Chronicles of Tombstone's TurbulEnt Years

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Wyatt Earp’s Tribute to Bat Masterson, The Hero of ‘Dobe Walls

 

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The Examiner

~San Francisco~

Sunday Morning

August 16, 1896

 

Wyatt Earp’s Tribute to Bat Masterson, The Hero of ‘Dobe Walls

 

Five men, riding to the summit of a knoll, caught sight of a deserted adobe house in a hollow at their feet. As the sun sank toward the edge of the prairie they found their refuge for the night.

 

The solitude of the building was more painful than the solitude of the plains; the yellowish walls glimmered like the walls of a vault in the gloom that had settled in the hollow as sediment settles in a glass. But those things did not matter, for there was water close by, and those grim walls were thick enough to stop bullets as well as arrows.

 

The five men watered their weary horses at the creek, and then drove picket-pins into the ground within a stone’s throw of the house, where there was plenty of grass, and tethered the animals thereto with their lariats. Next they unlimbered their heavy saddles and carried them into the house. The plainsman’s saddle is more precious to him than jewels. In this case, bacon, coffee and army biscuit were involved. More important still, there was ammunition, and plenty of it.

 

It was a quarter of a century ago. The five men were scouts, carrying dispatches from Dodge City to Camp Supply, through a country depopulated, and laid waste by the Cheyennes. Their camping place was within forty miles of Camp Supply, in the heart of that No-Man’s Land known as the Panhandle of Texas.

 

When the first rays of sun came slanting over the prairie one of the men went out to water the horses, while his comrades prepared breakfast. Ping! A rifle shot startled the solitude. The four men rushed to the door. The fifth was laying face downward two hundred yards from the house. The horses were plunging and tugging at the ropes. In another second or two they had broken lariats or torn up picket-pins and galloped madly away. A horse can smell an Indian.

 

Another moment, and a hail of bullets and arrows spattered against the ‘dobe walls. Then five hundred yelling Indians galloped from behind a knoll and charged the building.

 

The four surviving scouts were ready for them. Everything was orderly and precise. It did not need that many words were spoken. What few laconic orders were given came from the youngest boy in the party. He was a mere boy -a bright, sturdy boy, whose wide, round eyes expressed the alert pugnacity of a blooded bull-terrier. To look at him one could not doubt that nature had molded him for a fighter.

 

The plan of defense was very simple. Like all buildings in that wild country, the old ‘dobe-house was provided with portholes on every side. It was a question of shooting fast and shooting straight through those portholes, and the scouts knew how to shoot both fast and straight. The fire was more than the Cheyennes could stand. With a baffled yell they wheeled and retreated, picking up their killed and wounded as they galloped to cover behind one of the many knolls that encompassed the house like the mighty billows of a frozen ocean.

 

That one charge was the history of the day. It was repeated again and again, first on one side of the house and then on another. Each charge found the scouts prepared, and each time the Indians carried a dozen or more of their dead off the field.

 

Toward evening there was a brief breathing spell.

 

“I’m going to bring him in,” said the youngest scout -the boy with the bull-terrier eyes- pointing at the body lying on its face near the stampeded picket.

 

“Better not try, Bat. They’ll get ye, sure.”

 

“We can’t leave him lying there like that.”

 

And taking his rifle in his hand the boy went. He ran out under fire and he staggered back under fire with the body in his arms.

 

More charges, followed by a sleepless night, to guard against surprises. And at day break the fighting began again. Never before were Indians known to make such a stubborn fight. Never before did such a handful hold such a horde at bay. The face of the plain was befreckled with blood up to a radius of fifty yards of the house, but how many dead Indians had been carried off the beleaguered men had no means of knowing. One of them had his leg half shot away and all were sick from exhaustion, when at midafternoon a company of cavalry came riding over the plain and the Indians fled.

 

Thus was fought the “battle of ‘dobe walls,” the event which made young Bat Masterson a hero on the frontier.

