Old West wasn't filled with violence enough -- stemming from
Indian raids, numerous
outlaws, and the ever-present
vigilantes trying to control them, then another common event was the frequent feuds, range wars, and political conflicts that created yet more bloodshed in the
The violence created in these many battles often occurred where there was no law or the law was too "weak" to enforce any type of change. Similar to the
vigilantes, those who felt they were unduly wronged, were prone to take the law into their own hands.
Sometimes these feuds were the result of long-running arguments between two groups of people, especially families or clans, and perhaps may have started decades earlier over the smallest insult. One thing leads to another until cycles of retaliation can last for generations.
However, the vast majority of the well-known feuds in the American West were the result of political confrontations or land control. For those involved, their actions were rarely seen as lawless, but rather a means to bringing some kind of "law" to an area where chaos tended to prevail.
Regardless of the reasons, these "wars" resulted in hundreds of deaths, when vengeance was taken and bloody vendettas resulted in warring factions continuing to battle, sometimes for years.
Colfax County War
(1870-1877) - Guns roared for almost two
decades after Lucien Maxwell sold the largest land grant in U.S. history,
located in northeast
Denver City Hall War (1894) - At this time
the city of Denver was so politically corrupt that Governor Davis Waite ordered
several reappointments. However, city officials refused to vacate their
positions and Waite called in the militia.
Dodge City War
(1883) - Though this "war" was
bloodless, it was just inches away from an all out
Kansas businessmen tried to push
out of town and he called on his buddies,
Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson.
Early-Hasley Feud (1865-1869) - A family feud in Bell
that became more embittered after the
Earp Vendetta Ride (1882) -
Gunfight at the O.K. Corral in October, 1881, and
Morgan Earp's murder on March 18, 1882,
Warren Earp, along with
Jack Johnson and Sherman McMasters
would go on the Earp Vendetta Ride killing
those responsible for
El Paso Salt War (1877) - A feud
that occurred over the salt flats of the Guadalupe Mountains that culminated in
a bloody battle in the small town of San Elizario.
Horrell-Higgins Feud (1877) - This family feud
grew out of accusations of cattle theft in Lampasas County,
Horrell War (1873-74) - After a friend of the hell-raising Horrell
brothers killed a Hispanic constable in Lincoln County,
lawmen killed Benjamin Horrell. The other brothers retaliated by killing
some 13 Hispanic citizens during the course of the feud.
- A political war in Fort Bend
control of the county.