Mark Twain fired one shot and then left

At least, that’s what he claimed in “The Private History of a Campaign that Failed,” a semi-fictional short story published in 1885, after The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, but before A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.

In it, he recounts a whopping two weeks spent in 1861 with a Confederate militia in Marion County, Missouri. But he introduces the tale by saying that even the people who enlisted at the start of the war, and then left permanently, “ought at least be allowed to state why they didn’t do anything and also to explain the process by which they didn’t do anything. Surely this kind of light must have some sort of value.”

Twain writes that there were fifteen men in the rebel militia, the “Marion Rangers,” and he was the second lieutenant, even though they had no first lieutenant. 

After Twain’s character shoots and kills a Northern horseback rider, he is overwhelmed by the sensation of being a murderer, However, his grief is slightly eased by the realization that six men had fired their guns, and only one had been able to hit the moving target.

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