I am a collector of Civil War trivia. I love to gather similiar stories into lists. These facts seem to be of interest to others as well but I just get a kick out of gathering these stories.
There were four generals killed in duels or just plain murdered for one of a number of reasons. There may be more, but since I started my list with these four I will be able to add others if I discover them. You may have heard about one or more of these events but did you know of all three?
- Union Major General Jefferson Columbus Davis killed Major General William “Bull” Nelson at the Galt House in Louisville, Kentucky over an argument and insult on 29 September 1862. Davis had been offended by Nelson on previous occasions and when slapped this time he simply drew his pistol and got satisfaction.
- Confederate General Earl Van Dorn was killed by a jealous husband, Dr. james Bodie Peters, at Ferguson Hall near Spring Hill, Tennessee on 7 May 1863. VanDorn was a notorious womanizer and had been having an affair with Mrs. Jessie McKissack Peters, the doctor’s wife. VanDorn was shot in the back of the head at his headquarters while writing at a desk. VanDorn served heroically in the Mexican War and the Indian Campaigns in Texas and Indian Territory (Oklahoma). In the “Late Unpleasantness” he rose to corps and army command in the West and Trans-Mississippi Theaters but he was most successful as a cavalry commander.
- Confederate General John Sappington Marmaduke mortally wounded Brigadier General Lucius M. Walker in a duel near Little Rock, Arkansas on 6 September 1863 over a challenge made by Walker for a charge of cowardice rendered by Marmaduke.
- Confederate Major General John Austin Wharton was shot and killed as a result of an argument with Colonel George Wythe Baylor on 6 April 1865 over the distribution of forces in the Trans-Mississippi Theater at the Fannin Hotel in Galveston, Texas, the headquarters of Gen John MacGruder.
Interesting stories each and to my knowledge none of the killers were ever punished.