Gunfight at the O.K. Corral: Did Tom McLaury Have a Gun

One of the most candidly understated descriptions of a funeral in the history of the Old West was written by Arizona historian Opie Rundle Burgess in her 1967 book Bisbee, Not So Long Ago, when she recorded her mother’s memories of her first day in the booming town of Tombstone, Arizona Territory, on March 20, 1882.

Florence Robinson Rundle and her mother (Opie’s grandmother) had just arrived in Tombstone by stage, and Florence’s father, who had been mining in the area, rented a buggy to drive them to their boarding house. When they heard horses coming up behind them, her father pulled their carriage off to the side of the street, explaining that he was giving way to a funeral procession taking Morgan Earp’s body to Contention to be placed on a train. James Earp would accompany his brother’s remains to their father’s home in Colton, Calif.

Silently the Robinsons waited until the funeral procession passed. Four men rode in front with sawed-off shotguns across their laps; then came a wagon bearing the casket. Following it came a buggy with two women dressed in deep mourning. Back of their carriage rode two more men with guns across their laps. The men nodded as they passed the Robinsons.

[Mr. Robinson said:] ‘Morgan Earp was a fine man. He was murdered by a sympathizer of the Clanton gang.’

[Mrs. Robinson replied:] ‘Yes, I know. The driver of the stagecoach told us about the shooting. I never before saw guns take the place of flowers at a funeral.’

Morgan Earp was the most luckless of the six Earp brothers. He had almost died after being shot through the shoulders during the shootout near the O.K. Corral on October 26, 1881, allegedly by rustler Tom McLaury. Then, on the night of March 18-19 (Wyatt turned 33 on the 19th), Morgan was killed by a shot in the back while playing pool.

Mrs. Robinson’s ‘guns instead of flowers’ words sum up the tales of violence that occurred regularly in the lush grazing lands of the San Pedro River and the Sulfur Spring Valley, where cowboys and rustlers had settled even before silver was discovered in 1877. There, the words ‘cowboy’ and ‘rustler’ had become synonymous, and Cochise County Sheriff Johnny Behan was in cahoots with the Cowboys. Many people in Tombstone didn’t want the rustling to stop, because they liked the cheap price of rustled beef and the business the Cowboys brought to local saloons.

The Earp brothers — Virgil, Wyatt and Morgan — had become the only real law in Tombstone. In October 1881, Virgil Earp was both a deputy U.S. marshal and Tombstone’s chief of police. (The official title of the town marshal’s office had been changed to police department by the city fathers in April 1881.) Wyatt Earp was operating covertly as a detective for Wells, Fargo & Co. and on occasion served a policeman or a temporary field-commissioned deputy U.S. marshal for Virgil. Morgan Earp, too, was temporarily commissioned as a policeman. Half the town wanted the Cowboys to go. Half the town wanted the Earps to go. Something had to give, and the showdown came on October 26, 1881, at about 2:45 p.m.

Five of the Cowboys (Ike and Billy Clanton, Frank and Tom McLaury and Billy Claiborne), Cowboy sympathizer Wes Fuller and Billy Clanton’s and Frank’s horses had ended up in a 15-foot-wide vacant lot on the south side of Fremont Street behind the O.K. Corral. Frank McLaury and Billy Clanton openly wore holstered revolvers in violation of a town ordinance that prohibited the carrying of guns within city limits unless the carrier was entering town, leaving town or in a corral. None of those exceptions applied to Frank and Billy.

Virgil Earp wanted to arrest the Cowboys for breaking the gun law, but the Cowboys held their ground, or at least some of them did. Billy Claiborne left the lot before the confrontation, as did Fuller. When Virgil, Wyatt and Morgan Earp and their hastily commissioned policeman friend Doc Holliday stepped into the front of the lot, somebody pulled a gun. Ike Clanton ran. About 30 seconds and 30 shots later, Frank and Tom McLaury and Billy Clanton lay dying on the ground, and Virgil Earp, Morgan Earp and Doc Holliday were wounded.

At first the Earps and Holliday were hailed as heroes. But then they were accused of shooting down unarmed men who were trying to surrender. The ‘unarmed’ claim was bolstered by the fact that Tom McLaury’s gun couldn’t be found. After a two-day coroner’s inquest and a month-long hearing to determine whether the Earps and Holliday should be indicted for murder, Judge Wells Spicer decided that they had acted in their official capacity as lawmen. So the they were never actually tried for murder.

The vacant lot where the Old West’s most famous shootout began faced the south side of Fremont Street — with the Harwood house on the west side of the lot, and Fly’s photographic studio and boarding house on the east side. There were eight people and two horses in the front of the crowded lot, and the black powder gun smoke added to the confusion and bedlam of the gunfight. Figuring out who shot whom was difficult because the Cowboy faction told lies in an attempt to get the Earps and Holliday hanged for murder, and the Earps stretched the truth to keep their necks out of nooses.

When Wyatt Earp biographer Stuart Lake questioned him about the’street fight,’ as Wyatt called it, Wyatt answered in a September 13, 1928, letter: ‘In that affair, Billy Clanton and Frank McLowry had four or five bullet holes in their bodies, and of course it would be impossible to declare who was responsible for the shots.’ That is one of the most honest appraisals ever made in the who-shot-whom controversy, which often includes the question of whether Tom McLaury used a gun during the shootout.

When the gun smoke cleared on October 26, Billy Clanton had never gotten near his horse, and he lay with his back against the Harwood house just inside the lot on Fremont Street; Frank McLaury had never gotten behind his horse, but he had led it partway into the street before it bolted and ran, and Frank lay on the north side of Fremont Street across from the vacant lot; Tom McLaury had gotten behind Billy Clanton’s horse before it ran, and Tom lay near the southeast corner of Fremont and Third streets next to a corner house that was adjacent to the Harwood house. The coroner, Dr. Henry Martyn Matthews, later dutifully recorded the serial numbers of the Colt revolvers used by Frank McLaury (No. 46338) and Billy Clanton (No. 52196) in the shootout. But Tom McLaury’s gun was still missing.

In 1929, after Lake inspected the original handwritten documents from the coroner’s inquest and the murder hearing that historians now call the Spicer hearing, the documents were put back into storage. An anti-Earp historian, Howell ‘Pat’ Hayhurst, was commissioned to put the documents into typescript for a federal Works Progress Association (WPA) project in the 1930s. Hayhurst not only failed to decipher some of the handwriting but also arbitrarily edited out wording that he decided was not relevant. As Lake later put it, Hayhurst ‘mutilated’ the text and context. Furthermore, the original documents were never returned after Hayhurst transcribed them. They have never been found.

