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The Vault at PfaffsAn Archive of Art and Literature by the Bohemians of Antebellum New York
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[newspaper clipping]
         Fitz-James O Brien Under Arrest.
  Fitz-James O Brien, Captain in the McClellan
Rifle regiment, now encamped at Factoryville,
Staten Island, is under arrest for shooting Drill-
Sergeant Davenport.  The Stapleton (Staten Is-
land) Gazette says:
   On Saturday, Captain O Brien, of the McClel-
lan Rifles, in camp at Factoryville, shot Drill-Ser-
geant Davenport.  It is reported that the sergeant
is much the superior of the captain in his know-
ledge of military tactics, and that hence a feeling
of jealousy arose on the part of the latter which
resulted in a dispute and an attempt upon the life
of the sergeant.  O Brien suddenly drew his re-
volver and fired twice, the first ball taking effect
in the leg and the other in the abdomen.  At our
latest information an ante-mortem examination
had been taken by a justice of the peace, the man
not being expected to survive his injuries, and
O Brien was in custody. 
  Fitz-James O Brien is a well-known literary
man of this city.  A native of Ireland, he emi-
grated to this country ten or twelve years ago,
and has here devoted himself almost exclusively
to literary pursuits, contributing largely to the
public journals and magazines.  He has never
held any permanent connection with periodical
publications or the daily journals, but has written
for the Times, Tribune, Harper s Magazine, the
Atlantic Monthly, and the Knickerbocker.  His
 Ode to Doctor Kane,  published in Harper s,
gained him some reputation, and his  Diamond
Lens  in the Atlantic embroiled him in a con-
troversy with the friends of William North, who
claimed that O Brien had filched North s ideas and
given them a new setting.  His newspaper con-
tributions were marked by a sketchy and agree-
able style and a command of literary knowledge.
  At the beginning of the war O Brien accompa-
nied the Seventh regiment of this city on its ex-
pedition to Washington, and wrote some excellent
sketches of camp-life for the columns of the Times.
After the dismissal of the Seventh from the ser-
vice he returned to the city, and became inter-
ested in the formation of the McClellan rifle regi-
ment.  Receiving the appointment of captain, he
accompanied the regiment to its encampment on
Staten Island, and is now in custody to answer
the charge of manslaughter.
  Mr. O Brien is about thirty-five years of age, of
medium height, stout built and hardy.  He is
fond of athletic exercises, and is not ill-versed in
the theory of military tactics.  Had his passions
not hurried him into the lamentable catastrophe
of Saturday, his career as an officer would proba-
bly have been creditable.

[Gunn s handwriting]
E. Post.

[newspaper clipping]
		A Correction.
         MR. O BRIEN S CASE.
  We learn that in the account given of Mr.
O Brien s case, in a former column, injustice is
done to him by stating that he is under arrest, or
that he committed the assault upon Sergeant
Davenport under the influence of passion.  He
acted, we are told, in self-defence, and has not
been arrested.

[Gunn s handwriting]
Times.  Written by Cahill, ac-

cording to Raymond s order.
[newspaper clipping]
  On Saturday last a Sergeant, named DAVEN-
PORT, belonging to the McClellan Rifles, was shot by
Capt. FITZ JAMES O BRIEN, of the same regiment.  It
appears that DAVENPORT, who is said to be the most
desperate and unruly man in the regiment, was met
outside the limits of the camp by Capt. O BRIEN, who
asked him for his pass, as is the rule.  DAVENPORT
made some impertinent answer; Capt. O BRIEN said
not another word, but passed on, intending to report
the Sergeant at headquarters for insolence to his su-
perior officer.  DAVENPORT followed him, still using in-
sulting language.  At this Capt. O BRIEN drew his pis-
tol, and commanded the man to fall back.  To this
DAVENPORT paid no attention, but still closed on the
Captain.  Over seven times he was told not to come
hither, but he still advanced upon O BRIEN, who was
retreating.  Finally he mad a rush upon the Captain,
whose pistol went off accidentally.  Feeling over-
powered, O BRIEN again cocked the pistol, and shot
the man in the abdomen.  DAVENPORT, who is now
rapidly recovering, has served under the British Gov-
ernment in India, such being the case, he must have
known that it was against the military discipline to in-
sult, much less strike, a superior officer, and by so
doing he placed himself in a position to be shot any

[newspaper clipping]
  TRAGEDY IN CAMP. Last Friday, in the camp of
the McClellan Rifles, at Factoryville, Staten Island,
a rencounter took place between Capt. Fitzjames
O Brien and Sergeant Davenport, belonging to Capt.
Vaughn s company.  Capt. O Brien twice discharged
his revolver, both bullets lodging in the side of
Davenport, just below the heart.  Surgical aid was
procured, but the wounded man still lies in a critical
condition at a house in the village.  The affair is un-
dergoing investigation.

[Gunn s handwriting]
Title:Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries, Volume Eighteen: page fifty-two
Description:Newspaper clippings regarding the shooting of Sergeant Davenport by Fitz James O'Brien.
Subject:Atlantic monthly.; Bohemians; Cahill, Frank; Civil War; Davenport, Sergeant; Gunn, Thomas Butler; Journalism; Military; New York evening post.; New York State Militia Infantry Regiment, 7th; New York times.; New York tribune.; North, William; O'Brien, Fitz James; Raymond, Henry J.; Staten Island (New York, N.Y.); Vaughn, Captain
Coverage (City/State):Factoryville, [New York]
Scan Date:2010-06-14


Title:Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries, Volume Eighteen
Description:Includes Gunn's descriptions of the scene in New York at the commencement of the Civil War, his visits to military camps in and around New York City as a reporter for ""The New York Evening Post,"" boarding house life, the shooting of Sergeant Davenport by Captain Fitz James O'Brien for insubordination, and Frank Bellew's marital troubles.
Subject:Boardinghouses; Bohemians; Civil War; Gunn, Thomas Butler; Journalism; Marriage; Military; Publishers and publishing; Women
Coverage (City/State):New York, New York
Note:Thomas Butler Gunn was born February 15, 1826, in Banbury, England, and came to New York in 1849. During the Civil War he worked as a correspondent for the New York Tribune and the New York Evening Post. He returned to England in 1863, and died in Birmingham in April 1903. The collection includes twenty-one volumes of his diaries, including newspaper clippings, letters, photographs, sketches, and various other items inserted by Gunn. Diary entries date from July 7, 1849, to April 7, 1863, and include his experiences with the New York publishing and literary world, his descriptions of boarding houses, his travels throughout the United States, and his experiences traveling with the Federal army as a Civil War correspondent.
Publisher:Missouri History Museum
Rights:Copyright 2010 Missouri History Museum.
Source:Page images, transcriptions, and metadata of the Thomas Butler Gunn diaries have been provided by the Missouri History Museum.