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Justin Pasternak




Location: West Springfield, Massachusetts
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PostPosted: Fri 11 May, 2007 12:17 pm    Post subject: Dueling with flintlock pistols         Reply with quote

I understand the basics of a duel with each opponent carrying a pistol and stepping a number of paces before the turned around and shot at each other.

But the question that I have is that did duelers ever hold a pistol in each hand in case, they missed with the first shot, they could immediately follow up with a second shot? Confused
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Fri 11 May, 2007 12:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think the protocol is for one shot, unless both duelists miss. In that case, the duelists must decide if honor has been satisfied. If you miss and the other fellow hasn't yet fired, you simply have to stand there and wait while he takes his time aiming.
-Sean

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Martin Wilkinson





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PostPosted: Fri 11 May, 2007 2:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

My understanding of Pistol duels is that, like other forms of duelling, there were many methods and types of duel.

The most common was almost certainly the stand back to back, take ten paces, turn and fire, but there were others.

I recall reading about an interesting mounted duel taking place in Ireland. I believe 3 shots each. They rode at each other, fired, reached the other's start point, turned around, reloaded and started again, then once the were out of ammo, drew swords and had each other. (This is from my memory of reading The Sword and The Centuries by Alfred Hutton).

I don't recall hearing anything about multiple pistol duels, but buy a book or two on duelling and see what you can find.

"A bullet you see may go anywhere, but steel's, almost bound to go somewhere."

Schola Gladiatoria
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Peter Bosman




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PostPosted: Sun 13 May, 2007 12:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There is a surprisingly historically accurate film called 'The Duelists'. It is accurate to the correct use of the sword knot and hairdoo p.e.
The two main protagonists also duel using pistols and indeed simply agree upon there own terms and 'hunt' eachother out with two pistols each.
A VERY well made and highly recommended film indeed.

Peter
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Martin Wilkinson





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PostPosted: Sun 13 May, 2007 11:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter Bosman wrote:
There is a surprisingly historically accurate film called 'The Duelists'. It is accurate to the correct use of the sword knot and hairdoo p.e.
The two main protagonists also duel using pistols and indeed simply agree upon there own terms and 'hunt' eachother out with two pistols each.
A VERY well made and highly recommended film indeed.

Peter


Have you got any sources that mention duels like the final duel taking place? I've been looking for one, and can't find any.

"A bullet you see may go anywhere, but steel's, almost bound to go somewhere."

Schola Gladiatoria
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Peter Bosman




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PostPosted: Mon 14 May, 2007 1:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Martin Wilkinson wrote:

Have you got any sources that mention duels like the final duel taking place? I've been looking for one, and can't find any.


No. I did read in contemporary novels and accounts about ány sort of 'rules' decided by the duellists so see no reason to doubt wether this was within the realistic possibilities.
As a historical 'document' concrning the story the film has zero value obviously. It does however portray the times véry well.

Peter
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Allen Reed




Location: Northwest, IL
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PostPosted: Mon 14 May, 2007 2:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Martin Wilkinson wrote:
My understanding of Pistol duels is that, like other forms of duelling, there were many methods and types of duel.

The most common was almost certainly the stand back to back, take ten paces, turn and fire, but there were others.

I recall reading about an interesting mounted duel taking place in Ireland. I believe 3 shots each. They rode at each other, fired, reached the other's start point, turned around, reloaded and started again, then once the were out of ammo, drew swords and had each other. (This is from my memory of reading The Sword and The Centuries by Alfred Hutton).

I don't recall hearing anything about multiple pistol duels, but buy a book or two on duelling and see what you can find.


Actually from several books on dueling I have read, sorry don't have the references with me, the back to back start is mostly a myth.

Allen
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Martin Wilkinson





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PostPosted: Mon 14 May, 2007 4:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Allen Reed wrote:
Martin Wilkinson wrote:
My understanding of Pistol duels is that, like other forms of duelling, there were many methods and types of duel.

The most common was almost certainly the stand back to back, take ten paces, turn and fire, but there were others.

I recall reading about an interesting mounted duel taking place in Ireland. I believe 3 shots each. They rode at each other, fired, reached the other's start point, turned around, reloaded and started again, then once the were out of ammo, drew swords and had each other. (This is from my memory of reading The Sword and The Centuries by Alfred Hutton).

I don't recall hearing anything about multiple pistol duels, but buy a book or two on duelling and see what you can find.


Actually from several books on dueling I have read, sorry don't have the references with me, the back to back start is mostly a myth.

Allen


I think you're right. My apologies.

But, my understanding is that a lot of duels started back to back, take x paces, turn, arms and pistols down by side, 'judge' calls "start" or equivilant, raise guns and shoot.

"A bullet you see may go anywhere, but steel's, almost bound to go somewhere."

