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Gen. Dromgoole 1837, Dual in Lawrenceville

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Gen. Dromgoole 1837, Dual in Lawrenceville

Posted: 1186012298000
Classification: Query
Surnames: Wilkins, Dugger, Haines, Tucker, Green, Harrison
I found the following on another site and thought it would be interesting to Dromgoole researchers. Unfortunately the author who posted it on another site did not identify the printed matter in which this article was published.

This 1837 story caught my eye because I think my Wilkins antecedents worked for the prominent Wilkins family of Brunswick County, Va.- a group of physician and attorney brothers who belonged to the Whig Party. One was named Dr. William Wyche Wilkins, another John Limbrey Wilkins, a third Edmund Wilkins. My great-great grandfather was born in 1841 in Lawrenceville, Va. and also named "Edmund Wilkins". The dates, names and places in the following story match those that I've been researching with a mind toward determining Edmund's owners. It's quite lengthy, and the Wilkins I have investigated doesn't show up until the 18th paragraph for those of you who wish to fast forward or browse the story:

Bijan C. Bayne

In the year 1837 on entertainment was given at the hotel in Lawrenceville. The intelligence and character of the county were present. It was purely a social gathering. Politics were tacitly forbid; for political feeling was running high, and strange to say, though the issues were then of a sentimental character compared to subsequent periods, the bitterness was as intense as when the interests of nearly half the country were at stake.

Gen. Drumgoole was among those present at the entertainment. The hotel was under the management of Daniel Dugger, Esq. both its proprietor and keeper. Mr. Dugger was an unambitious man of fine character and average ability, and most lovable traits. He had been a rich young man and was still of fair fortune, but was embarrassed as many young men of the day were by his connection and love of the "Turf", and was at the time of which we write, the owner and breeder of the celebrated race horse, Wagner.

On this especial evening he was at the head of the table and was carving a fowl. Some ill advised guest addressed to him a political question. The decanter had circulated rapidly, and Gen. Drumgoole who sat immediately at Mr. Dugger's right hand and who had drunk freely, said before Mr. Dugger could reply, in a loud voice, showing complete intoxication--"Dugger! Damn Dugger as a political mentor! Why he is below infamy and beneath contempt!" These words had scarcely passed his lips when Mr. Dugger struck him fiercely across the face with his open hand and threw at him the carving fork as he tried to rise. Their friends intervened and raised Gen. Drumgoole to his feet. He seemed dazed and unconscious of what had occurred and asked for his spectacles, which had fallen from his face. He was very near-sighted and always wore glasses. The matter was easily adjusted by their friends and the next morning they drank together a glass of wine. The matter was supposed to be ended, and as "inter pocula" to be forgotten. Such then was the custom among fierce convivalist of the day. The rising sun dispelled the deeds of the wine-cup and the night.

They were both Masons. Gen. Drumgoole having been Master of Brunswick Lodge No. 52 and Grand Master of the State of Virginia. In a few weeks the campaign for Congress opened. It was conducted with great bitterness. The Whig party had no champion able to cope with the "Brunswick Lion", as General Drumgoole was then called, before the people.

The party parers seized hold of this private broil with Mr. Dugger, and used it unsparingly. The "Brunswick Lion" after all was but a poltroon and craven. "He had been bearded in his den and had his jaws slapped and was wanting in manhood to resent an indignity be entrusted to protect the rights of a brave and proud people?"

If he would not protect his own rights would he protect theirs?, were some of the things said, besides many more of a kindred kind.

The Whig party became exultant and vaunting, the Democrats, snarling and sour, and bets were made and taken that Drumgoole would not fight and if he did, Dugger would kill him.

Gen. Drumgoole was then in command of one of the militia brigades of the state. In a few weeks several of his staff officers sent in their resignations and wrote significant letters. Something had to be done. He at once addressed a polite note to Mr. Dugger telling him how the partisan press was taking unfair advantage, and making use of an unfortunate private and personal difficulty to injure him politically, and asking Mr. Dugger to publish a card putting the matter in its proper light.

Under the advice of his friends Mr. Dugger sent no formal reply. Such an opportunity to get rid of so able an advocate of the Democracy was not to be foregone. In an unfortunate hour he hearkened to their counsel. Mr. Dugger, however, stated informally to the bearer of the note "that he was not the curator of Gen. Drumgoole's reputation or the guardian of his honor. That a wanton insult had been offered him at his own table. At the moment he had shown all proper resentment. Farther satisfaction he had foregone for reasons well known to Gen. Drumgoole, that while he did not desire to disguise any of the incidents of the occasion, and would make private explanations when asked, he still less desired their disgraceful broil to become any more public than it already was, and that he declined to make any statement about it for public use. That Gen. Drumgoole could make any statement he pleased, and he was ready even before hand to accept it as a verity and would vouch for the truth of anything he would say. That he presumed that Gen. Drumgoole was amply able to settle with any one who might question any statement made. That he was content as matters stood and that Gen. Drumgoole must right any wrong that others had or might do him".

That Mr. Dugger had the right to act in this way, few will deny; but was it generous to a former friend? The conclusion proves that he was lending himself against his better nature, to his friends for a partisan purpose. That purpose was to ruin the political standing of Gen. Drumgoole. From this standpoint is Mr. Dugger an object of sympathy? We trow not.

