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Bladensburg duelling field.

The first notable meeting on this spot was in 1808, between Barent Gardenier, member of Congress from New York, and George W. Campbell, member from Tennessee. The quarrel was a political one. Gardenier was much opposed to the embargo and attacked it fiercely on the floor of Congress. Campbell, as one of the leaders of the administration party, was greatly incensed at this speech. In his reply he assailed Gardenier with such a torrent of personal abuse that the latter was provoked to a challenge. In the encounter the member from New York was dangerously wounded, but subsequently recovered, and, being a great favorite with his constituents, was re-elected to Congress. Campbell was elected to the Senate in 1811, and in 1814 was appointed Secretary of the Treasury, a position which he resigned, however, after holding it about a year. Bladensburg from that time became a favorite resort for those whose wounded honor could find no balm save through the bloody code of the duello. In 1814 Ensign Edward Hopkins, of the army, whose parents resided at Bladensburg, was shot on this field within sight of his home. Feb. 6, 1819, a most painful and desperate encounter occurred there between Gen. Armistead T. Mason and Col. John M. McCarty, who were cousins, and both of Virginia. Mason was at the time a United States Senator. The two gentlemen had quarrelled at an election, and McCarty was the challenger. It was arranged that they should fight with muskets, each loaded with a single ball, at 4 paces. When in position the muzzle of their pieces nearly touched, and at the word both fired together, and Mason fell dead, and McCarty was seriously wounded. The famous Decatur-Barron duel occurred at Bladensburg, March 22, 1820. Stephen Decatur and James Barron had both been captains in the United States navy. Barron had been found guilty of the charge of neglecting his duty while in command of the Chesapeake, and had been suspended from the service. Decatur had served on both the court of inquiry and the court-martial trying the case. Barron had subsequently applied for restoration of his rank, and had been opposed by Decatur, not from personal reasons, but from principles of honor. This was the cause of the enmity between the two officers, and a long and bitter correspondence, which finally culminated in a duel. They fought with pistols at 8 paces, and Decatur was fatally and his antagonist dangerously wounded at the first fire. They held a brief conversation as they lay on the ground, exchanging full forgiveness of each other. Before the fatal shots were fired it is said that Barron remarked to Decatur that he hoped [359] on meeting in another world they would he better friends than in this, to which Decatur replied, “I have never been your enemy, sir.” A number of other duels have been fought at Bladensburg, among which may be mentioned that between a Treasury clerk named Randall and a Mr. Fox. of Washington, in 1821, in which the latter was killed at the first fire; and that between two members of Congress, Bynum, of North Carolina, and Jenifer, of Maryland, in 1836, which was the last meeting on this famous field. This last was fortunately bloodless; it was brought about by a political quarrel, and after six shots had been exchanged without damage to either party the affair was amicably settled.

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