 

It was not long afterward that Bat drifted to Sweetwater, where he became a lively citizen of as lively a town as ever subsisted on the patronage of a frontier army post. Bat was no more a laggard in love than he was a dastard in war, and Annie Chambers was proud of her handsome little hero as he was fond of his dashing, red-haired beauty. I had never met Bat at that time, but I had known Annie both in Leavenworth and Ellsworth. She was a fine a girl as ever set a frontier town by the ears, and she was better educated than most women of her kind.

 

Sergeant King, one of the most notorious bullies and gun fighters in the army, wanted to dance with Annie one night, and because she refused he pulled his six-shooter and shot her in the breast. Even as she fell, dying, into Bat’s arms the latter jerked his gun on the soldier and shot him dead, but not before King had pumped some lead into Bat’s groin.

 

That was one of the killings for which Bat Masterson has been held up by some ignorant writers as a shocking example of ferocity and lawlessness. But of the many men he killed there was not one who was not in the wrong, and not one who did not start in with the best of the fight. Shocking as it may seem to civilized souls, we had our crude code of honor on the frontier. When I speak of a fair fighter I mean who will not fight for what he knows to be a bad cause, and who will not take his enemy at a disadvantage. Such a man is Bat Masterson.

 

Bat was acquitted, of course, and soon afterward came over to Dodge City, where I had just been installed as City Marshal.

 

His fame as a hero of ‘dobe walls and the slayer of Sergeant King had preceded Bat to Dodge, and he attracted no end of respectful attention as he limped from one gambling house to another, still pale and weak from the effect of King’s bullet. Bat was somewhat of a dandy in those days, but before all else he was a man. Not that his physique entitled him to attention beyond other men, for in his case nature had packed a big consignment of dynamic energy into a small compass and corded it up tight. But there was something in the way his bullet-shaped head was mounted on his square shoulders, something in the grain of his crisp, wiry hair, something in the tilt of his short nose that bespoke an animal courage such as not every man is endowed withal.

 

Mere animal courage has made many a man a brute and an assassin. But Bat Masterson had a wealth of saving graces which shone from the honest fullness of his face. I have already spoken of his eyes. They were well-nigh unendurable in conflict -so bold, to bright, so unmitigable was their gaze, but n moments of peace they danced with mischief, with generosity, with affection. A small and carefully nurtured coal-black mustache half hid a mouth which was readier to soften in mirth than to harden in anger, and the stubborn chin beneath was cleft with the dimple that physiognomists interpret as the symbol of a kindly heart.

 

In moving from Wichita to take the Marshalship of Dodge City at my own salary I had stipulated that I should have the appointment of my own police force. A fair judge of manhood as I esteemed myself, what wonder that I should have fastened hungry official eyes upon the hero of ‘dobe walls.

 

“Bat,” said I, “will you join the force?”

“I’d like it first-rate,” he replied.

 

“Then throw away that cane and get to work,” I said.

 

And forthwith Bat was sworn in to protect the peace.

 

During the summer that he served with me -before he ran for Sheriff and was elected- stirring events came to pass in Dodge City. And like the Arizona feud of which I have already written, they all arose out of one small incident. That incident was the killing of “The Nightingale.”

 

One night a Texan desperado named Kennedy was diverting himself at a dancehall by flourishing his six-shooter. Mayor Kelly happened to be there, and as there was no officer present to restrain the Texan he took it upon himself to interfere.

 

“You’d better give them guns to the bartender, my boy,” he said, kindly, “or some of my officers will arrest ye.”

 

Kennedy resented the suggestion and there was a dispute. But there was no word or thought of killing at that time. The Mayor’s remonstrance in Kennedy’s mind, however, and at 2 o’clock in the morning he started out to kill the Chief Executive.

 

So mounting his horse, so as to be in readiness for flight, the Texan rode down to the house where Kelly lived. The room where the Mayor and his wife slept opened on to the street, and Kennedy knew the direction in which the bed lay at the opposite end of the room. On the other side of a slender partition was another bed, occupied by Willett and his wife. Willett was a clerk for a neighboring grocer, his wife was a vaudeville woman of varied experience on the frontier, and so sweet a singer that she was called “The Nightingale.” Ask any man who knew Deadwood or Dodge in its prime to tell you how she sang “Killarney.”

