Colt Forum banner
1 - 20 of 28 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
205 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
just finished reading the biography of wild bill Hickok by j.g.rosa...a very interesting book.wild bill knew how to handle his 1851 navies in 36 caliber.the author hints that bill switched to 1860 armies later in his life. another weapon he carried was 41 derringers in his two vest pockets.THE auction I read about sometime back was a 32 RF that was bill's gun...nowhere in the biography is it mentioned that wild bill ever owned a 32 RF.WHEN wild bill was killed his close friend charly utter removed bill's weapons an promised the Hickok family that he would ship bill's revolver's to them..he never returned bill's revolvers the family stated...
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,687 Posts
Never read it, but Joe Rosa probably knows as much about Hickok as anyone. He does, imo, have a case of idol worship and a selective memory when it come to Wild Bill though.

For instance, in 'The Gunfighter Man or Myth' also by Rosa, the author devotes one sentence to the fight at Rock Creek Station, Neb. Terr. And that sentence in wrong about the cause. The truth is, in this "gunfight" Hickok, hiding behind a curtain murdered an unarmed and unaware Dave McCanles who his (Hickoks) employer-R.M.&W. owed money and then shot and killed his young (unarmed) son. Hickok partisans then proceeded to kill 2 or 3 other unarmed men. Authorities were prepared to bring charges of murder against Hickok and others, but McCanles other young son who was a witness was too scared to testify, so charges were dropped. I think one of the sons was 13 and the other around 7.

Of course, Wild Bill told quite a different tale. In one of his many versions, he single-handily killed a dozen or more of the McCanles gang, dispatching the last with an ax when he ran out of lead. One of the deceased at Rock Creek was killed with an ax, but he was unarmed. And there was no McCanles "gang". Dave McCanles was a respected businessman originally from N.Carolina, I think.

Kind of puts Wild Bill in a different light, don't it. I'm interested to know what Rosa says about this incident in the book you have.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
205 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I will look that story in my book an get back to you..his book seams well researched as he has thousands of footnotes listed.their is one of the COLE brothers buried in a cemetery in Brenham,tx. he tried to shoot but missed at about 8 ft.he got two 80 grain balls in the stomach.he died slowly in abeline,ks. 4 days later in 1871..
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
15,890 Posts
Rosa wrote another Wild Bill biography that was much more accessible then "They Called Him Wild Bill".
"They Called Him Wild Bill" is a very heavily footnoted, scholarly biography that's rather dull reading in many parts.
An interesting section is the end where none other then Jeff Cooper ran tests to determine if Hickok and the guns of the time were capable of doing some of the things attributed to Hickok.

I thought I was buying that other Rosa book and got "They Called Him Wild Bill" instead.
Now I can't remember the other books title.
The other book described a much more personal Jim Hickok, who was a humorous, likable, very good friend.
Interestingly, THE Hickok expert, Rosa, is a Brit.

To clear up one thing, Hickok was never employed by McCanles. McCanles owned the land the station was on, and Hickok worked for the stage company.
McCanles was by all valid accounts a bully and a hot head, and was in a dispute over the unpaid money he was owed by the stage company.
He took this out on the stage company employees who were handy, and had bullied the injured Hickok for some time.

One problem with much of the accounts of the West was that the people involved were willing to tell the listener whatever tall tales they wanted to hear, and Hickok, like most Westerners of the time took joy in spinning wild stories of desperate battles against a dozen men.
The telling of tall tales is an American tradition which can muddy history because people in later years can't seem to understand the difference between a wild story told to a gullible reporter who if the story wasn't wild enough, would make it better on his own, and the less glamorous truth.

Another victim of this is Buffalo Bill Cody.
Not only did he tell tall tales for fun, his Wild West Show publicity men made up even more improbable stories.
This was understood to be the "show biz" of the day and no one paid much attention to how this could distort history.
Unfortunately, today too many people fail to apply a filter to filter out the publicity and tall tales from the truth.
One thing is known, both Jim Hickok and Bill Cody never lied to friends or told deliberate lies. They made a clean line between telling wild stories to people who wanted to hear wild stories and the truth.

