Wyatt Earp's views on gunfighting


June 14, 2006, 05:32 PM
Hey guys, here's something I just found which should be of some interest, Wyatt Earp's views on gunfighting, taken from an interview:

"I was a fair hand with pistol, rifle, or shotgun, but I learned more about gunfighting from Tom Speer's cronies during the summer of '71 than I had dreamed was in the book. Those old-timers took their gunplay seriously, which was natural under the conditions in which they lived. Shooting, to them, was considerably more than aiming at a mark and pulling a trigger. Models of weapons, methods of wearing them, means of getting them into action and operating them, all to the one end of combining high speed with absolute accuracy, contributed to the frontiersman's shooting skill. The sought-after degree of proficiency was that which could turn to most effective account the split-second between life and death. Hours upon hours of practice, and wide experience in actualities supported their arguments over style.

The most important lesson I learned from those proficient gunfighters was the the winner of a gunplay usually was the man who took his time. The second was that, if I hoped to live long on the frontier, I would shun flashy trick-shooting -- grandstand play -- as I would poison.

When I say that I learned to take my time in a gunfight, I do not wish to be misunderstood, for the time to be taken was only that split fraction of a second that means the difference between deadly accuracy with a sixgun and a miss. It is hard to make this clear to a man who has never been in a gunfight. Perhaps I can best describe such time taking as going into action with the greatest speed of which a man's muscles are capable, but mentally unflustered by an urge to hurry or the need for complicated nervous and muscular actions which trick-shooting involves. Mentally deliberate, but muscularly faster than thought, is what I mean.

In all my life as a frontier police officer, I did not know a really proficient gunfighter who had anything but contempt for the gun-fanner, or the man who literally shot from the hip. In later years I read a great deal about this type of gunplay, supposedly employed by men noted for skill with a forty-five.

From personal experience and numerous six-gun battles which I witnessed, I can only support the opinion advanced by the men who gave me my most valuable instruction in fast and accurate shooting, which was that the gun-fanner and hip-shooter stood small chance to live against a man who, as old Jack Gallagher always put it, took his time and pulled the trigger once.

Cocking and firing mechanisms on new revolvers were almost invariably altered by their purchasers in the interests of smoother, effortless handling, usually by filing the dog which controlled the hammer, some going so far as to remove triggers entirely or lash them against the guard, in which cases the guns were fired by thumbing the hammer. This is not to be confused with fanning, in which the triggerless gun is held in one hand while the other was brushed rapidly across the hammer to cock the gun, and firing it by the weight of the hammer itself. A skillful gun-fanner could fire five shots from a forty-five so rapidly that the individual reports were indistinguishable, but what could happen to him in a gunfight was pretty close to murder.

I saw Jack Gallagher's theory borne out so many times in deadly operation that I was never tempted to forsake the principles of gunfighting as I had them from him and his associates.

There was no man in the Kansas City group who was Wild Bill's equal with a six-gun. Bill's correct name, by the way, was James B. Hickok. Legend and the imaginations of certain people have exaggerated the number of men he killed in gunfights and have misrepresented the manner in which he did his killing. At that, they could not very well overdo his skill with pistols.

Hickok knew all the fancy tricks and was as good as the best at that sort of gunplay, but when he had serious business at hand, a man to get, the acid test of marksmanship, I doubt if he employed them. At least, he told me that he did not. I have seen him in action and I never saw him fan a gun, shoot from the hip, or try to fire two pistols simultaneously. Neither have I ever heard a reliable old-timer tell of any trick-shooting employed by Hickok when fast straight-shooting meant life or death.

That two-gun business is another matter that can stand some truth before the last of the old-time gunfighters has gone on. They wore two guns, most of six-gun toters did, and when the time came for action went after them with both hands. But they didn't shoot them that way.

Primarily, two guns made the threat of something in reserve; they were useful as a display of force when a lone man stacked up against a crowd. Some men could shoot equally well with either hand, and in a gunplay might alternate their fire; others exhausted the loads from the gun on the right, or the left, as the case might be, then shifted the reserve weapon to the natural shooting hand if that was necessary and possible. Such a move -- the border shift -- could be made faster than the eye could follow a top-notch gun-thrower, but if the man was as good as that, the shift would seldom be required.

