Sandbar Fight Anniversary Special:
Acting in violence is abhorrent behavior but, unfortunately, by no means aberrant behavior. / The spectacle of violence is compelling yet repulsive, for armed conflict is inherently dramatic but destructive. / Men who engage in mortal combat with each other share a camaraderie that cannot be comprehended by those who have not gambled their lives in brutal games of skill and chance. / However they may be judged, Jim Bowie’s actions in his Sandbar Fight are unquestionably memorable.
⁓The Voice before the Void
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Sandbar Fight, a.k.a. the Vidalia Sandbar Fight, was an 1827 brawl featuring Jim Bowie. The brawl occurred at the conclusion of a duel, and resulted in Bowie being seriously injured; nonetheless, Bowie was the victor.
On September 19, 1827, a duel took place on a sandbar outside of Natchez, Mississippi between two men from Alexandria, Louisiana. About 16 men were present. The duelist Samuel Levi Wells III included among his supporters Bowie, General Samuel Cuny, Major George McWhorter, and others. The other duelist, Dr. Thomas Harris Maddox, had among his supporters Colonel Robert Crain, Major Norris Wright, the brothers Carey and Alfred Blanchard, and several others.
The duelists each fired two shots, and, as neither man was injured, they resolved their duel with a handshake.
As the duelists turned to leave and a group formed around them, Samuel Cuny, who had previously fought with Robert Crain, is recorded as having called out, “Col. Crain, this is a good time to settle our difficulty.” Crain fired his pistol at Cuny, missing him but striking Jim Bowie in the hip and knocking him to the ground. Cuny and Crain then exchanged fire, with Crain sustaining a flesh wound in the arm and Cuny dying from a shot to the chest.
Bowie, rising to his feet, drew his large custom knife and charged at Crain. Crain struck Bowie upon the head with his empty pistol so hard that the pistol broke and Bowie was dropped to his knees. Norris Wright then drew a pistol and shot at the fallen Bowie, missing him. Wright then drew his cane-sword and stabbed Bowie in the chest, but the thin blade was deflected by Bowie’s sternum. As Wright attempted to pull the blade free, Bowie reached up, grabbed Wright’s shirt, and pulled him down upon the point of his knife. Wright died instantly, and Bowie, with Wright’s sword still protruding from his chest, was shot again and stabbed by another member of the group. As Bowie stood, pulling the cane-sword from his chest, both Carey Blanchard and Alfred Blanchard fired at him, and Bowie was struck in the arm. Bowie spun and cut off part of Alfred Blanchard’s forearm. Carey Blanchard fired a second shot at Bowie, but missed. As the brothers fled, Carey Blanchard was shot and wounded by George McWhorter.
The Sandbar Fight left Norris Wright and Samuel Cuny dead, and four other men—Carey Blanchard, Alfred Blanchard, Robert Crain, and Jim Bowie—wounded.
Crain helped carry Bowie away, with Bowie recorded as having thanked him, saying, “Col. Crain, I do not think, under the circumstances, you ought to have shot me.” The doctors who had been present for the duel managed to patch Bowie’s wounds. One doctor reputedly said, “How he lived is a mystery to me, but live he did.”
Newspapers picked up the story, which became known nationally. Bowie’s fighting prowess and his knife were described in detail. Eyewitness accounts agreed that Bowie did not attack first, and that the others had focused their attack on Bowie because “they considered him the most dangerous man among their opposition.” After the Sandbar Fight in which Bowie had successfully used his customized knife to defend himself, the design became very popular; many craftsmen and manufacturers made their own versions of the “Bowie knife,” and many major American cities had “Bowie knife schools,” which taught “the art of cut, thrust, and parry.” Bowie’s fame, and that of his knife, spread to England, and by the early 1830s, many British knife manufacturers were also producing Bowie knives, exporting many of them to the United States for sale. The design of the knife continued to evolve; it is generally agreed to have a blade 8.25 inches long and 1.25 inches wide, with a curved point. It has a “sharp false edge cut from both sides” and a cross-guard to protect the user’s hand.