The truth is Jim Hickok was a rather decent, friendly man other than when it came "business" or law enforcement, and Bill Cody really was an extraordinarily brave Army scout who really was the preferred scout for the plains Army Generals.
Both men were much more than the tall tales they told to fools and lies made up by others.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,259 Posts
Rosa wrote another Wild Bill biography that was much more accessible then "They Called Him Wild Bill".
"They Called Him Wild Bill" is a very heavily footnoted, scholarly biography that's rather dull reading in many parts.
An interesting section is the end where none other then Jeff Cooper ran tests to determine if Hickok and the guns of the time were capable of doing some of the things attributed to Hickok.

I thought I was buying that other Rosa book and got "They Called Him Wild Bill" instead.
Now I can't remember the other books title.
The other book described a much more personal Jim Hickok, who was a humorous, likable, very good friend.
Interestingly, THE Hickok expert, Rosa, is a Brit.

To clear up one thing, Hickok was never employed by McCanles. McCanles owned the land the station was on, and Hickok worked for the stage company.
McCanles was by all valid accounts a bully and a hot head, and was in a dispute over the unpaid money he was owed by the stage company.
He took this out on the stage company employees who were handy, and had bullied the injured Hickok for some time.

One problem with much of the accounts of the West was that the people involved were willing to tell the listener whatever tall tales they wanted to hear, and Hickok, like most Westerners of the time took joy in spinning wild stories of desperate battles against a dozen men.
The telling of tall tales is an American tradition which can muddy history because people in later years can't seem to understand the difference between a wild story told to a gullible reporter who if the story wasn't wild enough, would make it better on his own, and the less glamorous truth.

Another victim of this is Buffalo Bill Cody.
Not only did he tell tall tales for fun, his Wild West Show publicity men made up even more improbable stories.
This was understood to be the "show biz" of the day and no one paid much attention to how this could distort history.
Unfortunately, today too many people fail to apply a filter to filter out the publicity and tall tales from the truth.
One thing is known, both Jim Hickok and Bill Cody never lied to friends or told deliberate lies. They made a clean line between telling wild stories to people who wanted to hear wild stories and the truth.

The truth is Jim Hickok was a rather decent, friendly man other than when it came "business" or law enforcement, and Bill Cody really was an extraordinarily brave Army scout who really was the preferred scout for the plains Army Generals.
Both men were much more than the tall tales they told to fools and lies made up by others.
Of all people picked to write about the SA jeff cooper was one of the worst,he hated the SA,in all the years I knew him I never saw him shoot one,when Howard & Janet French owned their magazine[Guns & Ammo} Janet told me that they fired him from the magazine because they couldn't get him to write about anything except the 1911,one of coopers personal dislikes was when someone entered one of his combat matches w/a SA & did well w/it[except Thell Reed & Ray Chapman].Someone on here recently wrote that cooper was actually afraid of SA's whether he was or not I don't know.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,742 Posts
One of "Wild Bill's guns" reportedly was a .44 R.F. Hammond Bulldog single shot pistol. This, I believe, was the .44 Short R.F., not the .44 Henry R.F. And one account I read in a magazine article many, many years ago, had Hickock carrying two Colt Dragoons early on, prior to going to the Colt Navies.

Bob Wright

Bob Wright
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,299 Posts
I never seen anything about wild bill owning a colt single action army. He stuck with the navys etc. Why? He certainly was around them before his desmise. As part of buffalo bills show I would think that most everyone else had them. He was killed August 2, 1876. I know that supposedly when they first came out the first year or two it was just for the army but they were available to the civilians by 1874 or before and wild bill was suppose to be a army scout anyway but it might have been many years earlier. But still, if anyone would be the first to get one you would have guessed wild bill should have been among the first. Maybe he was always broke gambling and loved those navys he had.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
15,890 Posts
Reports had it that Wild Bill didn't fully trust the then new cartridge pistols.
Accounts of the time indicated that mis-fires were common.

