VICKSBURG, Feb. 5, 1845.

Mr. Editor.--The number of your capital “Spirit” containing “that Big Dog Fight,” and, the account of SIMON SUGGS, and “the shell bark Baptist preacher,” came to hand yesterday. It reminds me of the attempt made by a gambler to scare up a Jack on old LIGE SHADDOCK. Now, it is barely possible that you never heard of Lige or Elijah Shaddock, commonly called “Judge.” I say barely possible, for I think I have heard that you caused yourself to be towed up this river, and if you did, you heard of “Lige.” He has been Pilot on this river ever since it commenced running! The oldest inhabitants only recollect him in flat-boat times--that was before steamers ran--but the Indians have a tradition that a white man used to pilot drift logs to the Balize and turn them loose, and I have heard it hinted that a man very much resembling Lige, was at the steering oar of Capt. NOAH’s craft, at the time of the big fresh--I forget the year. What we call the Lower Mississippi--from Vicksburg to N. Orleans--never changes its channel without consulting him ; this fact is certain. I do not say that he invented cards, but rather think he was the man. If you will step on board the fastest N. Orleans and Vicksburg packet the night she lays at Vicksburg, you may notice Elijah making expenses somewhere about the social hall. It may be crack Loo, Poker, Brag, or set back Euchre, but he is not losing [1] anything.

I remember well the first time we met. It was on a fast Mississippi steamer, long time ago. It was a fair game but he played it monstrous strong. Well, about “That Big Dog”--I mean the gambler. He did not know Shaddock, and got in a little game of poker with him. He soon discovered that he was small potatoes, and after losing fifty or sixty dollars, he concluded that if by any trick he could recover his money he would let Shaddock alone in future, so he blocks the game of poker and proposed to bet Shaddock fifty dollars that he could turn a Jack at the first trial. Shaddock refused to bet, but immediately proposed a game of Old Sledge. In a short time the gambler had lost fifty dollars more, and began to show symptoms of distress ; says Shaddock, “I have been thinking of what you proposed a while ago--d--d if I don’t bet fifty you can’t do it.” The hundred was instantly on the table. The gambler took the whole pack and threw them on the table face up! “No you don’t” says Shaddock. “Yes, I do,” says the gambler, “it was fairly done.” Lige has a way of dropping one corner of his eye and mouth at the same time--I don’t know how he does it--it’s a way he’s got--but whenever you see it, there is something out. Well, just as the gambler claimed his throw a fair one, this peculiarity might have been observed on Elijah’s countenance. Stretching himself on tip-toe to see over the heads of the crowd collected round the table, he observed, “If there is a Jack in THAT pack I’ll be d--d! ” which proved to be the fact.

This put the gambler’s pipe entirely out, and he left in disgust. I always supposed, myself, that them Jacks got lost out, quite promiscuously, during that little game of “Seven-up.”

Your Friend, IN THE SWAMP.

P.S. High water last [2] year played the d--l with the deer. I will have to emigrate soon. If they have annexed Texas I wish you would mention it in your paper.


Source: New York Spirit of the Times 15.1 (1 March 1845): 4. University of Virginia Alderman Library.

Erin Bartels prepared this typescript.

[1] Original reads “loose.”
[2] Original reads “iast.”

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