Friday, August 29, 2014


9/1/1893 - Everyone, even the most pinheaded of dolts (you know who you are!), seems to have heard of Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, the Clantons, and the thirty second long Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (though it should have actually been called the shootout next to Fly's Photographic Studio), but few now know of a far bigger bullet brawl, lasting several hours (and with more casualties), between outlaws and lawmen that took place on this day in the Oklahoma Territory at the town of Ingalls.

                                      Downtown Ingalls - Present Day

A ghost town now, in the 1890s Ingalls was a thriving town of 150 citizens four miles west of the territorial line, eleven miles east of the city of Stillwater, and thirty-five miles northeast of the territorial capitol at Guthrie, featuring a grocery store, two blacksmith shops, a livery, two drug stores, five doctors, a harness and saddle shop, a general store, a dry goods store, a shoe shop, two restaurants, a post office, a feed store, a cotton gin, a grist mill, two saloons, various homes and other buildings, a small two-story hotel ... and a pack of desperadoes that call the city home.  


Close to the Turkey Track and Bar X Bar ranches where the cowboys that will become the outlaw members of the Dalton and Doolin-Dalton gangs work, liking the money the men always spend freely when in town (and that all their crimes are committed elsewhere), Ingalls ignores it when the boys go bad and make the town their base of operations between jobs ... ignores it at least until U.S. Marshals show up to put an end to the gang.

                               Evett Dumas Nix 1861-1946.jpg
                                  U.S. Marshal Evett Dumas Nix

Receiving information that the bandits of the Doolin-Dalton Gang frequent the town regularly, U.S. Marshal Ed Nix sends two deputies, masquerading as surveyors (the great Oklahoma Land Rush is to take place nearby, on September 16th) to Ingalls to investigate ... a job they pull off so well that the outlaws play poker with the men several times (only Dynamite Dick is suspicious of the pair).  Good info, Nix, based in Guthrie, then puts together a plan to destroy the gang once and for all ... hidden from view in two covered wagons that appear to be getting ready for the coming land rush, the marshal sends a small army of thirteen lawmen to the town for a showdown with the bandits (the lead wagon contains Bat Masterson's brother, Jim, W.C. Roberts, Henry Kelly, Hi Thompson, George Cox. H.A. Janson, and Lafe Shadley, the second holds Dick Speed, John Hixon, Thomas Hueston, Ike Steel, Red Lucas, and J.S. Burke ... all excellent shots ... all will not live out the day).  Surprise, more men and firepower, the odds seem good that the Doolin-Dalton Gang is going down ... but the fly in the ointment that can't be planned for is that Bittercreek Newcomb will have a very horny morning. 


As they commonly do, and as the marshals begin to move into town, the Doolin-Dalton Gang, consisting of Bill Doolin, Bill Dalton, Bittercreek Newcomb, Arkansas Tom, Tulsa Jack Blake, Dynamite Dick Clifton, and Red Buck Waightman, ride into Ingalls in the morning, park their horses and immediately head for the place in town where they spend most of their time ... Ransom's Saloon.  Feeling under the weather, Arkansas Tom gets an upstairs room at the Pierce O.K Hotel and immediately goes to bed.  At the saloon, served by two bartenders (also in the establishment are two patrons, one, the local town drunk, already passed out in a corner), the gang has a round of drinks and then settles into a friendly game of poker, less Bittercreek, who has love making on his mind.  It is a little after 9:00 in the morning.

                                      U.S. Deputy Marshal Speed

Still in the process of moving into positions about town, 25-year-old Deputy Marshal Speed sees an armed man leave the saloon, go to the next door livery, mount his horse, and begin to ride down the street ... it is Bittercreek Newcomb, on his way to visit his girlfriend, Sadie Conley, for some nookie.  Recognizing Newcomb, and believing the outlaw has discovered the lawmen and is now in the process of fleeing, Speed takes aim at with his Winchester and fires the first round of the Battle of Ingalls.  A shot aimed with deadly intentions, the bullet hits the rifle the outlaw is holding and splits in two; one piece of lead damaging the outlaw's gun and the other burying itself near Newcomb's right groin and clipping off the end of his spinal column.  Hurt badly, Newcomb responds by doing what he is best known for ... drawing and firing his weapon with rattlesnake quickness and deadly accuracy.  Shifting his Winchester to his left hand, Newcomb draws with his right and sends two bullets towards Speed, who has stepped into the street, fully exposing himself so he can finish off the wounded badman ... instead, it is Speed who is finished as one of Newcomb's .45 caliber bullets smashes into the lawman's left breast and blows out his back.  The first death of the day, it will not be the last.  Not waiting around to see the results of his return fire, or to give someone else the chance to take another potshot at him, Newcomb reverses direction on his horse, Old Ben,  gallops through the livery barn while reeling in his saddle as if drunk, and exits southwest from town down a narrow draw behind the saloon (sent on his way by marshals throwing more lead at him, Newcomb will almost die from his wound, but stitched up, is back in the saddle for more robbery and killing by January of 1894).  

                                   Site of the shootout - Ransom's on left, livery
                                   next, and then the hotel

Warned by the popping sound of Speed's and Newcomb's bullets, the gang rushes outside and begins firing at the lawmen, but all are soon forced back into the saloon by the intensity of the firepower being directed their way.  "You are surrounded Doolin.  Come out and give yourself up," Hixon yells during a lull in the fighting.  "Go to Hell," is the reply of the outlaws and the bullets begin flying again (afterwards, 255 bullet holes will be found in the saloon).  Not reconciled to being trapped and arrested, the gang comes out of the saloon once more, and with weapons firing in every direction to cover the action, make their way into the barn where their horses are tied, intent on escape (covering for each other, the men run into the barn in three separate movements, Doolin goes first, then come Red Buck and Bill Dalton, and finally Tulsa Jack and Arkansas Dick) ... and in a miracle of sorts, all make it into the livery without a single scratch among them (the lawmen are all expert marksmen, but hampering their efforts, some have been at the whiskey they have brought along from Guthrie).

