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Capture at Stinking Springs

Allegedly, the photo above is of the rock house where Pat Garrett and his posse captured the Rustlers.

December 23, 1880; Stinking Springs, San Miguel County, New Mexico Territory---The sun has not yet risen and about twenty-four miles east of Fort Sumner, at an area known as Stinking Springs, Billy the Kid, Dirty Dave Rudabaugh, Charlie Bowdre, Billy Wilson, and Tom Pickett are sleeping on the floor of an abandoned, one-room rock house. The house is very small, only about thirty feet wide and twelve feet long, with no windows and a door opening but no actual door. Also inside the house is the Kid's horse, while outside the horses of Charlie, Wilson, and Pickett are tied to viga poles jutting from the roof. The gang has been running without any objective or anywhere to go since the evening of the 19th, when they were ambushed by Pat Garrett and his posse at Fort Sumner. In the ambush, their fellow Rustler, Tom Folliard, was killed, as was Dave's horse, who has been riding double with Wilson since that time. What the sleeping outlaws don't know is that during the night, Garrett and his posse followed their tracks in the snow and are now surrounding the house. Leaving Juan Roival in charge of the posse members' horses, Garrett, Jim East, Lee Hall, and Tom Emory take positions in a dried up arroyo located about thirty feet in front of the house's doorway. Meanwhile, Frank Stewart and the rest of the posse take positions about two-hundred yards away from the sides and back of the house. Hearing the snoring of the outlaws coming from the house, Garrett sends Jose Roival to Stewart, suggesting that the entire posse just storms the house. Stewart, however, believes this is foolish, as do most of the other men with him. Due to this, it's ruled that the posse will wait for the outlaws to make the first move. Pat Garrett knows that Billy the Kid will never be taken alive though, and he has no desire to give the Kid a fighting chance to escape. With this in mind, Garrett tells the men with him that if Billy were to be killed outright, he believes the other four outlaws would surrender without incident. Garrett goes on to tell his men that the Kid will most likely be wearing a distinctive hat, a sombrero with a green hatband. When this hat is seen, Garrett continues, he will raise his rifle, thereby signalling his men to shoot down the man wearing it.

As dawn sets in, the posse begins to hear noises coming from the house of the outlaws waking up. Garrett and his men wait patiently and eye the door. Lying in the arroyo, they are completely hidden from view, should the outlaws peer out through the doorway. A little while longer, a figure steps out of the house. In his hands is a grain sack for the tethered horses; on his head is the sombrero with the green hatband. Garrett quietly raises his rifle, as do the men with him. Suddenly, seven shots are fired, nearly simultaneously. The figure takes a slug in the chest, stumbles, braces himself against the doorway, and staggers back into the building. With that, the posse pours on the lead from all sides, as the outlaws, now completely awake, try to avoid being stepped on by the Kid's startled horse. The posse pauses for a moment when they hear Billy Wilson yell out "Charlie is killed and wants to come out." Garrett realizes his mistake; the man he shot was Charlie Bowdre, who had personally met with Garrett expressed his intentions of retiring from the outlaw life only days earlier. Apparently, Charlie grabbed Billy's hat by accident before walking out the doorway. Garrett yells to the outlaws that all fire will be held in order to allow Charlie to exit. As Charlie begins stumbling towards the doorway, Billy grabs him, twists his gunbelt so that his revolver is front of him, and tells his friend "They have murdered you Charlie, but you can get revenge. Kill some of the sons-of-bitches before you die." Charlie then walks through the door and heads towards Garrett's arroyo. With one hand, he holds his bleeding chest wound, and with the other, he makes a half-hearted attempt to draw his revolver. However, his strength has already left him and the revolver stays in its holster. Charlie walks slowly, muttering "I wish...I wish..." when Garrett stands up to meet him. In a whisper, Charlie says "I'm dying," just as he collapses into Garrett's arms. Garrett then lays the dead man onto his blanket on the ground.

For the next few hours, sporadic shots are fired from both sides, but none take affect. The posse also hears the men inside the house laughing at times, apparently at jokes the Kid is making in an attempt to keep his men in high spirits. At some point, Garrett notices one of the outlaws reaching out the doorway to grab the reins of one of the horses tied to the viga poles. Surmising that they are trying to bring the other horses inside in an attempt to ride out, Garrett levels his rifle, and when the horse is halfway through the doorway, he fires one shot, killing the animal and dropping it in doorway. Immediately afterwards, Garrett takes careful aim and shoots through the reins of the of the other two horses, thereby separating them from the vigas. The two horses walk away and are quickly grabbed by Frank Stewart's men. With the dead horse blocking the doorway, there is no chance that any of the outlaws could attempt to ride out on the one horse still inside. Realizing this, the Kid lets his horse walk out of the house, and it too is soon overtaken by Stewart's men.

