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8 Legendary Duels

8 Legendary Duels

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1. Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr (1804)

On July 11, 1804, years of escalating personal and political tensions culminated in the most famous duel in American history: the standoff between Alexander Hamilton, a leading Federalist and former secretary of the treasury, and Aaron Burr, who was then serving as vice president under Thomas Jefferson. Hamilton had come to detest Burr, whom he regarded as an opportunist, and vehemently campaigned against him during his failed 1804 bid to become governor of New York. Burr resolved to restore his reputation by challenging Hamilton to an “affair of honor,” as duels were then known.

The enemies met at the dueling grounds near Weehawken, New Jersey—the same spot where Hamilton’s son had died defending his father’s honor in November 1801. (The loss inspired Hamilton to denounce dueling and lend his voice to the growing movement against the practice.) According to some accounts, Hamilton never planned to aim at Burr, hoping instead to fire a symbolic shot into the air and resolve the matter peacefully. Whatever his intentions, Hamilton missed his opponent but was promptly shot in the stomach; he died the next afternoon. Few affairs of honor actually resulted in deaths at the time, and the nation was outraged by the killing of a man as eminent as Alexander Hamilton. Public opinion turned against Burr, who was charged with murder and later arrested for treason in an unrelated incident. Acquitted on a technicality, he fled to Europe before returning to private life in New York.

2. Lady Almeria Braddock and Mrs. Elphinstone (1792)

A certain Mrs. Elphinstone expected no more than a cup of tea when she paid a social call to Lady Almeria Braddock’s London home in 1792. But the visit veered off into decidedly unladylike territory when the hostess, evidently enraged by a casual comment Mrs. Elphinstone made about her age, challenged her guest to a duel in Hyde Park. According to reports, Mrs. Elphinstone fired her pistol first, knocking Lady Braddock’s hat to the ground. The women then took up swords, and Lady Braddock got her revenge by wounding her opponent in the arm. The “Petticoat Duel,” as it came to be known, ended without further incident when Mrs. Elphinstone agreed to write a letter of apology.

3. Miyamoto Musashi and Sasaki Kojiro (1612)

Considered the preeminent Japanese swordsmen of their time, archrivals Miyamoto Musashi and Sasaki Kojiro met on the remote shores of Ganryū Island to settle their differences once and for all. According to legend, Musashi showed up several hours late to psych out his opponent, bearing a giant wooden sword he had fashioned from the oar of a boat. Kojiro attacked the tardy samurai with his signature “swallow cut” move, but before his blade was lowered Musashi dealt him a fatal blow. Pursued by furious Kojiro supporters who considered his delayed arrival unfair, Musashi hopped back into his boat and rowed to safety. Later in life, Musashi would become an acclaimed painter.

4. Édouard Manet and Edmond Duranty (1870)

In February 1870, the French painter Édouard Manet flew into a fit of rage after reading a single dispassionate sentence about two of his works penned by his longtime friend, the critic Edmond Duranty. The artist stormed into Paris’ Café Guerbois, slapped Duranty in the face and challenged him to a sword duel. According to police reports, the men faced each other on February 23 in the forest of Saint-Germain, with the famous writer Émile Zola attending Manet as his “second.” The adversaries’ swords allegedly struck only once, but with such force that both blades buckled. When Duranty sustained a minor wound, Manet declared his honor sufficiently defended, and before long the two Parisians had patched up their relationship and were once again sharing meals at the Guerbois.

5. Alexander Pushkin and Georges d’Anthès (1837)

Perhaps more so than the man wielding the pistol, it was pure jealously that felled the great Russian poet Alexander Pushkin at the height of his career. In the 1830s, George d’Anthès aggressively pursued Pushkin’s beautiful wife Natalya in Saint Petersburg, earning verbal threats from the famous—and notoriously pugnacious—writer in return. On January 10, 1837, the Frenchman wed Natalya’s sister Ekaterina, perhaps to dispel rumors of an affair and quell Pushkin’s wrath. Nevertheless, on January 27 the newly minted brothers-in-law met in a duel. D’Anthès escaped with a gash on his arm, but Pushkin took a bullet to the stomach and died two days later.

6. Isabella de Carazzi and Diambra de Pettinella (1552)

Fabio de Zeresola may have been the most sought-after bachelor in 16th-century Naples. At a time when many duels were fought between men for a disputed lady’s favor, two young women—Isabella de Carazzi and Diambra de Pettinella—competed for Zeresola’s affection in a public swordfight. Although the outcome is unknown, the sensational event kept gossips’ tongues wagging for decades to come. In 1636, the Spanish artist Jose de Riberta immortalized the story in his famous painting “Duelo de Mujeres” (“Duel of Women”).

7. Ben Jonson and Gabriel Spenser (1598)

A contemporary of William Shakespeare, Ben Jonson overcame a rough upbringing to become an accomplished playwright, poet and actor. He also cultivated a bad-boy reputation through his ruthless exploits as a soldier, his hard-drinking lifestyle and his inflammatory writings. On September 22, 1598, he killed the actor Gabriel Spenser in a duel that may have arisen after the two men quarreled over which theater troupe was Elizabethan England’s finest. Sentenced to hang for the murder, Jonson used a legal loophole known as the “benefit of clergy,” reciting a Bible verse to escape the death penalty; his property was ultimately confiscated and his thumb branded. Jonson’s hit play “Every Man in His Humor” was produced the same year, with Shakespeare himself playing a role.

8. Andrew Jackson and Charles Dickinson (1806)

More than two decades before he became the seventh president of the United States, Andrew Jackson faced off against Charles Dickinson, a lawyer regarded as one of the best shots in the area, in Logan, Kentucky. The proud and volatile Jackson, a former senator and representative of Tennessee, called for the duel after Dickinson described his wife Rachel as a bigamist, referring to a legal error in her 1791 divorce from her first husband. On May 30, 1806, the two men met with pistols in hand, standing 24 feet apart in accordance with dueling custom. After the signal, Dickinson fired first, grazing Jackson’s breastbone and breaking some of his ribs. Jackson, a former Tennessee militia leader, maintained his stance and fired back, fatally wounding his opponent. It was one of several duels Jackson was said to have participated in during his lifetime, the majority of which were allegedly in defense of Rachel’s honor.

10 Intriguing Cases Of Single Combat

The ancient practice of single combat is as old as war itself. It is defined as a duel between two single warriors, which typically takes place in the context of a battle between two armies. These duels sometimes served as a way to prevent extensive loss of life, with the winner&rsquos side being granted victory. However, single combat could also occur in the midst of battle between two agreeing warriors. These fights were almost always to the death.

The reasons for engaging in these dangerous duels are varied. Some looked to win power or glory, while others looked to spare the lives of their fellow soldiers. Some simply fought out of necessity. Here, we will look at some of these dramatic duels.

1. Krampus

A Krampus figure in Heimstetten, Germany. FooTToo/iStock via Getty Images

As a tool to encourage good behavior in children, Santa serves as the carrot, and Krampus is the stick. Krampus is the evil demon anti-Santa, or maybe his evil twin. Krampus may look like a devil, or like a wild alpine beast, depending on the region and what materials are available to make a Krampus costume. Krampus Night is celebrated on December 5, the eve of St. Nicholas Day in Austria and other parts of Europe. Public celebrations that night have many Krampuses walking the streets, looking for people to beat. In recent years, the tradition has spread beyond Europe, and many cities in America have their own Krampus Nights now.