                                    Exiting Ingalls

Not positioned correctly to cover the gang's shift to the livery stable, or set up for a war based on the outlaws being alerted by Speed and Newcomb shooting at each other (another posse of eleven more men is on its way to Ingalls from the town of Stillwater), the lawmen are forced to change positions to continue their attack ... and in the open, exposed, the consequences will be deadly.  To cover the front door of the barn, Deputy Hueston moves out from behind his position near the town's grocery store ... and is immediately targeted by the now wide awake Arkansas Tom from the second floor of the hotel (an unexpected problem, the lawmen must also adjust their positions to account for this second site of belligerent gunfire).  Shot twice, in the stomach and bowels, Hueston is 38 years old when he dies in Ingalls.

                                                  Deputy Marshal Thomas J. Hueston | United States Department of Justice - United States Marshals Service, U.S. Government

Inside the barn, Doolin and Dynamite Dick saddle and bridle the gang's horses while the others continue to throw lead at various lawmen targets ... then all five men are up on their horses and out of the barn.  The plan is for all of them to leave by the back door of the barn, following the path out of town that Newcomb had already blazed ... Dynamite Dick and Doolin stick to the plan and achieve a safe exit from Ingalls.  In the confusion of noise, smoke, and bullets flying about though, the remaining three outlaws ride out the front door and into more death.  Dalton, is in the lead, and draws immediate fire ... Deputy Marshal Hixon hits the outlaw's mount in the jaw, then 75 yards later the horse is brought down with a broken leg by a bullet from the rifle of Deputy Marshal Shadley.  Abandoning his favorite ride, Dalton runs south a short distance, where he finds Red Buck and Tulsa Jack stopped from escaping by a wire fence ... a wire fence in need of quick cutting ... by way of the set of wire cutters Dalton's dying horse is carrying.  And so it is that Dalton returns to his horse, grabs the clippers, puts the beast out of its misery, and before returning to his companions, kills Shadley.


Wounded by the hotel sniping of Arkansas Tom, Shadley is seeking the medical assistance of the town's Dr. Selph, when Dalton spots him coming around the corner of a house, and firing his Winchester from the hip, dumps the lawman into the street with well placed rounds to his chest and stomach.  Then it is back to his friends at the fence, and impediment cut open, with Dalton mounted behind Red Buck, the bandits gallop out of town.  After roughly 30 minutes of gunfire, only Arkansas Tom is left for the lawmen to deal with.

                            Dalton Bill-edit.png
                                            Bill Dalton

Continuing to fire on targets of opportunity from the surrounded hotel, it takes until 2:00 in the afternoon for the killer to be convinced that surrender is his only viable option if continued survival is the end goal ... convinced by the arrival in town of the Stillwater posse, pleas from the hotel's owners to end the destruction of their establishment, the continuing fusillade being sent his way from the street below, and Deputy Marshal Hixon threatening to dynamite him out of the building.  Arrested finally, Arkansas Tom will be sentenced to 50 years behind bars for his various crimes ... paroled in 1910, he will run a restaurant for two years, go to Hollywood to star in a movie about his own life, but fall back in to his old ways, robbing a bank in Neosho, Missouri, in 1917, going back to prison, and eventually get himself killed in 1924 trying to best one more lawman in a gunfight at the age of 54. 

                                  Arkansas Tom Jones.jpg
                                              Arkansas Tom

And what of the citizens of Ingalls that harbored the gang, how did they fare in the battle ... not too well, not too well at all.  Along with numerous near misses and close calls, snoozing on a pool table when the slug exchange begins, saloon owner George Ransom is shot in leg, bartender Murray is wounded in the side and leg, saloon patron N.A. Walker is mortally wounded when he runs into the street, and mistaken for an outlaw, receives a Winchester round through his liver, a student visiting the town from Kansas, 14-year-old Dal Simmons also makes the mistake of running out into the street in a dash for better cover and is killed, and one of the local doctors' sons, 14-year-old Frank Briggs, takes an outlaw bullet to the shoulder when he exposes himself to take at the bandits vacating the city limits.  And along with Dalton's steed going down, another horse tied to the post office hitching rail is hit by a stray bullet and dies kicking in the street ... and ready for the pot ahead of plan, a chicken has its head blown off by a random round.  Additionally, eight residents are arrested on harboring charges for being too friendly to the outlaws.

                             The Battle of Ingalls

It is a very bad day for Ingalls, but even in the death and destruction a few citizens get a giggle into their day.  Discovering the town drunk, Joe Chambers, has slept through the whole battle in the saloon, a joker grabs the guts of the dead chicken in the street, places the remains in Chambers' pocket, and then wakes up the intoxicated old man ... who of course thinks he's been gut shot when he comes to his senses, is told of the battle, and makes the horrifying discovery that he is covered in blood and entrails.  A big HA-HA, it is said that Chambers never takes another drop of whiskey for the rest of his life.

                                                Dead or Alive

Final tally of the battle, three lawmen and two citizens dead, and three citizens wounded netting one captured bandit, but what appears to be an outlaw victory is really a defeat ... their home base is rendered no longer safe (and eventually costing the town its life, the railroad coming through the area deems the settlement too dangerous and bypasses the community) and law enforcement officers throughout the territory now ride with revenge in their hearts for their fallen comrades ... a vendetta that will see every one of the gang die a bullet violent death.

                                                        Tulsa Jack

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