September 9, 2023
Some Old West concepts make me grin.
"I don’t think it could have happened. Too many supporters of the Earps. Remember by October 1881 not too many people were enjoying the cow-boy faction. The Earps and Holliday were acquitted of the gunfight. Tombstone was going through a political change. The town was grown from the small mining camp of 1879. Cow-boys time was at an end."
—Unknown (I would give the person credit but this is how they chose to post their reply)
Whether the residents of Tombstone "were enjoying the cowboy faction," or not, remember, in John Boessenecker's fine book "Ride The Devil's Herd" he makes the point that the Cowboys were perhaps 400 strong and they had a big influence in the county. And while the Earps had a significant amount of supporters in town (70 vigilantes showed up after the street fight), I still maintain, if the Cowboys had made a run on that jail, I think they might have successfully lynched their enemies. You know they discussed it, perhaps at some length.
All that said, the Cowboys obviously did not choose to rush the makeshift jail and perhaps it had to do with the amount of firepower around the jail, but I doubt they would have been denied if they were so inclined. Keep in mind, these are the same guys who successfully stopped and attacked a train at Stein's Pass. They were not real shy about attacking anything!
Also, the point that the town was growing up from a mining camp, is partially true, but the fact is, after the mines flooded (mere months after the O.K. Corral events) virtually all of Earp's friends and supporters abandoned Tombstone and the Cowboys essentially won the war by default. So much so, that by the 1920s you could see a sign on Allen Street that said Morgan Earp was killed on this spot because he was "too slow on the draw."
For whatever reason the Cowboys did not attempt to lynch Doc and Wyatt, but I do believe they were more vulnerable than what has been believed.
"Yes, well, that's just like your opinion, man."
—The Dude, The Big Lebowski