James "Jim" Bowie and the Sandbar Fight
Norris Wright, Rapides parish sheriff and local banker, refused to make a loan that Bowie sorely needed. In 1826, Bowie met Wright in Alexandria, where tempers flared and Wright fired point-blank at Bowie; but the bullet was deflected. In 1838, Rezin Bowie claimed that after this encounter, he designed and gave his brother a large butcher-like hunting knife to carry, made by a blacksmith named Jesse Clift in Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana.
On September 19, 1827, Jim Bowie had attended a duel, in the capacity of a "second" at the Vidalia sandbar -- a popular duelling spot on the Mississippi some 70 miles north of Alexandria, Louisiana.
A "second" acts to ensure that the rules of the duel are followed, and is expected to intervene with lethal force if they are not. Seconds also may be called upon to duel in the stead of the "principals" under certain circumstances. At the Vidalia sandbar duel, a general melee took place involving the principals, seconds, and a small group of spectators backing either party.
In Bowie's party, the principal was one Samuel Levi Wells III. Supporters included Maj. George McWhorter and Gen. Samuel Cuny. Opposing them was a party led by on Dr. Thomas Hardy Maddox, seconded by one Maj. Norris Wright,Sheriff of Rapides Parish (who had previously shot Bowie on the street in Alexandria a year prior, and there was significant animosity between the two), and backed by Col. Robert Crain, Carey Blanchard, Alfred Blanchard, and several unnamed others. Approximately 16 men were present. Maj. Wright was tardy, and had not yet arrived as the duel between the principals commenced.
When the signal was given, Wells and Maddox fired at each other and missed. They tried a second time, and both missed again. They then shook hands and agreed that "honor had been satisfied", and proposed that both sides drink and be merry. However, as the two groups approached, simmering feuds between individuals began to surface.
Gen. Samuel Cuny, who was an enemy of Col. Robert Crain, called out to him, "This is a good time to settle our difficulty, here and now;" wherupon Crain drew and fired, missing Cuny but striking Bowie in the hip, knocking him to the ground. Cuny and Crain exchanged fire. Cuny was shot in the chest and killed, Crain sustained a flesh wound upon the arm. Bowie, rising to his feet, drew steel and charged at Crain, who struck him so hard with his empty pistol upon the head that it broke. Bowie dropped to his knees, whereupon Dr. Maddox leapt upon him, wrestling him to the ground. Just as Bowie threw Maddox off him, Maj. Wright appeared, drew a pistol, and shot at the fallen Bowie, missing. Bowie drew his own pistol and fired back, striking Wright in the torso, which caused him to exclaim, "The damned rascal has killed me!" Wright then drew his sword cane and stabbed Bowie in the chest, but the thin blade was deflected by his sternum. As he attempted to pull the blade free, Bowie reached up, grabbed his shirt, and pulled him down upon the point of his Bowie knife, inserting it fully and stirring vigorously. Bowie later said, "I twisted the knife until I heard his heart-strings sing." His aorta severed, Wright expired quickly. As Bowie stood, pulling the sword cane from his chest, both Blanchard brothers fired at him, and he was struck once in the arm. Bowie spun and cut off part of Alfred's forearm. Carey fired a second shot at Bowie, but missed. As the brothers fled, Carey was shot and wounded by Maj. McWhorter.
The Battle of the Sandbar lasted less than 10 minutes, leaving 2 men dead and another 4 wounded.