As example, in a strange twist of fate, when the Colt SAA that Hickok's killer shot him with was checked, of the 6 rounds in the gun 5 were reported to mis-fire. The only cartridge that worked was the one McCall fired into Hickok's head.

One writer told about Hickok's daily procedure with his Colt Army revolvers during his time as town Marshal in Dodge City.
In the morning he's empty one gun out the back door of his cabin, then carefully clean it, and reload. Then, he'd do the same with the other gun.
After cleaning, he'd inspect the powder to insure it wasn't damp, and he always bought fresh powder often.
He'd measure each powder charge, inspect the bullet, then cap the gun after closely inspecting the fresh percussion caps he bought often.
When asked why the almost excruciating procedure, Hickok said "When I draw my guns I have to be SURE".

It seems that Hickok just put more trust in the Colt Army revolvers he'd carried for years.

Whatever Jeff Cooper thought of the Single Action, he gave a fair evaluation of the muzzle loading revolvers of the time and whether the guns or Hickok could have done the things attributed to him.
Coopers findings on much of it were that the guns simply weren't accurate enough, and even modern top pistol experts couldn't replicate things people said Hickok could do.

That Hickok was an incredible gunman and got out of his guns everything they were capable of was well documented.
During his Dodge City days as marshal he often practiced outside of town and liked for people to come watch. He said that it was good advertising that might make a potential troublemaker to think twice before taking him on.

One thing that people commented on was that Hickok would stand between two telegraph poles, aim at one, then aim his other gun at the other pole and fire both guns simultaneously, hitting both poles at the same time.
In those days, telegraph poles were much farther apart then modern telephone poles.

He also could keep a tin can bouncing while firing a gun with each hand at the same time.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
205 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
as told about the mccales killing the truth an tall tales go in different direction's .wild bill was known not to tolerate any abuse of women an children.heck he once killed a friend over a gambling debt.bill said he only borrowed $25.00 his friend said he owed $35.00 for bill's pocket watch.he shot him as he drew walking across the square.the shooting was witnessed an claimed they were 80 to 100 paces apart.that is one long shot from a 51 navy.. bill was quoted as saying you shoot for the belly button an the fight is over...
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
15,890 Posts
Most historical accounts of the Springfield gunfight between Hickok and Dave Tutt have it that they were "acquaintances" who gambled together.
Tutt won a hand one night and Hickok had to give Tutt his prized watch as collateral.

Tutt was bragging around town about having Hickok's watch and basically "getting in Hickok's face" about it.
With tempers running high they more or less agreed that the next time they saw each other there'd be a fight.

In one of the very few Hollywood style gunfights ever recorded, they met around noon in the courthouse square in Springfield Missouri in front a good number of witnesses.
Tutt drew and fired off a fast shot, missing.
Hickok drew what most witnesses said was a Colt .44 Dragoon, rested the gun over his left arm , took careful aim and shot Tutt dead.
Most accounts have it that they were about 75 yards apart.

As a side note, Captain Walker sent a letter to Sam Colt from Mexico describing how the Colt Walker revolvers he'd just received from Colt worked.
He said that the new revolver was more accurate and effective than a musket at 100 yards and equal to a rifle at 200 yards.
This makes Hickok managing to kill Tutt with one shot at 75 yards a reasonable feat.

What the Tutt affair showed was what made Hickok such an effective gunman. He kept a cool head and had only one thought, and that was killing the man he was facing.
That cold nerve is why many experts put Hickok as the most deadly gunfighter of the West.
Unlike people like Clay Allison and John Wesley Hardin, Hickok wasn't a psycho who killed for fun.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,666 Posts
I've seen accounts of this shooting quoting the distance as 75 paces, making it somewhere between 65 and 70 yards. For an accomplished shooter this is not a particularly impressive shot. I have used two sheets of typing paper, side by side, topped with an 8" round paper plate as a target roughly the chest and head area of a man. I placed 29 out of 30 shots on that target at 50 metres, shooting one-handed with a Uberti 1861 Navy revolver - and I'm not a good shooter by any means. If Hickok hit Tutt in the heart, as has been stated in some accounts, I think it was pure luck.

