CHARLES Lucas Duel
At 6:00 a.m. on August 12, 1817, Thomas Hart Benton and a young Charles Lucas met on an island in the middle of the Mississippi near St. Louis. Benton first challenged Lucas to a duel after losing a court case where he believed he had been insulted. Lucas refused the first challenge, however, during the election of 1817, Lucas questioned Benton’s right to vote on the basis he had failed to pay his property taxes. Publicly humiliated, Benton responded by replying that he would not answer charges made by “any puppy who may happen to run across my path.” Such an indignity demanded satisfaction. The furious Lucas challenged Benton to duel and he accepted.
From the distance of 30 feet, Benton hit Lucas in the throat, but was only grazed by Lucas’ bullet in the knee. Lucas was satisfied, but Benton insisted upon a second meeting after Lucas had time to heal. During the next few months, friends tried to reconcile the two men. Benton’s anger was refuelled when gossip claimed he was afraid to duel at ten feet. When further reconciliation efforts failed, Lucas met Benton once again on the same island, but at the agreed upon distance of ten feet. Lucas missed again, but Benton’s bullet hit Lucas in the chest. Within minutes, Lucas was dead. The duelling grounds became known as Bloody Island.
Thomas Hart Benton was elected to the United States Senate in 1820 and served for thirty years.
Educated in Philadelphia, he fought in the 1812 war. He became an lawyer and became attorney in Missouri.
John Baptiste C