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Behan, however, was unable to convince the Cowboys to give up their weapons — and unable to prevent the Earps and Doc Holliday from heading to the O. Corral to disarm the Cowboys. The stage was set. As the Earps turned the corner and entered the narrow passageway between the Harwood House and Fly's Boarding House, they met their rivals face-to-face. Each lawmen carried a six-shooter.

A Brief History of the Famous Gunfight at the O.K. Corral

In addition, "Doc" Holliday carried a shotgun hidden under his long coat. Less than six feet away from the Cowboys, Virgil called out, "Boys, throw up your hands, I've come to disarm you. I don't want to fight! Within thirty seconds, nearly thirty shots were fired.

A bullet just grazed Doc Holliday's hip. Cowboys Ike Clanton and Billy Claibourne were unarmed, and both ran away when the fighting began. Tom McClaury, who also may have been unarmed, was shot and killed by a blast from Doc's shotgun. Nineteen year old Billy Clanton was shot in the chest and the right arm which forced him to continue shooting left-handed. He died of his wounds 30 minutes after the fight. Only Wyatt remained unharmed. As reported in the Tombstone Nugget newspaper on October 27, , the gunfight reflected "one of the crimson days in the annals of Tombstone, a day when blood flowed as water For a detailed account of the gunfight and the subsequent Earp-Holliday murder inquest come watch our gunfight reenactment , or purchase a reprint of the Tombstone Epitaph at the O.

Corral or Tombstone Epitaph Newspaper offices. The coroner opened a formal inquest on October 27th, which led to a month-long preliminary hearing before Justice of the Peace Wells Spicer.

Ike Clanton's testimony obviously differed on key points from the recollections of the Earps and Doc Holliday. The townspeople were split in their allegiances, some believing the Earps used necessary force to quash a threat to Tombstone's civil order, others believing the lawmen were oppressors of individual rights. At the trial's end, Justice Spicer censured Virgil Earp but found insufficient cause for the defendants to be tried for murder: "I cannot resist the conclusion that the defendants were fully justified in committing these homicides.

Under indictment for murder in the revenge shootings of his brothers' killers, Wyatt Earp left Tombstone with Doc Holliday in April There are those who say Wyatt Earp was the Lion of Tombstone, the man who saw his unpleasant duty and brought peace to a troubled town. There are others who just as strongly proclaim that the Earps were no better than the men with whom they fought, and the killings were the outgrowth of outlaw activities in which all were involved.

Still others say Wyatt Earp was really just a hired gun, doing what he was told to do, a man no better and no worse than a horde of like contemporaries throughout the unstable West.

Truth or myth?: “The gunfight at the OK Corral was a major gun battle”

Today, evaluation is difficult, for we judge by present standards the men who lived in a different world, at a hard to imagine time, and under a flexible set of rules. For over years, the dramatic events of October 26, , have captured the imagination of historians and storytellers. The Earps and the Cowboys have become iconic symbols of the untamed Western frontier. But of all the Old West gunbattles, why do these thirty seconds live on in history?

In boomtowns like Tombstone, economic and political concerns dominated the community's culture, reinforced by social allegiances. Turbulent events like the Gunfight remain significant today not because of their the "good" defeated the "bad," but rather because they reflect the complex realities of the Western frontier. Drawn to Tombstone by the alluring prospect of striking it rich in the town's silver boom, James, Virgil, and Wyatt Earp arrived with their common law wives in , and were soon joined by their close friend Doc Holliday, followed in by Morgan and Warren.

They operated gambling concessions, ran saloons, and invested in real estate and mining claims. However, it was the Earps tough, unyielding skill as lawmen able to bring order to rowdy frontier communities that brought them to the attention of Tombstone's Republican businessmen Celebrated by many as a man who brought law and order to America's boomtowns — while denounced by others as a revenge-seeker and murderer who took the law into his own hands — Wyatt Earp remains one of the Old West's most enigmatic figures.

The subject of scores of movies, television dramas, and novels, Earp stands out as an iconic legend. Yet his actual life story reflects the thin line between respectability and notoriety that permeated America's frontier communities. The middle brother of five, Wyatt was born in to Nicholas and Virginia Earp. A tall, quiet loner, he moved frequently with his family, settling in Illinois, Iowa, and California before returning east in to become constable in Lamar, Missouri.

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Married in , his young pregnant bride died suddenly from typhoid. Devastated, Wyatt drifted, spending his twenties one step ahead of the law. Ever seeking his fortune in the next boomtown, he moved to Kansas to work in his brother James' brothel. When the summer cattle drives ended, he turned to police work in Wichita and Dodge City, making sure to keep the Texas cowboys out of trouble — businesses suffered when cowboys with money in their pockets were jailed.

