Wild Bill – 1867 Harper’s Weekly Article

Young Bill Hickok in 1858

Young Bill Hickok in 1858

“Dave’s style was right provoking; but Bill answered him perfectly gentlemanly:

‘I think yer wrong, Dave. It’s only twenty-five dollars. I have a memorandum of it in my pocket down stairs. Ef its thirty-five dollars Ill give it yer.’”

“Now Bill’s watch was lying on the table. Dave took up the watch, put it in his pocket,
and said: ‘I’ll keep this yere watch till yer pay me that thirty-five dollars.’”

“This made Bill shooting mad; fur, don’t yer see, Colonel, it was a-doubting his honor like, so he got up and looked Dave in the eyes, and said to him: ‘I don’t want ter make a row in this house. It’s a decent house, and I don’t want ter injure the keeper. You’d better put that watch back on the table.’”

“But Dave grinned at Bill mighty ugly, and walked off with the watch, and kept it several days. All this time Dave’s friends were spurring Bill on ter fight; there was no end ter the talk. They blackguarded him in an underhand sort of a way, and tried ter get up a scrimmage, and then they thought they could lay him out. Yer see Bill has enemies all about, he’s settled the accounts of a heap of men who lived round here. This is about the only place in Missouri whar a reb can come back and live, and ter tell yer the truth, Colonel –” and the Captain, with an involuntary movement, hitched up his revolver-belt, as he said, with expressive significance, “they don’t stay long round here!”

“Well, as I was saying, these rebs don’t like ter see a man walking round town who they knew in the reb army as one of their men, who they now know was on our side, all the time he was sending us information, sometimes from Pap Price’s own headquarters. But they couldn’t provoke Bill inter a row, for he’s afeard of hisself when he gits awful mad; and he allers left his shootin irons in his room when he went out. One day these cusses drew their pistols on him and dared him to fight, and then they told him that Tutt was a-goin ter pack that watch across the squar next day at noon.”

“I heard of this, for everybody was talking about it on the street, and so I went after Bill and found him in his room cleaning and greasing and loading his revolvers.”

“Now, Bill, says I, ‘you’re goin ter git inter a fight.’”

“Don’t you bother yerself Captain,’ says he. ‘It’s not the first time I have been in a fight; and these d—d hounds have put on me long enough. You don’t want me ter give up my honor, do yer?’”

‘No, Bill,’ says I, ‘yer must keep yer honor.’”

“Next day, about noon, Bill went down on the squar. He had said that Dave Tutt shouldn’t pack that watch across the squar unless dead men could walk.”

“When Bill got onter the squar he found a crowd stanin in the corner of the street by which he entered the square, which is from the south yer know. In this crowd he saw a lot of Tutt’s friends; some were cousins of his’n, just back from the reb army; and they jeered him, and boasted that Dave was a-goin to pack that watch across the squar as he promised.”

“Then Bill saw Tutt stanin near the courthouse, which yer remember is on the west side, so that the crowd war behind Bill.”

“Just then Tutt, who was alone, started from the courthouse and walked out into the square, and Bill moved away from the crowd toward the west side of the squar. Bout fifteen paces brought them opposite to each other, and bout fifty yards apart. Tutt then showed his pistol. Bill had kept a sharp eye on him, and before Tutt could pint it Bill had his’n out.”

After the Springfield, Missouri shoot-out, Hickok turned on Tutt’s friends, illustration from Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, February, 1867.

“At that moment you could have heard a pin drop in that square. Both Tutt and Bill fired, but one discharge followed the other so quick that it’s hard to say which went off first. Tutt was a famous shot, but he missed this time; the ball from his pistol went over Bill’s head. The instant Bill fired, without waitin ter see ef he had hit Tutt, he wheeled on his heels and pointed his pistol at Tutt’s friends, who had already drawn their weapons.

“‘Aren’t yer satisfied, gentlemen?’ cried Bill, as cool as an alligator. ‘Put up your shootin-irons, or there’ll be more dead men here. And they put ‘em up, and said it war a far fight.”

“What became of Tutt?”  I asked of the Captain, who had stopped at this point of his story, and was very deliberately engaged in refilling his empty glass.”

“Oh! Dave? He was as plucky a feller as ever drew trigger; but, Lord bless yer! it was no use. Bill never shoots twice at the same man, and his ball went through Dave’s heart. He stood stock-still for a second or two, then raised his arm as if ter fire again, then he swayed a little, staggered three or four steps, and then fell dead.”

“Bill and his friends wanted ter have the thing done regular, so we went up ter the Justice, and Bill delivered himself up. A jury was drawn; Bill was tried and cleared the next day. It was proved that it was a case of self-defense. Don’t yer see, Colonel?”

I answered that I was afraid that I did not see that point very clearly.

“Well, well!” he replied, with an air of compassion, you haven’t drunk any whisky, that’s what’s the matter with yer.” And then, putting his hand on my shoulder with a half-mysterious half-conscious look in his face, he muttered, in a whisper:

“The fact is, thar was an undercurrent of a woman in that fight!”

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