 

And so, making a careful estimation of the elevation of the Mayor’s bed, Kennedy began to empty his Winchester through the panels of the door. He calculated well, for two bullets went through the down comforter under which the Kellys slumbered. Nearly all the shots penetrated the partition behind their bed.

 

About the time Willett half awoke and turned over on his side, throwing his arm around his wife. At his touch her body fluttered like that of a wounded bird, and something bubbled in her throat. Willett was wide awake in and instant -he did not know why. His hand touched something wet on her breast and he asked her what it was, but there was no reply. It was blood upon the woman’s breast. A bullet had torn its way clear through her body. The Nightingale was dead.

 

Poor Willett ran over to me and I pulled on my clothes in a hurry. The only house where there was a light on was the Long Branch saloon, so I went in there for information. Kennedy was there, sitting on a monte table, swinging his legs.

 

“Was he here when the shots were fired?” I whispered to the bartender.

 

“For God’s sake don’t say anything here,” was the reply. “Come into the back room and I’ll tell you all about it.”

 

“Kennedy’s the man,” he continued excitedly, when he had retired out of earshot. “He left here with another man just before the shooting and immediately afterward he came in the back way and took a big drink of whisky.”

 

I ran back into the bar, but Kennedy had gone.

 

Bat joined me just then. He had been down to the house and the Mayor had told him all about the trouble in the dance hall. In searching the town for Kennedy we ran across the man in whose company he had left the saloon, and this fellow more than confirmed our suspicions of the Texan’s guilt. Moreover, he led us to the alley where the murderer had tied his horse, and from there we picked up a clear trial leading out of the city.

 

At daylight Bat, Bill Tillman and I started out on the trail, taking this man along with us. For two days we followed it across the prairie toward the Texas border, and then a heavy rainstorm came up and swept away all vestige of a hoofprint.

 

At a distance of nearly 100 miles from Dodge we made a circuit of fifteen miles in order to get to a ranch for the night.

 

“Some of these here Texans are going home pretty early, ain’t they?” was the ranchman’s greeting. “Kennedy was here yesterday afternoon, and he seemed in a hurry, too.”

 

Thus we picked up another trail, only to lose it again the next day, when we were overtaken by more rain. In this predicament we made for a ranch twenty miles further on and reached the place at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. Our horses were fagged out, so we turned them out to grass and prepared to rest ourselves. After a while we caught sight of a horseman four or five miles away across the prairie, evidently making for the ranch. We watched him with idle curiosity, and when he came within a couple of miles of us Bat said, with conviction: “That’s Kennedy. I know him by the way he rides, and besides, I know his horse.” And when the stranger had arrived within a mile of the ranch we all new that Bat, who had the eye of a hawk, was right.

 

Our horses were scattered over the pasture and it was too late to attempt to capture them. We agreed that it would be unwise to wait until Kennedy should get too close, lest he should recognize our horses and wheel in his tracks. So we ambushed ourselves behind a heap of earth that had been thrown out to form a new well, first agreeing that if he should scent danger and turn to make a run for it I should kill the horse and Bat attend to the man.

 

When he came within seventy-five yards of us we rose up and called on him to halt. He whipped out his gun, firing at us as he wheeled his horse. True to our agreement I shot the horse, which dropped just as Bat put a bullet in Kennedy’s shoulder.

 

Well, we took away his six-shooters and his Winchester, hired a team and drove him back to Dodge. But the brute was never convicted. He was a son of a multi-millionaire cattleman by a Mexican mother, and his father’s money procured him endless delays, and finally an acquittal.

 

But the incidents connected with the wounding and capture of Kennedy for the murder of the Nightingale deepened the hatred bestowed upon Bat Masterson and myself by the Texan rustlers, from whose violence we tried to protect the citizens of Dodge. Dodge had become the center of the cattle trade then, and the periodic incursions of cowboys, whose chief ambition was to be able to go back to Texas and boast of having “killed an orf’cer” were the curse of the community. The townspeople hated the Texans, and the Texans despised the townspeople. In the vernacular of the feud the Southerners were “long horns,” the Northerners “short horns.”