The Legendary Small-Block Chevy V-8: A Look Back at Its Highlights

It's not unreasonable to say the Chevrolet small-block V-8 changed the face of automotive engine history. Innovative and technologically advanced when it debuted in 1955, it greatly influenced future V-8 engine designs, both inside General Motors and among the competition. Enthusiasts embraced it and an entire performance aftermarket sprang up around it. Over the years, variations of the small-block V-8 have been used in race cars, off-road trucks, boats, and even custom motorcycles. It can also be found under the hood of everything from classic Ford hot rods to radical Jeep conversions.

"The small-block Chevy is unquestionably the dominant domestic engine both in terms of sheer numbers and also in terms of longevity," said Jeff Smith, senior technical editor for Car Craft Magazine. He cites the engine's interchangeability as one of the biggest reasons for its popularity. "It's possible to swap a set of heads from a 1990 Vortec truck engine onto the original '55 265. I doubt there's an engine ever built (perhaps the VW) that you could swap parts from engines 45 years apart."

"The aftermarket loves engines like the SBC because they knew that if they invested in a decent design like a good flowing cylinder head or a well-designed performance camshaft, that the design would have a decade or more worth of longevity," Smith added.

Bill Tichenor, director of marketing for Holley Performance Products, echoes Smith's sentiments. "It is not unreasonable to say Holley has sold more speed parts for small-block Chevys than all other engines combined. There are great engines from Ford, Chrysler, and others, but the proliferation of cores and affordability of making power with a small-block Chevy made it rise to the top. They certainly have been the engine of choice for street rodding, Chevy muscle cars and trucks, circle track racing, and a lot of drag car, too."

Interestingly, the small-block Chevy was not the first V-8 in the brand's history. From 1917-19, some 3,000 cars were equipped with the little-known Chevy Series D V-8. The 288-cubic-inch (4.7-liter) V-8 had a 4.75:1 compression ratio and produced 55 horsepower at 2,700 rpm. The Series D was the first overhead valve V-8 and featured an exposed valvetrain, nickel-plated valve covers, and an aluminum water-cooled intake manifold.

Three-and-a-half decades after that initial effort, the small-block Chevy was born. Developed as a replacement for Chevrolet's "stove-bolt" six-cylinder engine, the 265-cubic-inch (4.3-liter) "Turbo-Fire" engine arrived in 1955 as an option for the Bel Air and Corvette. Its compact, lightweight design featured 4.4-inch bore spacing and a thin wall casting to reduce weight. An internal oiling system, and the potential to bore and stroke it far beyond the factory limit of 400 cubic inches (Gen I engines), contributed to its long-term success.

We've put together the following list of 10 of the most impressive small-block Chevy V-8s in the brand's history. Enjoy the V-8 power trip.

265 Turbo-Fire V-8

The 265 arrived on the scene with a 3.75-inch bore and 3.00-inch stroke (95.2 - 76.2 mm). It made 162 horsepower and 257 lb-ft in base form with a two-barrel carburetor. An optional Power Pack added a four-barrel carburetor (and other modifications) taking power up to 180 horsepower and an even 260 lb-ft of torque. When fitted to the Corvette, the 265 made 195 horsepower through a dual exhaust system. Later in the year Chevrolet added a Super Power Pack option to the Bel Air, taking it to Corvette power levels.

In 1956, the 265 in the Corvette was available in three more powerful flavors: 210 horsepower with a single four-barrel carburetor, 225 horsepower with "dual quads," and 240 horsepower with the dual four-barrel carburetors and a high-lift camshaft. Its compact size was made possible by consolidating accessories. According to GM, it used a one-piece intake manifold that combined the water outlet, exhaust heat riser, distributor mounting, oil filler, and valley cover into a single casting.

283 Turbo-Fire V-8

The small-block Chevy was blessed with more displacement in its third year (the 162 horsepower 265 was still the base engine). A larger 3.875-inch bore brought the "Mighty Mouse" up to 283 cubic inches (4.6 liters). Early 283s used 265 block castings, but thin cylinder walls contributed to overheating. The issue was caught early on and subsequent 283 engine blocks were specifically cast to prevent the problem.

The 283, dubbed Super Turbo-Fire, came with a choice of a carburetion or mechanical fuel injection. It made 185 horsepower with an 8.5:1 compression ratio and two-barrel carburetor 220 horsepower with 9.5:1 compression and four-barrel carburetor and 245 or 270 horsepower when fitted with dual four-barrel carburetors and the higher compression ratio.

Models equipped with the Rochester Ram-Jet fuel injection system made 250 horsepower. The most powerful engine of the lot was the 283-hp fuel-injected Super Ram-Jet with its 10.5:1 compression ratio, helping it achieve the coveted one horsepower per cubic inch status. In Motor Trend testing at the time, a 1957 Corvette fitted with the Super Ram-Jet reached a top speed of 132 mph at the General Motors Proving Grounds outside of Milford, Michigan.


By 1962, a 170-horsepower version of the 283 became Chevy's base V-8, but optional small-block V-8s received a full 4.00-inch bore and a longer stroke at 3.25 inches for a total displacement of 327 cubic inches. The optional 327 was available with 250, 300, or 340 horsepower, depending on the four-barrel carburetor and compression ratio. The Corvette was still available with mechanical fuel injection, which pumped out 360 horsepower with an 11.25:1 compression ratio.

The 327-cubic-inch small-block reached its peak power rating in 1965: 365 horsepower with a four-barrel Holley carburetor or 375 (1.15 hp/cu-in) with the Rochester Ram-Jet fuel injection system. By mid-1965, the 327 played second fiddle to the 396-cubic-inch big block that debuted in the Corvette. It soldiered on as the base engine with a choice of 300 or 350 horsepower. It remained as a step up from the base 283s (and later 307s) in passenger cars and the base engine in the Corvette until the 350 (first seen in the 1967 Camaro) was introduced into America's sports car in 1969.

The Camaro was Chevy's response to the Ford Mustang. Besides defending GM's entry-level brand, the Camaro introduced two small-block displacement landmarks. First up was the 302-cubic-inch engine designed for SCCA Trans Am competition. The 302 was created by combining the 327's engine block casting (4.00-inch bore) with the 283's crankshaft (3.00-inch stroke). This engine was built for competition and featured plenty of race-car kit, including an 11:1 compression ratio four bolt main caps a solid-lifter camshaft and solid valve lifters high-rise intake manifold topped with an 800 CFM Holley four-barrel carburetor high-capacity oil pump and baffled oil pan. It exhaled through a 2.25-inch dual exhaust system. The engine was finished with a chrome-plated air cleaner, rocker covers, filler tube, and cap.

Camaro owners who opted for the Z/28 package were rewarded with a 302 pumping out 290 horsepower at 5,800 rpm and 290 lb-ft of torque at 4,200 rpm. Many believe the horsepower rating was conservative. Z/28 owners found a box with tubular headers in the trunk. With the headers installed, a proper carburetor main-jet, and ignition-timing tuning it produced around 376 horsepower. Race engines with dual quads made as much as 465 horsepower. During its three year production run, more than 19,000 Camaro buyers opted for the Z/28, and with good reason.

The 1967 Camaro also brought the world the first 350-cubic-inch small-block Chevy V-8. This engine would eventually be used in passenger cars and trucks in nearly every imaginable level of tune. Like the 302, it was based on the 327 block, but the 350 had an all-new crankshaft with a 3.48-inch stroke. The first version, dubbed the L-48, produced 295 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque. The 350 became available in the Nova in 1968 and in its third year it was optional across the Chevrolet passenger car line. It replaced the 327 as the base engine in the Corvette in 1969. Power fluctuated during the 1970s fuel crisis, and many versions of the 350 emerged. At its lowest point the 350 was rated at a mere 145 horsepower (net).