Around this time, Garrett sparks a conversation with the Kid, by asking him how he and his men are doing inside the house. "Pretty well, but we have no wood to get breakfast," replied the Kid.

"Come out and get some. Be a little sociable," said Garrett.

"Can't do it, Pat. Business is too confining. No time to run around," responded the Kid.

After that, Garrett, in a not-so-subtle way, informed the Kid how Wilcox and Brazil had betrayed the gang and set them up for the posse. None of the outlaws have any response to this. Garrett now decides that it's time he and his men take a break and ride back to the Wilcox-Brazil ranch, about three miles away, for breakfast. With Garrett go about half of the posse, while the other half stays at the house. At the ranch, Garrett informs Wilcox and Brazil of his killing Bowdre, and expresses some remorse over this. Brazil then tells Garrett that he should feel no remorse, since Bowdre had told him earlier that he planned on killing Garrett if he ever got the chance. During breakfast, Garrett makes arrangements with Wilcox to haul out some food, wood, and other provisions to the posse's camp site later in the day. When they're done eating, Garrett and his men ride back to Stinking Springs. Upon arriving, the other half of the posse, led by Stewart, ride to the ranch for their meal. In the early afternoon, the posse hears the outlaws trying to dig portholes out of the east wall for their rifles. Jim East and Tom Emory move to the east side of the building and fire a few shots at it, and thereafter the outlaws cease in their attempt to dig portholes. Shortly afterwards, Garrett yells to the Kid that he should come out for coffee. Apparently not amused, the Kid yells back "Go to hell, you long-legged son-of-a-bitch!" After that, there is silence between the two parties.

Around 4:00 PM, Stewart and his men return to the camp site, accompanied by a wagon driven by Wilcox and carrying the supplies Garrett asked for earlier. Knowing that the trapped outlaws have no way of getting food and are probably very hungry by now, Garrett figures if his posse cooks a meal and lets the aroma of it reach them, they will quickly surrender. Putting this plan into effect, the posse builds a big fire and begins cooking some meat over it. It's not long before the posse notices Rudabaugh sticking a dirty, white handkerchief tied to a stick out the doorway. Garrett then shouts to the men in the house to come out with their hands up. However, only Dirty Dave emerges and walks right to Garrett. The two men talk, with Dave asking Garrett to promise that if all the men surrender, they will be given a meal and protected from violence. Garrett agrees to this and Dave returns to the house to talk with his fellow Rustlers. After a few minutes of conversing, Dave, Pickett, Wilson, and the Kid, in that order, exit the house with their hands up and walk towards the posse. Looking around and seeing only the thirteen or so man posse, Billy laughinly says "Pat, you son-of-a-bitch, they told me there was a hundred Texans here from the Canadien River! If I'd a-known there wasn't no more than this, you'd never have got me!" Just then, Barney Mason levels his rifle at the Kid and says "Kill the son-of-a-bitch, Pat! He's slippery and may get away!" Lee Hall and Jim East, standing nearby, turn their guns on Mason and tell him that if he fires a single shot, they'll kill him. Mason wisely demurs. The outlaws then shakes hands with all the members of the posse (except Mason probably) and congratulate them on capturing them. The posse and the outlaws then dine together on their meal and, when finished, ride back to the Wilcox-Brazil ranch. Upon arriving at the ranch, Garrett has Brazil, Mason, and Charlie Rudulph take a wagon back to the house and retrieve Charlie Bowdre's body. By sunset, the wagon returns and the posse decides to spend the night at the ranch and leave for Fort Sumner in the morning. From there, the prisoners will be taken to Las Vegas, then Santa Fe. Tom Pickett will eventually be released, Billy Wilson and Dave Rudabaugh will be convicted of various crimes and both will escape from jail, and Billy the Kid will be convicted of the murder of Sheriff William Brady and sentenced to hang. With that, most believe that the Kid's fate is sealed. However, the Kid himself has other plans.

Rustlers involved

Pat Garrett's posse