Fortunately, reporters from Tombstone’s two newspapers — the pro-Earp Epitaph and the pro-Cowboy Nugget — also recorded the testimony at the coroner’s inquest and the Spicer hearing. But only the reporter from the Nugget knew shorthand. Thus, the wording of the testimony that the court recorder and the two newspaper reporters put on paper varied greatly. It takes months examining all three versions of the testimony word by word to fully understand how much of it was altered by Hayhurst in what historians now call the Hayhurst transcript.

Most of the pro-Cowboy witnesses who testified during the murder hearing fudged their answers by saying things like, ‘I didn’t see Tom McLaury with a gun’ or by agreeing that Tom McLaury had yelled to Virgil Earp words like, ‘I am disarmed,’ just before the shooting started. And the few objective newspaper articles that were written in the first days following the shootout could only report on hearsay. In its October 29 dispatch that appeared in the November 3 San Diego Union newspaper, stringer Clara S. Brown wrote, ‘At the inquest yesterday, the damaging fact was ascertained that only two of the cowboys were armed, it thus being a most unequal fight.’

On November 7, bartender Andrew Mehan testified at the murder hearing that Tom McLaury had checked his six-gun with him at Mehan’s saloon between 1 and 2 p.m. on the 26th, only an hour before the gunfight, and that the gun was still in Mehan’s safe. But Cosmopolitan Hotel owner Albert Billicke and U.S. Army surgeon J.B.W. Gardner offered testimony that suggested Tom McLaury had picked up another revolver while visiting Everhardy’s butcher shop.

Virgil Earp testified that when the shooting started, Tom McLaury was beside a horse and that McLaury, ‘followed the movement of the horse around, making [it] a kind of breastwork, and fired once if not twice over the horse’s back.’ Wyatt testified, ‘If Tom McLaury was unarmed, I did not know it, I believe he was armed and fired two shots at our party before Holliday, who had the shotgun, fired and killed him.’ In his 1896 San Francisco Examiner biographical interviews, Wyatt was quoted as saying that after the first three shots had been fired, ‘just then Tom McLowry, who got behind his horse, fired under the animal’s neck and bored a hole right through Morgan sideways.’

During the last 10 years of his life, Wyatt collaborated three times with biographers. In 1919 Forrestine Hooker, the daughter-in-law of Wyatt’s cattle baron friend Henry Hooker, wrote in her unpublished 85-page manuscript ‘An Arizona Vendetta’ that Tom McLaury used a gun at the street fight and ‘ducked under the neck of a horse and fired at Morgan Earp’ — a shot that Hooker also called the ‘first shot of the gunfight’ and that went crossways through Morgan Earp’s shoulders.

Wyatt’s second attempt at recording his memoirs was written by his long-time confidant John Flood Jr. in the 1920s. Flood’s 350-page tome obliquely describes Tom McLaury with a gun with the words, ‘And a ring of smoke drifted into the lot from beneath the neck of Tom McLowery’s horse, the first shot of the day.’ And a map that Wyatt and Flood drew marks a spot near the corner of Third and Fremont streets with the handwritten notation: ‘Wesley Fuller picked up Tom McLowery’s gun from body at 3rd and Fremont Street.’ So two of Wyatt’s biographers wrote that Tom McLaury not only had a gun but also fired the first shot of the gunfight.

While collaborating with Wyatt in 1928, Stuart Lake took ponderous notes that historians now call the ‘Earp/Lake Notes.’ In them, Lake wrote: ‘Tom jumped to get back of brother’s horse….Tom shot under horses neck 2 [shots] hitting Morg….Say Tom unarmed. When fell, gun in hand. Wes Fuller picked up gun, put in his pocket. [illegible; Fuller’s?] father told Wyatt, had Tom’s gun.’

When Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshal, Lake’s biography of Wyatt, was published in 1931, however, Lake merely wrote that after the first shots were fired by Wyatt, Frank McLaury and Billy Clanton, ‘Tom McLowery jumped behind Frank’s horse [it was actually Billy Clanton’s horse], drawing his gun and shooting under the animal’s neck at Morgan Earp.’ Lake added, ‘Sensing that Tom McLowery was now the most dangerous adversary, Wyatt ignored Billy Clanton’s fire as Tom again shot underneath the pony’s neck and hit Morg.’ And Lake ended with, ‘Tom McLowery was firing his third shot.’

The trouble is, some historians don’t believe that Wyatt Earp ever told the truth in his life. So that leaves us with four largely forgotten witnesses:

The first person to state in print that Tom McLaury had a gun was miner Ruben F. Coleman, who was quoted in the October 27 issue of the Epitaph. He said that on the day of the gunfight ‘Tom McLaury fell first, but raised and fired again before he died.’ But by the time he testified in the coroner’s inquest a day later, Coleman was quoted in the Hayhurst transcription as saying, ‘Tom McLaury, after the first two shots were fired, ran down Fremont Street and fell….’ Coleman added, ‘I think that the report I gave to the Epitaph was pretty near correct as published,’ but he still said nothing about McLaury raising up and firing again, as he had in the Epitaph article. And Coleman closed his testimony by flatly saying: ‘I did not see Tom McLaury with a pistol,’ adding, ‘My mind is a little confused about that part of it.’

Ruben Coleman’s son, Walter R. Coleman, owned a restaurant in Tombstone and might have been buying rustled beef. If so, Ruben, like his son, would have favored the Cowboys over the Earps. Ruben Coleman’s waffling in his coroner’s inquest statements suggests that the Cowboy faction might have ‘refreshed’ his memory in its zeal to get the Earps and Doc hanged for murder. Therefore, the logical conclusion is to believe that Coleman’s initial knee-jerk statement in the Epitaph that Tom McLaury did have a gun is the truth.

A second ‘forgotten’ witness was Mrs. J.C. Colyer of Kansas City, who was visiting with her sister in Tombstone that day. When the shooting erupted, Mrs. Colyer was sitting in a buggy in front of the post office on the southeast corner of Fremont and Fourth streets, less than a block away from the vacant lot. She returned to Kansas City, and her belated account of the gunfight was published in the December 30, 1881, issue of the Tombstone Epitaph: ‘The cowboys opened fire on them. And you never saw such shooting. One of the cowboys, after he had been shot three times, raised himself on his elbow and shot one of the officers and fell back dead….[A]nother used his horse as a barricade and shot under his neck.’ And since other testimony confirms that neither Billy Clanton nor Frank McLaury ever got behind a horse to use it as a barricade, then it could only have been Tom McLaury that Mrs. Colyer saw shooting under the horse’s neck.

The biggest key to the question of whether Tom McLaury had a gun is the testimony of another impartial witness, laundryman Peter H. Fellehy. According to the wording of the Hayhurst transcript of the coroner’s inquest, Fellehy testified:

After the shooting commenced…,[t]he younger one of the Earps was firing at a man behind the horse. Holliday was also firing at the same man behind the horse, and firing at a man who had run by him to the opposite side of the street. Then I see the man who had the horse let go the reins of the bridle and kept staggering all the time, until he fell on his back near a horse [emphasis added]. He still held his pistol in his hand, but [I] did not see it go off after he had fell.

