This Week in H-SC History: Friend Killed for Honor

Nate Sterling ’15

This is a story about the permanent wound in the relationship of two friends – Ned Langhorne and Charlie “Bose” Edie.
The two friends exited Professor Martin’s recitation room along with James Lawson at 10 AM January 28th, 1857. They were making their way toward the north door on the first floor of “The College” (now known as Cushing Hall), when Langhorne reminded Edie of the profane language he used the night before. Edie called him a “damned liar, a damned puppy,” according to the Alumni Record of 1961.  Langhorne demanded a “retraction.” Langhorne would not settle for anything less than an apology, regardless of the fact that Edie had been drunk when he said these things. Edie refused to take what he said back. Hesitating, Edie seemed to be thinking of a way to assert his point. He swings a puissant blow to Langhorne’s face, repeatedly cursing as he hit him. After Langhorne finally gathered himself, the two started frantically throwing blows. As Langhorne began to retreat, Edie dealt another heavy blow that knocked Langhorne some six or seven feet onto the door opposite Professor Martin’s. While recovering, Langhorne surprised everyone with the stiletto he drew out from somewhere in his clothing. Next, he charged toward Edie wildly thrusting the stiletto, and yelling, “Take it back! Take it back!” reads the Record. Langhorne eventually sank the stiletto deep into Edie’s chest. Eddie appealed to Langhorne’s unsportsmanlike conduct, “I am not armed. You have stabbed me to the heart.” Edie collapsed to the floor. William Baldwin tried to aid him back to his feet, only to fall yet again – there in the fourth passage.
Professor Martin had exited his room upon hearing the commotion and addressed some of those gathered round to take Edie to a dormitory room upstairs. Prof. Martin accompanied Langhorne to his room. During the walk, according to the Record, Langhorne explained his reason for the tragedy –“Mr. Martin, I could not help it. He insulted me and would not retract” (21).
Meanwhile, the college servant had embarked to the Prince Edward Courthouse a mile away to fetch Dr. Peyton Randolph Berkeley. When Dr. Berkeley arrived at the place where Edie was laid, he only had to probe a needle into the gaping wound under the left nipple to conclude that the jab was indeed fatal. After the Doctor left, two additional wounds were discovered: the first in the shoulder and the other near the left armpit.
The two were described as intimate friends. Langhorne described Edie as his “best friend” after the tragedy. This bond between the two friends was ended by the wound to Charlie Edie’s heart. There is some debate about the actual circumstances fueling the argument between the two friends. In this article, Edie appears to dishonor Langhorne, which leads to the fight. The Guide’s Guide state that there are some reports that say a lady might have been involved. The story goes like this: while the two gentlemen were arguing, one had revealed the handkerchief of this lady, and the other became even more enraged. The fight over a girl as well as a fight over a man’s honor may sound more reasonable than a fight for the latter, but there is no way of knowing for certain.

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