But it didn't take long for the small-block Chevy to regain its reputation as a powerhouse. The L-48 and ZQ3 both hit the 300 horsepower mark. Two other versions surpassed those numbers: the 350 horsepower (net) L-46, optional in the 1969 Corvette, and the LT-1 in 1970. The LT-1 came ready to battle with solid lifters, 11:1 compression, high-po camshaft, and a 780 CFM Holley four-barrel carburetor that sent fuel and air through an aluminum intake manifold. Exhaust gasses exited the combustion chamber through ramhorn manifolds and high-flow exhaust. In 1970, the LT-1 cranked out 370 horsepower (gross) and was available in the Corvette ZR-1 and Camaro Z28. Just two years later the power level dropped to 255 horsepower (net).

It took nearly 15 years before the Chevy 350 got an injection of power. The L98 began the slow process. GM blessed the L98 350 with an all-new tuned-port fuel injection system forever known by Chevy fans as the TPI and recognized by its elephant leg runners. Although it was only rated at 230 horsepower, it was a step up from the 205 horsepower L83 from the year prior. By 1991, power reached 245 horsepower in the Camaro and Pontiac Firebird and 250 horsepower and 345 lb-ft of torque in the Corvette.

The largest version of the Generation I small-block was the 400 (6.6 liter). It was the only engine available with both the 4.125-inch bore and the 3.75-inch stroke crankshaft. It debuted in 1970 and was produced for 10 years. It featured Siamesed cylinders for greater strength, with the large bore and a larger 2.65 inch rod journal. Early models produced 265 horsepower with a two-barrel carburetor. A four-barrel carburetor option became available in 1974. In its darkest hour it only made 145 horsepower. Regardless of horsepower rating, the 400 was a torque monster. The engine was available in full-size A-body and midsize B-body Chevy passenger cars until the end of the 1976 model year. It soldiered on a few more years in full-size pickups.

It didn't take long for hot rodders to put the 400's 3.75-inch-stroke crankshaft in a 350 engine block, creating the 383 stroker. Water jackets in between all cylinders in the 350 engine block resisted overheating, unlike the 400 block, which didn't have that cooling advantage. Although the 383 was never offered as a factory option, this configuration's popularity prompted GM to offer a 383 crate motor in its performance catalog.

The Corvette has always been a test bed for Chevrolet's latest technologies—and the 1992 model with the Generation II LT small-block was no different. While many parts were interchangeable between Gen I and Gen II engines, the LT used a new block and head design with "reverse flow" cooling system that sent coolant through the cylinder heads first before flowing down through the engine block. The heads and combustion chamber stayed consistently cooler, allowing higher compression and more spark advance for increased power. The water pump, intake manifold, and dampener/pulley system were all unique to the Gen II small-block.

However, GM wisely kept the engine mounts and bell housing bolt pattern the same so hot rodders could transplant the new engine into an older chassis.

The 1992 Corvette made 300 horsepower and 330 lb-ft of torque. The fourth-generation F-Body twins (Chevrolet Camaro and Pontiac Firebird) gained the LT1 for their 1993 redesign and were rated 275 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque. The engine was also available in the full-size B- and D-body GM vehicles. Most memorable is the 1994-1996 Chevrolet Impala SS with 260 horsepower and 330 lb-ft of torque. All engine blocks were iron, but Corvettes and F-body cars had aluminum heads. Full-size cars had iron heads. For 1996, Corvettes equipped with six-speed manual transmissions (including all Grand Sports) were powered by a limited run (6359 units) 330-horsepower LT4 engine with 340 lb-ft of torque. In 1997, the Chevrolet Camaro SLP/LT4 SS and Pontiac Firebird SLP/LT4 Firehawk were available with the LT4. Only 135 F-bodies were built with the LT4.

The LT1 used a speed density fuel management system with batch-fire fuel injection in its first two years. In 1994 it received a mass airflow sensor and sequential port injection. The engine control module (ECM) was also replaced with a more powerful control module (PCM). The 1994 Corvette received the new OBD II system for testing before the government mandated requirement began in 1996.

The new engine wasn't without its faults. Early models were plagued by a small design flaw in the Opti-Spark distributor. Vacuum vents were added to the distributor to remove the moisture that affected its spark ability. Unfortunately, the water pumps leaked water and coolant into the vents, ruining the distributor. Although not as popular as the original small-block Chevy - or the later LS engine family - the LT1/LT4 still appeals to many enthusiasts.

"Perhaps the only hiccup in the SBC lineage was the LT1/LT4 variation with its reverse cooling and Opti-Spark ignition variables that made that engine less popular. And yet, it still commands interest despite its very short lineage," said Smith.


GM's Generation III engine first hit the scene in 1997 in the all-new C5 Corvette. The LS series engines had little in common with the first two generations of the small-block Chevy, but still used 4.4-inch bore spacing. Most truck versions of the Gen III engine family had an iron block and aluminum heads, but the performance engines had aluminum blocks with six-bolt main caps.

In the Corvette, the LS1 made 345 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque. It arrived in the F-body twins a year later making 305 horsepower in Z28 and Formula trim and 325 horsepower with the SS and Trans Am ram-air packages.

Gen III engines introduced coil-near-plug ignition in place of a distributor and redesigned heads for increased air flow and power. The LS1 had a smaller bore and longer stroke than the Gen I and Gen II 350/5.7-liter V-8s. The new engine used a 3.89-inch (99.0 mm) bore and a 3.62-inch (92 mm) stroke for a total displacement if 345.7 cubic inches or 5.7 liters.

In 2001, the Corvette Z06 was introduced with a higher-performance 5.7-liter called the LS6. Power was bumped to 385 horsepower and 385 lb-ft of torque. The next year it received another bump in power to 405 horsepower and an even 400 lb-ft of torque. The LS6 was used in the Corvette Z06 until the C5 was replaced by the C6 in 2005. Cadillac used the LS6 in the first-generation CTS V from 2004-2005.

The LS6 was based on the LS1 engine, but had a stronger block a redesigned intake manifold and larger MAF-sensor for better breathing a "bigger" camshaft and higher compression ratio and a revised oiling system for track use.

The Generation IV small-block Chevy V-8 hit the streets in 2005 and is based on the Generation III but was redesigned to utilize displacement on demand and variable valve timing technologies. The LS7 is the largest factory-installed small-block Chevy V-8 ever, displacing 427.8 cubic inches or just over 7.0 liters. It featured the same bore as the 1970s 400-cubic-inch engine of 4.125 inches (104.8 mm), but unlike the 400, the LS7 got a full 4.00-inch (102 mm) stroke crankshaft. The 7.0-liter small-block monster has a 7100 rpm redline and churns out an astonishing 505 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque -- the most net horsepower of any naturally aspirated small-block in GM's history.

Still based on the original 4.4-inch bore spacing, the LS7 uses pressed-in cylinder liners and forged steel bearing caps, forged titanium connecting rods, and hypereutectic pistons for strength. Intake valves are titanium and exhaust valves are sodium-filled. The hand-built LS7 is assembled at the General Motors Performance Build Center in Wixom, Michigan, and features a dry-sump oiling system to cope with high-lateral g's experienced during track days and enthusiastic driving. In North America the engine comes factory-equipped in the 2006 to present Corvette Z06 or as a crate engine.


