The Natchez Bridge is a view of the Mississippi River north of the Ramada Inn. Natchez is off the photograph to the right. Natchez under the Hill is at the water level on the right side of the photo. You can see the Giles Cutoff between the two points of land in the distance. The Giles Cutoff was dug along Shilling Bayou by the Corp of Engineers in the 1930’s. It was dug across the land once owned by Captain John B Nevitt. This cut saved 25 miles of travel but isolated the river port of Ferriday, La. You can see the old channel at the top left.
The birth of the Bowie knife occurred on the first sandbar north of Natchez after the Thomas Maddox- Samuel Wells duel. In the hot sun a little after one pm on Wednesday 19 September 1827, James Bowie was involved in a fight for his life. During this altercation James Bowie was attacked by four gentlemen with pistols and canes. He received wounds from three lead balls and four serious stabs from sword canes. He managed to defend himself with what was called “a large butcher knife”. He killed Major Norris Wright and wounded Alfred Blanchard with this knife. He was not expected to recover from these wounds.
The Sandbar Fight Site is located on the other side of the woods on the old channel. The new channel, Giles Cutoff, can be seen. This photo was taken from the bluff on the site of Capt. John B Nevitt’s plantation, Clermont. That morning, the Dr Thomas Maddox party left Nevitt’s plantation through the Clermont Gates on horseback, down the bluff, across Shilling Bayou to the Sandbar. James Bowie with the Samuel Wells party came across the river from Louisiana by boat.
In James Bowie’s time, you would arrive by steamboat at the docks at the infamous Natchez Under the Hill . You would climb the bluff to Natchez on the Hill. In town after 1853, you would see the Rees Fitzpatrick Gun Shop at 321 Main Street. On the way to Captain Nevitt’s you would pass Connelly’s Tavern where Bowie & Nevitt visited regularly. You would then ride by The Gardens which was built in 1793.
Upon entering Clermont, you will pass by the Devil’s Punch Bowl. The Devil's Punch Bowl is a natural depression in the earth for which there is no scientific explanation. The area was once the hide-out of the John Murrell gang, and it is thought that pirate and outlaw gold is buried in the basin of this depression. People have long reported feeling a sinister presence in the area.
From Nevitt’s day book, we know that James Bowie played the gambling card game, Brag , at Nevitt’s plantation. Although the plantation house burned in the 1920’s, the Clermont Gates which James Bowie passed through are still there.