I then went to the young man who was lying on the sidewalk and offered to pick him up….I picked up a revolver that was lying five feet from him and laid it at his side. This was the man that lay on the north side of Fremont Street.

Fellehy’s words make it clear that the ‘man behind the horse’ that Doc and Morgan were shooting at was a different man than the one that Doc shot at who ran ‘to the opposite side of the street’ and collapsed on the sidewalk on the north side of Fremont Street. Based on other testimony in the Spicer hearing, we know that this second man, who led his horse out of the vacant lot but was never behind the horse, and who then fell on the north side of Fremont Street, was Frank McLaury. So Fellehy’s ‘man behind the horse’ has to be either Billy Clanton or Tom McLaury. And we also know from other testimony that Billy Clanton never got near his horse. Therefore, Fellehy’s ‘man behind the horse’ who ‘fell on his back near a horse ‘ and’still held his pistol in his hand’ could only have been Tom McLaury.

But this basic Fellehy evidence doesn’t stop there. I emphasized the word ‘horse’ in Fellehy’s testimony, because the wording in the versions of his testimony that appeared in the Nugget and the Epitaph contains two startling exceptions to the wording in the Hayhurst transcript: The Nugget states that the ‘man with the horse…was staggering all the time until he fell; he had his pistol still when he fell.’ And the Epitaph version quotes Fellehy as saying, ‘Then I saw the man who held the horse let go the bridle and keep staggering until he fell, his back within a few feet of a house [emphasis added]; had a pistol in his hand, but I did not see it go off.’

And so, we see that the Hayhurst transcript version of Fellehy’s testimony states that the ‘man behind the horse’ with a pistol fell on his back near a ‘horse,’ while the Epitaph version states that he fell with his back within a few feet of a ‘house.’ That difference in one letter in one word of Fellehy’s testimony brings us to another ‘forgotten’ witness in the coroner’s inquest, ‘mining man’ Charles Hamilton ‘Ham’ Light, who was in his room at the Aztec House on the corner of Third and Fremont streets when he heard two shots and ‘jumped’ to his side window on Third Street looking up Fremont Street. According to the October 29 Nugget, Light testified, ‘I saw a man reel and fall on the corner of Fremont and Third streets on the south side, right directly on the corner of the house [emphasis added]….I saw another man standing, leaning, against a building joining the vacant lot….The man never stirred after he fell at the corner of the street….I did not see that man fire any shot.’

Because Light didn’t see the beginning of the gunfight, he also couldn’t have seen the man who fell on the corner fire any shots. But Light’s testimony clearly identifies two different men being shot on the south side of Fremont street — Billy Clanton leaning against the Harwood house in the vacant lot, and Tom McLaury falling on the southeast corner of Fremont and Third. Therefore, Light’s man beside the ‘house’ confirms that Fellehy’s man with a ‘pistol’ beside the ‘house’ — not Hayhurst’s ‘horse’ — could only have been the same man, Tom McLaury.

There is other fodder to add to the stewpot of controversy about whether or not Tom McLaury had a gun, the most notable being the surprising fact that Fellehy, Light and Coleman were never called to testify in the murder hearing. The reason the Earps didn’t call Fellehy was probably because in the coroner’s inquest Fellehy had also offered the damaging testimony that before the Earps and Holliday had started their walk toward the vacant lot, Fellehy had heard Virgil Earp say: ‘Those men have made their threats. I will not arrest them, but I will kill them on sight.’ And that kind of hearsay evidence could have upped the ante of potential ‘murder’ charges against the Earps and Doc to ‘premeditated murder,’ which really could have been a hanging offense! And the reason the Cowboy faction didn’t call Coleman was probably because at the coroner’s inquest he had altered his initial testimony in the October 27 Epitaph so dramatically that it was obvious that the Cowboys had influenced his ‘memory.’ And with the Cowboy strategy based on the accusation that the Earps and Doc had fired first and had also shot down the ‘unarmed’ Tom McLaury, they didn’t want Coleman reverting to his original Epitaph story that Tom McLaury did have a gun.

Thus, we have three witnesses besides the Earps — Coleman, Mrs. Colyer and Fellehy — all verifying that Tom McLaury did have, and use, a gun during the gunfight. And simple logic backs them up. One of the few things that is known for certain about the gunfight is that Doc Holliday killed Tom McLaury with a blast from a double-barreled shotgun. And in the Spicer murder hearing, Wyatt testified that he fired first at Frank McLaury and next at Tom McLaury. So the obvious question is, when Wyatt and Doc had Billy Clanton and Frank McLaury shooting at them from 15 feet away, would they have risked their lives and wasted a shot or shots firing at Tom McLaury if he didn’t have a gun?

This article was written by Old West historian, author and gun authority Lee A. Silva and originally appeared in the October 2006 issue of Wild West magazine. Lee A. Silva of Sunset Beach, Calif., is a frequent contributor to Wild West Magazine. His Wyatt Earp: A Biography of the Legend, Volume I: The Cowtown Years was published in 2002. Next up in the four-volume series is Volume II: Tombstone, the Legend Making Years. His Web site is Also suggested for further reading: Murder in Tombstone: The Forgotten Trial of Wyatt Earp, by Steven Lubet; The O.K. Corral Inquest, by Al Turner; and Wyatt Earp Speaks, by John Richard Stephens.

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46 Responses

  1. Travis Bragg

    i’m having trouble finding the serial number for wyatt earp’s gun. my grandfather has a very old colt 45 buntline sp. and he was curious of the serial number on earp’s gun

    • dan smith

      Colt never produced a gun called buntline that was a myth created by Stuart Lake. Wyatt carried a Smith & Wesson given to him by Mayor Clum.

  2. Mike Higgins

    The character of Wyatt is established, at least in my mind, when he lets Ike Clanton run away. The one whom for almost two years had been the chief instigator of the conflict between the two factions. Instead Wyatt let him go. It is unreasonable, then, to think that he would shoot an unarmed man who, by comparison, played only a bit part in the feud. Were the cowboys armed? Yes. Was this against the law? Yes. Did Virgil have a legal right to form a posse to disarm the cowboys? Yes.

  3. dave stephens

    There are indications that Wyatt tried to gut shoot Ike during the scuffle. Some say that Wyatt later admitted to that. Ike says Wyatt fired during the scuffle.

