Dr. Robert Watson “Doc” McConnell was born in 1869. He grew up to become one of the finest physicians ever to practice under pressure, or under fire. McConnell developed his fame in Scott County, primarily in the region around Gate City, Virginia.
A prime example of his collective nature occurred on February 8, 1910. A fight broke out among a group of men in Ft. Blackmore. They gathered to drink, but tempers inevitably flared and soon the pistols and knives came out. The clash left seven men injured, and several of those with serious wounds.
The primary instigators of the dangerous altercation were Clint Jones, Moscoe Duncan, and Jeff Flannary. They were also the most severely injured. Jones was shot through the shoulder. Flannary was stabbed in the back and received a number of gashes around his head. Duncan received a number of minor injuries.
Bullets continued to fly through the closed door, even as McConnell treated the maimed. McConnell was shot in the breast, but continued to treat his patients. Abraham McConnell received .3 shot in the knee. Pat Starnes received .16 shot in the leg and a number in his abdomen. Clint Church received a .3 shot in his leg. Despite the brutality of the battle, all men survived.
McConnell treated yet another group from another alcohol-induced feud in August of 1911. This confrontation happened on an open, public highway. A group of people gathered by the Clinch River, across from what was then Starnes Siding. Again, the drink came out, and again, bullets were fired.
Monroe Dockery attempted to shoot a man named Bent Salling. Worley Salling, a relative, stepped between them and tried calm the flared tempers. Sadly, the “whiskey demon” had the upper hand. Worley Salling was shot in the thigh. It was a severe wound. Monroe Dockery was then wounded, almost fatally.
Bent Salling then shot Monroe Dockery twice with a Colt .45. The first bullet just grazed his forehead, but the second passed cleanly through his body and severed his spine. By the time Dr. McConnell arrived. Dockery had already developed peritonitis, or an abdomen infection.
A woman, surnamed Gilliam, was at the fray, but only received a shot through the arm of her dress. She was otherwise unscathed.
After decades of repairing the damage from drunken shootouts, or lawmen after their many battles with outlaws, McConnell went on to battle for the county in the Virginia legislature. He was a delegate during the 1930s.
Doc McConnell died in 1939, and is buried in the McConnell Cemetery, in Ft. Blackmore, Virginia.