Whenever you see a picture of some two-gun man in action with both weapons held closely against his hips and both spitting smoke together, you can put it down that you are looking at the picture of a fool, or a fake. I remeber quite a few of these so-called two-gun men who tried to operate everything at once, but like the fanners, they didn't last long in proficient company.

In the days of which I am talking, among men whom I have in mind, when a man went after his guns, he did so with a single, serious purpose. There was no such thing as a bluff; when a gunfighter reached for his forty-five, every faculty he owned was keyed to shooting as speedily and as accurately as possible, to making his first shot the last of the fight. He just had to think of his gun solely as something with which to kill another before he himself could be killed. The possiblity of intimidating an antagonist was remote, although the 'drop' was thoroughly respected, and few men in the West would draw against it. I have seen men so fast and so sure of themselves that they did go after their guns while men who intended to kill them had them covered, and what is more win out in the play. They were rare. It is safe to say, for all general purposes, that anything in gunfighting that smacked of show-off or bluff was left to braggarts who were ignorant or careless of their lives.

I might add that I never knew a man who amounted to anything to notch his gun with 'credits,' as they were called, for men he had killed. Outlaws, gunmen of the wild crew who killed for the sake of brag, followedthis custom. I have worked with most of the noted peace officers -- Hickok, Billy Tilghman, Pat Sughre, Bat Masterson, Charlie Basset, and others of like caliber -- have handled their weapons many times, but never knew one of them to carry a notched gun.

There are two other points about the old-time method of using six-guns most effectively that do not seem to be generally known. One is that the gun was not cocked with the ball of the thumb. As his gun was jerked into action, the old-timer closed the whole joint of his thumb over the hammer and the gun was cocked in that fashion. The soft flesh of the thumb ball might slip if a man's hands were moist, and a slip was not to be chanced if humanly avoidable. This thumb-joint method was employed whether or not a man used the trigger for firing.

On the second point, I have often been asked why five shots without reloading were all a top-notch gunfighter fired, when his guns were chambered for six cartridges. The answer is, merely, safety. To ensure against accidental discharge of the gun while in the holster, due to hair-trigger adjustment, the hammer rested upon an empty chamber. As widely as this was known and practiced, the number of cartridges a man carried in his six-gun may be taken as an indication of a man's rank with the gunfighters of the old school. Practiced gun-wielders had too much respect for their weapons to take unnecessary chances with them; it was only with tyros and would-bes that you heard of accidental discharges or didn't-know-it-was-loaded injuries in the country where carrying a Colt's was a man's prerogative."

Tha above interview, and various others, are found in one biography of his, titled "Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshall" by Stuart N. Lake. As far as I know, it's the only biography where Wyatt consented to be interviewed for.

Apparently a lot of what the book mentions is false, but apparently the interviews with Wyatt Earp are real...


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June 14, 2006, 06:08 PM

June 14, 2006, 06:54 PM
Wasnt tha first mention of Wyatt tha Burp for a charge of panderin prostitution? Not ta take away from tha information, or to indict! Many dimension ta everone jus like the total, not tha whitewash version.

Opium drinkin, pimpin, backshootin, gamblin, and occasional lawman when it suited ta keep outta trouble.

June 14, 2006, 08:14 PM
This brings up an interesting topic, the draw and cocking of a sixgun.

Since I was a youngster I "knew" the gun was not cocked using the ball of the thumb, but low using the portion of the thumb between the ball joint and the web of the hand so the pistol was fully cocked as it cleared the holster.

Now I cannot remember for the life of me where I learned this, or even if it is true. I do know that I have drawn and shot an original "peacemaker" cirra 1920's or 1930's, using this method and found it to be practical, but again I don't know if this was "the way" that it was done or not.

Any thoughts? Any good sources of information out there that describe how it was really done?

Low Key
June 14, 2006, 09:19 PM
FACINATING post!! Thanks! :D Great firsthand info from someone who's stared down a barrel a time or two.

June 14, 2006, 09:28 PM
I've asked tha MANN ta slow up and show me his draw, yup! same deal, not tha tip or ball of tha thumb, but tha joint, kinda comes at it from tha side a bit finger clear until its out and level.

Insists that tha checkerin SHOULD belower down on tha hammer ta be effective.

