Dueling with Wax Bullets

In New York City, around the turn of the century, after dueling had pretty much died out, a dedicated group of eccentrics dedicated themselves to keep the craft alive. The 19th century seemed to be full of rich eccentrics. For instance, I have a bird living in my wall, a Starling, that are descendants of about 20 birds released in Central Park about by Eugene Shieffelin 120 years ago. He was Chairman of the American Acclimatization Society, and he made it a society goal to introduce every bird species mentioned in the works of William Shakespeare to the Americas. Why? And Why Shakespeare? Maybe this is what happens when you combine money, education and boredom.

3 thoughts on “Dueling with Wax Bullets”

  1. This native Saint Louisan finds two amusing things about the introduction of starlings into North America:

    1. At about the same time that Shieffelin introduced starlings into North America, other folks introduced the Eurasian Tree Sparrow to the St. Louis area. Those birds wisely realized that they were living in one of the finest areas in all of North America, and decided not to spread into lesser areas*. ;-)

    2. During my youth, my father encouraged me to shoot starlings with birdshot fired from a single-shot .22 rifle, thus introducing me to firearms (and firearms safety) at an appropriately-young age.

    *My parents’ home features nesting Eurasian Tree Sparrows within easy viewing of their south-facing glass patio window/sliding door. I remember them hosting bird-watchers who had come from around the country to add the Eurasian Tree Sparrow to their lists. There’s nothing quite so civilized as bird-watching from the comfort of someone’s living room….

  2. I wouldn’t think this was much different that modern day paintball matches. Usually whenever I get together for paintball someone invariably wishes to do a duel or a “Civil War” battle. It hurts, but it beats watchin’ TV.

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