Wild West

DEATH AND HONOR ON BLOODY ISLAND

It emerged innocently enough around 1798, quietly and ever so slowly surfacing above the muddy Mississippi River. At first it was just one among the thousands of sandbars that are born and die each year as the mighty river ebbs and flows. But this particular patch of ground had a more enduring destiny in the affairs of honor among 19th century gentlemen.

Known as a towhead, the alluvial island lay smack between Missouri and Illinois and directly across from St. Louis. But as it was so insignificant, neither state moved to claim ownership. It surfaced in an era when a dwindling number of upper-class men, particularly in Missouri, every so often waged

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