Classic Gunfights

Doc Hits Bottom (But Not Much Else)

Doc Holliday vs Billy Allen

classic-gunfights-doc-holliday-illustration-bob-boze-bell

August 19, 1884

Broke, sick and usually drunk, Doc Holliday hits rock bottom in Leadville, Colorado. Today, a fellow gambler, Billy Allen, is demanding Doc repay a $5 loan by noon, “or else.”

Afraid for his life, Doc goes to his room at 405 Harrison and retrieves his pistol (variously described as a Colt .41 or .44 caliber). He hands off the gun to someone, possibly his gambling pal Pat Sweeney, who takes it to Hyman’s saloon at 316 Harrison. As it is against the law to carry the weapon inside, that person stores Doc’s pistol for him under the bar.

When Holliday reaches the saloon, he waits nervously by a cigar case next to the bar. He has already told the police about the situation, but he is worried Allen will catch up to him first.

After a shoe shine, Allen enters Hyman’s at about five p.m. with his hand suspiciously in his pocket. Doc quickly reaches down, grabs his pistol, leans over the cigar case and fires.

The first bullet hits the door casing above Allen, who turns to run, but trips and falls forward. Allen is...

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