 

It was after Bat Masterson had been returned as Sheriff that I paid a visit to Mexico, during which I first met Doc Holliday and his Big-nose Kate, as told in a previous story. During my absence Ed Masterson, Bat’s elder brother, acted as my deputy. A crowd of cowboys started shooting in the Birdcage dance hall one night, and Ed went over to see about it. He disarmed them all and made them pile their guns behind the bar. Then he returned across the deadline -the avenue formed by the railroad tracks, which decided the decent from the disreputable part of the town. Not long afterward, however, the cowboys recovered their six-shooters and began firing again. Ed went back to restore order and tried to disarm the first cowboy he encountered. The two men were scuffling for possession of the gun, when another cowboy fired at Ed Masterson and killed him.

 

Just at that moment Bat Masterson had appeared, attracted by the shooting. He saw his brother fall, and with a quick drop killed the man who had fired the shot. The rest began to run away, shooting, and Bat winged the man with whom Ed had been scuffling. He died a few days later, while they were taking him back to Texas.

 

Thus was perpetrated another of the so-called atrocities with which the hero of ‘dobe walls was to be reproached in after years by writers whose knowledge of the frontier was derived from Bowery melodramas.

 

In view of the bloody confrontations closing in on my narrative, it is high time that I introduce Bob Wright, the deus-ex-machina of much of the violent work that followed. Bob Wright was a tower of strength to the Texas faction. He had lived in their country and he depended on their patronage for the prosperity of his store, which was one of the largest in the city. He was a legislator, too -duly elected representative from the county.

 

Bob Wright sought to interfere with me one night because I was taking one ill-behaved cattleman, who happened to be worth some millions of dollars, to the calaboose. My prisoner had tried to kill an inoffensive Dutch fiddler for not playing his favorite tune often enough to please him. The cattleman appealed to Wright, and Wright threatened to have me put off the city force if I persisted in the arrest. The upshot of it was that I threw Wright into the calaboose to keep his friend company for the night. It was soon after that incident that the Texans began to hatch plots to kill me by foul means or fair -preferably the former.

 

The first attempt fell to the lot of a desperado named Hoyt, who was no ‘prentice in the art of assassination. I was standing on the sidewalk outside a saloon one bright moonlight night, talking to Eddie Foy, who was leaning against the doorway, when Hoyt came riding down the street on a white horse. I noticed that he had his right hand by his side, but did not suspect anything until he came within ten steps of where I was standing. Then he threw his gun over like lightning and took a shot at me. By the time he was on a level with me he had taken another shot, but both missed.

 

I ran out, intending to pull him off his horse, and, failing that, I tried to grab his horse’s tail as it passed me. But the horse was too quick for me, and as Hoyt dug in his spurs he wheeled in his saddle and fired at me again. With that I crouched down in the middle of the road for a steady aim, and emptied my gun after him as he tore down the road. I saw him disappear over the bridge that spanned the Arkansas river, and made sure I had missed him. But five minutes later, when I was telling the story to Bat Masterson and a crowd of citizens, the white horse came galloping back, mounted by a boy, who told us that its rider was lying, badly shot, just beyond the bridge. Half suspecting an ambush, Bat and I took shotguns and went back with the boy. There, sure enough, was Hoyt, full of lead and remorse, and groaning most dolefully. Two or three days later he died.

 

This episode was not without its humorous side, for to this day Eddie Foy, the comedian, is fond of telling how, at the first shot, he threw himself under a monte table and stayed there till the shooting was over.

 

Undeterred by Hoyt’s fate, the plotters sent for Clay Allison, and the noted Colorado gun-fighter hastened to Dodge City to kill the City Marshal. Let not the gentle reader, unused to frontier ways, jump to the conclusion that Allison was a hired bravo. It was reputation he was after, not money. To have killed me would have meant for him to bask in the chaste effulgence of frontier fame for the rest of his days.

