Wild Bill Hickok vs Dave Tutt, Mano a Mano

unclefred

Ad Honorem
Dec 2010
6,731
Oregon coastal mountains
#1
When the Civil War broke out in April 1861, James Butler Hickok was living in Kansas, where he was about to terminate his employment as a stage driver with Jones & Cartwright freighting company. In July, he was involved in the famous fight at Rock Creek, Nebraska Territory, where he became involved in the “McCanles Massacre” during which he was alleged by pulp writers to have killed ten men in hand-to-hand combat. In actuality, only three men died and there is doubt and argument over how many Hickok actually killed. In the fall of 1861, James Hickok signed on as a teamster for the Union Army at Sedalia, Missouri, , and by the end of the year he was a wagonmaster.

Hickok remained in that position until September 1862, then disappears for almost a year before he turns up at Springfield as a member of the 'detective police', employed by the Provost Marshal of Southwest Missouri. The missing period is still under investigation by historians looking for evidence to provide details of his alleged missions into Confederate territory as a spy.
It was at the end of the Civil War that Hickok was generally called “Wild Bill.” Those who served with him or knew him well, claimed that this was because of his actions against Confederate guerrillas and for his exploits as a scout and spy, according to Hickok historian James Rosa.

As a detective, Hickok had his share of hazardous moments, but at other times his duties included visits to saloons within the city of Springfield to note the number of troops in uniform who were drinking on duty, or to check on the owners to see if they had liquor licenses. Other tasks involved long treks to places as far away as Little Rock, Arkansas, to arrest or obtain sums of money from individuals in debt to the Union. On one occasion he and some other policemen were not paid. Hickok then resigned or, perhaps, was ordered by General Sanborn, in command of the District, to report to him, who then hired him as a scout. Paid five dollars a day, Hickok was provided with a horse and equipment. In later years, the general wrote that he was the best man he had.

In June 1865, Hickok was mustered out, and he spent some time in the city gambling. It was during this time that he and Davis K. Tutt, a former Confederate soldier, became friends and were noted gamblers.

According to Rosa, "On July 20, 1865, the pair fell out over a game of cards, which left Hickok in debt to Tutt who took his prized Waltham watch as security for payment. Tutt claimed that Hickok owed him $35 but Wild Bill said it was only $25 since he had paid him the other $10 some days before. Tutt, according to the stories circulated later, said that he would sport Hickok’s watch on Public Square the next afternoon, and Hickok told him that if he did it would become a shooting matter.

At 6 p.m. on the 21st, Tutt appeared with the watch and Hickok advised him not to cross the square. Dave’s response was to draw his pistol and open fire on him. Wild Bill drew and shot Tutt through the heart. Arrested and charged with manslaughter, Hickok was put on trial and was found not guilty on his plea of self-defense. From then on it was up to the legend builders, and a number of local and distant liars, but Hickok’s reputation as both a pistol shot and gunfighter was firmly established."

Indeed, considered one of the few instances of real life Hollywood gunfights, it has become legend.

There, the matter might has rested, and this is the story I have always read, until a remarkable discovery in the early 1990’s of the original Coroner’s Inquest Report into the death of Davis K. Tutt at the hands of James B. Hickok. Delbert Bishop, the newly appointed Archivist of the Illinois' Greene County Archive was determined to search the large number of boxes stored in parts of the building. He was assisted by Robert Neumann, and between them they discovered many documents relative to Hickok, but the most important find was the Coroner’s Inquest record.

Not only did it set the record straight, but the report divulged that witnesses claimed that neither Hickok nor Tutt wanted the fight, and it is still unknown why Tutt actually pulled his pistol on Hickok.

Witnesses stated that friends of both men had spent some hours during the morning and afternoon of July 21 trying to persuade Dave to accept Hickok’s version of events, and one stated that Hickok said that he would rather have a fight with any man on earth rather than Tutt, saying “He has accommodated me more than any man in town for I have borrowed money from him time and again, and we have never had any dispute before in our settlement.”

Tutt agreed and said that he did not want any trouble either, but after a drink he left and later appeared outside the Court House prepared to cross the square. Hickok then told him not to enter the square, but Dave set off, pulled his pistol and fired. Hickok also drew and fired, both shots sounding like one according to several of the witnesses. Dave missed, but Hickok’s ball went through his heart. This differs from the traditional stories of Hickok waiting for Tutt's shot and then firing.

A doctor examined the body and declared that the ball from Hickok’s pistol had entered at his fifth rib on the right side and exited through the fifth rib on the left, passing through his heart. This meant that Tutt was standing sideways, duelling fashion. By actual measurement, based upon old city maps, they were 75 yards apart when they opened fire, which shows that Hickok’s reputation as a marksman was not ill founded.

