Western Life

After The Gunfight at the OK Corral

The Shootout

The gunfight of OK Corral was a shootout between the members of an outlaw gang called the Cowboys and lawmen. It was only a matter of 30 seconds when Fred White lost his life due to the shooting that took place at 3:00pm on that Wednesday afternoon in 1881. This shooting is known to be the most famous one in the history of Wild West and took place in Tombstone, Arizona.

This incident was an accident, even Fred White would insist that while he was lying there on his deathbed. After the death of Fred White, Virgil Earp was assigned the position of being the new city marshal and his rules were very strict. Under his rule, no one was allowed to carry any weapon within the limits of the town. Carrying a weapon became illegal. According to the new law, the Earp brothers had the right to arrest any cowboy they saw in town.

However, John Behan who was the county sheriff at that time could do little to bring cowboys to justice. The Earp brothers became angry due to this and Wyatt Earp was looking for some good publicity which would make way for him to become the next county sheriff at that time. Earp made a deal with Ike Clanton, a rancher who was close to the cowboys, he was to bring them to justice and in return they were to receive a reward of $6000.

The Outcome of the Shootout

The cowboys died and many people took sides with them. Their funeral was attended by more than 300 people who came to watch. As described in the papers, the funeral was the largest ever in the history of Tombstone. After weeks of having witnesses and gathering testimonies, it was declared by Judge Wells Spicer that the gunfight at O.K Corral was not just about lawmen making sure that law and order was followed, but it was more of an act of violence by men having a vendetta.

However, the Holliday and Earp’s were spared because of the nature of Wild West. The decision of Judge Spicer still remains a matter of debate, however. It was an initiation of what would be the most brutal era in the history of Wild West and the whole American frontier.

A few days after the trial of O.K Corral gunfight, there was an incident when a cowboy fired a shotgun through a saloon and into Virgil Earp’s back. Virgil was lucky and survived, but his brother Morgan was not lucky enough and later died after the incident.

The shootout at O.K Corral still remains an infamous and brutal incident in the history of Wild West. There was no actual winner in this gunfight, and is still a topic of debate for many people.


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