Due to the fact that Lincoln was the one who had been challenged to the duel, tradition gave him the privilege of choosing the time and location of the duel, as well as the weapons that were to be used. Being a man of humor and wit, and having no desire to kill Shields, or allow himself to be killed; Lincoln put together the most ridiculous set of circumstances that he could think of regarding the logistics of the upcoming duel.
Lincoln stated that the duel would be held on an island in the river near the city of Alton, IL. Some historians believe that it was â€œSunflower Islandâ€, while others believe it was â€œBloody Islandâ€. Bloody Island had long been a popular dueling spot because it was in the middle of the river and was claimed by Missouri where dueling was still legal. Either island would have allowed them to escape any legal implications.
Lincoln stated that the weapons he wished to use would be â€œCavalry Broadswords of the largest sizeâ€. He figured that he could easily disarm Shields using the swords, whereas pistols would most likely lead to one of their deaths, if not both. He also added that he wanted the duel to be carried out in a pit 10 feet wide by 12 feet deep with a large wooden plank dividing the square in which no man was allowed to step foot over.
I can’t add anything to what August J. Pollak has already said:
Someone challenged Abraham Lincoln to a duel. His terms were broadswords. In a pit.
I repeat: greatest President ever.