Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 22.djvu/138
126 Southern Historical Society Papers.
lines, I determined to capture him. There was nothing about him to indicate his rank, but I presumed that he was an officer. The bend in the fence prevented him from noticing my approach. In- deed, he was looking to the front as I came on his rear, and the ground being soft near the fence line, he did not hear my horse's step. I would have run him through with my sword, but I was incapable of stabbing any man in the back. I saw when I got near him that he was of formidable stature, and as his pistol was in his hand, I was sure that if I ordered him to surrender he would in- stantly turn and fire upon me. He was mounted on a horse of light chestnut color, which I thought was the finest animal I had ever seen. It was a sore temptation to a cavalry officer, and I at once changed my plan and decided to unhorse the rider and capture his splendid mount. As I struck the blow he turned upon me. It was a half mile race for life. I heard his pistol snap three times at my back, and also his parting curse, as I went through the gap in the fence."
Colonel Hampton delivered the explanation tendered by Major S. (for he rose to that rank), and later General Hampton acknowledged it by letter, assuring Major S. that it had given him great gratifica- tion, and since he had received it he could only regard the failure of his pistol to fire with a deep sense of gratitude to Him in whose hands are the balance of life and death.
In reply to an inquiry to Hampton, Major S. wrote that the name of the rollicking rifleman was Frank Pearson; that he was but nine- teen years old at the time of the duel; that the pistol ball had wounded him a few inches above the wrist, and that he was mustered out of service at the close of the war as lieutenant, and was a suc- cessful farmer living near Kalamazoo, Mich. Subsequently General Hampton received a letter from Mr. Pearson himself, in which he assured the General that he was glad he had missed him, and the General responded that he was very sorry that he had wounded Private Pearson.
T. J. MACKEY.