A serious highlight in the small-block V-8's history would have to be the Generation IV LS9 engine: a 6.2-liter (376-cubic-inch) engine topped with an Eaton four-lobe Roots type 2300 TVS supercharger. The LS7 was considered for the base engine, but the smaller bore and thicker cylinder walls of the LS3 engine were required for durability under boost. Bore is 4.06 inches (103 mm) and stroke is 3.62 inches (92 mm). Power is rated at 638 horsepower at 6500 rpm and 604 lb-ft of torque at 3800 rpm -- the most powerful factory-installed small-block Chevy ever. No surprise that the engine debuted in the most extreme sports car ever from GM: the 2009 C6 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1. In our testing the ZR1 went from 0-60 mph in 3.3 seconds and cleared the quarter mile in 11.2 seconds at 130.3 mph.

The LSA is a detuned version of the LS9 engine and debuted in the 2009 Cadillac CTS V. This version is still capable of a substantial 556 horsepower and 551 lb-ft of torque. It is the most powerful engine ever offered in a Cadillac up to that point, and was available in all three CTS body styles: the sensuous coupe, sedate sedan, wagon. This engine is capable of pushing the nearly 4353-pound wagon to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds and through the quarter mile in 12.5 seconds at 114.8 mph.

Gen V LT5

The C7 Corvette went out with a big, supercharged bang: the ZR1, powered by the 6.2-liter LT5. It's a beastly thing, cranking out 755 horsepower courtesy of an Eaton supercharger. It's based on the venerable LT4 engine, but there's a host of new go-faster bits: a 95mm throttle body, port- and direct-injection, a stronger crankshaft, a new oiling system, and a 52 percent larger supercharger. Peak boost tops out at 13.96 psi near max rpm.

But unlike the LT4, there's less propensity for heat-related issues thanks to four new heat exchangers and 41 percent more cooling airflow overall. All this power is good to rocket the ZR1 to a 3.2-second 0-60 time and an 11.2 second quarter mile in our testing. What a finale.

Final Thoughts

With nearly 25 years under its belt in truck and passenger car duty, the LS-series family has become widely available and affordable. The aftermarket has embraced it in much the same way it did the original small-block Chevy V-8.

"As the original small-block Chevy becomes harder to find in junkyards, we continue to see GM's LS engine taking over where the original small-block left off," said Tichenor. "LS engines are readily available and are even easier to make power with than the original. They are extremely reliable and smooth and now Holley is making speed parts for the LS just as we did for the traditional small-block Chevy. Looks like here we go all over again!"

This article was originally published in 2011 and has been lightly edited and updated for context and clarity.

Man Knowledge: An Affair of Honor – The Duel

In our modern age, solving a problem by asking a dude to step outside is generally considered an immature, low class thing to do.

But for many centuries, challenging another man to a duel was not only considered a pinnacle of honor, but was a practice reserved for the upper-classes, those deemed by society to be true gentlemen.

“A man may shoot the man who invades his character, as he may shoot him who attempts to break into his house.” -Samuel Johnson

While dueling may seem barbaric to modern men, it was a ritual that made sense in a society in which the preservation of male honor was absolutely paramount. A man’s honor was the most central aspect of his identity, and thus its reputation had to be kept untarnished by any means necessary. Duels, which were sometimes attended by hundreds of people, were a way for men to publicly prove their courage and manliness. In such a society, the courts could offer a gentleman no real justice the matter had to be resolved with the shedding of blood.

How did this violent way to prove one’s manhood evolve? Let’s take a look at the history of the affair of honor and the code duello which governed it.

Origins in Single Combat

In the ancient tradition of single combat, each side would send out their “champion” as the representative of their respective armies, and the two men would fight to the death. This contest would sometimes settle the matter, or would serve only as a prelude to the ensuing battle, a sign to which side the gods favored. Prominent single combat battles have made their way into the records of history and legend, such as the battle between David and Goliath in the Valley of Elah and Achilles’ clashes with both Ajax and Hector in Homer’s Iliad. As warfare evolved, single combat became increasingly less prevalent, but the ethos of the contest would lend inspiration to the gentlemen’s duel.

Dueling in Europe

“A coward, a man incapable either of defending or of revenging himself, wants one of the most essential parts of the character of a man.” Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations

Dueling began in ancient Europe as “trial by combat,” a form of “justice” in which two disputants battled it out whoever lost was assumed to be the guilty party. In the Middle Ages, these contests left the judicial sphere and became spectator sports with chivalrous knights squaring off in tournaments for bragging rights and honor.

But dueling really became mainstream when two monarchs got into the act. When the treaty between France and Spain broke down in 1526, Frances I challenged Charles V to a duel. After a lot of back and forth arguing about the arrangements of the duel, their determination to go toe to toe dissipated. But the kings did succeed in making dueling all the rage across Europe. It was especially popular in France 10,000 Frenchmen are thought to have died during a ten year period under Henry IV. The king issued an edict against the practice, and asked the nobles to submit their grievances to a tribunal of honor for redress instead. But dueling still continued, with 4,000 nobles losing their lives to the practice during the reign of Louis XIV.

Dueling in America

“Certainly dueling is bad, and has been put down, but not quite so bad as its substitute — revolvers, bowie knives, blackguarding, and street assassinations under the pretext of self-defense.” -Colonel Benton

Dueling came to American shores right along with her first settlers. The first American duel took place in 1621 at Plymouth Rock.

Dueling enjoyed far more importance and prevalence in the South than the North. Antebellum society placed the highest premium on class and honor, and the duel was a way for gentlemen to prove both.

The majority of Southern duels were fought by lawyers and politicians. The law profession was (as it is now) completely saturated, and the competition for positions and cases was acute. In this dog-eat-dog society, jostling for position and maintaining an honorable reputation meant everything. Every perceived slight or insult had to be answered swiftly and strongly to save face and one’s position on the ladder to respect and success.

And while we tend to paint modern politics as uncivil and romanticize the past, politicians of the day slung bullets in addition to mud. Legislators, judges, and governors settled their differences with the duel, and candidates for office debated their issues on the “field of honor.” Political showmanship of the day involved timing a duel for right before an election and splashing the results in the papers.

Dueling and Violence

“The views of the Earl are those of a Christian, but unless some mode is adopted to frown down by society the slanderer, who is worse than a murderer, all attempts to put down dueling will be in vain.” -Andrew Jackson

Despite putting on a courageous front, no gentleman relished having to fight a duel and risk both killing and being killed (well, perhaps with the exception of Andrew “I fought at least 14 duels” Jackson). Thus duels were often not intended to be fights to the death, but to first blood. A duel fought with swords might end after one man simply scratched the arm of the other. In pistol duels, it was often the case that a single volley was fired, and assuming both men had survived unscathed, satisfaction was deemed to be achieved through their mutual willingness to risk death. Men sometimes aimed for their opponent’s leg or even deliberately missed, desiring only to satisfy the demands of honor. Only about 20% of duels ended in a fatality.

Duels founded on greater insults to a man’s honor, however, were often designated to go well beyond first blood. Some were carried out under the understanding that satisfaction was not gained until one man was incapacitated, while the gravest insults required a mortal blow.

To us, duels seem like a pointlessly barbaric way to settle disputes going into a duel the odds were nearly 100% that one man or both would be wounded or killed. And, adding insult to injury, it could very well be the innocent party who was slain.

Even at the time, there were many critics that argued that dueling was unnecessarily violent and contrary to morality, religion, common sense, and indeed, antithetical to the very concept of honor itself. But there were also those who argued that dueling actually prevented violence.

The idea was that single combat warriors averted endless bloody feuds between groups and families ala the Hatfields and McCoys. The duels nipped these potential feuds in the bud as insults were given immediate redress, with satisfaction given to both parties.

