Benjamin Horrell was a gunman and one of five rowdy Horrell brothers of Lampasas County, Texas. Ben and his brothers worked as cowboys on their ranch. They were also known for being a rowdy bunch that was quick to find trouble and prone to shooting up the town during their drinking escapades.
The first gunfight Ben was known to have been involved in was in March 1873, after his brother Mart had been arrested for his participation in the Lampasas Saloon Gunfight. Jailed in Georgetown, Texas, Benjamin and his brothers stormed the jail, fought fiercely with local citizens, and got Mart and his friends out of jail. The Horrell brothers then fled to Lincoln County, New Mexico, where they continued their rowdy ways.
On December 1, 1873, Ben Horrell, along with former Lincoln County Sheriff Jack Gylam and a man named Dave Warner, rode into Lincoln. After carousing several saloons and brothels, the drunken men began to shoot off their guns. When Constable Juan Martinez demanded that they surrender their weapons, they compliantly handed them over.
However, they soon procured more weapons and were shooting up a brothel. When confronted again by Constable Martinez and four other officers, Dave Warner, who had a long-standing grudge against Martinez, pulled his pistol and shot and killed the constable. The lawmen returned the fire, killing Warner, but Ben Horrell and Jack Gylam fled. The lawmen aggressively pursued the pair, and when they caught up with the two hell-raisers, they pumped their bullets into them, shooting Horrell nine times and Gylam 13 times. Afterward, a thief took Horrell’s gold ring by chopping off his finger.
Ben’s brothers soon retaliated, killing some 13 Hispanic citizens in what has become known as the Horrell War of Lincoln County.