to learn for the honor of human nature, were done away by an examination of the body by a number of respectable physicians in the town. We understand it is their opinion that there was but one ball, which split on the bone of the arm and entered the body in two places, and that the third perforation was occasioned by a splinter from the bone of his arm, it being only through the flesh. Thus we have given a detail of the facts attending this melancholy event, so far as they have come to our knowledge. If we have been misinformed we shall readily give publicity to any official or authentic statements concerning it.[1]

[1] The American Beacon and Norfolk & Portsmouth Daily Advertiser; Date: 03-03-1819; Norfolk, Virginia.

read more on this duel: Gen. A. T. Mason, of Virginia, is no more - Duel at Bladensburg Feb. 6th, 1819


Transcribed by John Peter Thompson. March 5, 2014.

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