Friday, December 12, 1879
"November 21st, 1879 - Bloody Friday, and its before and after events"
On the 25th of September, there was a fire in the town of Deadwood out in the South Dakota country, where more than 300 buildings burned down and over 2,000 folks was made homeless.
On or about a frosty November 20th, after coming back up from the badlands with the lone surviving fugitive of 5 I arrested, as me and the Marshal was comin' up middle of the town from the south, 3 wagons was comin' through Rustler's Pass in the east. --
We originally had 5 men on a fugitive warrant dated September, but was late gettin' to us and didn't arrive until the mornin' of October 26th. It arrived with a new Judge named Jedidiah Smyth who brought 7 cocky 20 - 23 year old and one near 30 year old who was professional gunslingers with badges. I didn't like either their looks or attitudes, and something was amiss that I just could not quite put into words, or quite know clearly what was wrong. It was more than a feelin', but the Marshal was now back out in the street with me givin' me orders and a job to do, even as I kept a dead eye on these fellas and had my loops off the hammers of my six guns, my hammers cocked, and instinctively ready to draw even while I was listenin' eyein' them as they wouldn't stop starin' at and eyein' me.
The Marshal gave me an hour to saddle up and make preparations with Beth at the General Store and another hour to go home to say goodbye to the wife and see she had what she needed. I waited a few moments until the hired guns with badges followed the judge into a house to let, and then put my guns back to safe at rest and secured in the holsters, afore carryin' out the Marshal's directive. In less than an hour and a half, me and the Marshal was saddled up, and ridin' at a good trot to where we was a goin', as it looked like rain would be rolled in by late afternoon or early evenin'.
In a growin' new city called Dallas, havin' hightailed it part of the way by trail and part of the way by train as we tried to beat returnin' when snow and ice was on the ground, though we arrived on November 3rd, on November 4th we picked up 5 rustler - murderer - stage robbers captured in a crooked card game by 3 Texas Rangers. While we was there me and the Marshal helped stop a back-shootin' of a Texas Sergeant, who thereafter took us under his wing as his personal guests until we could have a local judge sign off the release we needed for out of state extradition at 9 am the mornin' of the 4th. That Texas Ranger Sergeant talked us into buyin' two extra 16 round Henry repeatin' rifles with sleeves at $10 apiece, and then and extra 300 rounds apiece for them guns. They was brand new and rarely used, and we would find out later that they was confiscated off these same fellas we was bringin' back, who had just bought them (they said) with money from a poker game. The Sergeant had told us that these was confiscated and sold to us as the hotel these fugitives stayed in was owed money for bills they accrued through the meals, rooms, and liquor supplied to them.
While passin' the time until we could get our extradition and receipts of prisoners signed off, I showed the Texas Ranger Sergeant a few pointers on sharp shootin' I learned durin' the war, and he showed me two new things I didn't know myself that helped make me even better. Those two pointers both helped me and the Marshal at about 3:30 in the dark mornin' hours of the 7th, when 11 others of the gang of the 5 fugitives we was arrestin' bushwhacked me and the Marshal in a wood outside a train depot somewheres in western Missouri, and whether accidentally or intentionally, they killed 4 of their boys in our custody in a furious 6 minute gunfight in which me and the Marshal fired off near 200 rounds apiece, while we killed 8 of theirs and 3 got away (we know at least 2 bein' shot, and both of them at least twice or maybe even 3 times based on the blood spray onto a few of the trees and leaves on the ground where they was).
The Local Sheriff came out and we stayed another 6 hours filin' reports and fillin' out paperwork, and then caught the late mornin' train headin' where we wanted to go, and rode in the mail car to keep out of sight and spare any passengers as much we could of any danger we might put them to if we was in their midst.
