Gunfight – Part 3 – Finale

Gunfight layout with figures
Museum figures of those involved in the gunfight.

The day has come!

The restless cowboys and presumed outlaws have decided there would be a showdown.  They began forming at O.K. Corral and had their guns prepared.

According to a timeline by John D. Gilchriese, writer and collector, these are the major events of the gunfight:

The Street Fight – October 26, 1881

Earps and Holliday head to gunfight

After meeting and wondering what to do about The Cowboys forming at the O.K. Corral and making threats, the Earps and Doc decided to head there.  Rounding the corner of Fourth and Freemont Streets, the Earps head west to the rear entrance of the O.K. Corral – and a date with destiny. (Photos by RonLin Photography from images posted in the Gunfight at O.K. Corral Museum.)
Gunfight 1
Town Marshal Virgin Earp (with cane) says “Hold on, we don’t want that,” as Frank McLaury and Billy Clanton take the first bullets from Doc and Morgan.
Gunfight 2
Billy Clanton (second from right) draws his gun and begins to fight as his brother Ike begs Wyatt Earp not to shoot him. Morgan and Doc are concentrating on Frank McLaury, and Billy Clanton, though mortally wounded, fights back.  Frank and Tom maneuver their horses as shields.
Gunfight 3
As Ike Clanton flees, Virgil Earp and Tom McLaury bring their guns into action.  Doc Holliday turns to fire at the fleeing Ike while Morgan continues to fire at the wounded Frank McLaury.
Gunfight 4
Frank McLaury moves his horse into the street and fires back under the horse’s neck as Holliday pulls his sawed-off shotgun from under his coat.  (The researcher who commissioned these paintings believes a shot was fired from within the O.K. Corral at this point, which shows why the Earps are giving their attention to that possible threat at the moment.)
Gunfight 5
Frank McLaury still manages to hang onto his horse for cover as brother Tom, shooting over his saddle, hits Morgan Earp.  Billy Clanton (who is already dying)  returns fire at Virgil and Wyatt.  A shot from Frank hits Marshal Virgil Earp in the right leg.
Gunfight 6
Morgan Earp goes down, shot through the shoulder muscles.  Tom McLaury’s horse, grazed by a bullet from Wyatt, finally bolts, leaving Tom exposed to Holliday’s “murderous” shotgun blast.  Billy Clanton, still firing, begins to slide down the wall.
Gunfight 7
Tom McLaury, mortally wounded, has stagger out of the picture.  Frank’s horse finally bolts, leaving him exposed.  His last shot strikes Doc Holliday’s holster, producing a painful but not serious wound.  Though seriously wounded, Morgan turns and fires, killing Frank with a head shot.  “I got him,” says Morgan Earp.  Billy Clanton would spend his last breath begging for more cartridges.

The gunfight lasted about 30 seconds.

According to Gilchriese, Wyatt Earp, when asked about the “Gunfight at O.K. Corral,”  stated: “It was a street fight between my brothers, Doc, and myself and those who believed they could shoot down the Earps.”  Wyatt apparently had a chuckle about the allusion of the “gunfight” at O.K. Corral, that was probably created by fictional writers to make it more exciting.

Wyatt also drew the locations of the shooters as he recounted the scenario.

Gunfight locations according to Wyatt Earp

Gunfight locations according to Wyatt Earp-2

The exact location of the fight?  Freemont Street, south side and east of 3rd Street

Who fired first?  Frank McLaury and Wyatt Earp

Who died?  Frank and Tom McLaury, Billy Clanton

Who was wounded?  Virgil and Morgan Earp

Where did each man stand?  (as drawn by Don Perceval)

Gunfight layout image - 2 by Don Louis Perceval (1908 - 1979)
Don Perceval’s rendition located in the O.K. Corral Museum.  Note O.K. Corral sign on the upper, far left.

Did the fight start in the street?   No, for six seconds the antagonists were in the vacant lot before they backed into Freemont Street

Where is Sheriff John Behan?  Behind Fly’s Boarding House

Where is Ike Clanton and Billy Claiborne?  Hiding in Fly’s Boarding House

More photos by Gilchriese are viewable at  http://kbbooks-tucson.com/Photographs.htm.

A photo showing the town layout, during the gunfight, developed in the Tombstone Fly Studio based on research from John D. Rose,  is at https://www.wyattearpexplorers.com/ok-corral.html.

How would the Earps escape this eventual tragedy?  They wanted to prosper in the thriving town of Tombstone, mainly due to the silver ore that was being mined and the businesses developing in the west.

Tombstone Epitaph location

I have to wonder where the town’s people stood on the issues.  Did they not care enough to get involved to help those who were there to protect them?

There is an old saying (paraphrased) that for evil to prevail is for good men (and women) to do nothing.

What about the families of the Clantons, Claibornes and McLaurys?  While there is evidence they too wanted to be business affiliates, but also were entangled with the criminal element, I wonder how their side of the story goes?

Here is a link for further information about the McLaurys.  http://www.worldcat.org/title/mclaurys-in-tombstone-arizona-an-ok-corral-obituary/oclc/806040205&referer=brief_results.

What about Curly Bill Brochius?  Do you know his part?

There is another previous outlaw who was friends with Wyatt Earp in Dodge city – Sherman McMasters.  What was his involvement?  (He had also stolen a valuable thoroughbred in Tombstone).

This is a link with a few more details about the Clantons.  http://clantongang.com/oldwest/ganlaury.html

Who knows how Tombstone could have flourished during the day had the Earps succeeded in business and built the town as they had envisioned?

Tombstone Saloon

Regardless, things could have turned out differently had the various factions worked together to resolve their conflicts.

Tombstone Billiards where Morgan Earp was shot
Modern-day photo of the billiards where Morgan Earp was shot in the back and died at midnight.

I’ll close this post with words mentioned in the video clip – what Wyatt Earp said in his last words:  “Just suppose.”

(Don’t forget to check out the video re-enactment below, which was performed just off Freemont as they tried to replicate as much as possible.)

Blessings!

Ron

 

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