The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
The Fatal Fight on the Peshtigo
Chicago Tribune (Chicago, IL), 21 Jul 1866

Full Text
Inquest on the Body of the Mate, McCambridge -- Details of the Affray -- a Fearful Encounter.

The stabbing affray which occurred on Thursday evening on board the bark "Peshtigo," as reported in our issue of yesterday, appears to have been one of the most desperate encounters between two men which has ever been witnessed. The fight lasted not more than three minutes, yet in that brief space one of the combatants received no less than twenty-seven horrible wounds, while the other was killed. The circumstances which led to the scuffle may be narrated briefly as follows: The mate of the "Peshtigo," Pat. McCambridge, who was said to be slightly intoxicated hired a sailor named William Moore on Thursday afternoon. After partaking of sundry glasses of beer together, both proceeded to the vessel which they boarded in the evening just prior to her being towed out of the river. The mate would seem to have been somewhat excited, and used harsh language toward Moore, and a quarrel arose which was set at rest by the captain. Soon after, however, it was renewed by McCambridge, who went up to Moore, while the latter was performing his duty, and struck him on the head. A fierce conflict ensued. The mate drew forth a short knife, which fortunately was broken at the point, and stabbed Moore repeatedly in the back and in the chest, until the body was dreadfully mutilated. The sailor was driven to madness by the vehemence of the attack, and while defending himself, seems to have almost lost consciousness. The mate shouted to him to "cut" and a the same moment Moore produced a knife and struck his assailant two deadly blows in the chest. The mate fell back dead, pierced through the most vital part of the body. Moore was conveyed to the North Market Hall, where he lies in a very precarious state, although strong hopes are entertained of his recovery.


Coroner Wagner held an inquest yesterday forenoon on the body of McCambridge, at the North Market Hall, when the whole facts relating to the affray were elicited in the evidence we give below. The first witness examined was Andrew Kelly, a seaman on board the "Peshtigo," who, on being sworn, testified as follows:"

When the vessel towed away from the dock about nine o'clock in the evening we were called aft to the poop to make the mizzen. I saw William Moore and the mate in a scuffle. We were about a mile out on the lake. Moore knocked the mate down and I lent a hand to lift Moore off the mate when I saw him using his hands backward and forward on the other. The captain told Moore to go and mind his business, and ordered the mate to get sail on the ship. Captain McDonnell, John Conners and I, were lowering the center board, when I heard the mate saying "cut, cut," after which I saw him fall on the deck. It was dark at the time. I did not see any weapons in their hands. The fight did not last long. I was standing about five yards from them. About ten minutes elapsed between the first scuffle between them and the second. I did not hear any words pass between them during the scuffle.


James McDonnell was next examined. He testified as follows:

I am captain of the bark "Peshtigo." I knew the deceased Patrick McCambridge, the first mate of the vessel. I started to tow out about half past 8 o'clock on Thursday evening, was towing out stern foremost; I was on the poop. William came on board after dark along with the mate. The first I saw of the scuffle was Moore on the top of the mate, struggling together on the poop. This was when we were abreast of the North Pier. I pulled Moore off the mate and told him to go to his work, and told the mate to do the same. He said he would. I could not say if they were fighting or not; I did not see a blow stuck. Immediately after they were separated, I saw the mate extend his arms and cry to Moore, "cut, cut." I told the mate, who was standing at the poop, that I would have no more of this. He said he would go and get sail on the vessel. I did not see anything more until some one came and told me the mate was dead. I then stopped the tug. The mate had been drinking a little that evening. I could not say if the other man had been drinking or not. I did not see any blows struck or knives [__ ed] Have known the mate for twelve years. He was a peaceable man except when he had liquor.


William Moore, the sailor who inflicted the moral wound was then subjected to an examination. On being sworn and interrogated he deposed:

I am a sailor. I was employed on the bark "Peshtigo." I was hired yesterday and went on board for the first time about seven o'clock in the evening. I was in company with the mate and another man whose name I don't know. I have sailed with the mate two years ago. I don't know whether he knew me or not. He hired me on North Water street, and we went to a saloon and had two glasses of beer. The mate was not sober. I had only drank four or five glasses. The vessel was lying at the lumber yards near the North Pier.

