When you where challenged to a duel or challenged someone to a duel, it was the person that was challenged that chose the weapon. Once someone challenged Lincoln To a duel and he said " how about cannons?". I can't find any historic evidence of this duel actually happening, so I wanted to know if he ever duelled someone with a cannon?

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    Questions with apocryphal or hypothetical/fanciful assumptions are off topic. If this is some real quote, you need to identify what is, otherwise I will assume you are just making it up and vote to close. Commented Oct 22, 2014 at 17:11
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    This question appears to be off-topic because it is based on a fabricated premise or mis-statment of fact. Commented Oct 22, 2014 at 17:12
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    Or someone watching the Duel between the Duke of Wellington and Edmund Blackadder pretending to be the Prince of Wales...
    – Oldcat
    Commented Oct 22, 2014 at 18:18
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    @TylerDurden The question holds value if the apocrypha is common. Commented Oct 22, 2014 at 23:07
  • I don't know if the cannon idea is common...Google didn't pull up an assertion. But by de-emphasizing the cannon the question could be saved.
    – Oldcat
    Commented Oct 23, 2014 at 16:39

1 Answer 1


Abe Lincoln did fight a duel in 1842. He was blamed by James Shields for an editorial. He chose extremely large broadswords, to improve his reach. I have heard that he joked at the choice of weapons "How about cow dung at 50 paces?" I personally haven't heard the cannon joke, but he might have used it as well.

Since Lincoln was challenged by Shields he had the privilege of choosing the weapon of the duel. He chose cavalry broadswords "of the largest size." "I didn't want the d—-d fellow to kill me, which I think he would have done if we had selected pistols," he later explained. For his own part, he did not want to kill Shields, but "felt sure [he] could disarm him" with a blade. At six feet, four inches tall, Lincoln planned to use his height to his advantage against Shields, who stood at a mere five feet, nine inches tall.

The day of the duel, September 22, arrived and the combatants met at Bloody Island, Missouri to face death or victory. As the two men faced each other, with a plank between them that neither was allowed to cross, Lincoln swung his sword high above Shields to cut through a nearby tree branch. This act demonstrated the immensity of Lincoln’s reach and strength and was enough to show Shields that he was at a fatal disadvantage. With the encouragement of bystanders, the two men called a truce.


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    @Mike Does it matter? It doesn't change the content, meaning or relevance of the answer.
    – asheeshr
    Commented Oct 23, 2014 at 12:14

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