Rio
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12,832 Posts
I used to go to the old Police Range in Pacifica California as a teenager, and fire the early 1960s Italian rendition of a Colt 1851 Navy my dad more or less gave me, firing it at 75 Yards, at an average size Cereal Box and a Coffee Can.

I could hit the Cereal Box most of the time ( say, 8 out of 10 ) and, the ( 1 lb size ) Coffee Can about half the time.

This was firing 'Duelist Style', one Handed, arm out-stretched, and, in my case, with no training.

I see no reason why someone of experience and good motor skills could not do a lot better 'back when', with an original Colt Navy, 1860 Army, Dragoon or Walker.

These were more or less 'sighted' for 75 Yards I think, anyway.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,299 Posts
When you think about it most of us really dont shoot much in comparison to guys like hickok did. Most of us "accumulators" when we do shoot are usualy trying out different guns we just got etc. Those guys wore the same gun every day and probley shot a few rounds almost daily keeping their hand in. We have to drive to find a place to shoot etc where they probably could shoot anytime they wanted to wherever they were. Thats a big difference! When I was young I shot informally a lot and think I was good. Now I seldom shoot and cant hit.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,562 Posts
Most historical accounts of the Springfield gunfight between Hickok and Dave Tutt have it that they were "acquaintances" who gambled together.
Tutt won a hand one night and Hickok had to give Tutt his prized watch as collateral.

Tutt was bragging around town about having Hickok's watch and basically "getting in Hickok's face" about it.
With tempers running high they more or less agreed that the next time they saw each other there'd be a fight.

In one of the very few Hollywood style gunfights ever recorded, they met around noon in the courthouse square in Springfield Missouri in front a good number of witnesses.
Tutt drew and fired off a fast shot, missing.
Hickok drew what most witnesses said was a Colt .44 Dragoon, rested the gun over his left arm , took careful aim and shot Tutt dead.
Most accounts have it that they were about 75 yards apart.

As a side note, Captain Walker sent a letter to Sam Colt from Mexico describing how the Colt Walker revolvers he'd just received from Colt worked.
He said that the new revolver was more accurate and effective than a musket at 100 yards and equal to a rifle at 200 yards.
This makes Hickok managing to kill Tutt with one shot at 75 yards a reasonable feat.

What the Tutt affair showed was what made Hickok such an effective gunman. He kept a cool head and had only one thought, and that was killing the man he was facing.
That cold nerve is why many experts put Hickok as the most deadly gunfighter of the West.
Unlike people like Clay Allison and John Wesley Hardin, Hickok wasn't a psycho who killed for fun.
Wonder if Hickok walked over and got his watch back?
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
15,890 Posts
I can't remember exactly how, or when, but Wild Bill got his watch back.
Seems Dave Tutt had run out of time and didn't need it anymore.

What made Hickok so deadly was that while other men were either not thinking at all or were thinking about being killed, Hickok was thinking very clearly about killing his opponent. It was that rare ability to think clearly while someone was trying to kill him and still act that made him the winner every time.

One of my favorite Will Bill stories was in the other Rosa book.
Bill Cody had sent for Jim Hickok to come to New York City to appear in Cody's stage show with him and Texas Jack Omohundro.
Cody had told Hickok exactly how much to pay the cabbie for the trip from the train station to the hotel.

The cab pulls up in front of the hotel and the cabbie told Hickok the bill. As usual, he'd figured Hickok as a rube, so he'd given Hickok a "tour" of New York.
Hickok refused to pay because it was a lot more then Bill Cody told him it would be and Hickok was no fool.

The cabbie tried to force Hickok to pay up and, not knowing what he had, started swinging.
Hickok was a very large, muscular, and experienced fighter and he proceeded to wipe up the sidewalk with the cabbie in a spectacular fist fight that grew a crowd to watch a famously tough New York City cabbie get pounded.

Meanwhile, inside the hotel Bill Cody and the bell captain were watching all this through the big glass doors of the hotel.
The bell captain leaned over and quietly asked Cody "Does he do this often"?
Cody replied, "It could be a whole lot worse, he could start shootin'".
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
91 Posts
One problem with much of the accounts of the West was that the people involved were willing to tell the listener whatever tall tales they wanted to hear, and Hickok, like most Westerners of the time took joy in spinning wild stories of desperate battles against a dozen men.