-- Now regardin' those 3 wagons that left Deadwood, South Dakota way. They came from the East Road and me and the Marshal had just cut through the middle of town from the south. We both met at the same juncture of where South Road and Main Street meet, and out of habit in greetin' new and passin' through folks, got to talkin'. Even as we was talkin., I casually noticed that a new Tavern had taken over what was just a Hay and Feed Store on the Southeast corner of where South Road and Main Street met. It seems that the Marshall was familiar with two of the men and one of the women folk in one of those 3 wagons, and after I got our lone fugitive put behind the bars, I was to take these folks up to Marshall Jackson's house and get them familiar with the place afore I could get home and see the wife and my children. I came home and found a very happy and joyous family greetin', which made me feel like I was really home in a way I wanted at that moment to last forever. Then, I noticed the wife had a limp she was hidin' and I was concerned, but she didn't want to spoil the moment. That night, I saw the reason for her limp. There was a huge black and blue mark that covered most of the wife's left outer thigh, hip area, and up to her side below the ribs. It looked as if it was done by stomps and kicks. She refused to talk about it, and in my mind I was determined to find out what had happened.
How Friday November 21st will be remembered in our town as "Deputy B's Bloody Friday"
We was now dealin' with a Judge named Jedediah Smyth, who made even Judge Hollister a deeply feared of him and cowardly regardin' that man. The Marshal and me were given a bunch of writs piled up signed off by Judge Smyth while he was out drinkin' all night in a Saloon, and the oldest of his gunslingers with a badge came in just after 6 in the mornin' and plopped the whiskey smellin' writs on the Marshal's desk and told the Marshal the Judge was wanted them all to be to be served before Court commenced at 11 am that mornin'. Near as I could tell, there must have been 60. I was wrong. That turkey trottin' coot of a Judge had signed off 86 writs that needed to be served to every single business and some of the residences on Main Street.
The Marshal and I spent 20 minutes goin' through them all, and then he muttered some profane words, grabbed up his new Henry repeatin' rifle, loaded a last 4 shells into it, and then told me to come with him, as we was gonna have words with this new Judge.
Judge Smyth was walkin' west, held up in his swagger by Judge Hollister, as they staggered toward the home Judge Smyth had rented on the south side of main street. Marshal Jackson stopped him at the front two foot high white picket fence gate, and Judge Smyth was infuriated that we would dare question his authority and tried to claim we was in contempt of lawful writs, refusin' to process serve them.
Judge Smyth stated that the town folk had no say in taxes, and that in spite of it bein' raised without a vote or notification of those bein' affected at any open Town Council Meetin' (but done in secret somewheres), beginnin' January 1 of 1880, a new tax of $1 a month was being charged on businesses and 50 cents an month on residences. But the way these wrong form documents was worded, it most certainly wasn't the way it was claimed by Judge Smyth. The way the document read, there was to first be a charge of $1 in January, followed by a $1 increase every month to infinity. February 1880 would be $2, March 1880 would be $3, and so forth. By December 1880 it would be $12 for that month, by December 1881 it would be $24 just for that month, and so on. Marshal Jackson refused to serve illegal taxation notices, filed on even the wrong kind of forms, needin' to be a summons, and then contradicted the verbal testimony given of their intent by first quotin' the erroneous language from these unlawful documents, and then Marshal Jackson in a red faced rage tore them in pieces and threw them in Judge Smyth's face. Judge Smyth was so errant in the due process of the Law, that we both doubted if he ever had a license to practice or that he was even a Judge.
As Marshal Jackson turned, Judge Smyth began pullin' a lady deringer to shoot the Marshal in the back, and I broke Judge Smyth's nose with a quickdraw backhand strike of the barrel of my 6 gun near and onto the bridge of his nose, as I then stepped my right leg into his standin' leg spread sideways past where his crotch was, tripped him backward to the ground while walkin' through, and grabbed his right wrist with the deringer with my left hand, and pressed my right .45 into his left eye and ordered him to drop it, as I was arrestin' him for attempted murder of a Federal Officer in the performance of his duties, and that he was personatin' a Judge. My hammer was cocked, my finger on the trigger, and then for whatever reason, I smiled.
Judge Hollister screamed,
"For godsakes Jed, he means to kill you if you don't drop that gun. Let it go or he'll surely send you to hell! He's got that look I told you about!"