Schola Gladiatoria
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Hugh Fuller




Location: Virginia
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PostPosted: Tue 15 May, 2007 7:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It is my suspicion that the formal duel with pistols at ten paces was probably something like the high noon walkdown fast draw shootout in the western movies and tv shows, more common in stories than in reality. I cannot prove that it is so with duels, but I do know from reading records of western shootouts that most took place inside saloons, etc. and/or in back alleys at night. They were, first and foremost, survival affairs rather than points of honor. Yes, I know of such affairs as those involving Hamilton/Burr anf Decatur/Barron but such events were most likely rather less frequent than the Vidalia Sandbar affair which started out as a pistol duel and wound up as a no-holds-barred brawl.
Hugh
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Please see 1 John 1:5
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Peter Bosman




Location: Andalucia
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PostPosted: Wed 16 May, 2007 5:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The duel is per defenition the settlement of a dispute or matter between two individuals.

For millenia it has been a tool for societies' first class as one of the many tools to maintain the upper hand. The judicial duel is a good example of it.
The 'wild west' period was only a 50 year period with the players almost exclusively being societies third class.

Somewhere in the renaissance the duel as we now perceive it develloped as a honourable (if prohibited) way to settle disputes or matters. This means that honouring the rules was elementairy hence the need for a referee and secondants. Whatever the rules were...???
I guess pistols were a húge 'gift' to the lesser skilled men.

Peter
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Micha Hofmann




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PostPosted: Wed 16 May, 2007 7:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I don't know if a duel with flintlock pistols required less skill than a duel with blades. I'd rather think it requires just a different set of skills.

That said, I would really be interested in some historical sources of how flintlock pistol duels generally took place.

For example, in the movie "Barry Lyndon", which is based on a novel written in 1844, there are a number of pistol duels in which the combatants toss a coin to decide who is going to shoot first. The other gentleman has to wait standing still while the first one takes his shot. He may then fire, if he is still in the condition to do so. The movie action takes place in the 18th century.

Does anyone know if this is purely fiction?

( By the way. This is a great movie. Anybody who likes "The duelists" might want to check this one out, too. )
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Wed 16 May, 2007 8:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There's a wonderful pistol duel scene early in George MacDonald Fraser's first "Flashman" novel. Read the whole book, though. You'll be surprised how much you value time spent with this fantastically lucky shark of a man.

http://www.amazon.com/Flashman-Novel-George-M...amp;sr=8-2

-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Peter Bosman




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PostPosted: Wed 16 May, 2007 9:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Micha Hofmann wrote:
I don't know if a duel with flintlock pistols required less skill than a duel with blades.


Well, I am sure of it.
Most people learn to shoot within an hour and most learn to shoot as accurate as a militairy flintlock within hours. Thus this person stands a reasonable chance against a marksman.
Not so fencing. After weeks of intensive training not even a talented person will stand a chance against a 'pro' training for decades. That was the whole thing with judicial and personal duels. The fighting men could get away with ánything.

Peter
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Andrew Fox




Location: S.F. Bay Area
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PostPosted: Wed 16 May, 2007 10:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

An infamous duel here in SF was between judge and former California Supreme Court Chief Justice David Terry and Senator David Broderick, although I assume it was fought with percussion-cap pistols rather than flintlocks, being that it happened in 1859. According to eyewitness accounts, the men paced off an agreed-upon distance, although not back to back, and waited for the signal to fire. At the signal of "Fire-one-two" a nervous Broderick proceeded to fire his pistol into the ground in front of him (there was some controversy as to whether this was due to his anxiety or to an alleged "hair trigger" on the dueling pistols), so he had to stand as Terry took aim and plugged him. All this took place over only a few seconds, apparently, as witnesses recall Broderick discharging his weapon at the word "Fire" and Terry shooting on "Two".

There are markers showing where the two men stood down at the duel site near Lake Merced, which appear to be quite close, maybe 15 feet or so, but who knows how accurately spaced they are.

Broderick died of his wound. Interestingly, Terry was shot and killed a few years later by the bodyguard of a CA Supreme Court Justice after he slapped said justice in the face at the Sacramento railroad station.
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Hugh Fuller




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PostPosted: Wed 16 May, 2007 11:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Firing into the ground was one way an honorable man could discharge his responsibility in a duelling situation without actually trying to kill the other man. The problem with that is that it usually involved both parties to the duel being aware of the action and respecting it. Interestingly enough, in the infamous Stephen Decatur - James Barron duel in 1820, both appear to have fired to wound and not to kill. Decatur's shot was deflected by Barron's hip bone down into his leg and Barron recovered, but Barron's shot was deflected from Decatur's hip up into his groin, cutting several blood vessels. Decatur died an agonizing death and Barron's further career was ruined.
Hugh
Still trying to walk in the Light
Please see 1 John 1:5
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Hugh Fuller




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PostPosted: Wed 16 May, 2007 11:47 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

BTW, while many pistol duels were certainly fought with the firearms available to the participants at the time, there were dedicated duelling pistol sets. These generally had rifled bores, were extremely well-made, and were very, very accurate as well as matched as closely as humanly possible. I have seen some of them and they are fine examples of the gun makers' art.
Hugh
Still trying to walk in the Light
Please see 1 John 1:5
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