June 14, 2006, 09:46 PM
Since Wyatt only wore a badge as a peace officer for a total of about two years I had to laugh at his comment about all those years he mentioned!
By the way that Buntline Special most people think was given to him as a present from townspeople just plain wasnt true...was given to his boss who didn't want it so gave it to Wyatt. He lost his job as a deputy later for abusing prisoners. Most of his life he was a pimp and a gambler as well as a scam artist and the shootout at the OK Corral was not over the Clantons and McLaureys wearing guns in town but was over a dispute between them concerning cattle rustling...both parties were involved in rustling and the Earps were angry that the Clantons were intruding on their territory.
Wyatt Earp was no hero...it's all Hollywood nonsense!

Double Naught Spy
June 14, 2006, 10:38 PM
The interview may have been real, but the information was massaged by Earp, no doubt. As noted, all those years as a lawman? What about all the years as a criminal?

Several of the lawmen of the period have dubious histories.

June 14, 2006, 10:57 PM
Louis L'Amour once said in an interview that he actually met the lawman, Bill Tilghman, which was a highlight of his life. That's what I liked about L'Amour - the realism in his writing.
As far as legendary figures not being the heroes they have been made out to be...how can you distinquish between gossip, jealousy, fiction and fact 100 plus years later? All I know is that I wouldn't wanna square off against Earp in a last-man-standing shootout situation.

June 14, 2006, 11:14 PM
Possibly also of interest is Chapter 1 of the book Shooting to Live, by the late William Ewart Fairbairn and Eric Anthony Sykes, two men whose opinions I respect very much. They were the real deal.

They offer a somewhat dissenting opinion on the balance between speed and accuracy, for us mere mortals who may not be able to keep a level head when the bullets start flying.

Whether or not you personally agree with their methods, the results (at the end of the chapter) speak for themselves. For the officers in the Shanghai police department, the Shooting to Live method was a resounding success. Keep in mind that this was the 1930's; medical technology was almost apallingly crude and primitive, which meant that the vast majority of shots which hit the torso had a very good chance of eventually being fatal.

Personally, I use their methods because they've given me the best results. I'm actually more accurate with point-shooting than sight-shooting, for the same amount of time spent aiming.



By “Pistol” is meant any one-hand gun. This book is concerned with two types only: (1) pistols with revolving cylinders carrying several cartridges, and (2) self-loading magazine pistols. For convenience, the former will be referred to henceforth as “revolvers” and the latter as “automatics.” The word “revolver” has long been accepted by dictionaries in almost every language. If “automatic” has not yet been quite so widely accepted, it is, we think, well on the way to being so, and we shall not be anticipating matters unduly if we continue to use it in the sense indicated.

Excluding duelling (since it is forbidden in most countries and appears to be declining in favour even in those countries in which it is permitted tacitly or otherwise), there seem to remain two primary and quite distinct uses for the pistol. The first of those uses it for target shooting (i.e. deliberate shooting with a view to getting all shots in the ten-ring on a stationary target). Its second use is as a weapon of combat.

This book is concerned solely with the latter aspect, but it must not be inferred on that account that we in any way decry the sport of target shooting. On the contrary, we admire the high degree of skill for which it calls and which we personally cannot emulate. We recognise the great amount of patient practice necessary to attain such skill, and we can see that in suitable circumstances the inclusion of a target pistol in the camper's equipment would not only be a source of pleasure but might be useful as well. Target shooting has its place and we have no quarrel with it.

There probably will be a quarrel, however, when we go on to say that beyond helping to teach care in the handling of fire-arms, target shooting is of no value whatever in learning the use of the pistol as a weapon of combat. The two things are as different from each other as chalk from cheese, and what has been learned from target shooting is best unlearned if proficiency is desired in the use of the pistol under actual fighting conditions.

These views are the outcome of many years of carefully recorded experience with the Police Force of a semi-Oriental city in which, by reason of local conditions that are unusual and in some respects unique, armed crime flourishes to a degree that we think must be unequalled anywhere else in the world. That experience includes not only armed encounters but the responsibility for instructing large numbers of police in those methods of pistol shooting which have been thought best calculated to bring results in the many shooting affrays in which they are called upon to take part.

