MARK TWAIN'S ARTILLERY 23
MARK TWAIN'S ARTILLERY
A MARK TWAIN LEGEND
BY T. O. MABBOTT
The following curious article about Mark Twain originally appeared in the Carson City Appeal early in 1880, and
was more or less widely copied in Western newspapers of the
period. Since it has never hitherto been collected in any
very accessible book or magazine, it seems worth while to
reprint it here in full from the columns of the Silver Cliff
Daily Prospect of March 16, 1880.1
Its chief significance lies in the evidence it affords of how
strongly interest in Mark and his doings continued, among
the mining communities, long after he had left them for
other scenes of activity. The story itself seems to be a legend
made up of verbally preserved accounts of Mark's amusing
adventures, jumbled together with purely imaginary events
with a fine disregard of historicity.
Any one glancing through the chapters in Payne's Life
which describe Clemens' sojourn in Nevada and California
will find one or two incidents which are probably the origins
of portions of the farrago now reprinted. Mark did meet
with some Piute Indians who might have proved hostile, but
decided not to be2—even though Dan DeQuille was not with
him at the time. And while I find no record of an attempt
by Dan and Mark to found a paper in Mendocina County,
it is just possible that this sketch preserves a hint of some
abortive plan of the two friends to start a paper of their own.
iVol. I, No. 159, p. 2. This Colorado paper, edited by W. S. Montgomery,
was published at the boom town of Silver Cliff, a place founded in 1878, and
having, within a year, a population of 2,000. See an article in the Pueblo
Daily Colorado Chieftain, March 15, 1879; both papers in my collection. Mr.
Cyril Clemens tells me he had already found the article in the Carson paper,
but generously advised this special publication. In thanking him here I should
like to add my thanks for the kind advice and help in locating the rarer
books and articles consulted from Mr. B. DeVoto, Miss M. Brashear, and Prof.
George R. Stewart—the last put me in touch with the California State Library
which sent information on three of the minor writers named, of whom ordinary
books of reference said nothing.
'Albert Bigelow Payne, Mark Twain, New York, 1912, I, 184.