The Let's Play Archive

Call of Juarez: Gunslinger

by Fleve

Part 2: A Fistful of Bullets

Double-part this time, cause one episode took less than 10 minutes, that’d been a bit too short.

If I remember correctly, this’ll be (sortof) the last we’ll see of Billy the Kid, so here’s some concept art thrown in to close that part of the story. I like how they designed his character, but the description is a tad bit edgy for my taste; some art decisions are better left unspoken. The nuggets are a fun read though, and you’ll get to find out what the real history was like without Silas shoehorning himself into it.

Concept Art

Nuggets of Truth

William Henry McCarty, also known as William H. Bonney, Kid Antrim, or Billy the Kid, was probably born between 1859 and 1861. He died on July 14, 1881, shot by the sheriff Pat Garrett in Fort Sumner, NM. To this day, he remains one of the Wild West's most recognizable outlaws.

Billy stood approximately 5'8" tall and was of slender build, with blue eyes, blond hair, and a boyish charm. Many reliable sources can vouch for his sense of humor, generosity, and friendly nature. He was shrewd, relentless, and reckless and often put his own life in danger for those he cared about. He loved to sing and dance and could read and write. His handwriting was said to be extremely neat. Billy was very popular with the ladies although he never played favorites.

Not one soul who knew him personally ever said he had an explosive temper or a propensity to kill at the slightest provocation. The Kid owes that image to his killer, Pat Garrett, who wrote a book embellishing his exploits two years after Billy's death. Hollywood then burnished that myth to a high shine. Contrary to popular belief, Billy was not a stone cold killer or even much of a criminal. He never lived an outlaw life of robbing banks, stagecoaches, or trains. Petty rustling and horse-thievery were the worst of his transgressions.

Billy was credited with killing 21 people, but that number was inflated considerably. He definitely killed four men (two in self-defense, two during a jailbreak) and he participated in shootouts – during the Lincoln County War – which left another five people dead. But then again, they might or might not have been killed by the bullets of Billy the kid.

John Henry Holliday, better known as "Doc" due to his degree in dentistry, was born on August 14, 1851 and died of tuberculosis on November 8, 1887. He is best remembered as Wyatt Earp's friend. The famous sheriff wrote about Holliday in an 1896 article. "Doc was a dentist, not a lawman or an assassin, whom necessity had made a gambler, a gentleman whom disease had made a frontier vagabond; a philosopher whom life had made a caustic wit, a long, lean ash-blond fellow nearly dead with consumption, and at the same time the most skillful gambler and the nerviest, speediest, deadliest man with a six-gun that I ever knew."

Doc Holliday fought in the famous "Gunfight at the UK Corral" at Wyatt's side. He received a flesh wound and, in return, filled Tom and Frank McLaury full of lead, killing at least the former of the two. No one ever expected that Holliday would die in bed with his boots off, least of all him. The tuberculosis that ravaged his body for most of his days finally took his life. On his deathbed, he asked his nurse for whiskey. When she refused him, he looked down at his bootless feet and uttered his last words. "Damn, this is funy."

The Wild West was often a lawless place, but with the influx of farmers, ranchers, miners, store keeps and the "civilization" that came along with them, more and more appeals for law and order could be heard. There was a need for lawmen and so Sheriffs were elected, Deputy U.S. Marshals were appointed, and Texas Rangers were hired to keep the peace. There were many heroic figures in the ranks of law enforcement. Some of the best known were Wild Bill Hickok, Pat Garrett, Wyatt Earp, Seth Bullock, and Bat Masterson. But not all of them had such spotless reputations.

Many of them worked both sides of the law, going from outlaw to lawman and from sheriff back to bandit; like Henry Plummer, secretly commanding the hundred man gang known as The Innocents.

Then there was the brutal Bob Ollinger and the corrupt Johnny Behan, who supported the nefarious outlaw gang known as The Cowboys. The Dalton brothers famously abandoned their tin stars to pursue more lucrative careers as bank robbers. That proved to be a poor idea as most of those brothers ended up dead in the dusty main street of Coffeyville, Kansas, after they made the роог decision to rob two banks at the same time.