There are many who will regard our views as rank heresy, or worse. We shall be content for the present, however, if in the light of the preceding paragraph we may be conceded at least a title to those views, and we shall hope to fortify the title subsequently by statistics of actual results of shooting affrays over a number of years.

At this point it would be advisable to examine very carefully the conditions under which we may expect the pistol to be used, regarding it only as a combat weapon. Personal experience will tend perhaps to make us regard those conditions primarily from the policeman's point of view, but a great many of them must apply equally, we think, to military and other requirements in circumstances which preclude the use of a better weapon than the pistol—that is to say, when it is impracticable to use a shot-gun, rifle or sub-machine gun.

In the great majority of shooting affrays the distance at which firing takes place is not more than four yards. Very frequently it is considerably less. Often the only warning of what is about to take place is a suspicious movement of an opponent's hand. Again, your opponent is quite likely to be on the move. It may happen, too, that you have been running in order to overtake him. If you have had reason to believe that shooting is likely, you will be keyed-up to the highest pitch and will be grasping your pistol with almost convulsive force. If you have to fire, your instinct will be to do so as quickly as possible, and you will probably do it with a bent arm, possibly even from the level of the hip. The whole affair may take place in a bad light or none at all, and that is precisely the moment when the policeman, at any rate, is most likely to meet trouble, since darkness favours the activities of the criminal. It may be that a bullet whizzes past you and that you experience the momentary stupefaction which is due to the shock of the explosion at very short range of the shot just fired by your opponent—a very different feeling, we can assure you, from that experienced when you are standing behind or alongside a pistol that is being fired. Finally, you may find that you have to shoot from some awkward position, not necessarily even while on your feet.

There is no exaggeration in this analysis of fighting conditions. Here we have a set of circumstances which in every respect are absolutely different from those encountered in target shooting. Do they not call for absolutely different methods of training?

To answer this question, we must consider the essential points which emerge from our analysis. They appear to be three in number, and we should set them out in the following order:—

1 Extreme speed, both in drawing and firing.
2 Instinctive, as opposed to deliberate aim.
3 Practice under circumstances which approximate as nearly as possible to actual fighting conditions.

In commenting on the first essential, let us say that the necessity for speed is vital and can never be sufficiently emphasised. The average shooting affray is a matter of split seconds. If you take much longer than a third of a second to fire your first shot, you will not be the one to tell the newspapers about it. It is literally a matter of the quick and the dead. Take your choice.

Instinctive aiming, the second essential, is an entirely logical consequence of the extreme speed to which we attach so much importance. That is so for the simple reason that there is no time for any of the customary aids to accuracy. If reliance on those aids has become habitual, so much the worse for you if you are shooting to live. There is no time, for instance, to put your self into some special stance or to align the sights of the pistol, and any attempt to do so places you at the mercy of a quicker opponent. In any case, the sights would be of little use if the light were bad, and none at all if it were dark, as might easily happen. Would it not be wiser, therefore, to face facts squarely and set to work to find out how best to develop instinctive aiming to the point of getting results under combat conditions?

It can be done and it is not so very difficult.

Everyone is familiar with the fact that he can point his forefinger accurately at an object at which he happens to be looking. It is just as easy, moreover, to do so without raising the hand so high as the level of the eyes. That he can do so may be coordination of the eye and hand or just plain instinct, call it what you will.

Please try this little experiment while sitting at your desk. Imagine that you are holding a pistol in your right hand. Sitting squarely and keeping both eyes open, raise your hand from the level of the desk, but not so high as the level of your eyes, and with a straight arm point your extended forefinger at a mark directly in front of you on the opposite wall. Observe carefully now what has taken place. Your forefinger, as intended, will be pointing to the mark which you are facing squarely, and the back of your hand will be vertical, as it would be if it actually held a pistol. You will observe also that you have brought your arm across you until you hand is approximately in alignment with the vertical centre-line of your body and that, under the directing impulse of the master-eye, your hand will be bend from the wrist towards the right.

The elements of that little experiment form the basis of the training system which is elaborated in succeeding chapters. We cannot claim that the system produces nail-driving marksmanship, but that is not what we look for. We want the ability to hit with extreme speed man-sized targets at very short ranges under the difficult circumstances which have been outlined already. Nail-driving marksmanship will not cope with such conditions.