The practice was also thought to increase civility throughout society. To avoid being challenged to the duel, gentlemen were careful not to insult or slight others. The courtly, formal manners this time period is famous for-the stately dress, the bowing, toasting, and flowery language-were designed to convey honorable intentions and avoid giving offense. Jealousies and resentments had to be repressed and covered with politeness.

In the 1836 manual, The Art of Duelling, the author summarizes the pro-dueling perspective of the time with comments that seem remarkable to the modern ear:

“The practice is severely censured by all religious and thinking people yet it has very justly been remarked, that ‘the great gentleness and complacency of modern manners, and those respectful attentions of one man to another, that at present render the social discourses of life far more agreeable and decent, than among the most civilized nations of antiquity must be ascribed, in some degree to this absurd custom.’ It is certainly both awful and distressing to see a young person cut off suddenly in a duel, particularly if he be the father of a family but the loss of a few lives is a mere trifle, when compared with the benefits resulting to Society at large.

I should consider it very unwise in the members of government, to adopt any measures that would enforce the prohibition of duelling…the man who falls in a duel, and the individual who is killed by the overturn of a stage-coach, are both unfortunate victims to a practice from which we derive great advantage. It would be absurd to prohibit stage-travelling-because, occasionally, a few lives are lost by an overturn.”

Dueling Necessities

The components of the gentleman’s duel were often quite varied. The challenged party was usually given the choice of weapons, and the possibilities were endless. Duels have been fought with everything from sabers to billiard balls. A duel was once even fought over the skies of Paris, with the participants utilizing blunderbusses in an attempt to rupture each other’s hot air balloons. One succeeded, sending the opposing man and his comrade plummeting to their death, while the winner floated triumphantly away.

Swords were the weapon of choice until the 18 th century, when the transition to pistols made dueling more democratic (fencing took skill-a man might challenge another to a duel, spend a year learning swordsmanship, and then return to fight the duel. But nearly anyone could pull a trigger). As the practice of using guns grew in prominence, arms makers began to create sets of pistols specifically built for dueling. The idea behind this practice was simple. If two men were going to engage in a duel, their “equipment” needed to be as similar as possible so as not to give one man an unfair advantage over the other. Thus, by the latter 18th century, sets of dueling pistols were being produced by fine arms makers throughout Europe. Dueling pistols were often smooth bored pistols, and usually fired quite large rounds. Calibers of .45, .50, or even .65 (caliber = inches of diameter) were in common usage. The pistols were made to exact specifications and were tested to ensure that they were as equal in performance and appearance as possible. A man’s dueling pistols were a prized possession, an heirloom passed down from father to son.

Code Duello: The Dueling Code

“A duel was indeed considered a necessary part of a young man’s education…When men had a glowing ambition to excel in all manner of feats and exercises they naturally conceived that manslaughter, in an honest way (that is, not knowing which would be slaughtered), was the most chivalrous and gentlemanly of all their accomplishments. No young fellow could finish his education till he had exchanged shots with some of his acquaintances. The first two qualifications always asked as to a young man’s respectability and qualifications, particularly when he proposed for a lady wife, were ‘What family is he of? And ‘Did he ever blaze?” -19 th century Irish duelist

Dueling code evolved over the centuries as weapons and notions of honor changed. Proper dueling protocol in the 17th and 18th centuries was recorded in such works as The Dueling Handbook by Joseph Hamilton and The Code of Honor by John Lyde Wilson. While the dueling code varied by time period and country, many aspects of the code were similar.

Despite our romanticized notion of duels as being fought only over the most grievous of disputes, duels could often arise from matters most trivial-telling another man he smelled like a goat or spilling ink on a chap’s new vest. But they were not spontaneous affairs in which an insult was given and the parties marched immediately outside to do battle (in fact, striking another gentleman made you a social pariah). A duel had to be conducted calmly and coolly to be dignified, and the preliminaries could take weeks or months a letter requesting an apology would be sent, more letters would be exchanged, and if peaceful resolution could not be reached, plans for the duel would commence.

The first rule of dueling was that a challenge to duel between two gentleman could not generally be refused without the loss of face and honor. If a gentleman invited a man to duel and he refused, he might place a notice in the paper denouncing the man as a poltroon for refusing to give satisfaction in the dispute.

But one could honorably refuse a duel if challenged by a man he did not consider a true gentleman. This rejection was the ultimate insult to the challenger.

The most common characteristic of a duel between gentlemen was the presence of a “second” for both parties. The seconds were gentlemen chosen by the principal participants whose job it was to ensure that the duel was carried out under honorable conditions, on a proper field of honor and with equally deadly weapons. More importantly, it was the seconds (usually good friends of the participating parties) who sought a peaceful resolution to the matter at hand in hopes of preventing bloodshed.

Once the challenge to duel was given, several issues had to be settled before the matter could be resolved. The challenger would first allow his foe the choice of weapons and conditions of the combat, and a time would be set for the event. Seconds were responsible for locating a proper dueling ground, usually a remote area away from witnesses and law enforcement, since dueling remained technically illegal in most states, though rarely prosecuted. Duels were sometimes even fought on sandbars in rivers where the legal jurisdiction of the time was hazy at best.

Honor was not only given for showing up for the duel-proper coolness and courage under fire was also required to uphold one’s reputation. A gentleman was not to show his fear. If he stepped off the mark, his opponent’s second had the right to shoot him on the spot.

The End of the Dueling Age

Many modern men mistakenly believe that dueling was a rare occurrence in history a last resort only appealed to in the case of serious matters or by two overly hot-headed men. In fact, from America to Italy, tens of thousands of duels took place and the practice was quite common among the upper classes.

But dueling’s popularity eventually waned at the end of the 19 th century, lingering longer in Europe than America. Stricter anti-dueling laws were passed, and sometimes even enforced.

The bloodshed of the Civil War on this continent, and the Great War on the other, also dampened enthusiasm for the duel. Despite our modern romanticism for dueling, it was a practice that hewed down young men in the prime of their life. Having lost millions of their promising youth in battle, felling those who remained became distasteful.

Additionally, Southern society was vastly transformed in the aftermath of the Civil War. The aristocracy was shattered busy with Reconstruction and rebuilding, there was less time and inclination to duel. A man’s prestige and position in society became less about his family, reputation, and most of all, honor, than it did about cash. Disputes were taken not to the field of honor but to the courts, with vindication given by “pale dry money instead of wet red blood.”

Sources and Further Reading

Gentlemen’s Blood by Barbara Holland. An absolutely delightful book. Covers a serious topic in a strangely breezy and humorous way that really works and is full of truly interesting stories and insights. (The last quote is from this book)

The Art of Duelling by The Traveller. A readable contemporary manual on the ins and outs of dueling. Reading up the author’s tips and advice for those going into a duel gives an interesting window to the time.

Code Duello: The Rules of Dueling. Take a look at the very specific rules which governed the duel.

Man Knowledge: Dueling Part II – Prominent Duels in American History

The United States currently finds itself in a rancorous political moment, with partisan name-calling on the one hand and much hand-wringing about the classless nature of the debate on the other. Those in the latter camp seem to think that politics has devolved from an unspecified golden age in which politicians sipped tea and talked about their issues with solemn decorum.

In truth, politics has always been a rowdy arena, and if one looks to our founding period for a bastion of politeness, they will not find it there.