The telling of tall tales is an American tradition which can muddy history because people in later years can't seem to understand the difference between a wild story told to a gullible reporter who if the story wasn't wild enough, would make it better on his own, and the less glamorous truth.
The American tradition of “tall tale telling” is not confined to the 19[SUP]th[/SUP] century. Some years ago I researched the Alvin York story of the shooting of a German infantry squad with a .45 Automatic pistol and came to the conclusion that the claim that York shot down a charging rifle squad with a .45 auto (from back to front no less) is just such a tall tale. York himself made no such direct claim, and the tale appeared to have been the invention of a writer who interviewed him after the World War. (This of course didn’t prevent Jeff Cooper from reporting the tale as gospel. Cooper gave it a new lease on life in the early 70s and it is now found all over the internet as “fact”.)

An even more recent example of this phenomenon is Colonel Charles Askin’s 1985 autobiography Unrepentant Sinner. I read the book a few years after it was published and I remember thinking at the time (and still believe) that the tough old paratrooper colonel was facitiously exaggerating his deadliness, much in the manner of the “tale telling” tradition of the old west. Unfortunately the subtlety of Askin’s writing was lost on many contemporary readers, in particular the prissy Massad Ayoob.

Whether Clay Allison or Wes Hardin were “psychopaths” in the modern sense of the term is debatable. Allison was afflicted with some sort of periodic mental illness probably as the result of trauma to the head as a child. He was, after all, discharged from the Confederate Army during the Civil War for mental instability. This is rather extraordinary in itself, since the field of mental health hadn’t even been invented yet. While Allison did exhibit behavior peculiar even by the standards of the day, juries of his peers never found him to act with malice.

Wes Hardin grew to manhood during the Reconstruction era. At its core, Reconstruction was an attempt by Washington politicians to impose a social and political revolution on a defeated population using military force or the threat of military force. (History, as Mark Twain said, doesn’t repeat itself but it rhymes.) Then as now, some of the recipients of such largess chose to respond to force with force. Hardin was one of these. While Hardin did not back down from a fight, often with deadly consequences to those whom he quarreled with, there is no evidence that he enjoyed killing. He was though, very good at it, as was Wild Bill.

Hardin was also the source of one of the most intriguing stories about Hickok to emerge from the Wild West. In his autobiography, The Life of John Wesley Hardin, Hardin describes meeting Hickok in Abilene:

Hardin had been walking behind Hickok on a street in Abilene…… “Wild Bill whirled around and met me. ‘He said, what are you howling about and what are you doing with those pistols on?’

“I said, ‘I am just taking in the town.’

“He pulled his pistol and said ‘Take those pistols off. I arrest you.’

“I said all right and pulled them out of the scabbard, but while he was reaching for them, I reversed them and whirled them over on him with the muzzles in his face, springing back at the same time. I told him to put his pistols up which he did. I cursed him for (sic) a long haired scoundrel that would shoot a boy with his back to him (as I had been told he intended to do to me).

“’He said, ‘Little Arkansas (Hardin’s alias at the time) you have been wrongly informed.’

“I shouted (presumably to his colleagues) ‘This is my fight and I’ll kill the first man that fires a gun.’

“Bill said, ‘You are the gamest and quickest boy I ever saw. Let us compromise this matter and I will be your friend. Let us go in here and take a drink, as I want to talk to you and give you some advice.’”

Hardin then states that he and Hickok went to a saloon's private room, drank, chatted and emerged friends. While this account (written years after Hickok’s death) has elements of the tall tale to it (I rather doubt Hickok was taken in by the road agent spin or that he stood idly by while being cursed by Hardin) some of it does ring true, particularly if it is read in its entire context. I find the idea of the meeting of the old West’s two deadliest gunfighters intriguing, and can’t help but wonder what advice Hickok gave Hardin.
 
1 - 20 of 28 Posts
Top