 

And so Clay Allison came to town, and for a whole day behaved like a veritable Chesterfield. But the next morning one of my policemen woke me up to tell me that the bad man from Colorado was loaded up with rum and searching for me everywhere with a pair of six-shooters and a mouthful of threats. Straightway I put my guns on and went down the street with Bat Masterson. Now, Bat had a shotgun in the District Attorney’s office, which was behind a drug store just opposite Wright’s store. He thought the weapon might come in handy in case of trouble, so he skipped across the street to get it. But not caring to be seen with such a weapon before there was any occasion for it, he stayed over there, talking to some people outside the drug store, while I went into Webster’s saloon looking for Allison. I saw at a glance that my man wasn’t there, and had just reached the sidewalk to turn into the Long Branch, next door, when I met him face to face.

 

We greeted each other with caution thinly veiled with insouciance, and as we spoke backed carelessly up against the wall, I on his right. There we stood, measuring each other with sideway glances. An onlooker across the street might have thought that we were old friends.

 

“So,” said Allison truculently, “you’re the man that killed my friend Hoyt!”

 

“Yes, I guess I’m the man you’re looking for,” I said.

 

His right hand was stealing round to his pistol pocket, but I made no move. Only I watched him narrowly. With my own right hand I had a firm grip on my six-shooter, and with my left I was ready to grab Allison’s gun the moment he jerked it out. He studied the situation in all its bearings for the space of a second or two. I saw the change in his face.

 

“I guess I’ll go round the corner,” he said abruptly.

 

“I guess you’d better,” I replied.

 

And he went.

 

In the meantime ten or a dozen of the worst Texans in town were lying low in Bob Wright’s store, with their Winchesters, ready to cover Allison’s retreat out of town, or help him in the killing, if necessary. From where he had stationed himself Bat Masterson could see them, but I did not know they were there. After the encounter with Allison I moved up the street and would have passed Bob Wright’s door had not Bat, from across the street, signalled to me to keep out of range. A moment later Allison who had mounted on his horse, rode out in front of Webster’s and called to me.

 

“Come over here, Wyatt,” he said, “I want to talk to you.”

 

“I can hear you all right here,” I replied, “I think you came here to make a fight with me, and if you did you can have it right now.”

 

Several friends of mine wanted me to take a shotgun, but I thought I could kill him all right with a six-shooter. At that moment Bob Wright came running down the street to urge Allison to get out of town. He had experienced a sudden change of heart because Bat had crossed over to him with these portentous words: “If this fight comes up, Wright, you’re the first man I’m going to kill.” Allison listened to the legislator’s entreaties with a scowl.

 

“Well, I don’t like you any too well,” he said. “There were a lot of your friends to be here this morning to help me out, but I don’t see them round now.”

“Earp,” he continued, turning to me and raising his voice. “I believe you’re a pretty good man from what I’ve seen of you. Do you know that these coyotes sent for me to make a fight with you and kill you? Well, I’m going to ride out of town, and I wish you good luck.”

 

And so Clay Allison made his exit. Ten days later he reappeared within a mile of town and sent a messenger asking my permission to come into Dodge and attend to some business regarding his cattle. I

 

sent him word that he was welcome to come so long as he behaved himself. He availed himself of the offer, and for two weeks behaved like an exemplary citizen. It was a fourteen days’ wonder, for Allison had never in his life before conducted himself like a Christian. Indeed, it had been his practice to force every store, saloon and bank other than those he patronized to close up during such time as he honored a frontier town with a visit.

 

A year of two later Allison came to an ignominious end by falling off a wagon and breaking his neck.

 

It was a day or two after my bloodless encounter with the famous Colorado fighter that Wright came up to me with the olive branch, made a clean breast of the Hoyt and Allison conspiracies, and offered me his friendship in return for my protection from his erstwhile friends, the Texans.

