Wednesday, April 16, 2014

First Recorded Gunfight For Western Wednesday...!

What better topic for Western Wednesday than a good ol' gunfight?

No one is really sure about the fact that this was the first or not, but it seems to be universally accepted as such. Anyway, it makes for a good western story to tell today!

The First Real Shootout In The Wild, Wild West
By Nolan Moore on Saturday, April 12, 2014

We all know gunfighters didn’t really square off against each other like the characters in Shane and Gunsmoke . . . only sometimes they did. While it was extremely rare, a few shootists really did meet in the middle of the street to slap leather and do battle. In fact, the first real Wild West showdown (that we know about) was between a man named Davis Tutt and the infamous Wild Bill Hickock himself.

You’ve seen it in countless westerns. The good guy and the bad guy meet in the street at high noon. They stare at each other for a few seconds, eyes twitching and sweat pouring, before drawing their pistols. They’re both fast, but the hero is faster. He fans the hammer, and the villain crumples over and dies. It’s a classic Western showdown and almost pure Hollywood nonsense . . . almost. While the real West was far less violent than the way it’s portrayed in movies, there were times when gunmen settled their differences by calling each other out and stepping into the street.

The first known, genuine Western showdown took place on July 21, 1865. The setting was Springfield, Missouri, and the combatants were Civil War veteran Davis Tutt and professional gambler James Butler Hickock (who would later earn the nickname “Wild Bill”). While the men were originally friends, their admiration eventually turned to animosity. Legend says the feuding started thanks to the oldest troublemaker known to man: love. Or at least lust. Some claim Hickock impregnated Tutt’s sister, and the ex-soldier was putting the moves on Hickock’s main girl, Susanna Moore. Whatever drove the men apart, the real fireworks got started over a game of cards.

It was July 20, 1865, and Hickock was making his living at the Lyon House Hotel. The evening started getting tense when the gambler refused to play poker with Tutt. In retaliation, Davis aided Wild Bill’s competitors, giving them advice and bankrolling them. However, Hickock was a skilled card player and won nearly $200 of Tutt’s money.

Eventually, an angry Tutt claimed Hickock owed him a sizable chunk of change from a previous game. When the gambler denied the allegation, Tutt reached across the table and snatched Hickock’s prized pocketwatch, explaining he’d keep the timepiece until Bill paid him back. Hickock knew better than to start a fight since the table was full of Tutt’s buddies. However, he made it clear the veteran shouldn’t wear the watch in public. Of course, that’s exactly what Tutt planned on doing. Infuriated, Hickock told Tutt’s friend, “He shouldn’t come across that [town] square unless dead men can walk.”

Tutt accepted the challenge, and the next day, right before 6:00 PM, the men met in the middle of town. Just as he’d promised, Tutt was wearing the pocketwatch. The Civil War vet started striding across the square, but when he was about 70 meters (75 yards) away, Hickock called out, “Don’t come any closer, Dave.” That’s when both men turned sideways, standing like traditional duelists. At nearly the same time, the men pulled their pistols and fired. However, Davis fired single-handed and missed by a wide shot. Hickock, however, rested his Navy Colt on his left forearm, took aim and shot Davis Tutt in the ribs. The mortally wounded gunman staggered away, gasping, “Boys, I’m killed,” before keeling over dead.

Hickock was later acquitted of all charges and went on to a career as a lawman before someone shot him in the back of the head in 1876. As for the Hickock-Tutt showdown, its legend lived on, influencing practically every western novel, movie and TV show ever made. seems that drawing first wasn't always the key to winning a gunfight. Aiming the gun could help a whole lot! That's just my opinion.

Coffee out on the patio this morning. Looks like it's shaping up to be a fine day!


Chickenmom said...

Always learn a lot on Western Wednesday's! Cold here @ 28 and had a dusting of snow overnight. Send your warm weather up here, Mr. Hermit!

linda m said...

Yep, aiming is better than just firing blindly. I know that for a fact. Love Western Day and all the neat stuff I learn. Coffee outside sure does sound good. I'll bring a cheesecake kringle.

Rob said...

I went to the bar in Deadwood where Hickok was murdered, it was a lot smaller than I thought it would be.

JO said...

Love this story. Thank you for posting. Those were the days.

I'd love to have coffee on the patio
it's still to chilly here.

HermitJim said...

Hey Phyllis...
I feel bad for you guys that are still getting snow and cold weather!

Thanks for coming by today!

Hey Linda M...
I'm glad that you like the post on the western days! It's always a fun one to do.

Thanks for coming over this morning!

Hey Rob...
I heard that is was. Guess our imagination makes things bigger!

Thanks for dropping by today!

Hey Jo...
Always something to learn about the old west. Certainly different than we always thought!

Thanks, sweetie, for coming over today!