Sunday, October 26th, 2014

Shootout at the O. K. Corral — 133 Years Ago Today

The renowned shootout at the O. K. Corral, the subject of innumerable books and movies, the source of Wyatt Earp’s and his brothers’ enduring fame, occurred 133 years ago. An excellent, eye-witness account of the gunfight was printed in the San Francisco Chronicle several days latter, and republished in newspapers across the country, including in the local Las Cruces paper, the Rio Grande Republican. Here is that account:


Three Cowboys Killed in a Battle in Tombstone

“A Tombstone, Arizona, special to the San Francisco Chronicle of the 27th ult., gives the following graphic account of the fight between cowboys and the authorities of the town:”

“The liveliest street battle that ever occurred in Tombstone took place at 2:30 P. M. to day, resulting in the death of three persons and the wounding of two others, one probably fatally. For some time past several cowboys have been in town, and the fight was between City Marshal Virgil Earp, his two brothers, Morgan and Wyatt Earp, and Dock (sic) Holliday on one side, and Ike and Billy Clinton and Frank and Tom McLowery on the other. The Clanton and McLowery brothers are known as cowboys, and Ike has been in town for the past week drinking pretty freely, and was arrested this morning for carrying concealed weapons, he having appeared on the street with a Winchester rifle and six-shooter on. After paying his fine he is reported to have made threats against Marshal Earp and his brothers, and it is known that bad blood has existed between them for some time. About 2:30 o’clock the Marshal requested his brothers, Morgan and Wyatt, and Dock Holliday to accompany him to aid in disarming the cowboys, as trouble was feared in the evening. They started down toward the O. K. Corral on Fremont street, and a few doors below the Nugget office saw the two Clantons and the McLowery brothers talking to Sheriff Beban, who had requested them to disarm. The Marshal called out, ‘Boys, throw up your hands; I want you to give up your shooters.’


“At this Frank McLowery attempted to draw his pistol, when Wyatt Earp immediately shot him, the ball entering just about the waist. Dock Holliday then let go at Tom McLowery with a shotgun, filling him full of buckshot under the right arm. Billy Clanton then blazed away at Marshal Earp, and Ike Clanton, who it is claimed was unarmed, started and ran off through the corral to Allen street. The firing then became general, and some thirty shots were fired, all in such rapid succession that the fight was over in less than a minute. When the smoke cleared away it was found that Frank McLowery had been killed outright, with one ball through the intestines, one in the left breast, and one in the right temple, the latter two wounds being received at the same instant. Tom McLowery lay dead around the corner of Third street, a few feet from Fremont’s, the load of buckshot fired by Holliday killing him instantly. Billy Clanton lay on the side of the street, with one shot in the right waist and another in the right side, near the wrist, and the third in the left nipple. He was taken into a house and lived about half an hour in great agony.”


“Morgan Earp was shot through both shoulders, the ball creasing the skin. Marshal Earp was shot through the fleshy part of the right leg. Wyatt Earp and Dock Holiday escaped unhurt. The shooting created great excitement, and the street was immediately filled with people. Ike Clayton was captured and taken to jail, where he now remains. The jail is guarded by a number of citizens to prevent lynching, of which there is no apparent danger. The three dead bodies were removed to the Morgue, where they now lie. It is reported that several thousand dollars were found on the bodies. The feeling of the better class of citizens is that the Marshal and his posse acted solely in the right in attempting to disarm the cowboys, and it was a case of kill or get killed. Clayton’s father was killed with four others a few months ago in New Mexico by the Mexicans while driving a band of cattle up to this market. The town is fairly quiet, and the authorities are fully able to maintain order.”

Rio Grande Republican, November 5, 1881.

See Also:

The Arizona Cowboy
Death of Johnny Ringo – King of the Cowboys

Filed in: Arizona Cowboy, Billy the Kid, History, Las Cruces | Comments Off on Shootout at the O. K. Corral — 133 Years Ago Today

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