Judge Smyth dropped the derringer, and said while lookin' at me, "I'll kill you first, and then the Marshal later. For now, the Marshal can wait."
The gun was on the ground, and even Marshal Jackson was tellin' me not to shoot the skunk. I then pulled the gun out of the Judge's eye, brought it about 4 inches to the side of his head, and fired off a round next to his ear, and said,
"Any time you want to kill this Federal Officer, you remember, that sound you just heard will be the last sound you hear if'n you are jackass enough to try it."
By this time, there must have been a hundred or more early mornin' townsfolk a gathered to witness what was goin' on. Judge Smyth got up and whimpered away into his rented house while bein' helped by Judge Hollister. As me and the Marshal was talkin', and unusual like we was walkin' a good ways up Main Street for a change instead of ridin', just before we hit South Road. We stepped to the side and up on a boarded walk that hadn't been covered with an overhead yet, but had the frame in place, and the Marshal pulled out a cigar and decided to have a smoke as we kept talkin' as to what our next series of actions was to be and what resistance we might expect and what to do to out maneuver and outflank, and so on.
As me and the Marshal was chewin' the fat and flappin' the breeze a bit, 9 year old "Fanny" (I forget her first name) Magnusson, came runnin' up and told me and the Marshal what had been happenin' for the last week and a half. While me and the Marshal was away, Judge Jedediah Smyth brought in a gang of 9 gunslingers. We had seen 8 when we left, but now there was a 9th who was head louse of the gang. They was a terrorizin' the town, and folks that was a gettin' hurt wasn't talkin'. On November 1st, while makin' a trip for supplies at beth's General Store, 5 of them gunslingin' skunks pushed around my Mrs, knocked her down, and then one of them kicked her repeatedly in the side and left leg. My nephew and one of the boys from the war was pistol whipped and kept back by another 2 of the gunslingers, and an 8th backhanded Beth to the ground as she was pullin' a double-barreled 20 gauge shotgun. The Sheriff and the rest of the town did nuthin' but stood and watched from a distance from either the middle or across the street until it was all over, afore takin' the Mrs to the doctor and then home. For a few days the boys from the war and a few of the neighbors got together and did an armed vigil over the wife and my children, so that until the 5th of November there was always 2 or 3 armed men at the house and others close by. But the town militia, which could have planted these vicious and rabid wolves 6 feet under, the town militia was not initiated because the sentiment was to wait for Marshal Jackson, who also was head of the Militia. It also seems that November 5th was when it was made clear that these 9 skunks was only interested in terrorizin' specific locations and people that Judge Smyth would announce beforehand who and what and where the night before at Pete's Snake's Eyes Tavern, the townsfolk night riders (whoever they was) organized listeners at any of 11 different points in and even under the buildin' to hear who - what -where and to move that individual or family into hidin' and safety until the danger was past.
Then Fanny told me that the leader of the gunslingers, the one who pushed my wife down, had also had one of his men put a revolver to my 6 year old Winchester's head with a threat to kill him if she fought back, afore kickin' and kickin' her on the front board walk of the General Store in front of scores of town folk, and that the one doin' the kickin' of my wife had a hideous laugh.
Then, from across the street, we heard it. Me and the Marshal and Fanny looked over to the Snake Eye's Tavern, as "Fanny" got scared and said,
"That's it. Please don't go Deputy B.! They're all in there! All but the Judge! You'll get killed!"
Then the sound of 7 or 8 other men could also be heard laughin' along with that hideous laugh, which was like a horse-like whinny with an inhale "haw" of a jackass to finish its breath. It was beginnin' to be a bright not white cloudy mornin', and already my fury and rage was wellin' forth up in me, so that I was seein' black and to me it was almost like early evenin' with the sun almost down.
They was all at the bar in the newly opened Pete's Snake Eyes Tavern, which was also owned by Judge Smyth. I had only one thing in mind at that moment...but I was so far along in a state of rage, I forget what it was.
I do remember that I looked at how close we was to the General Store owned by the Widow Bennett, one door up at the corner, and her place bein' but 71 paces from Pete's Tavern and how what seemed greatly far away that the jail was. It may have only been 230 paces back the way we had come, maybe a bit more, but it might as well have been 5 miles the other way at that moment in time.