Missouri Digital Heritage Collections : Compound Object Viewer

 
Jun 2012
4,014
USA
#2
When the Civil War broke out in April 1861, James Butler Hickok was living in Kansas, where he was about to terminate his employment as a stage driver with Jones & Cartwright freighting company. In July, he was involved in the famous fight at Rock Creek, Nebraska Territory, where he became involved in the “McCanles Massacre” during which he was alleged by pulp writers to have killed ten men in hand-to-hand combat. In actuality, only three men died and there is doubt and argument over how many Hickok actually killed. In the fall of 1861, James Hickok signed on as a teamster for the Union Army at Sedalia, Missouri, , and by the end of the year he was a wagonmaster.

Hickok remained in that position until September 1862, then disappears for almost a year before he turns up at Springfield as a member of the 'detective police', employed by the Provost Marshal of Southwest Missouri. The missing period is still under investigation by historians looking for evidence to provide details of his alleged missions into Confederate territory as a spy.
It was at the end of the Civil War that Hickok was generally called “Wild Bill.” Those who served with him or knew him well, claimed that this was because of his actions against Confederate guerrillas and for his exploits as a scout and spy, according to Hickok historian James Rosa.

As a detective, Hickok had his share of hazardous moments, but at other times his duties included visits to saloons within the city of Springfield to note the number of troops in uniform who were drinking on duty, or to check on the owners to see if they had liquor licenses. Other tasks involved long treks to places as far away as Little Rock, Arkansas, to arrest or obtain sums of money from individuals in debt to the Union. On one occasion he and some other policemen were not paid. Hickok then resigned or, perhaps, was ordered by General Sanborn, in command of the District, to report to him, who then hired him as a scout. Paid five dollars a day, Hickok was provided with a horse and equipment. In later years, the general wrote that he was the best man he had.

In June 1865, Hickok was mustered out, and he spent some time in the city gambling. It was during this time that he and Davis K. Tutt, a former Confederate soldier, became friends and were noted gamblers.

According to Rosa, "On July 20, 1865, the pair fell out over a game of cards, which left Hickok in debt to Tutt who took his prized Waltham watch as security for payment. Tutt claimed that Hickok owed him $35 but Wild Bill said it was only $25 since he had paid him the other $10 some days before. Tutt, according to the stories circulated later, said that he would sport Hickok’s watch on Public Square the next afternoon, and Hickok told him that if he did it would become a shooting matter.

At 6 p.m. on the 21st, Tutt appeared with the watch and Hickok advised him not to cross the square. Dave’s response was to draw his pistol and open fire on him. Wild Bill drew and shot Tutt through the heart. Arrested and charged with manslaughter, Hickok was put on trial and was found not guilty on his plea of self-defense. From then on it was up to the legend builders, and a number of local and distant liars, but Hickok’s reputation as both a pistol shot and gunfighter was firmly established."

Indeed, considered one of the few instances of real life Hollywood gunfights, it has become legend.

There, the matter might has rested, and this is the story I have always read, until a remarkable discovery in the early 1990’s of the original Coroner’s Inquest Report into the death of Davis K. Tutt at the hands of James B. Hickok. Delbert Bishop, the newly appointed Archivist of the Illinois' Greene County Archive was determined to search the large number of boxes stored in parts of the building. He was assisted by Robert Neumann, and between them they discovered many documents relative to Hickok, but the most important find was the Coroner’s Inquest record.

Not only did it set the record straight, but the report divulged that witnesses claimed that neither Hickok nor Tutt wanted the fight, and it is still unknown why Tutt actually pulled his pistol on Hickok.

Witnesses stated that friends of both men had spent some hours during the morning and afternoon of July 21 trying to persuade Dave to accept Hickok’s version of events, and one stated that Hickok said that he would rather have a fight with any man on earth rather than Tutt, saying “He has accommodated me more than any man in town for I have borrowed money from him time and again, and we have never had any dispute before in our settlement.”

Tutt agreed and said that he did not want any trouble either, but after a drink he left and later appeared outside the Court House prepared to cross the square. Hickok then told him not to enter the square, but Dave set off, pulled his pistol and fired. Hickok also drew and fired, both shots sounding like one according to several of the witnesses. Dave missed, but Hickok’s ball went through his heart. This differs from the traditional stories of Hickok waiting for Tutt's shot and then firing.

A doctor examined the body and declared that the ball from Hickok’s pistol had entered at his fifth rib on the right side and exited through the fifth rib on the left, passing through his heart. This meant that Tutt was standing sideways, duelling fashion. By actual measurement, based upon old city maps, they were 75 yards apart when they opened fire, which shows that Hickok’s reputation as a marksman was not ill founded.