In this training system nothing is permitted to interfere with the development of speed. For that reason we have steadily set our faces against competitions or rewards of any kind. The instant that competitions, with the accompanying medals, badges, etc. are introduced, men will try to shoot deliberately, whether consciously or not, and we find our object is being defeated.

For long shots, and they are necessary occasionally, different methods must be employed; but even for long shots speed must still be regarded as essential, and any tendency to deliberate shooting should be discouraged by such means as the exposure of the targets for very brief periods only.

The theories involved in the square stance, the position of the pistol in line with the vertical centre of the body, and the hand bent over to the right have proved in practice to be of immense assistance in the development of the desired standard of accuracy when shooting at speed. Though still very willing to learn, the authors doubt now whether any other methods would answer the particular purposes in view. In general, the training system given in this book may fairly be said to have achieved its object, but perhaps it is time now for the promised statistics to play their part in the discussion.

The records of the particular police force of the semi-Oriental city referred to earlier show that the force, consistently trained in the methods of this book, has to its credit in twelve and a half years no less than 666 armed encounters with criminals. The following table, referring only to the encounters in which pistols were used by the police, gives the results:—


June 16, 2006, 03:11 AM
Nice report Ryan. I ordered a copy from Amazon.com.

As for you other guys, I still like Earp. The man had balls.

June 16, 2006, 03:32 AM
Volkolak, that's a really interesting read. Mods, is there any way we can put a copy of this in General Gun Discussions (or Handguns: General, or Handguns: Revolvers, or Strategies and Tactics...) just so it gets more exposure?

June 16, 2006, 04:31 AM
Of course he had balls...most men do! :neener:
My respect goes to Virgil Earp who despite having all that bone removed from his arm still continued a life of law enforcement here in Colton, California as a city Marshall. He and Morgan as well as their parents are buried here...Wyatt is buried up North somewhere in a Jewish cemetary.
FYI their actual last name was Earpes (I believe that is the correct spelling)

June 16, 2006, 09:21 AM
So he and brothers were crooks? Many facets and dimensions ta REAL people. Now ifin ya want CROOKS, Rampart Division, L.A., San Antonio, Chicago, New York, Miami aint a police dept existin likely aint got crooks!

Jefferson tha founder did opium and AHEM, WORKED tha slave girls, and this takes what away? Bet a few more did too! Hell, they mighta be some real party animals!

Our heros dont have ta be sterile untarnished PERFECT people, none o US are perfect and puttin that kinda standard on ANYONE isnt facin reality!


Learnin a LOT about life from tha MANN

June 16, 2006, 10:08 AM
I thought this describes "Wild Bill" Hickok to a "T"

June 16, 2006, 10:16 AM
Just find it hard to judge someone who has been dead for 130 yrs. Hard enough to judge the living. Doubt I'd call Hickok any of that to his face...got this aversion to suicide. Wouldn't bad mouth Joe Frazier, Mike Tyson or a list of others until they were dead at least 100 yrs.

As far as crooked cops, etc - I have what I call the 5% - 10% rule: that percentage of any profession is bad (might be higher with lawyers he he).
I personally have arrested doctors, nuns, priests, lawyers, cops, soccer moms, nurses...the list goes on.

June 16, 2006, 11:15 AM
Nah, best idea would be, 'More opium MR. Hickok?Another drink?' And oh yeah! Pass me a LERT there pohill! Needs one! Coffee aint makin it today!

June 16, 2006, 11:37 AM
I read Lakes book quite some time ago. It was written in the 1930s from interviews when Earp was near death. Old folks tend to exaggerate. He was no saint, but the west was no church. He did what he had to do to survive. I know he ran saloons and houses of ill repute, but I'd never heard that allegation about the OK Corral being over rustling territory.

Lake made the guy into a western saint, which of course, not many in the old west were. However, I don't know that he should be accused of being a criminal, at least by today's standards. I'm sure he did illegal and/or immoral things in his life. And, no, he was not the lawman of the 50's TV legend. He also didn't kill too many people in gunfights, nor was he in very many gunfights. Like I say, old men tend to exaggerate.

June 16, 2006, 11:50 AM
yup, i'm willin ta give old Wyatt a BY on this, he was what he was. Someone pointed out some hero from WWII was an american indian, died drunk, Ira Hayes i think, ya know people are people, they gots faults an i dont think too many o us got tha right ta be pointin no fingers. Particular when aint no one gettin hurt but the person themselves.

FEET OF CLAY is what i'm thinkin is tha term. Ya jus tries a little harder ta be better, course i'm old enough now not ta be judgmental like i was when i was a kid. World aint perfect, neithers people.

Cap n Ball
June 16, 2006, 02:38 PM
Another good source for material on these guys is a book titled 'Triggernometry, a gallery of gunfighters' by Eugene Cunningham.

Low Key
June 16, 2006, 08:03 PM
I agree with manyirons, none of us is perfect and we have all done stuff we aren't proud to have known in public. I've seen some people brag about stuff they ought to be ashamed of though, but as one gets older hopefully the brain starts to work before the mouth in most cases...I'm still working on that one myself.

As for Wyatts interview, maybe he did exaggerate the details but what interested me was the details he gave about the shooting mechanics themselves such as not cocking the revolver with the ball of the thumb. I also found it interesting that he talked about the ones who carried two guns and how they were usually employed in a fight... no fancy trick shooting, just the moves that kept a man alive in a bad situation.

June 16, 2006, 11:37 PM
sjohns, or any of you others,

If you want to read the Fairbairn book, and can't wait for it to come in, here's a site that has a number of books scanned and converted to pdf file, 13 books, in fact, all old, mostly out of print.

600 meg for all of them, as ZIP files.

I don't particularly like reading on screen, but if you like, have a go at it.

The Story of the Guns is excellent.



Link http://www.again.net/~steve/page7d.htm

I think I have read that the battle between the Earps and the Clantons was strictly a political battle, who was going to run Dodge City. Who was to get the graft, etc. No, they were not heroes.

June 17, 2006, 12:47 AM
Great story I love to hear the opinions of those who actually lived on the frontier. I have a bit to add to some of the replies.

I've been out to Tombstone twice, most recently a few weeks ago. I agree that the Earps were not the "Wild West Angels" that hollywood has made them out to be. I do not believe that the "cowboys" the Clantons and McLaurys were either. Hard times and country makes hard folks.

The story that Tombstone proposes is that the Clantons and McLaurys were waiting outside of CS Fly's Boarding house, where Holiday was staying, in a vacant lot behind the OK Corral. It seems that Ike Clanton got into a scuffle with Holliday the night before and Virgil Earp buffaloed him and dragged him to the drunk tank. The Clantons and McLaurys were looking for revenge. The next morning tempers were flaring as Ike was let loose and his brother and the McLaury boys came and picked him up from the jail.

Someone came to the Earps stating that the Calntons and McLaurys were threatening to kill them, and they were wearing firearms within the city limits which had been posted as a municipal no no. The Earps Wasted no time with this information and under the pretense of disarming the "cowboys" went to meet their fate. The rest is pretty Acuurate in most of the movies that have been made about this gunfight.

The only thing left out is that the Clanton "gang" tried to implicate Holiday for a stagecoach robbery to which he was tried and cleared of all charges. This may have actually started the entire war between the Earps, Clantons, and McLaurys since Holliday was their friend.

Funny thing is how a gun fight that only lasts a few seconds is now history and in a few thousand years will be myth.

June 17, 2006, 12:07 PM
I don't care much about the controvery over the OK corral. Good Earps or Not, they took out some pukes and chased their asses into hell. Couldn't have done it better myself. The only thing I would have done different was kill that maggot Behan.

If the earps were into rustling, then it would have been they who were stepping on cowboy territory, as the gang was there first.

No, it was clearly a case that the Earps wouldn't kowtow to the ones who thought they were invincible and held all the power. You know.. the kind that NEED killin'.

I am thinking that in order to be a good marshal or whatever in those days, a little first hand experience in lawlessness would be necessary to be intuitive and to know what to do in proper situations calling for just that.

Plus I never buy into that "once an X, always an X". That would mean that people never change or learn from their experiences. So Wyatt had a bad start in the world due to his own incontinence. So what?

So is anyone implying that some wimp or totally naive do gooder would have helped clean up Dodge or Tombstone or any other town in THOSE days? Yeah I can just see that.