I told Fanny to get on home to safety with all haste, and to mind herself as she crossed the street. Without lookin' to see if she'd gone, I then quick marched round the corner over to the General Store, oblivious that the Marshal was quietly followin' behind me, and told its store owner, Beth, I was takin' some .45 six guns after fumblin' around for a few moments to find them, and makin' sure they was all the same caliber. I loaded 2 and put them Alamo style in the belt behind and against my back, and another two up front in the belt against the bladder. I put my last 5 double-gold eagles I was carryin' on the counter in order to pay Beth, and then emptied two boxes of .45 shells in my left and right leather vest pockets so that they was bulgin' and ready to spill out. I then went across the street to where those skunks was. Folks in the street at first froze in their tracks and looked at my face, then ran for cover like the shootin' had already started as I marched them 71 paces from the board walk at the General Store across South Road to the open double doors that went into Pete's.
When I entered the tavern, there was 7 of them all lined up at the bar, drinkin' whiskey and rye, while 1 other was at a table, playin' cards with hisself. One of the gunslingers with a badge was missin'. No one else but them and the one bartender was in the bar, and there was recent bullet holes was in the walls of that Tavern just about everywheres. Those bullet holes wasn't there afore I left with the Marshal for Texas weeks earlier.
Even as I came in, one of them in the middle was braggin' how they "kicked around the wife of Deputy B". and how they "own the town", and that I was "probably home hidin' behind her skirt afraid to come down", or words to this effect. Just then, the bartender looked over and dropped and broke a bottle of rye, as the skunks let out a roar of laughter.
I loosed the hammer loops off my holstered .45s. I then placed my hands behind the back onto the rear .45s and cocked the hammers and stood thar' perhaps 5 paces past the doorway, a round wood table with no chairs a pace behind and to my right a pace over. I felt my face go into a murderous death sneer, and it was somethin' I felt sure as some people feel a smile.
The bartender raised his hands, and said,
"Deputy B. Please. I had nothin' to do with what happened to your Mrs."
Right as he said that, they all stopped laughin', as they hesitated perhaps 2 or 3 seconds and drew breaths and suddenly began to draw and either turn to their left or whirl out and around their fellows a little out from the bar to fire. Providence had ordained it for me that they wasn't near as fast or accurate as I thought and didn't care (at that moment in time) if they was.
I drew the rear .45s, emptied them into the nearest 3 of them straight ahead of me at the bar, dropped those empty two 6 guns to the floor, and pulled the two front 6 guns afore they could hit the floor, and shot the one at the table and two scatterin' for the middle of the room with the other 12 slugs. The sounds of a gunfight inside were not only deafenin', but they gave off what seemed to be like a strange disorientin' triple echo, and my eyes was a vibratin' like they was in an earthquake, never mind that they and my nostrils was beginnin' to feel the effects of acrid smoke and all the sparkin' goin on!
I let go of those two empty 6 guns and started to lose my field of vision, even though I doubt that more than 4 or 5 seconds had passed since I first began firing those rear guns at the first. The one at the table, even though I shot him 3 times in the middle, he only bent over hard, a bit, and still was able to begin runnin' away and out the back, firin' wildly and missin' the whole way. The last two fellas along the bar was makin' for the far end of the bar as I pulled my holster six guns and emptied the last 12 slugs in their sides at the heart and heads, missin' 2 shots which lodge in the bar's ledge. But by now, I was havin' serious vision problems to see anything more than a 5 or 6 foot wide path. I tried to scan the room, as I holstered my right 6 gun and furiously was strugglin' to reload my left 6 gun, but by now, my hands were shakin' like I was stripped to nothin' but my long johns with the rear squatin' flap down and unbuttoned , and as if I was bein' out in the mountain snow before a cold wind passin' through a glacier near the Arctic somewheres and suddenly I get hit with that draft. WWWWWhoa!!!.