We went aboard, and after a while -- about fifteen minutes -- the mate and I had a few words. He was blowing about something, and I said something back, when he said he was not speaking to me, and told me to go about my work. I did so, and when the tug towed us out, I went to hoist the mizzen. The mate then came up and struck me on the head. No words had passed before the blow. There were two or three of the men standing near us at the time. We then clinched, and both of us went down. The Captain then came up and separated us, telling me to go about my work, which I did. A few minutes afterwards I went forward on the port side, when the mate met me there and went right at me. He commenced cutting me with a knife which he had. After cutting me several times I found I was getting weak and all cut up, and then I jumped at him and he fell. I had a knife in my pocket, but I could not say whether I used it or not. The Captain came forward and said, "You d____d s_n of a b___h what have you done?" I said "nothing," and some of the men then told me to get down below. I went down and came up again. I did not see the mate then, and have not seen him since. I must have been badly cut but I did not know it at the time. I only knew my arm was cut before we clinched. I cannot recollect how I defended myself or whether I used a knife or not.

[Witness was here shown a knife covered with blood which had been found on the deck about the middle of the vessel near the mainmast.]

That is not my knife. My knife was not so large as that. The last scuffle only lasted a few minutes. I did not see any of the boys round us at that time.


John S. Jones, a sailor, gave the following testimony:

I am a sailor on the bark "Peshtigo." I have served on the bark for nine days. I knew the mate, Pat. McCambridge, for ten or twelve years. The first I knew of the scuffle, we were giving out the tow line to the tug. After we had enough out, I took a turn at the line, and asked the tug if he had got enough. The mate then told me I had too much lip, and did not want another word from me. I was under the impression that the mate mistook me for Moore, and when Moore went down on deck to go aft the mate took hold of him by the sleeve and told him to go aft and make the main staysail fast. Some words passed between them and Moore went aft. I then went aft to the halyards. Soon after this, while Moore and some others were making the mizzen, the mate came and asked if all hands were aft. Some one replied they were all aft, and the mate then came up and struck Moore with his fist. Moore clinched him and threw him down. The captain came and separated them, and told Moore to go and attend to his work. He also said to the mate he did not want any trouble abroad the vessel. The mate went forward and sung out to make the jib on her, when Moore and one Connors came forward to the jib halyards. Moore was going aft to the centre-board with the rest of the crew, when the mate jumped on him. I saw them both using their hands striking each other. I did not see any weapon in their hands, it was so dark. The mate stepped back a few feet and said "cut, cut," and then fell down. This all took place in the course of a few minutes after he fell, and felt his pulse, which was beating. He died in a few minutes after.

Several other sailors gave testimony which corroborated the statements of the previous witnesses.


Dr. J. R. Gore, the City Physician, who made a post mortem examination of the body of the deceased, described the nature and extent of the wounds, one of which was caused instant death.


The jury brought in a verdict that the deceased, Patrick McCambridge, came to his death from wounds inflicted by a sharp instrument at the hands of William Moore, and that Moore was acting at the time in self-defence.

The deceased leaves behind him a wife and four children, all of whom are quite young.

Media Type:
Item Type:
Date of Publication:
21 Jul 1866
Personal Name(s):
McCambridge, Patrick ; Moore, William ; McDonnell, James ; Keely, Andrew ; Jones, John S. ; Connor, John ; Wagner, Dr.
Language of Item:
Geographic Coverage:
  • Illinois, United States
    Latitude: 41.8970686601731 Longitude: -87.5086010253906
Copyright Statement:
Copyright status unknown. Responsibility for determining the copyright status and any use rests exclusively with the user.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
WWW address
Powered by / Alimenté par VITA Toolkit

My favourites lets you save items you like, tag them and group them into collections for your own personal use. Viewing "My favourites" will open in a new tab. Login here or start a My favourites account.

The Fatal Fight on the Peshtigo