Thursday, March 18, 2010

March 18, 2010
Since we're coming up on the anniversary of Wyatt Earp's legendary Vendetta Ride (March 21-April 15, 1882), it's only fitting that we look at the men in his notorious posse. While much is made of the outlaw nature of Sheriff John Behan's posse (he deputized Johnny Ringo, Curly Bill, Ike Clanton and others), the movies and more than a few books gloss over Wyatt's riders as being, for the most part, the opposite of Behan's posse. Of course it doesn't hurt that Wyatt's crew had some pretty nifty names: Texas Jack Vermillion, Turkey Creek Jack Johnson, Sherm McMaster and Doc Holliday.

Here's the booking info on the Vendettamen:

• Wyatt Earp, arrested for horse stealing, prostitution and stealing school funds

• Doc Holliday, killed at least two men and a suspect in several stage robberies

• Sherm McMaster, indicted for horse theft and stage robbery

• John Blount, alias "Turkey Creek" Jack Johnson, suspected in stage robbery and horse theft.

• Dan Tipton, later charged with smuggling Chinese immigrant labor certificates and died in prison.

• Origen “Hairlip” Charlie Smith, who had the assignment of going into Tombstone to retrieve much needed cash for Earp's expedition, only to be arrested by one of Behan's deputy while trying to buy a bottle of whiskey at a saloon.

• Ton Kraker, a saloon singer (the lowest of the low in my book)

I think it's safe to say, if Behan's posse was loaded up with Cowboy scum, then Earp's posse was loaded up with gambling scum. Here they are gunning down Florentino Cruz near South Pass on March 22, 1882:

Most of the people in Arizona were appalled and disgusted by the actions of both sides in the vicious warfare in Cochise County. Interestingly, the press reports from the era read like the coverage of the violence in Iraq where Sunni factions attack Shiite factions.

Makes you wonder what fights the Iraqi re-enactors will portray in 2070?

"And now ladies and gentlemen, here is an authentic re-enactment of the Battle of The Green Zone."
—Some goofy Wild East history nut with a hat on like mine

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