Monday, October 14, 2013

Gunfight~ 2 Blocks From The O.K. Corral, 1881

lovingly lifted from "Chronicles of the Old West" with thanks~!

One hundred and thirty two years ago this month, what was arguably one of the most famous and best-documented event of the Old West took place at the O.K. Corral, in Tombstone, Arizona Territory.
It was the classic confrontation of the good guy vs. the bad guy. –

Close, but no cigar.
First, it didn’t take place at the O.K. Corral.  It took place almost a block away in a fifteen-foot wide vacant lot.  Good guy versus bad guy?  Today most people believe the cowboys were the bad guys.  Some say the Earps were the culprits.  Others say both the groups were involved in illegal activities.  As I (Dakota) stated in my Gunfights and Tombstone CDs, it was the equivalent to a fight today between two rival gangs over who would end up controlling the 'hood.

County Sheriff John Behan, and his cowboy cronies in their wide brim hats, custom made boots and spurs (Sorry, they didn’t wear red sashes.) controlled Tombstone through intimidation and the law.  Along came the Earp gang dressed in black.  They wanted Tombstone as their territory.

Groups doing re-enactments of the event are normally portrayed by men in their 40’s and 50’s.
In reality the average age of the participants was 29 years of age.

Wyatt Earp (right) went after Sheriff Behan by stealing his girl, then letting it be known that he also wanted Behan’s job.  His brother, Virgil became the Town Marshall, and he and Wyatt proceeded to pistol-whip as many cowboys as possible.

With Tombstone having two gangs who were used to intimidating townspeople in order to get what they wanted, a rumble was bound to happen.  The townspeople, used to the cowboys' muscle and the status quo, just wanted the whole thing to end.

And it did on October 26, 1881.But did the two gangs want it to end up with a gunfight? Probably not. If either side wanted a shootout, they didn't remember to bring their big guns. The cowboys left behind Johnny Ringo and Curly Bill.
The Earps mistakenly held Sherman McMasters and "Texas Jack" Vermillion in reserve. Ike Clanton, the biggest agitator, hadn't picked up his guns from his previous night's arrest. Wyatt Earp had returned his pistol to his coat pocket before entering the vacant lot. And Virgil Earp was carrying Doc Holliday's walking cane in his right hand. Incidentally, Sheriff Virgil had exchanged the walking cane for his shotgun. Both gangs were probably confident they would be able to get the other to back down.
Like so many other such events, someone, probably in this case Doc Holliday, (right) wanted more.

Within moments the gunfight at the O.K. Corral became history, to be debated forever. Who was the winner? The lowly townspeople. The power of the cowboys ended up being broken. The Earps were forced out of town. And Tombstone, the town "Too tough to die" lived on.

Consider reading more about this moment in Old West history, 132 years ago this month, which turned the rest of the American west, expansion and Indian treatment in the late 19th Century on its ear.

From Wikipedia, "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral" , and "Doc Holliday".
I encourage more research into this moment in American History, friends~.

No comments: