At The O.K. Corral
Perhaps no single incident in the history of
the Old West is more debated than the O.K. Corral shootout.
Technically, the fight did not occur in the O.K. Corral. It actually happened
in a vacant lot between Fly's
and Harwood's. It was on Tombstone's lot 2, block 17, fronting on Fremont
Street, while the O.K. Corral
fronted on Allen Street and extended to the rear edge of Fremont lots 5
Careful review of the evidence and facts leave little doubt that the
Earp brothers and "Doc" Holliday
were justified in their actions on that cold October afternoon in 1881.
Below, the events are stated
and the evidence given to support this author's conclusion.
Prior to the shootout, Ike Clanton had
went around Town and made threats against the Earps and Doc
This all was related to a "deal" that Wyatt Earp claimed to have been made
between himself and Ike
Clanton and Frank McLaury.
In this agreement, Clanton and McLaury would turn over the location of wanted
outlaws Leonard, Head,
and Crane for a reward. The three were the main suspects in the Benson stage
robbery. The Earp's
knew that Ike's life would be in jeopardy if word of the deal ever got back
to Curley Bill and the other
most dangerous outlaws. Clanton and McLaury grew angry and came to Virgil
Earp. "They said
they could not live in this country an hour if Leonard's friends learned
that they plotted against him,"
Virgil told the
San Francisco Examiner ,on March 18, 1882.
Out of this agreement, Wyatt would get the credit for the capture and
vindicate Doc Holliday
from being accused of involvement, while Clanton and McLaury would receive
the cash reward.
Fear continued to fester in Ike Clanton and the McLaury's as the summer
moved into fall. Through
July, August, September, and early October, word had not leaked out about
the failed secret deal,
but, by the Earp version, Ike always feared that one of the Earp's would
slip: Wyatt perhaps could
confirm it to Marshall Williams or Morgan might tell Doc Holliday.
With the public already jarred by stage robberies and problems with the
Apaches and the cowboys,
the average Tombstone citizen believed that criminals could rarely be captured
and even more
rarely held for justice.
On the night of Oct. 24th, Ike and Tom McLaury rode into town, still fretting
that the Earp's might
reveal their past deal. Fifteen years later Wyatt would say, "Clanton was
terrified at the thought
of any third person knowing our bargain." (Aug. 2, 1896 edition of
the San Francisco Examiner)
Marshall Williams had made a drunken guess months earlier, and now
Ike and Tom feared
that the Earp's had told Holliday, a one-time friend of Leonard who had
at least a speaking
acquaintance with the more notorious outlaws. Wyatt continued to deny that
any of the Earp's
had revealed the deal, and finally he dispatched Morgan to Tucson to bring
back to Tombstone, apparently to satisfy Ike that no one had talked.
Holliday returned on Saturday night, October 22, and Earp said he asked
the dentist if he knew anything
about Ike's accusation. Holliday stated he did not. The following Tuesday
night, Doc found Ike in the
lunchroom of the Alhambra Saloon and told him "he was a damned liar if he
said so," according to Earp.
Holliday continued to berate Ike for several minutes.
Wyatt sat at the counter and called to Morgan to stop the quarrel: "You're
an officer- you shoould do
something about that." Morgan climbed over the counter and entered the room,
snagging Doc by the
arm and leading him into the street with Ike following behind. Wyatt finished
eating and stepped through
the door to hear them still arguing outside.
Virgil arrived to quell the conflict by threatening to arrest them. Ike
went off to the Grand Hotel, Wyatt
to the Eagle Brewery where he had a faro game going. A few minutes later,
Wyatt said he left the Brewery
and encountered Ike. "He told me when Holliday approached him in the
lunch room that he was not fixed
just right. He said that in the morning he would have a man-for-man, that
this fighting talk had been going
on for a long time, and he guessed it was time to fetch it to a close. I
told him I would fight no one if I could
get away from it, because there was no money in it. He walked off and left
me, saying, 'I will be ready for
all of you in the morning.' I then walked on met Holliday walked down Allen
Street, he going to his room,
I to my house, going to bed." (Tombstone Nugget, Nov.17, 1881)
About 2:30 a.m., Ike found his way into the Occidental Saloon. What followed
was a strange event as Ike
settled in for an all-night poker game with Virgil Earp, Tom McLaury, John
Behan, and an unknown
player. In Tombstone, during those early morning hours of October 26, civility
would serve as a prelude
Virgil Earp had enough poker and headed home around 7:00 a.m. Ike had a
for Virgil to deliver to Doc Holliday: "The damned son of a bitch
has got to fight," Virgil recalled
"Ike, I am an officer, and I don't want to hear you talking that way at
all," Virgil said he responded.
"I am going home now, to go to bed, and I don't want you to raise any disturbance
when I am in bed."
Virgil said he had taken a few steps when Ike stated, "You won't carry the
message?" Virgil said
of course he would not, and Ike yelled, "You may have to fight before you
know it." Virgil went on
to bed. He would not have long to rest.
Ike, already drunk, kept drinking and fuming. A little after 8:00 a.m.he
ran into Ned Boyle, a bartender
at the Oriental and a friend of the Earp's. Seeing Ike's pistol clearly
exposed, Boyle covered it with
Ike's coat. Boyle kept telling Ike to go to bed. Ike insisted he would not.
Boyle recalled Ike's threat:
" He said that as soon as the Earp's and Doc Holliday showed themselves
on the street, the ball would
open, and that they would have to fight." Boyle went to Wyatt's house
to deliver Ike's message and
warn the Earp's. (Tombstone Nugget, Nov. 24, 1881)
Wyatt stayed in bed after hearing the message. They had all heard Ike talk
before, and Ike's talk
usually did not amount to much.
Ike then went on to Julius Kelly's Wine Room, where he talked to a man named
Joe Stump telling him
of the problems the previous night. Kelly overheard the conversation and
asked what trouble Ike had
been having. "He said that the Earp crowd and Doc Holliday had insulted
him....when he was not heeled;
that he had now heeled himself, and that they had to fight on sight," Kelly
said. (Nugget, Nov.24, 1881)
Ike's tour of the Saloon's started a flow of rumors. Deputy Marshall Andy
Bronk heard the talk and
awakened Virgil Earp, telling him, "There is likely to be hell." Like Wyatt,
Virgil remained in bed.
Ike then went on to Hafford's Corner and telling owner Roderick F. Hafford
that he was searching
for the Earp's or Holliday, that they had agreed to meet him before noon.
Hafford recalled Ike saying,
"It is five past 12 now," as he pulled out his watch. Hafford looked at
the clock and corrected Ike.
"It is 10 minutes past, and you had better go home. There will be nothing
of it." A few minutes later
Ike left the bar. (Hayhurst, "The Spicer Hearing Documents," pp.86-87.)
Ike, drunk, had went bar to bar pleading his case and making threats against
Holliday and the Earp's.
He created a furor and built anticipation of confrontation. Tombstone settled
in for a showdown, even
before the Earp's were out of bed. Ike kept walking and talking. He showed
up at Camillius Fly's boarding
house, where Holliday kept a room. Big-nose Kate awakened to find Mary Fly,
Camillius Fly's wife, at
the door. She told Kate, "Ike Clanton was here looking for you and had a
rifle with him." Kate quickly
woke up Doc to say that Ike Clanton had been seeking him out. " If God will
let me live to get my clothes on,
he shall see me," Holliday said as he got out of bed. (Bell's, The
Illustrated Life Of Doc Holliday pp.106-08)
Wyatt got up and placed his coat on due to the cold wind. He went to the
Oriental Saloon, where attorney
Harry Jones told him that Ike was armed with a rifle and pistol and "hunting
Mayor Clum, who had not heard the rumors, saw Ike at the corner of Fourth
and Fremont and greeted
Clanton with "Hello, Ike, any new war?" Clum learned shortly that a war
would soon occur.
( John Clum, "It All Happened In Tombstone," Arizona Historical Review,
April 1929, pp.46-72)
About noon, Virgil Earp stepped out and came up behind Clanton, with a six
shooter jammed in his pants
and a rifle in his hand. Virgil said he grabbed the rifle with his left
hand. As Ike started to draw his pistol,
Virgil crashed his six-shooter into Ike's head, knocking him to his knees,
then relieved him of his pistol.
Virgil recalled, "I asked him if he was hunting for me. He said he was,
and if he had seen me a second sooner
he would have killed me. I arrested Ike for carrying firearms, I believe
was the charge, inside the city limits."
(Tombstone Nugget, Nov.20, 1881)
Virgil hauled Ike into court. While Virgil left to find Judge Albert O.
Wallace, Morgan stood guard.
Morgan held Clanton's guns against the wall. Morgan and Ike were heatedly
discussing the incident
when Wyatt walked in.
Wyatt looked toward Ike and said, " You damn dirty cow thief. You have been
threatening our lives,
and I know it. I think I would be justified in shooting you down anyplace
I would meet you. But if you
are anxious to make a fight, I will go anywhere on earth to make a fight
with you-- even over to
San Simon, among your own crowd." ( Tombstone Nugget, Nov.17, 1881)
"Fight is my racket, and all I want is four feet of ground, " Clanton responded,
according to Rezin
J. Campbell, clerk of the Cochise County board of supervisors. The clerk
then heard Clanton
remark, "If you fellows had been a second later, I would have furnished
a Coroner's Inquest for
Morgan Earp, holding the guns, taunted Ike, offering to pay the fine if
Ike would make his fight.
"I'll fight you anywhere or anyway," Ike said he replied. Morgan offered
a weapon, but Ike did
not fight. Ike said he didn't like the odds. Deputy Sheriff Dave Campbell
shoved Ike back into
his chair. The confrontation sent the courtroom into a frenzy as spectators
dived to the floor or
scurried for the doorway.
Wyatt Earp said the months of tension caught up to him in that courtroom.
"I was tired of being
threatened by Ike Clanton and his gang. I believed from what he said to
me and others, and from
what their movements, that they intended to assassinate me the first chance
they had, and I thought
that if I had to fight for my life with them, I had better make them face
me in a open fight."
Judge Wallace finally arrived and fined Clanton 25 dollars plus 2.50 in
court costs. Virgil asked Clanton
where he wanted his arms, then left them for him at the Grand Hotel. At
about 1:00 p.m. Wyatt left the
courtroom and encountered Tom McLaury, who had come by to check on Ike.
"Are you heeled?" two witnesses heard Wyatt say. McLaury reportedly said
he had never done anything
against the Earp's and was a friend of Wyatt's. But, "If you want to fight,
I'll make a fight with you
"All right, make a fight," one witness heard Earp say before he slapped
McLaury with his left hand,
then slammed his pistol against McLaury's head with his right, sending a
blood stream across the
cowboy's face. Butcher Apolinar Bauer, a friend of McLaury's, said Earp
struck "two, three or maybe
four" blows with the pistol. Other witnesses said only one.
"I could kill the son-of-a-bitch," Earp said, according to Bauer, then McLaury
"opened his eyes up large
and trembled all over." Earp left the dazed McLaury and headed to
Hafford's Corner to buy a cigar.
At about this time Frank McLaury and Billy Clanton rode into town and headed
to the Grand Hotel for
a drink. Doc Holliday, master of the unexpected, greeted the two cowboys
by politely inquiring, "How
are you?" Disarming and dashing, Holliday had a distinct flair.
Ike needed medical attention, and Billy Claiborne, the friend of the Clanton's,
helped him to Dr. Charles
Gillingham's office. At the Grand, Billy Clanton and Frank McLaury ordered
drinks for themselves and
rancher Edward Frink. Billy Allen walked in. The cowboys invited Allen to
join them, but he pulled Frank
McLaury to oneside and told him that Wyatt had pistol-whipped his brother.
Frank looked surprised
and said, "What did he hit Tom for?" Allen did not know. Frank McLaury and
Billy Clanton left walking
toward the O.K. Corral. (Hayhurst, "Spicer Hearing Documents," pp.30)
Claiborne returned from helping Ike and ran into Billy Clanton and Frank
McLaury. "Billy (Clanton) asked
me where was Ike. He said, 'I want to get him to go out home.' He said he
did not come here to fight anyone,
''and no one didn't want to fight me.' " Frank McLaury and 19-year-old Billy
Clanton seemed more
interested in preventing a battle than fighting one. (Tombstone Nugget, Nov.
Ike Clanton's threats had clearly riled the Earp's, and Wyatt became tense
and alert. The rumors flooded
Tombstone, and it is likely that at every stop Wyatt made, he heard another
call to arms. When men hear
the sound of death pounding in their ears, they assume every action by their
foes to have some hidden
meaning or purpose. Basically, a form of paranoia sets in. Wyatt and the
Earp's had reason though to
feel this way, Ike Clanton and his threats.
Billy Clanton and the McLaury's visited Spangenberg's Gun Shop, loading up
Wyatt moved closer for a better look as Billy Clanton and Frank McLaury shoved
into their gunbelts in what appeared to be a show of force. Frank McLaury's
horse strayed up
on the sidewalk and stuck his head into the doorway of the gunshop. Wyatt
provided a little bravado
by walking into the lions' den. He took the bit and started leading the horse
back into the street.
Billy Clanton and the Mclaury's charged to the door. Earp said, "You will
have to get this horse
off the sidewalk." Frank McLaury guided his horse back into the street as
Ike Clanton walked up
and joined his brother and the McLaury's in the gunshop. Wyatt watched through
the window and again
saw the cowboys loading their cartridge belts. (Tombstone Nugget, Nov. 17,
Ike tried to purchase a pistol from shop owner George Spangenberg but, according
to Ike, "The
gentleman who owns the gunshop remarked that my head was bleeding , that
I had been in trouble
and he would not let me have it. My physical condition was such that........I
was sick and bleeding,"
from the blow he had received from Virgil Earp.
With trouble brewing, Virgil stopped by the Wells, Fargo office to pick up
the shotgun he left there
in case of emergencies. The marshal began heading out when saloon owner Bob
Hatch rushed up
and said, "For God's sake, hurry down there to the gunshop, for they are
all there, and Wyatt is
alone. They are liable to kill him before you get there." (Tombstone Nugget,
Nov. 13, 1881)
The cowboys left the shop. Eventually ending up at the O.K. Corral. Doc Holliday
joined the Earp's
at the corner of Fourth and Allen streets. Several townsmen came by,
prodding the Earp's. Mining
man Ruben F. Coleman told Virgil, "They mean trouble. They have just gone
from Dunbar's Corral
into the O.K. Corral, all armed, and I think you had better go disarm them."
(Tombstone Nugget, Nov.17)
Sheriff Johnny Behan had slept late on this day. He then went for a shave
at Barron's Barber Shop at
about 1:30 in the afternoon. "Someone in the shop said there was liable to
be trouble between Clanton
and the Earp's," Behan said. "There was considerable said about it in the
shop and I asked the barber
to hurry up and get through, as I intended to go out and disarm and arrest
the parties." Behan, more a
tax collector than a lawman, himself faced a most difficult situation. His
top two enforcement deputies,
Breakenridge and Neagle, were off chasing escapees. Behan had no deputies
to call in and stop the
Behan said he left the barber shop and crossed to Hafford's Corner, where
Virgil was standing. He asked
about all the excitement, and Virgil responded that there were " a lot sons-a-bitches
in town looking for a
fight." Behan said he told Virgil: "It is your duty as a peace officer to
disarm them rather than encourage
the fight." Then, the sheriff said, he was going down to disarm the cowboys.
( Tombstone Nugget and
Tombstone Epitaph, Nov. 3, 1881)
Behan always came out the hero in his own stories. Virgil Earp told a vastly
different version of what occurred
when he and Behan stepped into Hafford's Corner Saloon to talk. "I called
on Johnny Behan, who refused to
go with me, to help go and disarm the parties. He said if he went along with
me, then there would be a fight for
sure; that they would not give up their arms to me. He said, 'They won't
hurt me, and I will go down alone to
see if I can't disarm them.' I told him that was all I wanted them to do;
to lay off their arms while they were
in town." ( Tombstone Nugget, Nov. 20, 1881)
Ike had been seen earlier near the telegraph office, and a rumor passed through
town that he had sent a
telegram, possibly recruiting help from his brother Fin, Johnny Ringo, or
other members of the cowboy
contingent. Rumors flowed fast. The citizens were expecting a terrible show
of force by the cowboys.
It is important to remember, while the term "cowboy" generally meant a ranch
hand or cow hearder,
it had become known in Tombstone to mean the lawless element that the town
feared. Rustlers who
were causing significant problems between Mexico and the U.S. goverment by
stealing cattle from
one and selling to the other. They were a loosely formed group of associates
who acted as sponsors
for criminality, purchasing stolen cattle and providing sanctuary for other
cattle thieves. At times these
ranchers would even join in on raids into Mexico and assist in the stealing
and killing that occurred.
The McLaury brothers and the Clanton family had already shown their alignment,
though few citizens
in Tombstone could tell them from the honest ranchers who owned neighboring
spreads. The cowboys
had mostly been up until this point mostly a nameless, faceless group of
backcountry ruffians. Curley
Bill drew a notch of attention for killing Marshal White. The killing of
White was the first real encounter
between a cowboy and the Earp's. Curley would not forget Wyatt's pistolwhipping
and arrest of him following
William Murray, a stock and mining broker, came up to Virgil in Hafford's
Corner Saloon and offered help.
"I know you are going to have trouble, and we have men and arms ready and
willing to assist you. Twenty-
five armed men can be had at a moments notice," Virgil recalled Murray saying.
" I told him, as long as
they stayed in the O.K. Corral, where at the time they were, I would not
go down to disarm them; if they
came on the street, I would disarm them. He said, ' You can count on me if
there is any danger.' "
( Tombstone Epitaph, Nov. 22, 1881)
The McLaurys and Clantons paused in front of the O.K. Corral, angrily talking
among themselves. Just
within hearing distance was H.F. Sills, an engineer on temporary layoff from
the Atchison, Topeka, and
Santa Fe Railroad; he had arrived in Tombstone only the day before. He was
standing on the street when
he heard a conversation: " I saw four or five men standing in front of the
O.K. Corral... talking of some
trouble they had with Virgil Earp, and they made threats at the time, that
on meeting him they would kill
him on sight. Someone of the party spoke up at the time and said that they
would kill the whole party of
Earps when they met them." Sills knew none of the participants and asked
a man on the street about Earp.
When told that Virgil Earp was the city marshal, Sills took action. He found
Virgil near Hafford's Corner
Saloon and pulled him aside to pass on the threats.
John L. Fonck, a former Los Angeles police captain, stopped Virgil. " The
cowboys are making threats against
you. If you want any help I can furnish 10 men," Virgil recalled Fonck's
words. The marshal declined and said
he would not bother them if they were in the corral, getting their horses
to leave town. If they went onto the
street, he would take away their guns as the city ordinance required.
"Why," Fonck responded, "they are all down on Fremont Street now." (Tombstone
Nugget, Nov. 22, 1881)
Virgil Earp turned to Holliday, who was wearing his long gray coat against
the chilly October wind, and to
his brothers. Virgil handed his shotgun to Holliday to hide under his long
coat so as not to draw attention.
Holliday gave his walking stick to the marshal as they began a walk through
the streets of Tombstone.
The cowboys separated. The McLaury brothers went through the rear entrance
of the O.K. Corral to the
Union Market on Fremont Street. The two Billys, Clanton and Claiborne, passed
through the open corral
and entered the rear of a vacant lot next to the two buildings that made
up Fly's Photo Gallery and rooming
Behan met Frank McLaury outside the butcher shop at about Fourth and Fremont.
Behan said he told McLaury
to give him his weapon, only to have Frank say he had no plans to cause trouble
and insisted the Earps be
disarmed before he wouold surrender his guns. Behan saw Claiborne and the
Clantons down the street and
ushered the McLaurys toward the vacant lot next to Fly's boardinghouse. Behan
said he quickly patted Ike
for weapons and found none. Tom McLaury opened his coat and proclaimed he
was unarmed. This took nearly
20 minutes while the Earps and townsmen waited for the sheriff to complete
his mission. After Behan finished
his talk, he ordered the Clantons and McLaurys to wait and told them he was
going to disarm the other party-
the city marshal, his brothers, and Holliday coming down the street. ( Tombstone
Epitaph, Nov. 3, 1881)
The march continued. The Earps and Holliday walked a block down Fourth Street,
then turned left on Fremont,
past the post office and towards Bauer's butcher shop. Behan, still talking
to the cowboys, stood at the front
of the vacant lot and saw the Earp party approaching. Turning to the Clantons
and McLaurys, Behan said,
"Wait here. I see them coming down. I will go up and stop them." Ruben Coleman,
standing nearby, said
he heard one of the cowboys call out, "You need not be afraid, Johnny, we
are not going to have trouble."
The Earps and Holliday went past the rear entrance of the O.K. Corral, about
ninety feet from the vacant
lot. Behan came forward.
"Gentlemen, I am sheriff of this county, and I am not going to allow any
trouble, if I can help it," Behan said
were his words to the Earps. They brushed past, and he followed from behind,
calling for them to stop.
Wyatt Earp recalled Behan's words as, " For God's sake don't go down there
or you will get murdered."
"I am going to disarm them," Virgil replied. There was then some misunderstanding.
The Earps say Behan
responded with, " I have disarmed them all." Behan said his words were,
" I was there for the purpose
of arresting and disarming them." ( Tombstone Nugget, Nov. 5, 1881)
Upon the Earps understanding Behan saying he had disarmed the cowboys, Virgil
switched the cane from
his left hand to his right hand. Wyatt placed his pistol in his pocket.
Martha King, shopping at the butcher market, said as the Earps went by she
heard someone say, " Let
them have it" and Doc Holliday respond, "All right,". She could not identify
what may have preceded
the "let-them-have-it" remark, words that may have changed the perception
of the meaning. Such as,
"if they make a move to draw, let them have it".
The Clantons, the McLaurys, and Billy Claiborne stood talking at the front
of a 15 foot wide vacant lot
when the Earps arrived. Wes Fuller approached from the other side of the
lot, and Behan and Billy Allen
trailed the Earps. Behan moved towards the door of Fly's rooming house. Fuller
ducked and moved back.
Claiborne stepped aside, and the Clantons and McLaurys slipped deeper into
the vacant lot, standing at
a slant between Fly's and a house owned by W. A. Harwood. Much to the
Earps' surprise, the cowboys
had not been disarmed. According to Virgil Earp, Billy Clanton and Frank
McLaury had their hands on
their six-shooters while Tom McLaury reached for a rifle in a scabbard on
a horse's saddle.
"Boys, throw up your hands, I want your guns," Virgil yelled. He lifted the
walking stick into the air with
his right hand, his shooting hand. He said Billy Clanton and Frank
McLaury reached for their six-shooters,
and he heard the click click of the guns being cocked, probably as they were
being pulled from their holsters,
and saw Ike Clanton throw his hand into the opening of his shirt.
"Hold, I don't want that," Virgil said, throwing both hands in the air. Virgil
said Billy Clanton lifted his cocked
six-shooter and two shots exploded at nearly the same time, one from Billy
and one from Wyatt. Virgil changed
the cane to his left hand and drew his gun with his right, "and went to shooting;
it was general then, and
everybody went to fighting." ( Tombstone Epitaph, Nov. 23, 1881)
The cowboys told a different story, that both shots came from the Earp side.
All agreed the first two shots
erupted almost at the same time. According to the Earp version, Clanton missed
while Wyatt took aim at
Frank McLaury, the most dangerous gunman of the bunch, and drilled him in
the stomach. Frank McLaury
staggered, but returned to fight. Tom McLaury failed to get the rifle from
the saddle as the horse jumped
startled by the gunfire.
After the two shots and then a pause, the rest of the fight took perhaps
twenty seconds. Early in the
shooting, a bullet passed through Billy Claibornes pants leg as he stood
near Behan, by Fly's doorway.
Behan grabbed the Kid and shoved him inside.
Doc Holliday lifted the shotgun from under his gray coat and stalked Tom
McLaury behind the horse.
Holliday closed in, then fired, sending a charge that hit Tom under the right
armpit and left him staggering
into the street.
In the strangest moment of the affair, Ike Clanton lurched forward and grabbed
one of Wyatt's arms.
Wyatt saw Clanton had no gun and shoved him aside as he told him, " The fight
has commenced. Go to
fighting or get away." Ike Clanton took flight, racing through the Fly house,
into a vacant lot, through
Kellogg's saloon, and finished his sprint two blocks away on Toughnut Street,
where he was later
arrested. After all the threats and talking, when the fighting started, Ike
ran leaving his brother to
fend for himself. In other words, Ike talked big and then ran fast on October
Virgil took a shot through the calf, most likely from the wounded Frank McLaury,
and dropped to
the ground. A bullet, thought by most researchers to be Morgan's, crashed
into Billy Clanton's
chest, then another into his wrist, then a shot hit his stomach. Young Billy
switched gun hands,
then leaned back against Harwood's house and slowly crumpled to the ground.
firing, with his pistol balanced against his knee, as he sat in the dirt.
As Mayor Clum would
later say, " He was game to the end. Showing bravery and fighting as long
as he was able."
Where one Clanton ran, the other stood his ground.
Morgan stumbled and fell, yelling, " I am hit, " then rose again to return
to the fight before stumbling,
probably on the dirt mound dug for the new water pipes. Holliday threw away
his shotgun and drew his
From the alley to the east of Fly's, a sound rang out, possibly shots or
an errant bullet glancing off a
piece of metal. Wyatt earp would forever think a gunman-- Behan, Ike Clanton,
Billy Allen, or
Claiborne--had fired from hiding.
Badly wounded, Frank McLaury tried to use an animal for cover as he pushed
the animal toward
Fremont Street. He ran into the street, Holding the animal's reins, then
shot at Morgan. McLaury's
horse broke away and ran, leaving Frank to squat in the street in exhaustion.
Frank stood and lifted his pistol to take aim, saying, " I've got you now."
"Blaze away. You're a daisy if you have," Doc replied, according to the Nugget
shot Holliday through the pistol pocket, grazing his hip. " I'm shot right
through," Doc yelled.
Frank McLaury, shot in the stomach, staggered across the street. Morgan Earp
and Doc both fired
at Frank. Morgan's shot crashed through the right side of McLaury's head.
Doc's charge penetrated
McLaury's chest. Frank still seemed to be showing some signs of movement,
and Doc Holliday ran
up screaming, " The son-of-a-bitch has shot me, and I mean to kill him."
( Tombstone Nugget, Oct.30,1881)
Tom McLaury had fallen at the corner of Third and Fremont, and lay dying
at the base of a telegraph pole.
Fly came from his rooming house as the shots subsided and grabbed Billy Clanton's
pistol as he was still
trying to load it, while struggling to stay alive. The bloody fight had ended.
Virgil was shot through the calf and Holliday only grazed. Morgan's wound
proved the most severe.
Having been shot in the shoulder. Frank McLaury, Tom McLaury, and Billy Clanton
from mortal wounds. Ike Clanton, the instigator, was the sole cowboy survivor.
Wyatt Earp emerged
The fight lasted less than thirty seconds. Estimates were about thirty shots
had been fired.
Following the fight, Johnny Behan would attempt to place Wyatt and his brothers
and Doc under
arrest. Johnny Behan said to Wyatt, " I will have to arrest you." Fred Dodge,
agent with Wells, Fargo,
would say that Wyatt responded, " Any decent officer can arrest me-----But
that you or none your kind
must not try it."
The Earp's and Holliday would be found not guily in a court of law by Judge
Spicer ruling they acted
within their authority as law enforcement officers. There was every reason
with witnesses coming forward
hearing the threats by the cowboys and Ike's drunken venture all over town
telling everyone he was going
to kill the Earps and Holliday the night before and morning of the fight.
As Spicer would say, never can it be tolerated for those violating the law
to demand that officers of
the law be disarmed before they themselves would disarm.
Of course the real bloodshed would now follow. Morgan would be shot
and killed by the cowboys and Virgil wounded. Wyatt and Doc Holliday and
friends would then set out on what has become known as the
vendetta. Taking the law into his own hands. Making those he felt responsible