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Gunfight at Ingalls, Oklahoma
The gunfight in Ingalls, Oklahoma Territory on the afternoon of September 1, 1893 is the tale of one of the bloodiest gun battles in U.S. marshal history.
It was the day the notorious Doolin-Dalton gang faced a posse of Deputies intent on their capture. In the end, nine men lay dead or wounded. About ten horses were also killed in the melay.
Several years before the famous incident, the Wild Bunch had merged with the Dalton Brothers and began robbing banks throughout the territory. Bill Doolin took charge after most of the Dalton’s died during their attempt to rob two banks at once in Coffeyville, Kansas.
After a series of more bank robberies, deputy marshals discovered the Doolin- Dalton Gang was using Ingalls as a hideout between jobs. When the posse arrived in the vicinity of the small town, the gang had already gotten wind they were coming. In fact, they sent a message to the deputies inviting them to come into town if they dared.
Deputy Marshal John Hixon leading the posse was told the gang could be found at George Ransom's saloon. Hixon, along with 14 deputies converged upon the saloon. All hell was about to break loose.
Hixon in turn, sent a message to the outlaws to surrender. Their answer was a round of rifle shots. Inside the saloon were Doolin, Bill Dalton, "Dynamite Dick" Clifton, "Red Buck" Weightman, “Bitter Creek" Newcomb, "Arkansas Tom" Jones and "Tulsa Jack" Blake. Hixon’s most capable deputies were Lafe Shadley, Tom Hueston, Dick Speed and Jim Masterson. The stage was set.
"Bitter Creek" ran out of the saloon and fired one shot towards some of the deputies. Return fire wounded him in the thigh. In response the other outlaws laid down a heavy fire at the deputies. By now both sides had the air filled with lead and the saloon was literally riddled full of holes. A horse tied in front of the saloon fell dead.
E. D. Nix
Hueston entered the saloon first and was immediately met with gunfire. As he dove for cover, Doolin shot and killed Speed who had tried to find shelter behind another horse. Deputy Shadley, who was already concealed behind it, charged in once he saw one of the outlaws fall wounded to the floor. But, Doolin quickly cut him down.
By now the posse had figured out rushing the saloon wasn’t the best solution. Deputy Masterson found some dynamite, lit a stick and tossed it inside the saloon. "Arkansas Tom" was captured but the other outlaws managed to escape out of a side door and took refuge in a nearby stable. From there they fled to the top of a nearby ridge on the outskirts of town. They stopped long enough to fire a few parting shots as they made good their escape. A few of their shots killed two innocent bystanders.
Both factions lost men that day. Deputy Speed had been killed in the initial fray. Deputies Hueston and Shadley died from their wounds the next day. “Arkansas Tom” Jones was sent to the federal prison in Guthrie, Oklahoma Territory.
E.D. Nix was the marshal for Oklahoma Territory at the time the gunfight took place. Nearly two years after the event he pieced together the details of the fight in a letter to Attorney General Judson Harmon. The letter stated a man named Murray was tending bar the day of the bloody gunfight. He had been shot by the posse and arrested for harboring fugitives.
Murray was a man who catered to the outlaw element who had made his saloon their headquarters. He and a few others kept the gang abreast of the latest movements of lawmen, supplied them with ammunition, took care of their horses and even furnished them with food and a place to sleep. Murray couldn’t be blamed for his actions. The outlaws had the town buffaloed and they feared for their lives. It was an either join them or die situation.
The letter also said Murray had framed himself at the entrance to the saloon with a rifle and was firing at the deputies. Several deputies returned fire. Murray took two bullets in the ribs and another broke his arm in two places.
By the end of 1894 most of the remaining gang had been captured or killed by the famed “Three Guardsmen,” U.S. Marshal’s Bill Tilghman, Chris Madsen and Heck Thomas.
Doolin was captured at Eureka Springs, Arkansas in 1895 by Tilghman but managed to escape into Oklahoma Territory. Thomas tracked him down in Lawson and killed him with a shotgun blast.
On May 1, 1895, gang members Charlie Pierce and "Bittercreek" were shot and killed by "The Dunn Brothers,” well known bounty hunters.