Twain is trying to show a couple types of men that were typical in the old South at the time. The Colonel is one type of man and Boggs another. Boggs is the town drunk, but is typically harmless while the Colonel is quick to take offense if his honor has been attacked. He kills Boggs for picking a fight with him in the streets. When a lynch mob forms to come to the Colonel's he delivers a stirring speech that shames them all. It has long been held that Twain was making a direct statement to similar types of townspeople.