Duel at Woodham Mortimer

 During the Napoleonic Wars several army units were barracked in Eastern Essex.

In 1809 this included the Norfolk Militia, The Dragoons and the 2nd Battalion of the 11th East Devonshire Regiment of Foot who had barracks at Maldon.

In June 1809 a Cricket Match took place on Woodham Mortimer Cricket Ground at Woodham Mortimer Common during which there was a heated debate between 24 year old  Assistant Surgeon Lewis O'Hara and Ensign P Mahon who were both serving with the 11th Foot. This dispute could not be resolved and so resulted in O'Hara challenging Mahon to a duel with pistols

The duel was held at the Cricket Ground at 3pm on 15 June 1809

Ensign Mahon was attended by Lieutenant Stephens and Assistant Surgeon O'Hara by Ensign Stewart with a number of fellow Officers spectators to the duel.

The men paced to 12 paces and then turned to face each other.

Both men fired but both men missed their targets.

Ensign Mahan proposed that a mutual concession should take place but O'Hara felt that the nature of the insult made this impossible and so the pistols were reloaded and both men faced up again and fired.

This time a ball from Mahon's pistol hit O'Hara on the right side of his body while O'Hara's shot again missed.

O'Hara was immediately attended and the ball removed with a lancet.

Some Constables appeared at the scheme and O'Hara bravely told Mahon to fly before he was arrested.

Mahon was no able to make his escape and was arrested at the scene by the Constables although the seconds escaped from the scene.

O'Hara was carried back to his apartments at Maldon and treated for his injury but he died at about 5am on the following morning.

He was buried at All Saints Church, Maldon on 18 June 1809.Fellow Officers and members of the Dragoons and Militia lined the streets to escort his coffin to Al Saints Church in the High Street at Maldon where he was buried on 18 June 1809.

Ensign Mahon escaped from custody and made good his freedom as there is no record of him facing charges or returning to his Regiment.

View Peter Layzell's profile on LinkedIn