Mason Duel

Camp Kenton, 3 miles south of Maysville, Near Washington, was established the last of September 1861.  It drilled raw recruits for U. S. Army men for the Civil War.  Within this establishment, Leonidas (‘Lon’) Metcalfe was trained as a soldier, and received his colonelcy.  He was born on March 19, 1819, at “Forrest Retreat,” the son of Thomas P. and Nancy Lee Metcalfe. He became a ‘crack-shot’ and a fine soldier.

 Honorable H. Stanton, a member of Congress and Commonwealth Attorney was charged “with being the soul of rebellion” in this part of the Kentucky.  He ‘fitted-out’ men in Mason and adjoining counties for the Southern Army.

 Oct. 2, 1861, General Nelson, of the Federal Army, ordered the arrest of Stanton and six other ‘active Secessionists’ – Wm. T Castro, lawyer, and once Mayor of Maysville; George W. Forrester, editor of the Maysville Express; James H. Hall, B. F. Thomas, Isaac Nelson and Wm. Hunt – all were charged with aiding and abetting ‘the so-called Confederate States of America.’  These men were called “Secesh’ – sent by boat to Cincinnati and on to Camp Chase, the Federal prison near Columbus.  In time, 5 of these men were released, but ‘on no account’ to release Stanton.  Under Kentucky General Assembly, a letter was sent to Abraham Lincoln and Stanton gained his freedom.

 February 21, 1862, Wm. T. Castro was released after much pressure.  He returned to Maysville.  He was obsessed in belief that Metcalfe was solely responsible for his arrest and incarceration.  He demanded redress under the ‘code duello.’  On May 6, 1862, he knew that Metcalfe was in Maysville and challenged him to a duel.  It took two days and the next morning to set the time, the place, and to secure seconds and surgeons as well as to choose arms.

 The time was set: Thursday, May 8, at 5:30 p.m.  The place, 2 miles down the Ohio River from Dover, in northeast Bracken County, the farm of Louis Long’s (later owned by Mrs. Henry Scheek and Harry Bess.  The tract of land lies about 1.25 miles from the farm owned by Peter Kelsch, in 1884).  The arms: rifles.  Metcalfe owned a Sharpe’s rifle.  Castro’s seconds were Isaac Nelson and Thomas A. Respess.  He had no surgeon.  Metcalfe’s seconds were Wm. Oden, and Major S. C. Rogers.  His doctor was Dr. John T. Fleming; another, not named.  The course of fire: at 60 yards.

 Only ten friends of each were allowed to be in the party.  At the last minute, Langehorn Tabb begged them not to shoot.

 Metcalfe stood at a spot with the sun shining in his eyes and upon him brightly.  On the call for the first shot, Casto blasted away.  When Metcalfe fired on the call of 2, Casto sank to the ground.  Metcalfe’s doctor examined him and declared him dead.

Casto was taken up the river to Maysville, on the packet Bostona, and was buried the next day in the old Maysville Cemetery.  At the time of the duel, Castro was 38 years old and a man of means, with no family.  Metcalfe was 43, youngest son of Gov. Thomas Metcalfe of Nicholas County.

 By the following August, Col. Metcalfe led a number of men in a rendezvous at Blue Licks, as Colonel of the 7th Kentucky Volunteer Calvary.