In late 2010, having volunteered to assist Drum Barracks Civil War Museum in Wilmington, California, with research in pro-secession activity in California, director Susan Ogle handed me a list of names, places and events for possible investigation. One of those names was that of Dan Showalter, a California politician turned Confederate cavalry officer of whom I'd never heard.

Becoming fascinated just after reading the barest outline of Showalter's life, the next year found me hunting down everything I could find about this largely forgotten character. When I had finished my research -- which included the discovery of several previously unpublished items as well as obtaining the only known photograph from a Showalter descendent -- I had so much material that Susan exclaimed, "You've got a whole exhibit right here!"

And with her guidance, on November 5, 2011, co-curated by myself and Susan Ogle, my "Dan Showalter: California's Arch Rebel" exhibit went on display at the Drum.

Now being slated for removal in August 2012 in that ongoing round of ever-successive new exhibits that mark good museums, I've started this website as a place where, over time, I can memorialize and expand upon all the material accumulated on this remarkable Californian.

Hope you'll return often as this website expands and enjoy!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

California's Last Political Duel: The Showalter-Piercy Duel

Dan Showalter and the then 24-year-old Charles Piercy, State Assemblyman from San Bernardino, fought the last politically motivated duel in California on May 25, 1861. Piercy had challenged Showalter several days after an argument during Assembly proceedings in which he felt he had been insulted. Piercy was killed in the second round of shots from rifles at 40 paces. The pro-Union press in California used this duel to demonize Showalter and the secessionist cause.

Clipping from the Sacramento Daily Union of May 18, 1861, reporting on a pro-Union resolution passed in the California legislature to great surprise.

Clipping from the Sacramento Daily Union of May 20, 1861, reporting on the attempt to pass a pro-Confederate resolution in the California legislature. It was argument on a procedural issue during this debate that prompted Piercy to challenge Showalter.

Clipping from the Daily Alta California of May 25, 1861, describing the upcoming Showalter-Piercy duel and events leading up to it.

Clipping from the Daily Alta California of May 26, 1861, describing the events and aftermath of the duel.

Announcement of the duel, although illegal, from the Sacramento Daily Union of May 25, 1861.

Transcription of a previously unpublished letter of Dan Showalter to his brother William explaining his actions in the Showalter-Piercy duel, together with a statement of its provenance (below). These pages courtesy of the Showalter family collections.

1 comment:

  1. Bob, I had read these accounts of this duel, but thanks for compiling everything into a single website. I was wondering if you knew which state Mr. Piercy migrated to California from.