  4. howard reed

    According to Mr. Webster reckoning is the ‘settling of a bill or
    account’. Could we be coming into the biblical time of ‘the
    reckoning’ that is ‘the end of days’ in which the second coming of
    Jesus Christ as the warrior Lion of Judah coming back to settle
    accounts on a bill owed by defeating and extinguishing the
    spiritual and human forces of evil that bow to the person and
    influence of ‘the prince of the world’ Satan. Being an avowed
    American history buff, and having grown up in a region of the
    Wild West, one of my favorite movies which I have seen many
    times is the 1993 version of the most famous Old West gun fight
    in history, the infamous Gunfight at OK Corral – ‘Tombstone’,
    with an all star cast: Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer, Sam Elliot, Bill
    Paxton, Powers Boothe, Michael Biehn, Charlton Heston, Jason
    Priestly, Thomas Haden Church and Dana Delany.

    The tagline in that movie leading up to the infamous shootout
    came from Kilmer’s John Henry ‘Doc’ Holiday, born into a
    Georgia aristocratic planter family turned dentist, gambler
    and ‘shootist’ AKA gunfighter. To me it was the most memorable
    line in the movie describing a settling of accounts by way of
    justice being served. Kilmer’s Doc Holiday, having been handed a
    shotgun by Elliot’s cool-headed lawman Virgil of the legendary
    Earp brothers, to keep out of sight of the townspeople by putting it
    under his long-coat, looks at the brothers and says, “It’s the
    reckoning”, implying the Apocalyptic rider on the pale horse –

    Having been born and raised in a region in which the Chisholm
    Trail on which cowboys herded cattle from Texas into Kansas
    border towns bound for the East Coast crossed through, I have
    been captivated by that wild and wooly living history. My own
    hometown in North central Oklahoma evolved around cowboys,
    Indians, and oil barons. One of the last shootouts between lawmen
    and outlaws took place about 10 miles from my hometown in the
    late 1800’s.

    Two of those reputedly vice-ridden cattle towns, Wichita and
    Dodge City, infamous in their own right were marshaled during
    that era by renowned lawmen-gamblers-gunfighters Wyatt Earp,
    Bat Masterson and James Butler ‘Wild Bill’ Hickok, who I
    discovered while going through a genealogy on my mother’s
    family side was in my family tree by way of my great-great-
    great grandmother Hickox-Brown.

    Many books and movies have been written and made
    surrounding events that led up the well-known gunfight between
    lawmen and outlaw cowboys. The movie ‘Tombstone’ is as
    historically correct as we can expect from Hollywood, base on the
    book ‘Hellderado’. I got a chance to visit the old mining town of
    Tombstone five years ago while visiting my sister and brother-in-
    law. It can rightly be said that were the primary players of the
    shootout allowed to come back to the place of the event they
    would feel at home in this now tourist attraction. With the
    exception of some modern conveniences surrounding the town,
    nothing much has changed.

    Being interested in historical reality from a firsthand account, I
    scoured the shops for such a book and found it – ‘And Die In The
    West: History of The OK Corral Gunfight. What I gathered from
    eye-witness accounts, both in trial manuscripts and newspaper
    accounts that instead of being ‘the reckoning’ between forces of
    good represented by the lawmen and forces of evil represented by
    the outlaw-cowboys it was ‘the reckoning’ between two political
    factions over lucrative commerce that turned deadly.

    The two sides were northern born Republican lawmen in the
    persons of the Earp brothers – Wyatt, Virgil and Morgan, aided
    by a tuberculosis ravaged Georgia Democrat ‘Doc’ Holliday; and
    Texas born cowboy-bandits Democrats in the persons of the
    brothers McLaury’s – Frank and Tom and Clanton’s – Ike and
    Billy, aided by Billy Claiborne and Wes Fuller. The political prize
    was the Johnny Behan position of sheriff of Tombstone and his
    deputies who stood to make a fortune in miners pay at various

    The fight took place at 3:00 PM, Wednesday, October 26, 1881,
    not inside the OK Corral as the legendary name implies but in a
    15 foot wide vacant lot, known as lot 2, in block 17, directly
    behind the corral. The combatants faced off in this small lot
    approximately 5 feet apart. Thirty shots in thirty seconds with
    lots of suffocating smoke later, the McLaurie brothers and Billy
    Clanton lie dead in the lot and on Freemont St.

    No gunfight has so captivated the attention and minds of the
    American people, although more people have been killed in other
    gunfights, such as the Newton Kansas Massacre than the
    Tombstone event. Legends sprang up immediately surrounding
    the cast of characters of the place and time. But, since politics
    was the motivation turned very ugly very quickly we should
    remind ourselves that nothing much has changed in that arena,
    especially in light of another prize being fought over by
    politicians of opposing sides today.

    • Bruce Hoskinson

      Hi Howard, I really enjoyed reading Your Input concerning what happened at the Gunfight, I share Your appreciation of the 1993 movie “Tombstone”. I semi-recently finished reading Jeff Guinn’s book “The Last Gunfight”, which I also enjoyed. I was born in Phoenix, but don’t remember it much since My family moved to Palo Alto, CA when I was still comparatively newborn (I hope to go back to Arizona someday, at least to visit, if not take up residence). The whole question of Tom McLaury having a gun or not certainly seems to be a very contentious point. I feel kind-of sorry for Tom, Frank and Billy; although I also have to agree that it certainly appears that poor Virgil Earp was really only trying to do His job to the best of His ability, (or so My various readings of the event have led Me to believe). Anyway, i enjoyed reading Your entry. Kudos!

  5. Kieran Taylor

    My name’s Kieran McLaury Taylor, and the way my grandfather told it to me was thus: Wyatt Earp was looking to make a name for himself, gambling and
    running whorehouses for a living just wasn’t enough I guess. Shooting an unarmed man in front of witnesses simply would not do, so Ike was saved.
    Wyatt went to his death swearing Tom McLaury had a gun at the shootout. He didn’t, but to admit so would have been an admission of murder, and that
    was too low, even for the likes of Wyatt Earp. Character indeed.

    • dan smith

      Why would you contradict yourself by saying in one breath that Wyatt shooting an unarmed man in front of witnesses wouldn’t do so he let Ike go and then turn right around and say that he shot Tom unarmed in front of witnesses, your logic makes absolutely no sense at all. Perhaps that’s is because you are prejudiced against the truth.

      • Dave

        I agree one can not have his cake and eat it to.

      • Kieran McLaury

        He thought (hoped) Tom had a gun when he shot him. It’s not that hard to understand.

  6. howard reed

    Few lawmen in the Old West were without a dark side. It seemed
    most them walked on both sides of the law. Of the three Earp
    brothers that represented the law that day Virgil was probably
    the least soiled.

    Movies depict one side of a story that unless you were there the
    truth of the matter lies smouldering in the graves of participants
    and witnesses. As I said above, politics, greed and I might add the
    Civil War that was 16 to 21 years removed was the motivation
    for the bad blood between the two factions, represented by two
    regions of the country and two political ideologies.

