Saturday, May 19, 2012

Civil War Duel in Kentucky

This comes from the May 17, 1862 edition of the Covington Journal. I must admit I was surprised to see a report of a duel fought at this time, but in retrospect, maybe it is more surprising there were not more in Kentucky during this time, given the mixed sentiments and emotions about the war, especially once emancipation and the use of African-American soldiers came about. Some of the tactics by Union leaders in the state during the last half of the war were pretty strict, and I wonder if they produced any "contests of honor" such as the one described below, from two fairly prominent families, a former city mayor and the son of a former Kentucky governor.

Here is a link that has more details about this showdown. Apparently at one time, offered a book about this incident, but it says it is currently unavailable. The links I added below include photographs of the two contestants.

A Fatal Duel 
A duel took place at half past four o'clock on Thursday evening last, at some point not far from the city of Maysville, between Wm. T.Casto, Esq., a lawyer of that city, and Col. Leonidas Metcalfe, of Nicholas county. The challenge, we understand, was sent by Casto, and the difficulty grew out of his arrest sometime last winter by Col. Metcalfe, and his being sent to Fort Lafayette. 

Col. Metcalfe received the challenge on Wednesday, promptly accepted it, fixed thursday evening at 4 1/2 o'clock as the time, Colt's rifles as the weapons , and sixty yards as the distance. The parties met, in pursuance to this arrangement, and at the first fire, Casto was killed instantly, the ball passing through his heart. Casto, it is said, fired at the word one, and Metcalfe at the word two. Col. Metcalfe was not injured. 

These facts have been communicated to us by a gentleman who received them from a person who was on the ground. [Lex. Obs] (Editor's note: This refers to the Lexington Observer newspaper)


  1. Great post, Richard! Fascinating stuff!

  2. Thank you. It is one of the more interesting things I have found


Popular Posts