What Really Happened at the OK Corral

  • At roughly 3 in the afternoon, the Earps along with Holliday spotted the so called McLaury-Clanton gang at the end of Fremont Street in a vacant lot behind the OK Corral.
  • Most reports point to Virgil Earp taking out his revolver and shooting Billy Clanton at point blank range in the chest.
  • The Sheriff of Cochise County at the time, John Behan, had witnessed the shooting and charged the Earps and Holliday with murder.

On October 26, 1881, a gun battle erupted between a small gang of outlaws and lawmen of Tombstone, Arizona. Since Silver was discovered nearby in 1877, the town on Tombstone grew into one of the richest mining towns in the Southwest and hence attracted a lot of attention. A bank guard named Wyatt Earp, along with his brothers, Morgan and Virgil, were essentially the law and order of the town.

Wyatt Earp (March 19, 1848 – January 13, 1929) was an American frontiersman who appears frequently in a variety of well known stories of the American West, especially in notorious “Wild West” towns such as Dodge City, Kansas and Tombstone, Arizona. An itinerant hunter, businessman, gambler, and lawman, he worked in a wide variety of trades throughout his life. Among his many business ventures, he owned several saloons, maintained a brothel, mined for silver and gold, and refereed boxing matches.

On the other side, there were the Clantons, Billy and Ike and the McLaurys, Tom and Frank along with Billy Claiborne who lived on a ranch outside and were sidelined as cattle rustlers, thieves and murderers. A struggle that turned into a fierce gun battle for the control of Tombstone and the County of Cochise, is popularly called the GunFight at the OK Corral.

The Incident

Come the morning of the 25th of October, Ike Clanton and Tom McLaury rode into town for some supplies. Over the span of the next 24 hours, these two had multiple run-ins, mostly violent ones with the Earps and their friend Doc Holliday. Around 1.30 in the afternoon the next day, Billy Clanton, along with Frank McLaury and Billy Claiborne rode into town as well to join Ike and Tom. They went straight into the saloon and met Doc Holliday who sheepishly told them that Ike Clanton and Tom McLaury had taken a pistol-beating by the Earps which angered Frank and Billy leading them to vow revenge against the Earps.

John Henry “Doc” Holliday (August 14, 1851 – November 8, 1887) was an American gambler, gunfighter, and dentist. A close friend and associate of lawman Wyatt Earp, he developed a reputation as having killed more than a dozen men in various altercations, but modern researchers have concluded that, contrary to popular myth-making, Holliday killed only one or two men.

At roughly 3 in the afternoon, the Earps along with Holliday spotted the so called McLaury-Clanton gang at the end of Fremont Street in a vacant lot behind the OK Corral. Although it is still debated as to who shot first, the gunfight lasted 30 seconds wherein 30 rounds of ammunition were fired.

The Verdict

Most reports point to Virgil Earp taking out his revolver and shooting Billy Clanton at point blank range in the chest. Frank Clanton, even after being shot in the stomach by Wyatt Earp, still managed to get a few shots off before collapsing. Billy Clanton followed suit and had a similar fate.

When all was said and done, Virgil and Morgan Earp along with Doc Holliday were wounded and Billy Clanton along with McLaury brothers were dead. The remaining folks of the gang, namely Ike Clanton and Billy Claiborne ran off from the scene.

The Sheriff of Cochise County at the time, John Behan, had witnessed the shooting and charged the Earps and Holliday with murder. Although, a month later, a Tombstone judge found the accused not guilty, sighting the reason that they were perfectly justified in committing those homicides.

This short-lived incident has been immortalized in many films over the years, such as Frontier Marshal (1939), Gunfight at the OK Corral (1957), Tombstone (1993) and Wyatt Earp (1994).

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Helen Kennedy

Hi, I am a content writer & blogger at Red Dash Media. And apart from blogging frequently at work, I am into reading, writing poems in the comfort space of my home. Hey, did I tell you that I also like to go trekking with friends when in the mood to explore nature and then post all those
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