 

Even the Allison adventure was topped off with an epilogue of a grimly humorous kind, which I cannot forbear telling. Bat Masterson was speculating on the havoc his shotgun would have wreaked in the ranks of the cowboys if he had enjoyed the chance to use it that morning, and for the sake of a change of air and a little target practice he and I rode out of town, upended a broad plank and began firing at it. First of all Bat fired both barrels of his shotgun, which was loaded just as he had picked it up in the District Attorney’s office when I was looking for Allison. Walking up to the board he found to his dismay that the gun had not been loaded with buckshot, as he thought, but with the finest of birdshot. Somebody, he afterwards learned, had borrowed the gun for a day’s sport, and had left it loaded on returning it to its place.

 

“It would have been just the same,” grumbled Bat, “if a good man’s life had depended on the charge in that gun.”

 

And now for the last, but not the least, dramatic episode by which Bat’s memory and mine are linked with Dodge City -not the Dodge City of cowboy revelry and bloodshed, but the Dodge City of what I can’t help thinking a decadent if more decorous era.

 

As the town grew civilized Bat Masterson and I drifted to Tombstone. Jim Masterson, another of Bat’s brothers, remained in Dodge, a partner with Uptograph and Peacock in the possession of a saloon and gambling house. Jim had a dispute with his partners about the division of profits, and three or four of their creatures jumped on him. He escaped to his room with the intention of getting a gun and they surrounded the place, keeping him prisoner a whole day. Some of his friends telegraphed for Bat, and he traveled the 1,500 miles to make a fight with his brother’s enemies.

 

He arrived in Dodge at 9 o’clock one morning, and had hardly stepped from the train hen the other faction, who knew of his coming, started across the deadline to meet him. When they got within fifty yards of him they gave him a shot or two by way of welcome, and he returned the fire with such effect as to inflict a mortal wound on Uptograph.

 

Thereupon Mayor Webster appeared with a double-barreled shotgun and arrested Bat, who was afterwards fined $10 and ordered to leave Dodge for the rest of his life. You see, Dodge had become so civilized that it had no further use for the men who had been its best protection in the days of the Texan terror.

 

It was not long after Bat’s banishment that this very Webster, the Mayor, fell foul of another frontiersman -no less redoubtable a gambler and gun-fighter than Luke Short. Luke and a man named Harris kept a gambling house next door to the one kept by the Mayor, and as Luke was well known In Texas and all over the frontier they had enjoyed most of the patronage. In order to harass his rivals the Mayor had an ordinance passed denying woman free access to the saloons -a prerogative which they had heretofore enjoyed in Dodge. Moreover, he secured a piano to add to the attractions of his own place and imported a professor to play it.

 

Short and Harris promptly furnished themselves with a handsome piano and hired two girls to play and sing. Webster ordered a policeman to arrest these girls, and they were taken to the calaboose. Luke went over to bail them out, but the policemen refused to accept his bonds. In the argument that ensued the policeman fired at Luke and Luke shot the policeman in the leg.

 

Thereupon Webster organized a shotgun brigade among his friends, and in the morning they marched Luke down to the depot, bundled him on board a train, and warned him never to return to Dodge City. Apart from the ignominy of the thing and the natural desire to get square with his enemy, this was serious matter for Luke, who had been dragged away from a profitable business in the city. So he telegraphed to Bat Masterson, and the pair of them, inspired by mutual friendship and a common grievance, tried to devise measures by which they could force the authorities of Dodge to receive them with the distinguished consideration which they conceived to be their due. Among other measures, they laid their grievance before the Governor of the State, who expressed his entire sympathy with them, and advised them to fight their way into the city if necessary.

 

In this extremity they resolved to get my assistance, and Bat jumped on a train for Silverton, Col., where I was living at the time. (It should be understood that all this happened subsequent to the vendetta which resulted in my leaving Arizona.)

 

Well, I was only too ready for anything with a spice of adventure in it, and especially for a chance to help two old friends. In particular I was indignant at the ingratitude with which Bat Masterson had been served by the city he had protected so well in its darkest hours. So I gathered around me a company of rough diamonds who had seen me through many a tough fight in Arizona, and started for Dodge City. Bat stopped off at Trinidad, for it was agreed that I and my merry men should go on alone to make terms with the enemy. Luke Short was at Wichita.

