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Category: Duel

First Hand Account of the Duel Part 2

Hamilton & Washington Walking Tour New York City

Continued from “First Hand Account of the Duel Part 1”

He then asked if they were prepared; being answered in the affirmative, he gave the word present, as had been agreed on, and both parties presented and fired in succession. The intervening time is not expressed, as the seconds do not precisely agree on that point. The fire of Colonel Burr took effect, and General Hamilton almost instantly fell. Colonel Burr advanced toward General Hamilton with a manner and gesture that appeared to General Hamilton’s friend to be expressive of regret; but, without speaking, turned about and withdrew, being urged from the field by his friend, as has been subsequently stated, with a view to prevent his being recognized by the surgeon and bargemen who were then approaching. No further communication took place between the principals, and the barge that carried Colonel Burr immediately returned to the city. We conceive it proper to add, that the conduct of the parties in this interview was perfectly proper, as suited the occasion.”

First Hand Account of the Duel Part 1

Hamilton & Washington Walking Tour New York City

On the morning of July 11, 1804, Alexander Hamilton along with his “second,” Nathaniel Pendleton, and a doctor, Dr. David Hosack, rowed to Weehawken, New Jersey.  Vice President Aaron Burr and his second, W. P. Van Ness, had already arrived. Underbrush had been cleared to provide room for the dueling ground.  Although neither had seen the duel (to avoid being accomplices in a potential murder), Pendleton and Van Nass eventually collaborated on the details of the event before and after the discharge of the guns:

“Colonel Burr arrived first on the ground, as had been previously agreed. When General Hamilton arrived, the parties exchanged salutations, and the seconds proceeded to make their arrangements. They measured the distance, ten full paces, and cast lots for the choice of position, as also to determine by whom the word should be given, both of which fell to the second of General Hamilton. They then proceeded to load the pistols in each other’s presence, after which the parties took their stations. The gentleman who was to give the word then explained to the parties the rules which were to govern them in firing, which were as follows:

The parties being placed at their stations, the second who gives the word shall ask them whether they are ready; being answered in the affirmative, he shall say- present! After this the parties shall present and fire when they please. If one fires before the other, the opposite second shall say one, two, three, fire, and he shall then fire or lose his fire”

To be continued in part 2…


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