Newman Haynes Clanton, also known as "Old Man" Clanton, was born circa 1816 and lived until his violent death on August 13, 1881. It is believed that the "Old Man" was stealing cattle from Mexican rancheros and selling them in the United States. He was the alleged leader of "The Cowboys," a loose gang of outlaws, gunmen, rustlers, and cutthroats.

In July of 1879, "The Cowboys", among them Johnny Ringo, "Curly Bill” Brocius, Frank and Tom McLaury, and Ike and Billy Clanton – led by the Old Man - executed the leader of a squad of Mexican Rurales. The Mexicans had illegally crossed the border in pursuit of murderers who had robbed a rancho in Sonora, Mexico. Two years later, in July 1881, "The Cowboys" massacred and robbed nineteen Mexican smugglers transporting silver through Skeleton Canyon. Only weeks after that event, the Old Man, with several of his men, were herding stolen cattle through Guadalupe Canyon near the border. At dawn, the Rurales had their revenge. Most of the cowboys accompanying Clanton died that day. Old Man Clanton himself was shot while preparing his breakfast, falling face first into the cooking fire.

Guardia Rural, commonly called the Rurales, was a mounted Mexican force tasked with policing bandits on Mexican soil. It existed between 1861 and 1914, and over time grew from a force of a few hundred to four thousand. Heavily armed with sabers, rifles and pistols, wearing characteristic silver-lined uniforms, wide-brimmed sombreros and red or black ties, the Rurales were probably the most flamboyant police force in the world, next to the Vatican guard.

On August 3, 1881 in Guadalupe Canyon on the Arizona/New Mexico border, a group of vengeful Rurales (possibly under the command of Capitan Alfredo Carrillo who had barely escaped alive from a previous encounter with bandits) surprised Old Man Clanton and six members of his outlaw gang, The Cowboys. Two weeks earlier Clanton and The Cowboys had massacred Mexican smugglers transporting silver across the border. Two years before that incident, the Cowboys had ambushed and murdered a squad of Rurales who had crossed the border into Arizona. At Guadalupe Canyon, Clanton's luck finally ran out. Five Cowboys including the Old Man himself died in the Rurales' ambush. Operating on US territory, the Rurales acted without approval from any local authority. Thus, their act of vengeance on Clanton was no different than what Clanton had perpetrated two years earlier.

One of the most spectacular jailbreaks in the history of the Wild West took place on April 28, 1881. Four months after his apprehension at Stinking Springs, Billy the Kid was sentenced to death by hanging. His execution was to take place exactly one month later, on May 13. Until then McCarty was to be held in Lincoln. On the second floor of the city courthouse, Billy was guarded by two of Pat Garrett's deputies. Jim Bell and Bob Ollinger.

The specific details of the events that took place on April 28th are sketchy, but it is suspected that a friend of Billy's left a revolver hidden in the privy. Another version of the tale has McCarty taking a gun from Bell by force during a struggle on the stairs. We'll probably never know the truth. One thing is certain. Billy shot Jim Bell and he was dead before he finished falling down the stairs. The other guard, Ollinger, heard the shots and ran towards the courthouse. Billy was armed with Ollinger's 10-gauge double-barreled shotgun and was waiting by the window for its owner. When Ollinger appeared, he heard "Hello Bob" seconds before the Kid shot him with his own weapon.

It took Billy an hour to remove his leg irons using a pickaxe. Then he mounted a horse and rode away at a leisurely pace, singing happily, if the stories are to be believed.

Before the automobile, the horse was the primary means of transport in the Old West and having one often meant the difference between life and death for settlers living in the mountains or the endless prairies of the western United States. Without a horse, there was no way to work the land or herd cattle or get to the mine or fetch a town doctor in time to save whoever had fallen ill or been injured. In fact, without a horse, it was mighty hard to survive at all.

No wonder that horse thieves were treated as the scum of the Earth and were usually lynched without a trial. A gallows was a common sight in the Wild West and many men met their demise at the end of a rope because they stole an animal that didn't belong to them.