Men in public life called each other, not just the traditional ‘liar,’ ‘poltroon,’ ‘coward,’ and ‘puppy,’ but also ‘fornicator,’ ‘madman,’ and ‘bastard’ they accused each other of incest, treason, and consorting with the devil. —Gentlemen’s Blood: A History of Dueling

Political tensions ran especially high in the 19 th century because men found it difficult to separate political disagreement from personal insults:

In our early years a man’s political opinions were inseparable from the self, from personal character and reputation, and as central to his honor as a seventeenth-century Frenchman’s courage was to his. He called his opinions “principles,” and he was willing, almost eager, to die or to kill for them. Joanne B. Freeman, in Affairs of Honor, writes that dueling politcos ‘were men of public duty and private ambition who identified so closely with their public roles that they often could not distinguish between their identity as gentlemen and their status as political leaders. Longtime political opponents almost expected duels, for there was no way that constant opposition to a man’s political career could leave his personal identity unaffected.’ —Gentlemen’s Blood

Refusing a challenge to duel would effectively end a man’s political career. Dueling proved to a man’s constituents that he had the requisite honor, courage, and leadership to represent them in Washington.

And thus you had governors and legislators, Congressman and judges squaring off not through bumper stickers and robo-calls, but on the field of honor. Here are a few of the most famous of these single combats in American history.

3 Famous Duels That Actually Occurred

The Burr-Hamilton Duel

The most famous duel in American history is unquestionably that which occurred between Vice President Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton, who greatly influenced the founding of America’s economy and was possibly on track to become President himself. Burr and Hamilton had long been political enemies by the time they met on the field of honor. Hamilton had been instrumental in preventing Burr from winning the Presidency when Burr tied Thomas Jefferson’s vote count, leading to Burr’s eventual appointment as VP. The two men continued to square off politically until rumors that Hamilton had been saying “despicable” things about Burr led the slandered veep to issue a formal challenge to duel.

The two men met on the field of honor in Weehawken, New Jersey on the morning of July 11, 1804. Interestingly enough, Hamilton’s son had fallen to a mortal blow in a duel at the very same place just two years before. The same guns used in his duel were also used in his father’s.

The accounts of precisely what happened are conflicting, but it is generally thought that Hamilton fired first, aiming high and missing Burr completely. Burr then aimed squarely at Hamilton’s torso and returned fire. Hamilton fell, the bullet lodged in his spine, and he died the following morning.

Whether Hamilton’s miss was intentional or not is debatable. Hamilton had recorded in a letter the previous night that he intended to purposefully miss Burr in an effort to end the confrontation without bloodshed. Still, other believe that Hamilton so detested Burr that he shared this sentiment simply to paint Burr as the villainous shedder of innocent blood, thus forever besmirching his character.

If that truly was his wish, it was certainly granted. Though murder charges were levied against Burr, he was never brought to trial. But the ensuing political fallout undermined Burr’s political clout and brought a swift end to his career.

The Jackson-Dickinson Duel

Prior to his presidential career, Andrew Jackson was known for his inclination to invoke violence in defense of his honor he was the veteran of at least 13 duels. These showdowns left his body so filled with lead that people said he “rattled like a bag of marbles.”

The most famous of Jackson’s affairs of honor was his confrontation with prominent duelist Charles Dickinson. Dickinson, rumored to be the best shot in the country, had insulted the future President by alleging that he cheated in a horse racing bet between Jackson and Dickinson’s father-in-law. Insults were exchanged, culminating with Dickinson insulting Jackson’s wife. Slandering Jackson’s wife was “like sinning against the Holy Ghost: unpardonable.” Biographer James Parton claimed that Jackson “kept pistols in perfect condition for thirty-seven years” to use whenever someone “dared breathe her name except in honor.” Jackson had no choice but to issue a challenge to duel.

Jackson and Dickinson met at Harrison’s Mill on the Red River in Kentucky on May 30, 1806. The men were to stand at eight paces and then turn and fire. Dickinson was a well-known sharpshooter and Jackson felt his only chance to kill him would be to allow himself enough time to take an accurate shot. Thus he calmly allowed Dickinson to fire into his chest. The bullet lodged in his ribs, but Jackson hardly quivered, calmly leveling his pistol at Dickinson. But when the trigger was pulled the hammer of his gun only fell to the half-cocked position and did not fire. According to dueling etiquette, this should have been the end of the duel. Jackson, however, was not finished with Dickinson. Re-cocking his pistol, he aimed and fired, striking Dickinson dead.

It was only then that Jackson took heed of the fact that blood was dripping into his boot. Dickinson’s musket ball was too close to his heart to be removed and forever remained lodged in Jackson’s chest. The wound would lend him a perpetual hacking cough, cause him persistent pain, and compound the many health problems that would beleaguer him throughout life. But Jackson never regretted the decision. “If he had shot me through the brain, sir, I should still have killed him,” he said.

The Clay-Randolph Duel

John Randolph was quite a character. He fought his first duel at 18, seriously wounding a fellow student over his mispronunciation of a word. His volatility continued as a Congressman “he called Daniel Webster “a vile slanderer,” President Adams a “traitor,” and Edward Livingston “the most contemptible and degraded of beings, whom no man ought to touch, unless with a pair of tongs.” When he wasn’t hurling insults at his associates, he was challenging them to duels.

Following a slanderous speech on the Senate floor in which he accused sitting Secretary of State Henry Clay of “crucifying the Constitution and cheating at cards,” Senator John Randolph found himself the recipient of a formal challenge to duel. While comfortable with assailing the man’s character, Randolph, an experienced marksman, had no intention of robbing Clay’s family of their patriarch (and suffering the political fallout of slaying the Secretary of State). Several days before the duel took place, Randolph confided in Senator Thomas Hart Benton that he was unwilling to kill Clay, but did not want to sacrifice his personal honor either, so he would instead purposefully aim high when the time came to fire.

When the day of the duel arrived on April 8, 1826, both men met on the field of honor. As preparations for the start of the duel were still being made, Randolph accidentally fired his gun, which was pointed at the ground. Clay accepted that the misfire was an accident and allowed the duel to proceed. Marching the agreed upon number of steps in opposite directions, both men turned and fired. Randolph, apparently motivated by the humiliation of his misfire (and his missed chance to come off as the magnanimous one), made no effort to aim high, although he still just missed his intended target, the bullet perforating Clay’s coat. Clay also missed, and having gained no satisfaction, demanded another go around. This time Clay missed again, and Randolph followed through on his promise to Benton by firing into the air. Moved by the sentiment, Randolph met Clay at midfield for a handshake to end the duel, noting to his opponent that he owed him a new coat. Clay simply replied “I am glad the debt is no greater.”

A Couple of Close Calls

Not every challenge to duel ended with gunfire. Here are a couple of noteworthy near misses.

The Lincoln-Shields Duel

As an elected official in the Illinois State Legislature, future President Abraham Lincoln was sharply critical of James Shields’ performance as Illinois State Auditor. Lincoln even resorted to adopting various pseudonyms and publishing many satirical letters criticizing Shields (a common tactic at the time). In an unfortunate twist of fate, Lincoln’s future wife Mary Todd and a friend also wrote several letters. But the women got carried away, changing the tone from satirical criticism to insult. Shields, upon discovering that Lincoln was behind the letters in one form or another, issued an immediate challenge. Lincoln, unwilling to accept the public disgrace that came with refusing a duel, and eager to impress his future wife Mary, accepted.

As the challenged party, Lincoln set the parameters for the duel. It was to be fought with large cavalry broadswords in a deep pit divided by a board which no man could step over. In creating such parameters, Lincoln aimed to disarm his opponent using his superior reach advantage and avoid bloodshed on either side. Furthermore, Lincoln hoped that such ridiculous conditions would force Shields’ withdrawal. But initially, they did not.

