On July 21, 1865, Wild Bill Hickok shot Davis Tutt in a duel in Springfield, Mo. The event became known as the first real shootout in Old West.
Tutt and Hickok, both gamblers, had at one point been friends, despite the fact that Tutt was a Confederate Army veteran, and Hickok had been a scout for the Union Army. Davis Tutt originally came from Marion County, Arkansas, where his family had been involved in the Tutt–Everett War, during which several of his family members had been killed. He had come north to Missouri following the civil war. Hickok had been born in Illinois, coming west after mistakenly thinking he had killed a man in a drunken brawl
The eventual falling out between Hickok and Tutt reportedly occurred over women. There were reports that Hickok had fathered an illegitimate child with Tutt’s sister, while Tutt had been observed paying a great deal of attention to Wild Bill’s paramour, Susanna Moore. When Hickok started to refuse to play in any card game that included Tutt,
the cowboy retaliated by openly supporting other local card-players with advice and money in a dedicated attempt to bankrupt Hickok
What began as an argument over gambling debts, turned deadly when Tutt seized a prize watch of Wild Bill’s as collateral.
Warned against wearing the watch in public to humiliate Wild Bill, Tutt appeared on the square on July 21, prominently wearing the watch. The two men then unsuccessfully negotiated the debt and the watch’s return.
Hickok returned to the square at 6 p.m. to again find Tutt displaying his watch. Wild Bill gave Tutt his final warning. “Don’t you come around here with that watch.” Tutt answered by placing his hand on his pistol.
Standing about 75 yards apart and facing each other sideways in dueling positions, Tutt drew his gun first. Wild Bill steadied his aim across his opposite forearm. Both paused, then fired near simultaneously.
Tutt missed. Wild Will’s shot passed through Tutt’s chest. Reeling from the wound, Tutt staggered back to the nearest building before collapsing.
Wild Bill was acquitted of manslaughter by a jury after a three-day trial. Nothing better described the times than the fact that dangling a watch held as security for a poker debt was widely regarded as a justifiable provocation for resorting to firearms.
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