I just happened to click on Wikipedia this morning to find that their feature article is a tale from Alexandria’s somewhat less than genteel past.
The Sandbar Duel is famous for being the last public duel fought in the US. By this time most states had outlawed dueling. This duel involved the parties of Dr Thomas Harris Maddox — my Great-Great-Great-Grandfather, Alexander Fulton’s business partner, and town surgeon for Alexandria at the time, and Samuel Levi Wells — the Sheriff of Alexandria (and oddly enough also my Great-Great-Great-Grandfather as well as the Great-Great-Grandfather of author Rebbecca Wells of Ya Ya Sisterhood fame).
This was a rougher time for Alexandria just as many of the first plantations were being established and at the time our fair city was the sinful den of inequity across the river from the military establishment of Post Du Rapides (present-day Pineville); I suppose some things never change.
As was the case in many frontier towns (and Alexandria was the frontier (with Spain)), many residents earned their money and then spent it in the saloons. Maddox was no exception. He liked his whiskey and when he got enough of it he had no problem telling whomever would listen all the medical-related dirt of the city.
In a drunken rant one day Dr. Maddox let loose that the reason Sheriff Wells’ daughter had to retire to the country had nothing to do with illness and everything to do with being pregnant (and unmarried).
This led to a series of exchanges in town with pot shots being taken at each other (funny that our Sheriff and town doctor were probably involved in Alexandria’s first drive-by). Eventually realizing they could not continue the two agreed to a duel to settle the matter.
With dueling being illegal in both Louisiana and Mississippi, the two cooked up a plan to fight it out on a sandbar in the middle of the Mississippi river between Natchez and present-day Vidalia. They theorized that being in neither Louisiana nor Mississippi that the sandbar could prove a legal host for their very illegal activity.
Both sides recruited their buddies and formed dueling parties. The most famous member of the crew being Jim Bowie.
During the organized portion of the duel both Maddox and Wells fired a single shot and completely missed each other. Following the failed chivalric solution a drunken brawl ensued with both Maddox and Wells skirting off to the side and drinking more while their cohorts bloodied the sand.
The duel itself is famous for being the last public spectacle of its sort fought in the United States and also in being the first recorded use of a Bowie Knife.