With the aid of a handful of friends, including gunfighter and gambler Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp began searching and murdering those involved with Morgan’s death. Although he still possessed the authority of a marshal, this was quickly stripped away. He became as much a fugitive as the men he chased.
By the time his posse discovered Curly Bill’s hideout, known as Iron Springs, they had already killed two Cowboys. Earp’s posse had not expected to find Curly Bill’s encampment; they literally stumbled into it when turning a corner, looking down a shallow hill and directly at nine armed Cowboys.
The nine Cowboys reacted first, opening fire on Earp and his five friends. One of the posse’s horses fell to its side, kicking and whinnying in pain from a bullet wound, with its rider’s leg firmly stuck beneath it. Four of the posse members, unable to help their friend, retreated to cover.
But not Wyatt.
Wyatt Earp saw Curly Bill and Curly Bill saw Wyatt Earp. Each man carried a shotgun and strode toward one another with deadly purpose. Bullets whizzed and winged past, kicking up the tail of Earp’s coat, shearing off a slice of his boot heel, but he hardly noticed.
When only 15 yards separated the two men, Curly Bill lifted the shotgun and fired at Wyatt.
Curly Bill would never miss again.
Wyatt raised his own shotgun. And didn’t miss. He unloaded both barrels straight into Curly Bill’s soft belly, cutting the man almost in half in a fog of shot, smoke and misting blood. Curly Bill flipped back into a shallow pool of spring water, dead in seconds, his body torn open.
Wyatt dropped the shotgun, pulled his pistol out and provided cover until his pinned friend could be freed from the dead horse. He killed another Cowboy and then wounded yet another in what would be the last battle of the Earp Vendetta Ride.
Earp left Arizona an outlaw and never worked as a lawman again or participated in a gunfight. It’s almost as if this climactic battle against Curly Bill Brocius, a Hoosier farmer and soldier turned sadistic gang leader, could never and would never be bested.
And, in all likelihood, it never will.