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David Fisk (Lens of
Masterson - Page 4
The Killing of Mr. Masterson's Brother
It fell out as
Mr. Masterson had feared. Mr. Wagner, drunk and warlike, sought to
enter Mr. Peacock's dance hall, questing trouble.
Marshal Ed Masterson,
instead of pulling his own gun, as prudence would have dictated, and
stopping the violent Mr. Wagner with the cold muzzle thereof, seized that
truculent person by the shoulders. Instantly, Mr. Wagner's six-shooter was
brought to the fore. With that,
Marshal Ed Masterson
shifted his left hand to Mr. Wagner's wrist, and for the moment put that
drunkard's weapon out of commission. There the two stood, the situation
From across the
street, Mr. Masterson saw events
and started to his brother's aid. He was still sixty feet away when
Mr. Walker, who, like Mr. Wagner was a person of cows, ran from the
dance hall, and snapped his six-shooter in
Ed Masterson was killed in the line of duty in
Dodge City, Kansas.
The cartridge failed to explode. Mr. Walker was
never given the chance of trying a second; for
Mr. Masterson put three bullets
from his Colt's 45 through him before he could hit the ground. As the
dead Mr. Walker went down, Mr. Wagner, still in a grapple with
Masterson, got his gun to bear, and shot
Masterson in the body.
The latter fell wounded to the death, coat
afire from the other's powder. Mr. Wagner fell across him, a bullet
from Mr. Masterson's pistol through
And after this
fashion did Mr. Masterson maintain
law and order in
Many were his battles, many the wounds he wrought; and it was said
that the local doctor traced half his practice to the untiring efforts
of Mr. Masterson in behalf of
Once upon a time in
a general war was missed by the narrowest margin. Those dead worthies,
Messrs. King, Kennedy, Wagner and Walker had come one and all from
in their day, and
feeling, always clannish, seldom nicely critical, resented their
taking off. It is not too much to say that ten thousand dollars might
have been borrowed on Mr. Masterson's
scalp in a dozen
towns. Scores of stark souls came north with the herds, avowing no
other intention than to wipe out the hated
Among these was Mr.
Driscoll -- big, violent, formidable. Mr. Driscoll was not in
ten minutes before Mr. Masterson
"I'll give you half an hour," said
Mr. Masterson, "to put yourself the
other side of the Arkansas; and if you ever jingle a spur in
again I'll shoot you in two."
Mr. Driscoll crossed the "Arkansas;” and
later -- his laurels somewhat tarnished, and not caring to return to
under such diminished circumstances -- he journeyed down to Springer,
and went to work for Senator Dorsey's "Triangle-dot." Mr. Burlison was
Sheriff of Colfax County,
where the Dorsey ranches were, and Mr.
Masterson wrote his brother officer a letter.
"Dear Burlison," said
Mr. Masterson, "this man Driscoll, who
has migrated to your neck of woods, will bear watching. He's a four-flush
and a bully. If he tries to start anything down your way, go right at him
and he'll quit." Mr. Driscoll "started" something. Mr. Burlison went
"right at him," and Mr. Driscoll "quit." Also when he "quit" he was dead.
Allison was a Texan by adoption, and a friend of Mr. Driscoll.
Likewise, he was lame with a club-foot, limped when off his horse, and
used a Winchester for a crutch. He had slain many men, and took a quiet
pride in the fact that, in the teeth of local ordinances to the contrary,
he never took his guns off when he visited any town.
Clay Allison, 1871, after shooting himself in the foot while stealing government mules. The gunshot left him with a permanent limp.
This image available for
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"Kill Every Man with a
was in Dodge
when Mr. Masterson introduced himself
to the offensive Mr. Driscoll. Being coldly advised, however, by
was not wearing his hardware. In the day that followed the banishment of
Mr. Driscoll, the whisper went Dogian rounds that the
cow people, then and there in large numbers, were making war medicine, and
would presently "turn loose" under the leadership of
With that, the careful Mr. Masterson
made preparations; and such berserks as
Mr. Brown, Mr. Kelly,
Bassett, Mr. Short,
and others whose names were high and famous in the annals of that hour,
began cleaning responsive shotguns to be in readiness for the
Masterson call to arms. The word was,
if war broke out, to "kill every man with a big cow hat on." The Dodgians,
be it known, wore hats of moderate and exemplary rim.
Mr. Masterson believed that if carnage
descended it would come in the night. Which perhaps was the reason why
chose the afternoon. Of a sudden, the latter gentleman rode into the
middle of that single thoroughfare -- so often a battlefield -- armed to
the teeth. Halting his horse in front of Mr. Webster's Alamo,
spake loud and fiercely, but he was heedful to leave Winchester and
pistols in their scabbards, and, while his oratory was terrible, his hands
continued as harmlessly empty as a child's.
Mr. Masterson, at the time, was sitting
in his office. With the earliest note of war from
he snatched up a shotgun and "covered" that
chieftain. Since Mr. Masterson was to
the rear of
Mr. Allison, the latter enthusiast did not notice his "covered"
"covered," Mr. Masterson turned to
Judge Colborn, now of Salt Lake City, then District Attorney of
"Skip out the back door,
Judge," observed Mr. Masterson, "and
and the rest that I've got
dead to rights. Tell them not to close in on him; if he reaches for a gun,
I'll hive him. When they hear me shoot, let them get busy right and left;
tell them to bump off every Texan they find in the town."
The warning word went
down the line, and
was left unmolested in his eloquence. But that very fact made him uneasy.
He was not without a working knowledge of homicide as a science; and the
sight of the several heads of Messrs.
and a score besides, protruded in an expectant fringe from doors and
windows all along the street, as though a common idea obtained that
something interesting was about to happen, chilled him and bid him pause.
looked excessively bothered. Finally he shut down his oratory in mid flow,
got off his horse, limped dubiously into Mr. Webster's Alamo
took a thoughtful drink. Mr. Masterson
put away the shotgun and joined him. Observing
Mr. Masterson enter,
pretended great joy.
"Where were you,
Bat?" he asked. "I've been looking all
over town for you."
"I've been see-sawing on
you with a shotgun for ten minutes," returned
Mr. Masterson grimly, "What's the
appeared a bit confused, but explained that he had been aroused by the
insults of a red-headed hardware clerk who didn't know who he,
was. Being calmer now, he would again disarm in deference to the
prevailing local taste as to shooting irons.
Thus the business passed
without actual hostilities. and
confessed later that his reason for "simmering" was he had had a
It’s just possible he
did. In any event, and whatever the cause, his change of offensive front
that afternoon saved many a life. Also, it saved
what would else have proved the ruddiest chapter in all her crimson
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