Missouri Digital Heritage Collections : Compound Object Viewer

Do you know if an account I heard is true? I heard that upon firing his shot, Hickock immediately turned to face the crowd behind him without waiting to see if Tutt would fall. He was confident of his own aim. He challenged any of Tutt's friends who may have been behind him. It is something I heard in a documentary.
 

unclefred

Ad Honorem
Dec 2010
6,731
Oregon coastal mountains
#3
Do you know if an account I heard is true? I heard that upon firing his shot, Hickock immediately turned to face the crowd behind him without waiting to see if Tutt would fall. He was confident of his own aim. He challenged any of Tutt's friends who may have been behind him. It is something I heard in a documentary.
This is what you will often read:

“Another version had Hickok drawing first,” writes James Bankes in Wild West magazine, “but then waiting for Tutt to shoot. After Tutt missed, Hickok rested his gun on his left arm to steady it and then shot him.”

Hickok then turned to Tutt’s friends, who had drawn their weapons. Quoting Owen, Nichols wrote: “‘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.’”

But in the 17 page coroners report and witness statements I included, there is no verification of this. I suspect as the tale was told and retold, it was embellished a bit.

 
Jun 2012
4,014
USA
#4
This is what you will often read:

“Another version had Hickok drawing first,” writes James Bankes in Wild West magazine, “but then waiting for Tutt to shoot. After Tutt missed, Hickok rested his gun on his left arm to steady it and then shot him.”

Hickok then turned to Tutt’s friends, who had drawn their weapons. Quoting Owen, Nichols wrote: “‘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.’”

But in the 17 page coroners report and witness statements I included, there is no verification of this. I suspect as the tale was told and retold, it was embellished a bit.

That sounds a lot like what I heard on the History Channel I think, even though I understand stories like these cannot be verified because they are often embellished.

It also in a way is a sad omen of the tragedy of what did happen later, when after shooting a man in front of a saloon, Hickok whirled around and accidentally shot his own deputy to death. The day Hickok died he was shot in the back of the head without knowing his assailant was there. Perhaps there were very many back shooters in the old west.
 

unclefred

Ad Honorem
Dec 2010
6,731
Oregon coastal mountains
#5
That sounds a lot like what I heard on the History Channel I think, even though I understand stories like these cannot be verified because they are often embellished.

It also in a way is a sad omen of the tragedy of what did happen later, when after shooting a man in front of a saloon, Hickok whirled around and accidentally shot his own deputy to death. The day Hickok died he was shot in the back of the head without knowing his assailant was there. Perhaps there were very many back shooters in the old west.
Definitely. That how John Wesley Hardin was killed too, seated at a table in a saloon with his back turned. Gunmen Ben Thompson and King Fisher were ambushed in an opera house.

Hickok, Hardin and Thompson had another connection too. An interesting tidbit links the three men - While visiting Abilene during Hickok's tenure as Marshal, Hardin was approached by Saloon owner Ben Thompson with a plan for Hardin to shoot Hickok. Probably assassination style.

I mentioned it here: http://www.historum.com/american-history/25696-old-west-assassinations.html
 
Jun 2012
4,014
USA
#6
Definitely. That how John Wesley Hardin was killed too, seated at a table in a saloon with his back turned. Gunmen Ben Thompson and King Fisher were ambushed in an opera house.

Hickok, Hardin and Thompson had another connection too. An interesting tidbit links the three men - While visiting Abilene during Hickok's tenure as Marshal, Hardin was approached by Saloon owner Ben Thompson with a plan for Hardin to shoot Hickok. Probably assassination style.

I mentioned it here: http://www.historum.com/american-history/25696-old-west-assassinations.html
Interesting reading. Bob Ford also comes to mind, even though he was shot in the front, shotgun style. Western history is awesome, and I hope this thread takes off. Would you object to it becoming more than just a Hickok thread? Could it encompass many different lawmen and outlaws?
 

unclefred

Ad Honorem
Dec 2010
6,731
Oregon coastal mountains
#7
Interesting reading. Bob Ford also comes to mind, even though he was shot in the front, shotgun style. Western history is awesome, and I hope this thread takes off. Would you object to it becoming more than just a Hickok thread? Could it encompass many different lawmen and outlaws?
That would be great, we need more western history!
 
Jun 2012
4,014
USA
#8
That would be great, we need more western history!
I also wonder, are you a fan of the show "Deadwood" from a few years ago? It is one of my favorites.

Stories involving the Daltons, Bill Tilghmam, Heck Thomas, Bill Doolin, there are many stories of interest. I will try to find my favorites and give a respectable account of them.
 

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