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Wild Bill Hickok's first gunfight

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  • deadeye_dolly
    July 12, 1861 - Wild Bill Hickok s first gunfight Wild Bill Hickok begins to establish his reputation as a gunfighter after he coolly shoots three men during a
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 11, 2002
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      July 12, 1861 - Wild Bill Hickok's first gunfight

      Wild Bill Hickok begins to establish his reputation as a gunfighter
      after he coolly shoots three men during a shootout in Nebraska.

      Born in Homer (later called Troy Grove), Illinois, James Butler
      Hickok moved to Kansas in 1855 at the age of 18. There he filed a
      homestead claim, took odd jobs, and began calling himself by his
      father's name, Bill. A skilled marksman, Hickok honed his abilities
      as a gunslinger. Though Hickok was not looking for trouble, he liked
      to be ready to defend himself, and his ability with a pistol soon
      proved useful.

      By the summer of 1861, Hickok was working as a stock tender at a
      stage depot in Nebraska called Rock Creek Station. Across the creek
      lived Dave McCanles, a mean-spirited man who disliked Hickok for some
      reason. McCanles enjoyed insulting the young stockman, calling him
      Duck Bill and claiming he was a hermaphrodite. Hickok took his
      revenge by secretly romancing McCanles' mistress, Sarah Shull.

      On this day in 1861, the tension between Hickok and McCanles came to
      a head. McCanles may have learned about the affair between Shull and
      Hickok, though his motivations are not clear. He arrived at the
      station with two other men and his 12-year-old-son and exchanged
      angry words with the station manager. Then McCanles spotted Hickok
      standing behind a curtain partition. He threatened to drag "Duck
      Bill" outside and give him a thrashing. Demonstrating remarkable
      coolness for a 24-year-old who had never been involved in a gunfight,
      Hickok replied, "There will be one less son-of-a-bitch when you try

      McCanles ignored the warning. When he approached the curtain, Hickok
      shot him in the chest. McCanles staggered out of the building and
      died in the arms of his son. Hearing the shots, the two other gunmen
      ran in. Hickok shot one of them twice and winged the other. The other
      workers at the station finished them off.

      The story of Hickok's first gunfight spread quickly, establishing his
      reputation as a skilled gunman. In 1867, Harper's New Monthly
      Magazine published a highly exaggerated account of the shoot-out
      which claimed Hickok had single-handedly killed nine men. The article
      quoted Hickok as saying, "I was wild and I struck savage blows." Thus
      began the legendary career of "Wild Bill."

      For the next 15 years, Hickok would further embellish his reputation
      with genuine acts of daring, though the popular accounts continued to
      exceed the reality. He died in 1876 at the age of 39, shot in the
      back of the head by a young would-be gunfighter looking for fame.

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