Today in Texas History – February 7

From the Annals of Stupidity –  In 1837, Brigadier General Felix Huston wounded his superior officer General Albert Sidney Johnston in a duel.  President Sam Houston had sent Johnston to replace Huston as commander of the Texas army.  Huston considered Houston’s rebuke to impugn his honor such that, despite his respect for Johnston, he made a challenge.  Even though Johnston was in charge of enforcing the strict no dueling policy of the Texas Army, he accepted the challenge.

The two Fighting Kentuckians met near the Lavaca River in Jackson County under a large oak tree that has become known as Dueling Oak.  Huston was an expert marksman which prompted Johnston’s second to propose that the duelists agree to shoot from the hip to lessen the chances that ASJ would be seriously injured.

Johnston waited until Huston took aim before firing his own pistol, hoping to distract the excellent shot.  The ploy failed and each man fired three times.  The affair ended when ASJ was shot through the hip on the third volley. The attending physician told ASJ that he was going to die as the ball had hit the sciatic nerve.

Magnanimous in victory, Huston offered condolences and pledged to serve under ASJ’s command.  For his part, Johnston is reputed to have never held the foolish duel against Huston even though his recovery took several months and temporarily prevented him from assuming command according to Sam Houston’s wishes.  Perhaps admonished by his actions, Huston left the Army shortly afterwards and returned to the United States.

Photo of the Dueling Oak from http://www.texasforestservice.tamu.edu.

 

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