On September 22, 1842, the two men met on the field of honor. As the seconds desperately tried to sway Shields’ determination, he looked over and saw Lincoln chopping at the branches of a nearby tree that would be far out of his own reach. Realizing that he was outmatched, Shields agreed to attempt to talk it out with Lincoln. Lincoln’s second convinced Shields that Lincoln had not written the letters, and Lincoln offered an apology for the misunderstanding, which Shields fortunately accepted. Shields went on to become a prominent United States Senator, and Abraham Lincoln went on to become, well, Abraham Lincoln.

The Twain-Laird Duel

Finally, we end in a duel that neither came to fruition nor is invested with any great historical significance. But it is quite funny.

While living in Virginia City, Nevada, sharp-witted satirist Mark Twain was up to his usual pot stirring, writing such outrageous editorials for The Territorial Enterprise that locals dubbed him “The Incorrigible.” When Twain wrote a piece erroneously accusing a rival paper, The Virginia City Union, of reneging on a promised pledge to charity, the publisher of the paper, James Laird, made such a stink over the false accusation that Twain challenged him to a duel. Twain’s second, Steve Gillis, took Twain to practice his shooting, only to find that the man’s pen was truly mightier than his pistol Twain couldn’t hit the side of a barn. Filled with fear, Twain collapsed. As Laird and his men were making their way over, Gillis grabbed a bird, shot his head off, and stood admiring the corpse. Laird’s second asked, “Who did that?” and Gillis responded that Twain had shot the bird’s head off from a good distance and was capable of doing it with every shot. Then he gravely intoned, “You don’t want to fight that man. It’s just like suicide. You better settle this thing, now.” The creative ploy worked, and the men reconciled. Tom Sawyer would have been proud.

If you missed it, read part 1 of this series: An Affair of Honor – The Duel

The literary history of duels, those absurdly formal fights to the death

John Leigh’s book is a scholarly but lively look at an old tradition. (Courtesy of Harvard University/Courtesy of Harvard University)

A duel is inherently stupid, being largely a form of ritualized murder or suicide. Perhaps chance will favor one opponent over another, a foot might slip, a gun misfire. But, in general, the better swordsman or more practiced shot will triumph every time. Honor may be served, but justice only coincidentally, and one man will almost certainly be dead, usually for no good reason at all.

As John Leigh reminds us in “Touché,” this has been one of the arguments against dueling at least since Louis XIV outlawed the practice. And yet the romance of swords at sunset or pistols at dawn remains as powerful as ever. There lingers, even in our mercantile age, an admiration for the aristocratic ethos, the punctilio, of the duel. After all, unlike feuds or plain murder for revenge, a traditional affair of honor always involves social equals — there is no glory in killing a peasant and considerable shame in being killed by one.

As we know from countless historical novels, movies and costume dramas, the steps toward a duel are highly codified, starting with a real or imagined insult to a lady or one’s personal honor. After the insufferable affront comes the challenge, often accompanied by the “soufflet” or slap, the icy presentation of one’s card, and a demand for satisfaction, soon followed by the choice of weapons and the naming of seconds. Come the evening before the actual “rencontre,” at least one of the duelists, either racked with fearful misgivings or maintaining a languid sang-froid, will have settled his affairs so that he can spend what may be his last hours composing a letter to a beloved wife or mistress.

When the two adversaries finally meet on the field of honor, they will be elegantly and spotlessly dressed, their weapons of the highest quality and their comportment toward each other one of restrained and delicate courtesy. A witty sally or quip is never amiss as a demonstration of one’s style and self-command. After the fatal thrust or shot, the “winner” will cast aside his weapon and hurriedly bend to hear the dying man’s final words, sometimes of forgiveness. Duelists, as Leigh observes, “tend to face each other as opponents, not enemies.”

As the subtitle of “Touché” indicates, Leigh’s main interest lies in the presentation of the duel in plays, novels and short stories, beginning with Corneille’s near-tragedy “Le Cid” and ending with “The Radetzky March,” Joseph Roth’s novel about the decline of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In between he discusses such key 18th-century texts as Richardson’s “Clarissa,” Laclos’s “Les Liaisons dangereuses” and Smollett’s “Roderick Random,” as well as such 19th-century works as Pushkin’s narrative poem “Eugene Onegin” and Dumas’s classic swashbuckler “The Three Musketeers.” Leigh also devotes some outstanding pages to Casanova’s account of his duel with a Polish nobleman, to comic duels in Dickens and to two of Maupassant’s short stories, in one of which a man, out of fear of what a future encounter will bring, prefers to commit suicide. There is even a brief consideration of the American cowboy version of the duel, the showdown at high noon on a dusty street.

While Leigh probes and theorizes to a fare-thee-well, he does convey a good deal of pure information. Did you know that “stickler” was another name for the second, whose chief responsibility, after all, was to make sure that all the proprieties were strictly observed? Leigh tells us that Malta, alone among European countries, not only permitted dueling but also specified that a refusal to fight could lead to imprisonment. During the early 19th century, the duel fell out of literary favor because it lacked intensity and spontaneity: Romantic poets and novelists preferred honest, impassioned murder to coolly calculated encounters. Later 19th-century literature, however, reveals an “embourgeoisment” of the duel, as it became a means of gaining social status and cachet. More modern writers have often imbued the face-to-face encounter with a psychological or Freudian twist, viewing it as a combat “with a doppelganger or with oneself.” One part of the self slays another. Leigh — almost parenthetically — then adduces a superb general pronouncement, applicable to all of us: “In choosing our path through life, and in order to become ourselves, we each need to kill off potential versions of ourselves, the persons we might have become.” That’s worth copying into a commonplace book.

Besides fiction and drama, Leigh also analyzes some representations of duels in art, notably Jean-Léon Gérôme’s haunting 1857 painting “The Duel After the Masquerade.” On a snow-covered field, a dying clown — more precisely, an 18th-century Pierrot dressed all in white silk — is being lowered to the ground by his seconds, a sword still clutched in his hand, while his killer is led away toward the misty trees in the background. Here the theatricality, absurdity and brutal reality of the duel all come together in one unforgettable image. Do look it up online.

Throughout “Touché,” Leigh shows himself a master of the neatly turned observation. “Charm,” he writes, “is a sort of refined insincerity.” Though dueling might look harebrained and utterly irrational, “gentlemen were not particularly interested in the promptings and pleas of reason. That is an essentially bourgeois scruple, rather like spelling correctly or counting one’s money.” In fact, a duelist “fights not for gain from his adversary but to declare who or what he is.” Leigh can also be witty: “ ‘The Three Musketeers’ is one of those familiar novels that we think we might somehow have read, although without quite remembering when.” He later speaks of D’Artagnan’s successive sword fights with Athos, Porthos and Aramis at, respectively, noon, 1 and 2 p.m. on the same day as “a form of speed dueling.”

Sometimes, though, Leigh’s thickly textured prose can grow almost, but not quite, impenetrable in that casual, inbred way so common to academics. At one point, this Cambridge University professor speaks of duels between foreign nationals as “an informal way of winning back national pride. A nation might be appraised by the way its men conducted their duels. This approach, more common in the later nineteenth century, places duels at the service of an anthropological inquiry, reducing them to an epiphenomenon of wider mentalities.”