    Was Tom McLaury ‘heeled’, the term used in the day for carrying
    a gun? The debate will rage on into infinity without satisfying
    answers. I am sure that Ms. McLaury-Taylor’s family does not
    hold Wyatt Earp in a good light since he personally shot and
    killed their relative. They have their side of the story passed
    down from family members as I am sure the Earp family has
    their side of the story. Two sides, that was the devils brew in
    Tombstone held tight within by abject bias was the legal tender of
    the day also.

    Wyatt Earp had a reputation as a man not to be trifled with from
    his earlier occupation as lawman-gambler-outlaw. It is said he
    and Morgan ran a house of ‘ill repute’ in Peoria, which I take to be
    in their homestate of Illinois, but could have been in Kansas
    where Wyatt had been a police officer in Wichita. Their wives
    were reputed to be ‘soiled doves’ that worked there.

    One of the Wild West notables in my homestate was Frank ‘Pistol
    Pete’ Eaton, whose image as a mascot is emblazened on three
    western universities colors. Mr. Eaton was a cowboy-lawman-
    shootist claimed by experts to be the fastest man with a gun that
    ever lived. He also served as a deputy sheriff under the
    infamous ‘Hanging Judge’ Rou Parker of Fort Smith, Arkansas.

    In a recording now on tape and CD about two years before he died
    in Perkins, Oklahoma Mr. Eaton said that he met Wyatt Earp in
    Wichita and Wild Bill Hickock in Dodge City in their law
    enforcement capacities. He was in his late teens at the time, but
    with a reputation already that no man would dare challenge. He
    thought highly of both men that he described as gentlemen, but
    with gray clouds hanging over them.

    It was Mr. Eaton’s opinion that all the cowboys behind the OK
    Corral were ‘heeled’ that day, including Tom McLaury and that it
    was a righteous shoot. He also stated that Wyatt Earp and Bill
    Hickock would rather ‘buffalo’, or take down with a sharp rap to
    the head with a pistol barrel than shoot them, as he had
    witnessed them do on several occasions.

    The bottom line is that there was bad blood between not only the
    players but other factions in Tombstone of the day. The
    Tombston Epitaph (Republican) and Nugget (Democrat) helped
    keep the factions riled up with fiery epitomes accusing the other
    of every kind of dirty deed done dirt cheap. Both papers had their
    own desctiption of the event based on their ideological belief.
    Neither side was clean in this affair, having lots of skeletons in
    their personal and collective closets. It was the way of the West in
    those days.

    • Wm Christopher

      I could be wrong, and generally am, But to the best of my knowledge, Wild Bill was never in Dodge. Ive studied Mr Eaton, or tried to. I finally have to decide that he was a great imposter. If anyone has information connecting him to the Marshals of Okla, Id like to see it. Nobody, in my estimation could be, in that day and time, without a car, able to be at all the hotspots, or most of them as Mr Eaton claims he has been. I have to believe that he DID run into people who, either were at those places, or had heard of the stories from others who were there. I wish I was wrong, as hed make a good hero of sorts, IF he had been where he said he had, and done all that he said he had. Has anyone ever mentioned in print in the 1870s, 1880s, 1890s of Mr Eatons handiness with guns? Ive never heard of it.

  7. howard reed

    As an aside. As depicted in the movie ‘Tombstone’ and in eye
    wintess accounts, that Wyatt Earp didn’t shoot Ike Clanton who in
    the heat of the gathering storm ran up to Wyatt unarmed and
    was allowed by Wyatt to leave the scene, Wyatt having seen he
    wasn’t armed attests to his character and reputation thatpretty
    much leaves the loaded question of Tom McLaury not being
    armed during the shootout as moot.

    It has been rightly said in scripture that “Those who live by the
    sword will die by the sword.” All the cast of characters on that
    infamous day, other than Wyatt who died peacefully of old age
    and Doc Holiday who died from the disease that took him out of
    Georgia into the history of the Wild West in Colorado, the rest died
    by the sword turned gun.

  8. bl

    Since Wyatt Earp didn’t shoot Ike Clanton because he was unarmed it seems unlikely he would shoot Tom McLaury for the same reason, After all who was the first man to reach Tom nobody but John Behan enemy no.1 to the Earp’s. How easy to slip the gun from Tom McLaury and say he was unarmed. But, once again over 100 yrs. has passed and the debate goes on and the evidence has long ago disappeared. Leave it to history.

    • Wm Christopher

      I notice that, whether said or not, there seems to be the thought that Wyatt shot Tom. If that is so, then what I say further is moot.
      There are few gunfights in such close an area with so many people present. I wager that if you were to ask a cop at a drug bust gone bad where the shooting starts when they are so close they are checking out the dope as the first round goes off. Id bet that no cop could tell you who shot who. The distance is compariable, the tenseness likely the same. Remember, back in the 1880s, if you got shot, you likely either died, or got something cut off. Lets say the odds then were 33% that you lived the raimander of your life without the use of a limb or its attachments, to the same amount of use you had had before getting shot. 33% That something got cut off, and 33% that you died. That leaves 1% that you got off without a scratch. Also remember that nowadays police have armored protective gear that should somewhat negatate the likelyhood of more rounds being shot off nowadays.
      I was in the Society for Creative Anachronism for 25yrs. Its a medieval historical reenactment group pretty much world wide above the equator and including Austrailia. I taught armoured fighting for 10yrs of that time. Ive been in wars where there was over a thousand on a side. Unfortunatly, it wasnt ours. Because of the limitations of the helms, visability, I would say, was likely about the same, as the distance between the lines was the same as those at the gunfight in Tombstone. I could not tell you, once the proceedings commenced who I struck, as to the design of his armour, Who struck me, if that happened, and with what I was struck with. It all melts into a flow without any concious seam. People would fall dead or wounded and we likely wouldnt know it if they had been standing right beside us. It wouldnt be, till they called a HOLD that we could stop and see who had been hit and they removed. Most, if not all of you people have never been in such a placement. Most tend to think that a person with a gun would conciously think about who they were going to shoot first. Would it be the fastest known shooter in the bunch, Would it be the one most known to hit what he aimed at? Would it be the one who had his gun out across the way, and aimed at you, but who might miss cause they were 25ft away, or the one, 4 ft in front of you just now getting out his gun? Your subconcious knows that you havnt the time to make rational decisions. I would shoot the one right in front of me, hopeing that someone else did the same for the other man, or at least make movements that distracted him enough to reaim at them instead.