At age 31, Wyatt turned his sights to Tombstone. A gambler, faro dealer, and shotgun messenger for Wells Fargo, he was deputized by his brother, Chief of Police Virgil Earp, to keep the peace in the Oriental Saloon. The Earp brothers, as representatives for Tombstone's businessmen, were soon feuding with the Clantons and McLaurys, ranchers who lived outside of town. In April , with passage of Tombstone's ordinance preventing citizens from carrying guns in town, tensions between the Earps and the Cowboys mounted.

Stagecoach robberies, cattle rustling, and Wyatt's loss of the lucrative county sheriff position to Johnny Behan, a friend of the Clantons and McLaurys, compounded the conflict. Political and personal disputes erupted on October 21, Armament: Wyatt probably carried the Colt. The gun was tucked in Wyatt's waistband and reached through a pocket opening in Earp's long coat. During the Gunfight: Wyatt is reported to have shouted, "You sons of bitches have been looking for a fight, and now you can have it.

Wyatt was one of the first to fire, shooting Frank McLaury in the stomach. When the smoke cleared, only Wyatt walked away unharmed. With tensions running high, Virgil was shot and crippled in December and five months later, in May , Morgan was assassinated. Wyatt, now a Deputy US Marshal, sought revenge. He reconnected with his Tombstone lover, Josephine Marcus, and the couple moved to San Francisco, where Wyatt gambled on horses, invested in real estate, and refereed boxing matches. In , they followed the next boom to Alaska, opening a saloon in Nome at the height of the Gold Rush. But Tombstone continued to haunt their lives.

Aided by John Flood, Wyatt and Josie began crafting his memoirs. He died of cancer on January 13, , and was buried in Josie's family plot in Colma, California. Corral took hold as a symbolic icon of the untamed frontier. The second of five Earp sons, he joined the Union Army in , mustering out in Working primarily as a lawman and a gambler, he traveled with his parents to California then back east to Missouri and Iowa before joining his brother Wyatt on the Wichita police force in the mids. He served for a month before losing the election for US Marshal. Months later, he was again appointed Tombstone Chief of Police on June 28, In fact, much of what Wyatt has been credited with was actually Virgil's doing.

Numerous accounts show that Virgil tried to diffuse the gunflight participants on that fateful October 26th - all the way up to the streetfight. Armament: Virgil held Doc Holliday's cane in his right hand. I want your guns! Raising Doc's cane, Virgil fired back at Billy Clanton. After the Gunfight: Exactly eight weeks after the gunfight, on December 28, , Virgil was ambushed as he walked across Fifth Street near Allen Street.

#5. The OK Corral

Shot in the back by three rounds, his left arm was shattered. The doctor removed 4" of arm bone, leaving Virgil permanently disabled. Speculation has it that Frank and Tom McLaury's older brother Will was involved in the assassination attempt, either directly or monetarily.

However, there were no convictions due to insufficient evidence. On March 20, , following his brother Morgan's assassination, Virgil and his wife left Tombstone under heavy guard, accompanying Morgan's body to the Earp family home in California for burial.


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After two years of rehabilitation, Virgil joined Southern Pacific Railroad as a special agent. For the next two decades, he wandered around mining camps in Nevada and California, prospecting and serving as a frontier lawman. At age 62, Virgil died of pneumonia on October 19, , in Goldfield, Nevada. Morgan Earp worked primarily as a stagecoach guard.

The younger brother of the "Fighting Earps". Morgan has been characterized as quick to laugh and quick to anger. One account Mrs. King during the trial revealed Morgan, saying "Let them have it" to which Doc Holliday replied, "All right.

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Truth or myth?: "The gunfight at the OK Corral was a major gun battle" - HistoryExtra

During the Gunfight: One of the first to fire, he shot Billy Clanton in the chest, and was himself shot in the right shoulder probably by the wounded Billy Clanton. The bullet went sideways though his body just missing the backbone, and exited out the left shoulder. After the Gunfight: On March 18, , five months after the gunfight, Morgan Earp was shot in the back by assassins while playing billiards at Campbell and Hatch's Saloon. Another bullet barely missed Wyatt. Although Will McLaury had long since left Tombstone for his home in Fort Worth, he was still suspected of being involved.

Morgan died at the age of 30 within the hour. John "Doc" Holliday was a private citizen -- dentist, gambler, drunkard, and gunfighter. With tuberculosis and a deathwish, Holliday came to Tombstone with a trunk full of reputations. He had made dozens of enemies by the time he got there and one friend; Wyatt Earp, whose life he had once saved. He was asked by Virgil to help disarm the Clantons. But as the Cowboy side of the streetfight story has it that Holliday and Morgan were first to draw.

If Tom really had been unarmed at the fight, it can be said that Doc Holliday was the only murderer of the day. Armament: He was hiding a shotgun under his coat and carried a Colt.