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Monday, October 18, 2010

Bowie Knife vs. Pistol: A Gold Rush Incident

The following story was published in 1855:
MURDER IN CALIFORNIA. This day, a murder took place in Tuolumne county, Cal., at Cherokee Camp, by which William Rice was killed by one Lewis Carley. It appears that the parties had been shooting at a mark and drinking fighting-whiskey. A quarrel arose, and Carley, who was known as Grizzly, advanced on Rice with his gun and a large bowie-knife. Rice, who had a loaded gun in his hand at the time, told him to keep off, or he would shoot him. Carley continued to advance, and Rice snapped his gun at him. Carley then knocked Rice's gun aside with his own, and also knocked him down and got on him, and with his knife inflicted several wounds, one in the region of the heart, another between the seventh and eighth ribs, one on the left side of the bend, and several flesh-wounds. Mr. John Mallory ran to the assistance of Rice, and struck Carley with his fist. The latter then left Rice and ran after Mallory, and was in the act of stabbing him, when Mr. A. Ripley ran up and knocked Carley down with a gun. He was then bound and kept in custody till the sheriff arrived.
This story not only provides us with another data point in the knife vs. gun debate, but acquaints us with the handy term "fighting-whiskey." According to David Maurer's Kentucky Moonshine, "In areas where both illicit and licit whiskey are available, moonshine is quaintly described as "fighting whiskey," while legal liquor is referred to as "courting whiskey."

1 comment:

  1. A handy phrase yes, but possibly only used in by journalists :)