As I slipped the 4th round in my left 6 gun, everything was turnin' black. I finished the last two, and switched which 6 guns I was loadin', as I quickly tried to reload past my now uncontrollable hand and now body shakes as I was just standin' thar', movin' only a step or two over toward the middle of the room. Just as I slipped the 5th bullet into my right holster's 6 gun, suddenly there was a child's scream out in the street.
I ducked down and whirled about, strikin' my right cheek bone against a table I didn't see, and at the same time my cheekbone struck and rapped the table, I heard a rifle shot just outside the door and very close. A body of a man holdin' a double-barreled 12 gauge shotgun fell through the doorway, and I more or less fell to my left as I was facin' the doorway now, fallin' back away from the door to the side and out of the way. The dead man fell forward with a double cocked back shotgun until his face and shotgun came down about knee high as he was fallin' prostrate, and then at that point both barrels let loose, shot through the bar wall, and killed the crouchin' bartender behind it. The man with the shotgun was Judge Smyth. Marshal Jackson had saved my life by shootin' the man intendin' to shoot me in the back.
I made my way through the room I was in, past the bar and to the back exit of the Tavern, and found that the man with 3 bullets in his middle who ran this away, well he was able to then cut out over to Main Street and run near 88 paces eastward afore collapsin' and dyin'. He reminded me of a couple wild game I've shot that can run more than a quarter mile afore dyin' of their wound(s).
The lone survivor of the gang was in an outhouse back of the tavern, tied in by rope that some children led by little "Fanny" Magnusson (who had double backed while I went to the General Store, and who, with three other children of her like age, had slip-knotted and wrapped the one man buildin' with before the gunfight had even started). Since that outhouse was weighted down with a wide base and heavy lumber to keep it from tippin' over in high winds, even though it was behind buildin's and out of the wind, still the last gunslinger was unable to get out. About a dozen folk was gatherin' around and behind me, but as soon as they heard the gunslinger beatin' on the door, they all took cover. I motioned "Fanny" and the children to get back, and waited a few seconds for them to get behind solid cover before continuin'.
After the children were safe, I called out to the fella in the outhouse. No answer. I then identified myself and asked who he was, and he began shootin' through the door. I couldn't tell if it was at the rope or at me, as he was firin' in the same general direction, so once again, I emptied both six guns, and got off 12 to his 5. All 12 went in as direct hits. Liver, center of chest, heart. Only then, I realized there was a house full of 12 children in the line of fire behind this very same outhouse I was shootin' at, and could have accidentally hit had I missed. I felt so ashamed that I almost could have killed an innocent child, that I resolved that I would make sure that I would do my best to never make that kind of reckless mistake again if it at all could ever be helped, and pass that as part of the trainin' along to those in the Militia, in the family, or whoever else I showed how to handle and properly use a gun. Then I realized...what if the judge and these fellas weren't fakes?
Today would go out like wildfire and spread in reputation for hundreds of miles around, but most likely in whispers, and I knew I most certainly could hang for what I've done this day, if these fakes weren't fakes after all.
I was so tired of killin'. Ever since the first year of the Great war, I sometimes felt like I wore this strange guilt that comes from killin' and livin' after, as if I wore that ethereal sense like an invisible cape while my mind was able to often fold it up and put it away, because every killin' I did was an act of defense and righteously savin' the lives of others in their defense. And with marriage and a family, each time, I was able to go home, leave any guilt like it was just a boot print in the road to be washed away, and to enter my house justified. Perhaps that is all a man can ask. To be able to come home in peace, even after killin', and to enter his house justified.
But I was tired of killin', and I wasn't even sure what the legal consequences was from what happened this day. I was so distressed, that I spent too much of the next 4 days in the outhouse losin' piles of weight over it.
Both me and the Marshal traveled to the Capitol and turned ourselves in and were placed under arrest and under suspension until a tribunal of 3 judges could investigate and report back their findings to the Adjutant General.