 

Our train got to Dodge at 10 o’clock in the morning and we marched up the street to Luke’s saloon, I with my Wells-Fargo shotgun and my men with their Winchesters. Body of Bacchus! No wonder Dodge City rubbed its eyes. There was Milsap, there was Shotgun Collins, there was Shoot-Your-Eye-Out Jack, who wore his hair down to his waist; and there was Crooked-Mouth Green, whose features had been so mutilated by a bullet that his mouth extended round to the back of his head. Faithful followers and quick fighters, every one of ‘em.

 

We met the District Attorney going up the street and his face wore a careworn, “come ye in peace now or come ye in war” look as he exclaimed:

 

“My God, Wyatt! Who are those people you’ve got with you?”

 

“Oh,” said I, carelessly, “they’re just some bushwackers I’ve brought over from Colorado to straighten you people out.”

 

“In whose interests?” he asked.

 

“Luke Short’s and Bat Masterson’s” I replied.

 

A few paces further on I met Mayor Webster, who shook hands with me with an air of cordiality that the yellowish pallor of his cheeks belied. We all filed into Luke’s saloon and there we were sworn in as deputies by Prairie Dog Dave, the Constable, who was with us blood and bones, as all the good people in the town were. Indeed, the city was sick of the Webster reign of terror and glad to see a way out of it, and I soon had a following of a hundred or more fighters ready to do my bidding. It was no mean advantage to be deputized by Prairie Dog Dave, for that enabled us to carry our arms without violating the law concerning which Dodge had become so sensitive.

 

The town council convened a hurried meeting and sent for me to ask my intentions. I told them that I wanted Luke Short and Bat Masterson to return to Dodge at their pleasure. I added that if this were accomplished peacefully I would be so much better pleased, but that if necessary I was prepared to fight for my demands. In reply they offered to compromise. They would permit Luke to return for ten days to wind up his business. Bat Masterson they would not permit to enter the town. To this proposition I made no reply, but walked out of the council room. Soon afterward they send for me again, and I again assured them that there could be no compromise -that Luke and Bat must be free to live in Dodge as long as they wanted to, provided they obeyed the law.

 

Before the council had made any decision I wired to Luke Short to meet me at Kingsley, thirty miles away. I had an idea he might decide to return with me, so I gave orders to my followers to post themselves in front of Wright’s and at other strategic points in case of a disturbance. Luke and I dined together at Kingsley and, as I had anticipated, he resolved to come back with me. But we agreed that we would let the other fellows begin the fighting.

 

Luke and I jumped off the rear platform of the sleeper as the train slowed up, each with a double-barreled shotgun in readiness, and advanced up the street, fully expecting to have to make a stiff fight for it. But the enemy didn’t appear. That night I telegraphed to Bat, telling him to come on the next train. He arrrived in the morning and had no sooner alighted than a deputy sheriff demanded his shotgun, but I would not let him give it up.

 

I had hard work to persuade Bat to go into Webster’s and shake hands with the Mayor, but he consented at last and the trouble was over in a few minutes. We had conquered Dodge City without firing a shot. It was a great moral victory, for Bat and Luke were unmolested from that time forth. Not that Bat stayed very long to enjoy the fruits of his vindication, for he was then City Marshal of Trinidad.

 

Among other manifestations of exuberance at the successful issue of our invasion the citizens dubbed us “the Dodge City Peace Commission” and had us photographed in a group, which is herewith reproduced. Crooked-Mouth Green and my other picturesque henchmen do not figure in this group, as they felt sensitive about submitting their physiognomies to the fierce light of frontier history. Which is a real pity.

 

As everybody knows, Bat Masterson has now for many years been identified with Denver, where he is appreciated at his true worth. His association with the prize ring and other forms of sport all over the country has brought his name prominently before a younger and more effete generation. And he has fallen into flesh. But to me he will always be Bat Masterson, the quick fighter, the square gambler, the stanch friend and the generous foe -the fastest of my frontier friends.

 

WYATT S. EARP

 

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