Stanley Nelson ‘Deadly brawl at the Galt House’ | View

In March 1839, Mississippi congressman and lawyer Seargent S. Prentiss boarded a stagecoach in Louisville, Kentucky, for a 75-mile experience southeast to Harrodsburg. 

Among the the folks traveling with Prentiss was his buddy Edward Wilkinson, a Mississippi decide who along with his protégé (John Murdaugh) and his brother (Dr. Benjamin Wilkinson) experienced gotten by themselves into deep issues in Louisville. 

They experienced arrived in the city the prior December on a most happy event. The decide was to be married in his bride’s hometown of Bardstown not far from Louisville. 

What transpired upcoming would finally be settled in a courtroom. The 3 Mississippians would be tried using for murdering two Kentuckians. Throughout the demo, their life-style as notable gentlemen from the Deep South – specially nicely-off Mississippi adult males – would turn out to be component of the tale. What they brought with them to Louisville was one more aspect of the tale – the Bowie knife. When it arrived time to combat, they didn’t elevate their fists, they elevated their weapons. 

The knife that manufactured Jim Bowie famed would be romanticized in the 19th century instead than become a symbol of violence. It was utilized to settle the slightest of disputes. In reality, the prosecutor in the trial would make a compelling argument that southern gentlemen were defined by their appreciate of duels and Bowie knives and that their instead warped sense of honor was very little a lot more than a senseless widow maker. 

Even though Jim Bowie’s 1827 Sandbar Combat at Vidalia was a duel that turned into a knife-wielding brawl, the melee in Kentucky was each and every little bit as savage a fight that also left behind a trail of blood, guts, gore, demise and grieving families. 

The town where by the bloody brawl transpired was for all sensible functions born a 50 percent-century previously. A team sent by the governor of Virginia to study the inside of Kentucky camped at what grew to become Louisville in the 1770s. It was positioned just above the Falls of the Ohio River, so named for the reason that of a limestone ledge, in essence a damaged wall of rock that turned the Ohio into rapids relying on the depth of the stream. 

According to the Navigator, an early 19th century river information, the falls were “occasioned by a ledge of rocks which extend very throughout the river, and are rarely to be perceived by the navigator in times of substantial freshes, unless by the exceptional velocity of the boat, which descends above them at the amount of from 10 to 18 miles an hour. When the drinking water is low, the increased aspect of the rock results in being obvious, and it is then that the passage becomes unsafe.” 

Passage was obtained by a few openings or channels. 

Generally periods, travellers were debarked, and cargo unloaded so that skilled pilots could information the vessels through. In fact, officers in Louisville and nearby Jeffersonville, Indiana, manufactured certain that knowledgeable pilots ended up constantly offered to information the boats by. In the meantime, passengers could loosen up in Louisville in advance of reboarding. 

By 1800, Louisville experienced a inhabitants of 800. A lot more than a quarter century later, in 1827, the range of citizens had risen to 7,063, though the town’s very first mayor was elected the following year. 

By 1838, the yr of the Galt Household fracas, the inhabitants of Louisville was 27,000. Two many years later on, the town would boast 270 retail retailers, 3 lumberyards, two flour mills, two tanneries, two breweries, 7 printing places of work, a single university, 10 academies and a handful of pleasant inns, the Galt Home staying the most celebrated. 

Like all cities on the Ohio, commerce and market were being relevant to the river amount. Small drinking water typically intended a suspension of river visitors and a decline in organization. 

The Galt Home was brand new, obtaining been crafted in the mid-1830s on the location of the former home of Dr. W.C. Galt on the corner of Next and Principal. The four-story, 60-room structure was the area to stay in Louisville and a preferred of river tourists. 

Just before supper in the Galt Household, male guests routinely assembled in the barroom, marked by a prolonged counter, chairs and a fireplace. The bar opened into the dining room. A bell typically rang during the resort to suggest guests that supper would be served. When navigation of the river was at its peak, and when the Legislature was in session, the Galt House bar was frequently loaded to ability. 

On the stage experience to Harrodsburg, Prentiss, who served as Wilkinson’s lawyer, listened as the young decide narrated the functions, offered a record of names that would be helpful to the defense and revealed what had been testified to through preliminary hearing in Louisville. 

Prentiss had just arrived from Washington, where Congress experienced adjourned for recess. Formerly, the defense group had successfully attained a alter of location and the trial moved to Harrodsburg. 

The origins of the deadly Galt Household dispute commenced in a men’s clothing retailer. 

According to Joseph Dunbar Shields (The Life and Instances of Seargent Smith Prentiss), who grew up outside the house Natchez in Jefferson County, Skip., “Dr. Benjamin Wilkinson had purchased a match of dresses, vest, pants, and overcoat, from a respectable service provider tailor named John W. Redding. On Saturday, the 15th of December 1838, the health practitioner went to Mr. Redding’s by yourself to get the clothes. He attempted them on, observing that the overcoat was loose, but he took the suit and remaining a hundred-dollar Mississippi Bank invoice, requesting Redding to keep on to it for a week or two, as the low cost on it may then be significantly less. 