It takes mean men to conquer other mean men.

June 17, 2006, 04:56 PM
What always impresses me about Fairbairn and Sykes is that they didn't just limit themselves to firearms, they were equally skilled in unarmed combat as well. One thing I'll not forget is watching a WW2 Commando training film with these two guys in their 50s/60s throwing fit 20 year old Commandos around like they were nothing :)

Walt Rauch
June 17, 2006, 05:07 PM
Manyirons, the "Indian" that you disparage -Ira Hayes- happens to have been one of the Marines that raised the flag on Mount Surabatchi, on the island of Iwo Jima. (in World War II by the way.)

June 17, 2006, 06:37 PM
I WAS NOT disparagin him!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Jus pointin out by example, no one is perfect.

July 14, 2006, 05:54 PM
I'm interested in more history on the man that supposedly sent over 200 souls onward and upward, he allegedly made Hickok and the rest look like beginners.
I read some olde newspaper account that actually used the term high capacity(probably the first time in media?) weapons when describing the mans guns. Hollywood only made one low budget flick about this gunfighters life and the powers that be in Salt Lake discourage public discourse about his many killings tho i beleve his statue still stands?

July 14, 2006, 07:32 PM
.....Actually it was under 100 & nobody that didn't need 'killin' :D ...............................

July 14, 2006, 09:00 PM
Porter Rockwell? More ofa backshooter weren't he?

July 14, 2006, 09:08 PM
Great reading Volkolak. Thanks.

I have to agree with packarat. Recent movie representations of the gunfight (especially Tombstone)) don't seem all that embellished. I just got back from Tombstone the week before last. The backstory to the shoot-out may or may not have to do with protecting rustling interests. But the incident itself has to do with threats to the Earps and carrying weapons on the streets of Tombstone. The shootout itself really is the stuff of legend.

A copy of the Tombstone Epitaph printed the day after the fight containing a description from eyewitnesses is available to all visitors. I have a copy in front of me. Testimony as to who drew first runs both ways depending upon whether the witness is a friend of the Clantons or the Earps.

This is a typical entry:

H.F. Sills (Locomotive Engineer on furlough and visiting Tombstone):

"On October 26, 1881, saw four or five men standing in front of O.K. Corral. They were talking of some trouble they had with Virgil Earp;made threats they would kill him on sight; someone of the party said they should kill the whole party of Earps. I made enquiries to know who Virgil Earp was; a man pointed out Virgil Earp as the town marshal; I called Mr. Earp to one side and told him of the threats I had heard; said one of the men in the party had a bandage around his head. A few minutes later I saw a party start from Fourth street; followed them as far as the post office; then saw the party I had heard making the threats. I saw the marshal and his party go up and speak to the other party; I saw them pull their revolvers immediately. The marshal had a cane in his right hand. He threw it up and spoke. By that time Billy Clanton and Wyatt Earp had fired their guns; the marshal changed his cane to his other hand and pulled his revolver out. He seemed to be hit and fell down; got up and went to shooting. The shooting became general. I know it was Billy Clanton because I saw him after he was dead and recognized him as the one who fired at Wyatt Earp."

The opinion of Justice Wells Spicer in releasing the Earps is amazingly eloquent, even poetic, in a way that reinforces and sums up what is uniquely viewed as the "Code of the West":

"In view of the past history of the country, and the generally believed existence at this time of desperate, reckless and lawless men in our midst, banded together for mutual support, and living by felonious and predatory pursuits, regarding neither life or property in their career, and at this time for men to parade the streets armed with repeating rifles and six-shooters, and demand that the chief of police of the city and his assistants should be disarmed, is a proposition both monstrous and startling. This was said by one of the deceased only a few minutes before the arrival of the Earps.

Another fact that rises up pre-eminent in the consideration of this sad affair, is the leading fact that the deceased from the very first inception of the rencounter were standing their ground and fighting back, giving and taking death with unflinching bravery. It does not appear to have been a wanton slaughter of unresisting and unarmed innocents, who were yielding graceful submission to the officers of the law, or surrendering to, or fleeing from their assailants, but armed and defiant men, accepting the wager of battle and succumbing only in death."

Not all western frontier myth is puffery.

P.S. I wish Judge Spicer was still a sitting judge.

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