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Monday, October 3, 2011

An Aborted Bowie-Knife Duel

The following article appeared in the Atlanta Constitution, July 7, 1889:
“With a Bowie Knife”
Colonel B.T. Hatcher and Colonel G. Gunby Jordan
Mr. Murphy, in a card addressed to “Whom it may concern,” says: The above note written by Mr. G. Gunby Jordan, I delivered to Mr. B. T. Hatcher. I was referred by him to Mr. Rolin Jefferson with the statement that Mr. Jefferson was authorized to act for him. I saw Mr. Jefferson, who said he would agree to the use of nothing but bowie knives with ten inch blades to be used in a ten feet ring, and gave as his reason for his choice that Mr. Hatcher was partially deaf and could not hear the commands, to which I replied that this could be no objection, as there could be no firing until both principals should say they were ready, in answer to the signal, “Are you ready?” by the second who would have the privilege of giving the commands. Besides, fighting with bowie knives was unprecedented and barbarous and unjust to my principal, who was no match physically with Mr. Hatcher. I did offer, however, to allow the use of any firearms made, shotguns, rifles or pistols, to see that both principals heard the commands. This he promptly and positively declined, knowing the proposition to fight in the only way Mr. Jefferson would agree, towit: with bowie knives to be entirely unrecognized.
By the 1880s, serious duels were rare in the South, because, in the event of the death of one of the parties, legal repercussions were hard to avoid. The duel reported here may have been one of many duels that were threatened with no intention of seeing them through. I do like the idea that knives were requested as Mr. Hatcher was afraid he wouldn't hear the command to fire if pistols were the weapons.


  1. Hello friends,

    Today, many different companies make Bowie knives, and term is often used to describe any large sheath knife. They are available in decorative and commemorative styles as well as functional hunting or survival knives. This knife, in its modern incarnation, is useful for camping and hunting as well as a weapon, it is designed to do both jobs exceptionally well, leading to its present-day popularity. Thanks a lot.....