Classic Gunfights

Number One With a Bullet

Texas John Slaughter vs Barney Gallagher

texas-john-slaughter_barney-gallagher

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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...

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