Classic Gunfights

Number One With a Bullet

Texas John Slaughter vs Barney Gallagher


Click image above for larger view

Date Unknown, 1876

While en route from Arizona back to Texas, cattleman John Slaughter is holding his herd of cattle at John Chisum’s South Spring Ranch near Roswell, New Mexico.

While camped near the Chisum mercantile store, Slaughter receives word that two Texas rustlers, Barney Gallagher (also styled as Gallegher) and a cowboy named Boyd, are in the vicinity. Slaughter believes these two were responsible for stealing some of his herd in Texas. The rustlers made use of a fraudulent bill of sale to cover their theft.

Tanked up on whiskey, Gallagher and Boyd visit the Chisum store where they learn that Slaughter is nearby with his herd. Gallagher rides up to the tail end of the herd and tells the herder, “You tell that little rat-headed son of a bitch up front, I’m here to kill him.”

“Wait right here,” the cowhand tells Gallagher as the drag rider lopes to the front to wave down his boss.

As soon as he hears the threat, Slaughter reins his horse around and comes back through the herd on the jump. Gallagher spurs his horse forward and fires his shotgun, swerving to the side to make sure the buckshot will find its mark. Riding at a gallop, Slaughter pulls a pistol from the pommel of his saddle and fires, hitting Gallagher in the heart and dropping him from the saddle.

This is the version of the fight as told by author Allen A. Erwin in 1965’s The Southwest of...

The full text of this article is available to True West Magazine subscribers only.

Get instant access to subscriber content on!

When it comes to keeping the lore of the West alive, nobody does it better. True West readers get the no-holds-barred, straight shootin' facts about the West from our staff of experts and historians.

Save up to 67% off the newsstand cover price!

1 year (12 issues) - only $29.95
(Newsstand cover price--$71.88)

For even greater savings:

2 years (24 issues) - only $49.95
(Newsstand cover price--$143.76)

3 years (36 issues) - only $69.95
(Newsstand cover price--$215.64) BEST OFFER!

After subscribing, just come back here and register with us by clicking on the register link below.


True West Magazine Issue October 2014
Buy This Back Issue: October 2014


True West Magazine Issue November 2014
Buy This Back Issue: Nov 2014


True West Magazine Issue December 2014
Buy This Back Issue: Dec 2014


True West Magazine Issue January 2015
Buy This Back Issue: Jan 2015


True West Magazine Issue February 2015
Buy This Back Issue: Feb 2015

True West Site Guide


True West captures the spirit of the American West with authenticity, personality and humor by linking our history to our present. Whether you call it the Wild West, the Old West or the Far West, America's frontier history comes to life in True West, the world's oldest, continuously published Western Americana magazine.

Western movie fans, re-enactors, history buffs and road warriors, we got your history covered: outlaw, cowboy, Indian, lawman, gunfighter, fur trapper, miner, prospector, gambler, soldier, entertainer and pioneer. Check out these True Westerners now!

Product of the Month

The Illustrated Life and Times of Wyatt Earp

Wyatt Earp

"Your book is fascinating, coupling your powerful illustrations [and] tracking...from birth to Tombstone to the legend [Wyatt] had become;...even Wyatt would approve." --By Hugh O'Brian, of the TV series The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp

"Hands down the definitive books on Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday." --By Allen Barra, New York Newsday