      We had spearmen. They wouldnt try to spear the man in front of them. No, they would watch a fighter to the right or left of them. They would be behind their line of shieldmen. If they saw a enemy fighter turn his shield just, say, 4 or 5in away from his neighboring shield, they would try to slide that spear inbetween those shields and into the side of the enemy fighter. That enemy fighter, likely KNEW that the spearman was there, at least at the beginning. He forgot everything once the battle started and the enemy was trying to either beat down his shield so as to get to his head, OR hit one side or the other trying to make an opening. His training taught him to get that shield in as straight a line with his neighboring shields as often and as quickly as possible. That didnt always happen. If it didnt, and the spearman was accurate with his thrust, then the shieldman would drop, He likely couldnt tell you what had got him for awhile, BUT he had to make a decision, to protect himself from the threat immeadiately in front of him, or worry about a longer range threat. Same way with archers, They seldom shot someone in front of them. All they needed was a 4in gap, and to be a good shot and they could do the same as the spearman, abit at a much longer range. Ive sat at campfires after a battle, and people would talk about how many of the enemy they had killed. You might hear the numbers, 3, or 5, or if a knight, maybe 7 or 8. A woman archer might be walking by, hear the conversation and mention her kills, 25, or so. The archers, and to a certain point, the spearmen, but much more the archers, had the time to, as either Wyatt said take as much time as possible, as quickly as possible., or something like that. The shieldmen didnt have that luxury. Same as the combatants in that alley. They subconciously didnt have the luxury of takeing their time. A boxer, dosent hold his punches until he sees a open target. No, he throws as many as possible without looking at where most are going, just hopeing that in doing so, his opponet is so tied up that he dosent see an opening of his own. That is the way of those shooters back then. They tried to throw as much lead, as quickly as possible, in the hopes that either they would hit somebody,, would rattle somebody enough to miss a certain shot. or, that their rapidity would have a machine gun effect. If the first one dont getcha, the next one (hopefully) will.

  9. LiLy

    So silly to make a hero from a murderer. – I mean Wyatt. I’m not surprised he murdered Tom. It’s quite an easy thing for such coward to kill any unarmed man. Hollywood makes us think Wyatt Earp was a hero. He wasn’t, and Holliday wasn’t as well. I’ve read a lot of books and artikles on this topic with many different facts. And I can say just that I hope the Earps’ gang now is all on fire in hell.

    • Paul

      When a policeman tells you to throw up your hands… then throw up your goddam hands! And don’t touch your guns! Or you’ll die!

      There is nothing more to say.

      • benchthis

        I agree, when the Earps came into the alley way, did not Virgle say something to the effect “Raise your hands”… Did the cowboys do so? Every thing I have read about the gun fight, there is no mention of the cowboys obeying a direct order from a US marshall. What part of “Raise your hands” did the cowboys not understand?

        Even today when a law officer asked you to raise you hands…. you need to obey or suffer the choices of your decision.

    • dlsmit1

      Your point would have more validity if you knew how to spell.

  10. Tom Schlegelmilch

    The OK corral got its name from the initials of the owner.

  11. Gary McClaughry

    Being a distant relative of the McLaury family, the story of the OK Corral comes up in my family history book. There are some letters written in there by towns people who witnessed the event. Without getting into all the details of things, everyone should think about a few things.
    Saying that Ike was spared? There were 30 or more shots fired. That means that there were a number of misses. Could it be that Ike was just flat out missed.

    My understanding is that Frank McLaury was shot first since he was known to be the best shot of the group and considered to be the most dangerous with a firearm. If that is so, did he even get a chance to draw his gun?

    Has anyone ever been involved in a gun fight here? How about been around a gun being fired without wearing ear protection\ eye protection all while shooting lead ammunition?

    If you have, then you would know of the effects of tunnel vision when invovled in a gun fight IE Ike being able to run away possibly un noticed especially if is not considered the largest threat. The sound of gun fire is going to affect your hearing after the first shot. The lead ammunition is going to cause splatter especially when being shot from a revolver. This would cause shooters\participants to be squinting and\or trying to cover their eyes from the effects.

    Unfortunatly the evidence processing back during that time is not the same as it is today and we must rely on testimony. Of course the dead people tell no story and the living shooters are not going to want to incriminate themselves. Witnesses might even be scared to testify against one side or the other.

    What is known and proven is that Earp told several lies about things he did in his life as a lawman.

    So we will all have to take what little data we have and come to our own conclusions. It is my conclusion that the McLaury’s were murdered by the Earp faction and I do believe that Tom was unarmed and had left his gun behind.

    • dan smith

      Read the book-The Earps Talk, it is a full court room account of the shoot out and the events that led up to it. The Cowboys, with the help of Behan and several lawyers were systematically stealing land from the rightful property owners through shady dealings-i saw this happen to my own father when I was younger so I know exactly how the townsfolk of Tombstone must have felt having their land stolen from them by a bunch of thugs. The Earps, after seeing what was happening decided to put a stop to it which is what caused much of the conflict between them and the Cowboys. As for Ike Clanton it is well documented by Ike’s own testimony that he ran up to Wyatt during the shoot out proclaiming that he was unarmed to which Wyatt responded for him to heel himself or leave.
      The problem trying to claim that the Mclaury’s and Billy Clanton were unarmed is the fact that wyatt and Doc had bullet holes in their coat tails and Virgil and Morgan were both shot-Morgan twice, that’s. Too many hits for Billy Clanton or one of the Mclaury’s to do on their own it is most likely that all three were firing weapons-that’s just a logical conclusion based on the known facts.

      • Wm Christopher

        I have never heard of this land grabbing that you speak of. Can u tell more about it? Why would Wyatt or his side decide to do anything legally about it. If you believe that he did it cause it was the right thing to do, Well, I guess thats your thoughts. I believe that neither side did anything for nothing. The county belonged to Behan, and I imagine any lawyers that the rustlers used. If a rancher went under, than his ranch would be sold on the courthouse steps. Thats happened to me before. Whoever bought it, then owned it. If a lawful owner got intimidated by the rustlers, well, there would be nothing Wyatt and his bunch could do about it. They were city. Deputy Marshal would have his hands tied also. A rancher might try to involve a marshal, going around Behan, and IF the marshal chose to dig into it, and again as I said above. Why should he, Whats in it for him, Then the marshal might come to see what was going on. He still couldnt legally do anything about it without getting the attorney general involved in it.

      • dan smith

        Wm Christopher, sorry it took so long to reply, as I stated above look for the book , The Earps Talk, it is based on testimony given at the Earp’s and Holliday’s inquest. Most of the book is from newspaper and court room accounts of what led up to the shoot out. Basically what was happening was this, the Clantons and Mclaury’s were in filing lawsuits on properties that were rightfully owned by others in and around Tombstone, with the help of lawyers and the county clerk they systematically stole property from dozens of families-the book explains the whole deal a lot better than I can. Unfortunately it’s been a long time since I’ve read it and I don’t remember all of the particulars. I’ll try to find it so get back with me in a few days.

      • dan smith

        Wm Christoper, BTW it’s been quite some time since I’ve watched Wyatt Earp with Kevin Costner but if my memory serves me correctly I believe that movie touched very lightly on the land grabbing matter.