On Monday December 1st, this year of 1879, both me and the Marshall was exonerated, and was only to forfeit any pay for the duration we was suspended. We were both restored and the Marshall decided that I would enter into a new arrangement he made with the town, in which while I was still a Federal United States Deputy Marshal, I would stay mostly in town and report to Sheriff Bond and be his ramrod and trouble shooter. For each arrest, I would get $2, plus $50 a month and found, plus whatnots. However, the Marshall would likewise get $2 for any arrest I make from the town as well, and this would be collected in fines at sentencing and payable from that which was collected. I talked it over with the wife, figurin' maybe she would encourage me to do carpentry or own a Livery and Black-smith business, or find somethin' else, but after a lot more talkin' than we was used to doin' with each other, she counseled me to please stay a Deputy Marshal. I gently put my hand on her outer left thigh, where she had been so badly bruised and asked her if that was why. She nodded a bit, and I knew. So without any more hesitation or doubts, I agreed. I would go to work more or less as a town trouble-shooter under Sheriff Bond, and keep the Peace as best I could.
My day of return was to be December 10th.
On Wednesday December 10th, I felt like I was off to a good start. I broke up 3 dog fights, rescued a cat out of a tree for a group of new children moved to town, resolved a billin' dispute between a merchant and a family by makin' a barter's trade that made both content, shot a large garden snake at the Widow Rose's place and made her feel better, and delivered 3 sets of groceries at 5 boxes apiece for my Cousin Beth as my nephew took sick and wasn't able to go.
Yesterday, December 11th, I didn't do so well. At 8 am somebody stole my horse Reindeer, and it wasn't until 4 in the afternoon that I found it was Kenneth Beavers who did it, and then quickly found my horse again. His mother agreed to beat him with a switch, and just as she was about to lay into him, I was robbed of the pleasure of seein' and hearin' it when I got called away to a scuffle at a 30 cow Dairy on the East part of town on Main Street between 5 women. A crowd of more than 120 had gathered when I got there and more was a comin'. The Dairy, bein' what it was, and two of the women bein' those washin' cows, we was in a part of the corral where in the midst of my tryin' to break up the scuffle, I tripped and that sent me rear first, and then face first, into a 2 foot high and 4 foot wide cow patty at Howell's Dairy. Of course the women all forgave each other, and a crowd of what was now near 180 folks blocked me from gettin' at them as they scurried away from arrest. It took me near two hours to fully clean up under a water pump that I had to prime 4 times and each time with a quarter bucket of clean water, and then I had to take two baths with soap and water down at the new Barber Shop which had hot baths for 25 cents for each bath besides. I had one bath with my clothes on to wash my clothes, and then one without the clothes. Unfortunately, the barber misunderstood about my pants, and sent them to an Irish lady who did Chinese Laundry, and I was stuck in a tub for 45 minutes afore someone got my cousin Beth to bring me a new pair of britches. I guess she was mad, 'cause she stormed in, hurled it like a ball into my face, sendin' my head back to whack the cast iron bathtub with a loud thud, as the pants bounced off my face and went out an open window. A few minutes later a very polite little 5 year old boy who was just outside the window when the pants bounced through them and outside, well he brought them around and up to the Barber, and the Barber , after rewardin' the little boy with a shiny penny, well the Barber was able to give me my pants so I could finally get out of the tub decent like, get dressed and go home.
When I got home, it was past 5 pm, and once again, with soap and water and 8 towels, I had to bathe outside. It was near 8 o'clock at night afore the wife would let me back in the house, a givin' me the smell test, and then washin' my hair in a wash basin besides, and even addin' some kind of barber shop hair tonic I didn't know she had bought me once more for good measure.
This mornin', Friday December 12th, I had to take one more bath while standing in a tub and usin' soap and water for the wife's sake. Only after this last bath, after I dried and dressed, she let me know I would have to undergo one more hot bath with soap at the Barber's afore she would hug and kiss me again. What's more, even as I left all dressed for work, the children did the "sniff, sniff," test afore lettin' me hug and kiss them for the mornin' goodbye. Then when I went to saddle up my horse, even Reindeer gave me the "sniff, sniff," test three times, as he kept nudgin' me away afore he would let me saddle him up.
Yes sir...it seems as if life has sure got back to normal right quick.
-- Deputy B.