Fortunately, such academese is relatively rare, though no one should mistake “Touché” for anything but a scholarly book. It is, though, an excellent one. Still, I was sorry that Leigh left out my favorite duel in modern literature: The encounter between Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty on the paths high above the Reichenbach Falls. You will remember that Dr. Watson discovers a note on a boulder, held down by Holmes’s cigarette case: “My dear Watson, I write these few lines through the courtesy of Mr. Moriarty, who awaits my convenience for the final discussion of those questions which lie between us. . . .” Here, in the understated, euphemistic language of the duel, the world’s greatest detective and the Napoleon of Crime arrange to meet for the last time.

Generation II

The second generation Legendary Pokémon ( 伝説 ( でんせつ ) のポケモンの 第 ( だい ) ニ ( に ) 世代 ( せだい ) Densetsu no Pokemon no Dai Ni-sedai) are the second set of Legendary Pokémon introduced in the Pokémon series and originate within the Johto region.

Legendary Beasts

The Legendary Beasts ( 伝説 ( でんせつ ) の 獣 ( けもの ) Densetsu no Kemono) consist of the Electric -type Raikou (ライコウ Raikou), the Fire -type Entei (エンテイ Entei), and the Water -type Suicune (スイクン Suikun).

The three Legendaries were originally unidentified Pokémon trapped and killed within the Brass Tower when it burned down due to lightning. Ho-Oh revived the trio with each Pokémon acquiring an attribute of the accident: Raikou, an Electric-type, symbolized the lightning that had struck the tower Entei, a Fire-type, was the flames that had engulfed the tower and Suicune, a Water-type, represented the rain that put out the blaze. Those that witnessed the accident and revival of the trio feared their power, causing the beasts to flee. As a result, they are the first roaming Pokémon the player character encounters.

In Pokémon Gold and Silver, the trio will individually wander the Johto region after the player character first encounters them in the Brass Tower. In Pokémon Crystal, the player character is also required to force Team Rocket to vacate the Radio Tower and acquire the Clear Bell to meet Suicune in the Tin Tower. In Pokémon Colosseum the trio was captured by Cipher and transformed into Shadow Pokémon each are owned by different Admins. In Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen, one member may be found roaming Kanto after defeating the Pokémon League if the player character chose Bulbasaur they may find Entei if the starter Pokémon is Charmander, then Suicune is roaming if the player character has Squirtle, then Raikou can be found. The encounters in Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver the circumstances are similar to those in Crystal however, Suicune must be followed throughout the Kanto region until it stops at Route 25, outside Bill's house, where it may be battled. Notably, Eusine chases Suicune throughout the game but is constantly eluded.

All three members of the trio have appeared as a major character of separate movies and in episodes of the anime. An Unown-produced Entei served as an antagonist-turned-protagonist in Spell of the Unown, while a Suicune helped heal a Celebi by purifying a lake's water in Celebi: Voice of the Forest. Shiny versions of each member also appeared in Zoroark: Master of Illusions, where they attempted to defeat a Zoroark.

Not listed here is Raikou's appearance in the Pokémon Chronicles episode Legend of Thunder!, where it was being hunted by members of Team Rocket.

Tower Duo

The Tower Duo (タワーデュオ Tawā Duo) is the two bird-like Pokémon the Fire / Flying -type Ho-Oh (ホウオウ Houou) and the Psychic / Flying -type Lugia (ルギア Rugia).

Known as the "guardian of the skies" and "guardian of the seas", respectively, Ho-Oh and Lugia formerly resided in Ecruteak City, claiming the Tin Tower and Brass Tower. When lightning struck the Brass Tower and burned the building, Lugia escaped to the Whirlpool Islands. Ho-Oh remained long enough to revive three Pokémon that had been trapped within the tower, creating the Legendary Beasts, but left in search of a pure-hearted Trainer thus, Ho-Oh is considered their trio master.

Both Pokémon appear in the Pokémon Gold and Silver Versions their method of encounter varies between the games. In Gold, the player character may capture Ho-Oh, a Fire/Flying-type, at the Tin Tower once acquiring a Rainbow Wing after Team Rocket leaves the Goldenrod Radio Tower and locate Lugia, a Psychic/Flying-type, at the Whirlpool Islands once given a Silver Wing from a citizen in Pewter City. In Pokémon Silver, this is reversed: the player character is given the Silver Wing once Team Rocket leaves the Radio Tower and the Rainbow Wing in Pewter City. In Pokémon Crystal, the player character must capture Raikou, Entei, and Suicune to gain the Rainbow Wing, and visit the Pewter City resident to gain the Silver Wing. Both Pokémon reappear in FireRed and LeafGreen, as well as Pokémon Emerald, but must be gained through an event they may be found at Naval Rock if the player character has a MysticTicket. Ho-Oh can be caught in Pokémon Colosseum if the player character purifies all Shadow Pokémon in the game, while Lugia can be caught as a Shadow Pokémon in Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness. Contrary to initial belief, this Lugia is capable of being purified. Ho-Oh and Lugia return again in HeartGold and SoulSilver and may be acquired under similar circumstances, though the player character must also have a Clear Bell and Tidal Bell for each Legendary.

Both Pokémon have appeared within the anime, though only Lugia has made an appearance in a film, The Power of One. In the film, Lugia was the only creature capable of quelling the three Legendary Birds, Articuno, Zapdos, and Moltres, making Lugia their trio master. Ho-Oh, however, was the first Legendary Pokémon to appear in the anime, debuting at the end of the first episode of the series. At the time Ho-Oh had not been officially announced nor was it identified in the episode, being endemic to Johto.

The episodes that each Ho-Oh and Lugia have appeared in are listed below.

NASCAR Muscle for the Street: The Legendary Chevy Impala SS and Its 409 V-8

Before American cars had officially "gone muscle" with the Pontiac GTO, the 1961 Chevy Impala Super Sport captured the formula nicely: upgrade a regular passenger car with the biggest engine the company could make producing as much power as it could muster. When you thought that Chevy had done it all, go a step farther and sell race motors to the public.

You could order a 409 in any of Chevy's full-size offerings, but the burly Impala SS again carried the majority of the big-block/four-speed manual transmission sales. The 409 was directed largely to both drag and stock-car racers and by the engine's second production year, 1962, it had drawn serious attention by cleaning up the NHRA's Super Stock class. The top-trim versions of the street-car 409 churned out an astonishing 425 horsepower, while the Bill "Grumpy" Jenkins-tuned NHRA cars could run the quarter mile in under 13 seconds.

Few examples of the 409-powered drag cars are more famous than "Old Reliable," the '62 Chevy that Jenkins tuned and Dave Strickler drove to the NHRA class title that year. That car, along with Hayden Profitt's 409-powered Bel Air, featured some clandestine speed parts, namely "Z-11" option heads, camshaft, and two-piece induction that gave a healthy horsepower dose. A few of the Strickler/Jenkins Old Reliables from various years are still around and they sound fantastic.

NASCAR hall of famer Rex White was at the same time racing his own Chevy Bel Air as a privateer in NASCAR's top Grand National Series. The short-of-stature White had won the Grand National title in 1960 with the Chevy 348, upon which the 409 was based, and he switched to the 409 in '61 along with that season's champion Ned Jarrett. White racked up a pile of race wins for the 409 and was among the first, along with Junior Johnson, to race Chevy's stroked, Smokey Yunick-built "Mystery Motor" 427 thoroughbred—an engine that HOT ROD Magazine dyno-tested in 2015— at the 1963 Daytona 500.

The 409 remained on the Chevy options sheet through 1965, after which it was replaced by the next-generation 396 Big Block. As it stands, you'll regularly still find the early '60s Impala SS with an original 409 in it. Do yourself a favor and check out Car Craft's 409 rebuild story from February 2016 to see the ins and outs of this legendary motor.


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