      • dan smith

        What happened by my recollection is this, the Clantons and Mclaurys along with their lawyers had the courts declare many of the property surveys within and around Tombstone incorrect thereby voiding the homeowner’s deeds after which they would go directly to the title office and snatch the properties up for very little, this is exactly what happened to my father when I was a kid. The Earps intervened because they had a sense of duty to protect law abiding citizens-most of the stuff about the Earps being of questionable character is total fiction. For instance, after Curly Bill shoot Fred White Wyatt saved Curly not only from being lynched but also testified on Curly Bill’s behalf that it was an accidental shooting. After the shoot out at the OK Corral Doc Holliday went back to his room and said to Kate that it was awful and wept.

      • dan smith

        The colt buntline special was actually a myth created by Stuart Lake in his book Wyatt Earp Frontier Marshall. There never was a gun produced by Colt called a buntline. The gun Wyatt carried in the OK Corral shootout was actually a late 1860’s model Smith & Wesson given to him by Mayor Clum, I’m not sure about the caliber but I believe it was a 44caliber.

    • dan smith

      There is actually no proof the Earp lied about anything he did. There is proof that Stuart Lake and the others who wrote about Wyatt’s exploits did a lot of embellishing to sell their books but Wyatt himself denied much of what they had written to the day he died, except for Stuart’s book which wasn’t published until years after wyatt’s death. Towards the end Wyatt actually wanted to be left alone and for the tales of his exploits to just go away.

      • Gary P

        Hey guys there is also mention of the land swindles going on right in town in the Fred Dodge story “Undercover for Wells Fargo” a very good read. He was very partial to the Earps and he was a dedicated law and order type guy. Even the Earps didn’t know he was undercover!

    • Daniel Webster

      The bartender confirms that Tom left his gun with him. Think about the logic of just happening on another gun. Even so Wyatt did not kill Tom Holliday did. It was stated that before the fight Wyatt coming out of court and in a foul mood with Ike and him having words. Multiple witnesses heard Wyatt say pull your gun and start fighting Tom replied he had no gun so our beloved wyatt started beating Tom brutally with a pistol. This is not debatable as the 1 sided fight was witnessed by numerous witnesses. The corall fight happened right afterwards no chance for a magical gun. I have always said and just think about it for a moment their was rifles on Frank and Billys horses had they been looking for a fight it would be incrdibly foolish not to have hese in their hands as the fight would have been much different. They could have wiped the Earps off before they ever got in pistol range. Finally I read other mens notes and memoirs and found the question I have always asked if looking for a fight why the rifles are not in hand. Billy and Frank ateleast was apparently leaving town, hence the horses. Credible men during the day said fair fight no the earps hunted them up and killed them otherwise they would have used their rifles. Also their was a documentary on tv that said wyatt started it of saying you sons of bitches have been looking for a fight and now you can have it. They proved many of the earps statements as false. For example a shot at Tom from 10 feet wouldnt have left the same spread pattern he had to have been atleast 18 feet from Tom. Currently their is speculation that when Virgil said no I dont mean that he instead of talking to the cowboys he was talking to Doc and the click click mentioned in the newspapers was from Docs double barreled shotgun. They also didnt call several impartial witnesses who told the earps to their faces said they wouldnt hurt the earps but they would hang holliday as they saw that he started the fight. These facts remain if the cowboys (actually flashy dressers and wealthy ranchers) were spoiling for a fight they were obviously ill prepared, Toms gun was locked in a safe always was and always has been. Tom had 1 wound a shotgun wound, Billy was hit several times by Morgan and Frank had 1 stomach wound by wyatt and 1 head wound by morgan. So Technically atleast wyatt didnt kill anyone. Also painfuuly obvious Doc atleast should have been hung if you belive the numerous witnesses. Of course to do that you have to believe that wyatt and virgil lied to protect Doc.

  12. Neal Hilt

    Tom had a gun. Morgan was shot twice. Virgil was shot. Holiday was nicked. Ike ran out of it. Frank was shot. Tom was shot. Billy was shot. Billy Claiborn ran out of it. If Tom didn’t have a gun then the two Frank M and Billy C did all that and were known as not to be gunmen? Your going to shoot the one’s that are shooting you.

  13. Rita Alsabrook

    The article is a look back into history. The opinions posted here are interesting. I would’ve liked to have read opinions from the Earp family also.

  14. Dwight LeBlue

    It is unfortunate that the three who died at the gunfight were not even the real troublemakers or directly involved in the threats being made against the Earps. That being said Wyatt Earp did not shoot an unarmed man, Ike Clanton. That speaks loudly. One could say with tunnel vision and Ike running at and grabbing Wyatt that it would have been easier for Wyatt to shoot Ike, but he didn’t. There is a book called Wyatt Earp: The Life Behind the Lenged written by Casey Tefertiller. The book shows that Wyatt never lied about the things he had done and provides names of witnesses to the facts. It shows Wyatt lied more about his misdeeds then he did at bragging himself up about his exploits. But it shows that Stuart Lake who was Wyatt Earp’s biographer greatly exaggerated these events himself which makes Wyatt appear as a liar. The exaggeration being done to sell a book. This was years after Wyatt died and could not correct errors or defend his name. The gun fight was a stand up face to face fight where both sides had a chance not unlike Virgil Earp who was shot by hidden assassins in a vacant lot or Morgan Earp who was shot in the back while playing pool. I try to look at the facts. Wyatt did not shoot an unarmed Ike Clanton even when Clanton grabbed onto Wyatt in the middle of a gun fight. Even after the fight Wyatt Earp did not go around looking to fight. It was the cowboy faction that shot and crippled Virgil Earp from hiding. It was the cowboy faction that murdered Morgan Earp shooting him in the back like assassins. Wyatt Earp committed murder going on his vendetta ride after those attacks on his family and I can’t say I wouldn’t have done the same thing had I been in his shoes in 1882.

  15. W. Hughes

    Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of the Earps and Holiday for a moment: Here we are, outsiders who are officers in the last frontier town in a land where bandits are being pushed further west by civilized law and order.

    The townspeople, merchants who are confederates with the cowboys because they’re milking them of all of their money before heading out to live out their days in a peaceful, real city – aren’t very fond of us for standing up to them! And we are receiving verbal threats of being killed by Ike Clanton (on a daily basis) and Tom McClaury!

    We are the town police – yet nobody likes us! We’re outsiders. We’re getting death threats from the faction that murders and rustles cattle! Everywhere we go, we’re lible to get shot at!

    And then the night before the big event, Ike goes around town and tells anyone who’ll listen that we’ll be shot on-site! And then that afternoon, two people approach us and tell us that the cowboys are armed and are getting ready to “clean us out.” And since they’re breaking the law by carrying their firearms – We believe they mean business!

    We’re scared! Enough of this crap! We’re tired of being threatened with our lives by these outlaws! Let’s end this once and for all and be done with it!