“About three or four o’clock in the afternoon of the identical day he returned to Redding’s retail store, accompanied by the decide and Mr. Murdaugh. The in shape of the overcoat turned the subject matter of discussion, the judge saying that it was a terrible match and unfashionable. The physician available to fork out for the vest and pants and return the overcoat, but the decide advised in opposition to this study course, as they, too, could not healthy. 

“Redding, probably not realizing the marriage amongst the medical professional and the decide, took exception at what he believed an unjustifiable interference, declaring that it was none of his enterprise. This led to substantial text, and the choose took exceptions to Redding’s language, stating that he did not come there to be insulted. The decide then seized a . A scuffle ensued the judge at very first was on best, but Redding turned him and was dragging him to the door. The physician interfered, as some considered, to pull him off, while some stated he elevated his hand with a knife. His hand was seized. 

“One witness mentioned he read Murdaugh contact out ‘Kill him!’ while another reported that he said, ‘Part them will not permit him destroy him!’ The events divided on the pavement in entrance of Redding’s keep. 

“Redding seized a brick-bat, stating, ‘Lay your d—d knives down and I can whip all a few of you.” The decide, who experienced walked across the street, returned and carried 1 (Murdaugh) of the occasion away with him. 

“The fight introduced many functions to Redding’s keep, and he instructed his grievance. Some encouraged him to take the regulation, and others recommended summary vengeance. Redding went to the mayor’s business office to get a warrant for the arrest of the events, but was informed that it was necessary to have their names. On his way to the ‘Galt House’ to verify these he fulfilled his brother in-regulation, John Rothwell, and instructed him of the affair.” 

In Shields’ account, Redding and Rothwell “reached the resort a short although ahead of supper and attained from Mr. Everett, the clerk, the names of the 3 but in its place of leaving then they ‘lingered’. In the suggest time a ‘group experienced collected’. Whilst Redding was hence ‘lingering’, awaiting, as he reported … Judge Wilkinson came into the bar-place to acquire a glass of drinking water. He commenced walking up and down the area. Redding crossed his path, and with his again to the bar accosted him, as he claims in his testimony, with, ‘I consider you are the gentleman that struck me with the in my possess home to-working day?’ 

“Wilkinson replied that he was, and added, ‘I shall not quarrel with a gentleman of your profession, but if you interfere with me or lay a hand on me, I shall get rid of you.’ 

 “Redding, in his testimony, carries on: ‘As he reported this, he place his hand behind him, as I assumed in his coat-pocket, for some weapon.’ Redding then named the choose a coward, and supplied to whip all a few if they would appear out and lay apart their weapons. Wilkinson meanwhile stored strolling backward and ahead, Redding telling him all the while what he assumed of him. This was a tirade of abuse. 

“Judge Wilkinson now walked out of the bar-room. An expression was read, ‘The coward, he has operate.’ The decide was absent but a little although when he returned his brother {Dr. Ben Wilkinson) and John Murdaugh had been just powering him. Redding advised Murdaugh that he was the man who drew a knife on him. Murdaugh replied in compound, ‘If you said I drew a bowie-knife on you it was a d—d lie, and whoever claimed it was a d—d liar!’ As he reported this Redding asserts that he (Murdaugh) threw up his hand with a drawn knife. 

“Just then two new actors appeared upon the scene. 1 Alexander Meeks a regional resort bartender stepped up, remarking, ‘You’re the d—d very little rascal that did it,’ and struck at Murdaugh with a whip or cane. About the exact same time John Rothwell the brother-in-legislation of the tailor also struck him. Murdaugh’s appropriate arm was caught just as he was about to strike. He seized his knife with his left hand, and with this hand struck Meeks a mortal blow, and so extricated himself. 

“In the imply time one Holmes, a further stranger, experienced attacked Dr. Wilkinson and was beating him unmercifully. Decide Wilkinson rushed to the rescue of Murdaugh, and with, it is intended, his bowie-knife struck Rothwell. Even now one more gentleman, Marshall Halbert, was engaged in the fray. 

“The names of the men attacking the Mississippians were Redding, Rothwell, Meeks, Oldham, Monthly bill Johnson, Halbert, and Holmes. Rothwell experienced a sword-cane, Meeks a cowhide and other weapons, and Oldham fired with a pistol at the Mississippians as they retreated from the bar-home. 

“In the quick room of fifteen or 20 minutes, Meeks lay dead on the flooring, Rothwell mortally wounded with wounds of two people, the a single manufactured by a substantial blade, the other by a slender instrument. Choose Wilkinson, too, was wounded evidently by a slender instrument, the wound ranging down from the shoulder blade to the spine. Murdaugh was poorly wounded in the head, and his hat punctured with a sharp instrument. Dr. Wilkinson was significantly bruised in the face, his eyes discolored and swelled till just about closed.”