A preremptory demand that he comply followed. This was treated with contemptuous silence. A challenge then followed at once. It was promptly accepted.

Mr. Dugger availed himself of his right under the "Code of Honor", and postponed the meeting for three weeks. He was on the eve of starting to New York to attend the celebrated contest between the horses Henry and Eclipse.

Mr. Haines, the editor of the Democratic paper in Petersburg, acted for Gen. Drumgoole. W. H. E. Merrit was the advising friend and T. Goode Tucker, a young lawyer who resided in Lawrenceville, represented Mr. Dugger as a field second. The weapon selected was the regulation dueling pistol. Mr. Tucker acting for Mr. Dugger demanded all his rights under the "Code of Honor" and drew up the cartal.

The third article under this agreement was that they could fire until one of the other should be "killed, mortally wounded or so disabled as to be unable to fire."

Mr. Haines on behalf of Gen. Drumgoole protested against these as unusual and murderous. His protest was without effect, for there was a latent opinion among Mr. Dugger's friends that Gen. Drumgoole was wanting in spirit.

Haines availed himself of the long interval to teach his friend the use of the weapon. He became very expert, for the bloody terms of his antagonist left that the only way out of the difficulty. He desired to disable, not to kill his former friend if possible.

Mr. Dugger never seemed to realize and appreciate the responsibility of the event he was to face, or else he was one of those quiet but determined men who are careless of danger. It has also been suggested that Gen. Drumgoole's friend possessed a latent significance other than that apparently conveyed. His wife was too of the "Blue Hen" stock and a scion of a very fierce family, who was said to have said that if he did not fight, she would. She was the daughter of Gen. Green of Warrenton, N.C.

The meeting was arranged to take place on the border of North Carolina at a place about two miles west of Gaston and about a half mile from Mr. Tucker's residence. Mr. Dugger reached Mr. Tucker's about two days before the appointed time, coming direct from New York. He brought neither surgeon nor weapons.

On the evening before the appointed day, Dr. W. W. Wilkins, a physician residing near Gaston, received a note from Dr. F. W. Harrison, asking him to put aside all engagements and meet him at Mr. Alex Harrison's. He did so and on reaching the place found Gen. Drumgoole, Mr. Haines and Dr. Harrison. Dr. Harrison took him aside and told him why he sent for him; that Mr. Dugger was at Mr. Tucker's and that he knew Dr. Wilkins to be a personal friend of both parties, and a political compatriot of Mr. Dugger; that unaided the responsibility was too much for him to bear and asked his professional assistance, as Mr. Dugger had brought no surgeon with him. Dr. Wilkins made some inquiries looking to peace but found matters had gone too far to be stopped.

The next morning the three gentlemen in a carriage, and Dr. Wilkins in his gig repaired to the designated place. In a few minutes Messrs. Dugger and Tucker came on the ground with a wagon in which there was a bed for either party that might require it.

The place selected was a level plateau on the banks of the Roanoke River, as smooth as a carpet and covered with a green sward.

Mr. Haines was in the ball room dress of the period - laco ruffles at his bosom and on his hands, silk stockings and pumps.

The parties greeted each other with a stern and polite civility. Messrs. Haines and Tucker conferred together for a few minutes and agreed upon the ground and stuck up the pegs. The distance was ten paces which they stepped off together. They then, in the presence of each other loaded the pistols, two pairs of which Mr. Haines and Gen. Drumgoole had brought. Mr. Dugger came unprovided. A coin tossed for word and position. Mr. Tucker won the word and Mr. Haines the position.

The combatants took their positions and the seconds handed each a pistol. Mr. Tucker placed himself midway between the combatants and some yards out of the line of fire. Mr. Haines advanced to the remaining case of pistols, and taking one in each hand placed himself in a similar position and opposite to Mr. Tucker, and announced how the word would be given in a clear and distinct voice.

"Gentlemen are you ready?" If prepared, keep silence, if not, speak. Fire!-one-two-three. Stop! with an interval of about a second between the words. This explanation he followed with the declaration, "Should either of you fire before the word "Fire" or after the word "stop", he falls by my hand."

Both men were as cool as a summer morn. Mr. Tucker gave the word. There was but one report as heard by those present. There was a commingled report as heard by those at a little distance, and suspected what was taking place.

As the smoke lifted Mr. Dugger was seen to stoop forward, and then pitched heavily face foremost to the ground. The two surgeons advanced and turned him over. His face was colorless and lips blue. Gen. Drumgoole had tried to shatter his pistol hand or break his arm. The charge of powder was probably not sufficient as the bullet was two inches too low, hitting him in the arm-pit and from subsequent developments not making the usual penetration from such perfect weapons. (I saw their pistols many years afterward.) They were the most beautiful weapons I ever saw. They belonged to Gen. Whittaker of North Carolina and were mounted with gold. I suppose they must have cost several hundred dollars. They had two sets of barrels, one carrying an oz. and the other a 1/2 oz. ball. Mr. Haines stepped up in front of Gen. Drumgoole, folded his arms and stood in a position to shield him from a view of his dying adversary, for Mr. Dugger had been mortally wounded.

Mr. Tucker assisted by the surgeons started to remove Mr. Dugger to the wagon and


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