Duels were commonplace in early Alabama
(Lawrence County, Alabama)
Col. Edmond Saunders
written ca. 1890s
Col. Gallaway of Lawrence County, Alabama frequently served as arbitrator or second in duels in early Alabama. Memphis, Tennessee was a battlefield for duelists who flocked there from Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas and Kentucky, and from all parts of Tennessee.
A duel took place in Memphis between William A Lake and Henry C. Chambers, a son of Dr. Chambers, who was one of the first United States Senators from Alabama. The two men resided in Mississippi and were candidates for Congress in 1863. While making the canvass they had a personal difficulty and came to Memphis to adjust it.
More shots were fired
Chambers selected Colonel Gallaway of Alabama as his friend in the duel. The weapons fought with were rifles, and although awkward at first, Chambers became, in three days, quite a proficient marksman.
Chamber’s party chartered a boat and were on the ground about sunrise. Lake with his second, Walter Brooks, United States Senator, and his friends, came afterward. Lots were cast for the word, and Col. Gallaway won it. The word was given, and Chambers’ ball went whizzing by Lake’s head and Lake’s ball passed through Chambers goatee.
Neither party was satisfied and there was a second exchange of shots. After which Gallaway made an earnest effort to adjust the difficulty. He presented several propositions as to how the matter could be settled, all of which Lake’s friends declined to accept. In about two hours after the second fire, the rifles were again loaded; the hostile parties took their positions, and at the word three, Lake fell dead, Chambers’ ball having gone crashing through his brain.
Colonel Gallaway also served as a second for George T. Phelan, son of Judge James Phelan, a native of Huntsville, Ala., in a duel with James Brizzolari. At the second fire Phelan’s ball passed through the arm and body of his adversary who had already fired three shots without effect. The parties fought with Colts six-shooters and were to fire until all the barrels were emptied, or one of the parties fell.