Wild Midwest Shootout
February 22, 2006 5:24 PM   Subscribe

"Dave, don't you come across here with that watch." On July 21, 1865, Wild Bill Hickok killed his friend Dave Tutt (illustration) in Springfield, Missouri, in what may have been the first ever Wild West shootout. Tutt had won the watch and cleaned Wild Bill out the previous night in a poker game. Wild Bill's reputation was made in this February 1867 article in Harper's New Monthly Magazine, which was full of inaccuracies, like most of the stories about his career.
posted by kirkaracha (14 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
"Are you satisfied?"
posted by iamck at 5:27 PM on February 22, 2006

The last time I played poker, I got the Dead Man's Hand -- twice. Needless to say, I kept a pretty close eye on everyone else at the table.
posted by scody at 5:37 PM on February 22, 2006

I should've made this FFP.

You see, this shootout happened less than two blocks from where I live now (really!).

And on dark quiet nights, when it is late and the moon is full, I can sometimes hear the tick, tick, ticking of that watc--oh wait. Sorry. That's actually my watch I hear.

Carry on.
posted by sourwookie at 6:11 PM on February 22, 2006

Can anyone tell me what a "Drake oath" is?
posted by pompomtom at 6:29 PM on February 22, 2006

I was wondering the same thing pom^2tom...my initial googling yields little. It seems to be some sort of oath of loyalty to the union? But it seems to be post-civil war, and pretty extreme. I'd love to be explainified.

I was also a little curious what they meant about Hickcok being a "Radical" - I mean, in that specific time and place, what did that signify?

Interesting post, thanks.
posted by freebird at 6:38 PM on February 22, 2006

Missouri's second constitution was called "The Drake Constitution". The drake or "iron clad" oath meant that a person could swear that they never aided or fought for the confederates in the civil war.

At least, that's what I think it means after a bit of googling.
posted by stavrogin at 6:55 PM on February 22, 2006

More info on the Drake Constitution.

I mean, in that specific time and place, what did that signify?

Radical Republican
posted by kirkaracha at 7:26 PM on February 22, 2006

I find the story listed on the "full of inaccuracies" page interesting. It says hickock was killed as revenge for the death of Jack McCall's brother. If you've ever seen Deadwood, they claim that the idea of Jack McCall's brother even existing was a fabrication on the part of the town of Deadwood who wanted to avoid scandal (in order to keep the US gov't from thinking they were lawless and brutal and therefore annexing them) and so gave him "good reason" to kill hickok. namely, the brother.

I have no idea which is right, but it's an interesting discrepancy, whichever is right.
posted by shmegegge at 8:01 PM on February 22, 2006

Deadwood is just fiction. As the Wikipedia article notes, "Despite much of the factuality in the program, the ending credits contain the following disclaimer: "With the sole exception of the well known historical events and persons portrayed, the characters and events depicted in this television series are fictional and any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental and unintentional"."
posted by Sangermaine at 9:16 PM on February 22, 2006

The drake or "iron clad" oath meant that a person could swear that they never aided or fought for the confederates in the civil war.

Thank you.

I guess I can swear to that...
posted by pompomtom at 9:38 PM on February 22, 2006

Speaking of famous shootouts -- Hickok leads us to gambling pal John Wesley Hardin, who leads us to Texas Ranger John Armstrong, who retired to an extensive ranch later inherited by his great-granddaughter Katharine Armstong, who invited the Vice President and an Austin attorney to hunt one day recently.

Small world these gutsy gunfighters travel in.
posted by dhartung at 12:36 AM on February 23, 2006

sangermaine: thanks. It's a good thing you told me that.
posted by shmegegge at 9:50 AM on February 23, 2006

Wild Bill's history was certainly fragmented and fictional but no more so than a lot of other Wild West characters. If anyone is ever in Deadwood, I highly recommend the tour of the Mount Moriah Cememtary. You get to hear all the dirt on Wild Bill, Calamity Jane, etc. Jane supposedly followed Bill around like a little pup and he would be horrified to know she was buried next to him.

Although the accounts of his gun battles are a distorted mess, one thing is for certain: he was a deadly sonovabitch. He had exceptional hand/eye coordination, was as cold as a snake when guns were firing, and kept his guns in a sash rather than a belt for a faster draw.

When the movie Tombstone came out I did a lot of reading about all these old legends. As expected, most of what the movies and books have told us is pure bullshit. But most accounts agree, if you really wanted to cross someone who was fast, ruthless, and not afraid to die, Doc Holiday was your man.
posted by Ber at 9:51 AM on February 23, 2006

I think Bill Hickok would be played well by Nick Nolte. I just hear his voice reading this.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:05 PM on February 23, 2006

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