20 Unusual Deaths from the History Books

20 Unusual Deaths from the History Books

By Steve
20 Unusual Deaths from the History Books

Death is a regrettable but nonetheless unavoidable element of the human condition. Whilst most people pass into the great abyss of the unknown in an unremarkable, if sometimes undignified fashion, other individuals garner a more unusual end to their life stories. Whether caused by their own personal foibles or mistakes, the failings of others, or mere chance and misfortune, these persons have solidified their existence into the annals of history via the bizarre means by which their lives arrived at their inevitable conclusions.

“Battle of Crécy between the English and French in the Hundred Years’ War”, during which the blind John of Bohemia led a wild charge against his enemy, by Jean Froissart (c. the 15th century). Wikimedia Commons.

Here are 20 of the most bizarre and incredulous deaths from throughout history:


Photograph of Clement Vallandigham, by Matthew Brady (c. between 1855 and 1865). Wikimedia Commons.

20. To prove his client innocent of murder, Clement Vallandigham inadvertently shot himself whilst demonstrating how the victim unintentionally killed himself with his own pistol

An Ohio politician and a leader of the Copperhead faction within the Democratic Party – who were opposed to the Civil War and sought instead to make peace with the Confederacy – Clement Laird Vallandigham served for two terms as the Representative for Ohio’s 3rd District between 1858 and 1863. Returning to Ohio in 1867, following defeat in campaigns for Congress on an anti-Reconstruction platform, continuing to oppose the expansion of the franchise to African-Americans Vallandigham remained active in politics but nevertheless resumed his previously abandoned legal career.

Defending Thomas McGehean in 1871, who had been charged with murder for killing a man in a barroom brawl, Vallandigham embarked on a unique effort to convince the jury of his client’s innocence. Attempting to prove the victim, Tom Myers, had accidentally shot himself whilst drawing his pistol from a pocket, Vallandigham was reenacting the event during a practice session when he unintentionally discharged a loaded gun into his belly. Lodging in Vallandigham’s bladder, surgeons were unable to properly locate or remove the bullet and the lawyer tragically died the following day of peritonitis. Not in vain, however, the jury accepted Vallandigham’s abortive demonstration as evidence and McGehean was duly acquitted of the charge.