    Ike Clanton is the one who started this mess!!! It is why Wyatt Earp refused to even discuss him specifically many years later! According to Flood – he even refused to place him on his diagram of the shootout.

    If you take Ike Clanton out of the equation – the shootout would not have occurred the way it did! He was a coward pure and simple! He not only started the fight, but he ran and left his brother there to die!

    For me, it doesn’t matter who shot the first shot; or even whether or not Tom McClaury had a gun and was shooting with it! Tom McClaury threatened to kill Wyatt Earp just hours before the fight!

    What matters to me is the fact that they were all arrayed against the Earps and Holiday! They threatened to kill them and they had guns on them! The Earps and Holiday, as tough as everyone makes them to be – were scared! And they felt very cornered!!! They were told by two people that morning that the cowboys were gunnin’ for them. And by the time the Earps and Holiday arrived – they were locked and loaded!

    The cowboys, and Ike Clanton in particular, made a big mistake! They underestimated the Earps! They thought they could run their big mouths and get the usual result of establishing their supremacy in the land!

    And after the fight, the Earps made a horrible mistake! They should have gotten the hell out of there!!!

    • Gary P

      Your exactly right, and also forgot to mention, what I have never heard put in these words either is the fact that after Ike was threatening the Earps and Holiday for hours and the night before the fight, claiming that “in the morning The Ball will open” they (the cowboys) all just happened to be gathering just outside the door where Holiday lived!! Only a few blocks from where the Earps lived. What would you think if you were in their shoes??

  16. Wild Bill

    Alright, so its been stated that they were standing in a kind of line 5ft apart. That means their guns, if shooting the person directly in front of them would almost pass each other Earp Faction to Cowboy. How one can miss their target at that range is anybodys guess. I am going to assume that, cause the enemy right in front of me is so close that I shouldnt miss, I can try to scan at the rest of the enemy, or perhaps one in particular, and see where their lead is headed. That could cause me to miss. Kinda like driveing a car, and looking at something out the side glass. Soon your out of your lane. Now, its said that in 30 seconds, 30 shots were fired.If anybody can tell me the makes and calibers, years, ect of the firearms used, and who used which, I would be grateful. I think that most people devide up the shots giving 15 to each side, and then try to devide up the 15 amongst the people on each side. Im thinking thats wrong. Since the cowboy side expired first, I would assume they wernt standing long enough to shoot their allotted 15 shots. So, I would give a greater proportion of the shots to the Earps. The question, is, how many? Also, if everybody ever decides whether Tom had a gun or not would greatly help place the number of shots fired on his side. IF we can nail down who fired what , and at whom ( though, we could live at the time without knowing that), and how many times that participant fired, Then it would be easy to allot the rest to the Earps.
    Well, lets leave the number of shots fired by the Cowboy side in limbo a bit. Lets weed out the cowboys who decided it wasnt their fight. That takes out Wes Fuller, and Ike. and Billy Claibourne. They skipped without fireing a shot.That leaves just 3 to unload all those shots. If tom didnt have a gun, or didnt make much use of it, that just makes 2. Billy Clanton and Frank.. We know Billy dumped his gun cause he was trying to reload it at the end. Thats 6 shots, or 5 if he knew about OSHA. Lets give Frank say 2 or 3.. Lets give Tom 1 just to keep him in the game. Thats 8 to 10 shots on the Cowboys side.
    That then gives say 20 to the Earps. There were 4 in their party makeing 5 for each side. If we take one each from the 3 hit, that makes them 4 each and gives Wyatt 8. Ive heard that Wyatt had 2 pistols there. One a 45 or 44 Colt, and one a converted Remington of likely caliber. That would give him 10, though I would think all 4 loaded up to the max before heading down there. So, him haveing 12 shots available, useing 8 of them wouldnt be any great thing.
    Useing my 36 Navy and Remington, I found small targets to take aim at. I had my watch sat up to time it. I picked small targets to make it take me more time to line them up, equaling the decisions made in whether to shoot the one in front, or take aim at one across from me, but takeing aim at me. It took 21 secs to get off 8 shots . So, seeing that, It wouldnt be any fast feat I would think for Wyatt to get off 8 in 30. secs. But then, what do I know

  17. Gary P

    Two cartridges were left in Franks gun and yes Billy emptied his, but most likely 5 rounds. So I can’t see these two guys doing all the damage to the Earps and Holiday especially Billy being wounded and falling all around, most likely firing wildly. So my guess is that Tom had a gun also and per Wyatt and fired twice from over the horse.

    I also read somewhere that there were reports that an unknown person fired two shots from behind Fly’s at the Earps?

    Also keep in mind both barrels of Docs shotgun. I can count 30 rounds easy.

    Must have been one hell of a shoot out! Probably like a 30 second string of loud fire crackers going off!

  18. Jim

    Was Tom Mclaury armed ?,We know that both he and Ike Clanton had both been pistol whipped and disarmed by the Earp’s earlier that day and that Ike Clanton had been in court,which is why neither of them were armed at the time of the gun battle and still probably showing the effects of their beating,Tom was killed by Doc Holliday as the coroner report states he was killed by a shotgun blast. At best the “cowboy” side only had two members carrying side arms where the police had four armed men and with Holliday carrying the scatter gun a decided edge in fire power.So if you take into account the treatment of Clanton and McLaury earlier that day and then the confrontation at the vacant lot it would be understandable for Frank McLaury and Billy Clanton to be hesitant to give their weapons to the Earps and with Holliday there who was a notorious hot head and whose being there showed either poor judgement by Virgil Earp or intent to have a fight

  19. dave stephens

    The 2 paragraphs in the article both refer to the man across Fremont St, Frank. And according to Ham Light Tom got blasted right away and ran to the corner and fell. He didn’t get very far.

  20. Wm Christopher

    About all I can se to say is that, I believe that the cowboys had the time to load all 6 in their pistols. They surely would have done so when Behan told them the Earps were comeing in force. If a bystander could see Docs Shotgun a County Sheriff surely could.

    Next. If Clum gave Wyett a gun, does that mean that Ive got to believe that Wyatt was walking towards a gunfight he hoped would culimate in the demise of the cowboys, AND HE DIDNT HAVE HIS OWN GUN??? Come on now. Be real. If Ive got to believe that Clum gave him a pistol, and ive heard it was a converted cap and ball Remington, Im going to believe that Wyatt already had his own pistol even if he didnt have already 2, and even if he did have 2 one of them wasnt a cavelry length model Colt. Im going to believe that if Clum gave him his pistol, Then Wyett had 2, whether he used both or not. I dont have the idea that Wyatt came to Tombstone from Dodge with 2 guns on his person. I think thats just TV.

  21. stephen king


  22. lyndon

    How many men did Doc. Holliday slay?

    Was their a reference to him in Django Unchained?

    I’m referring to the Viennese dentitst turned gunfighter and bounty hunter?


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