The notorious gamblers had been friends, despite the fact that Tutt was a Confederate Army veteran, and Hickok had been a scout for the Union Army. The eventual falling out reportedly occurred over women. There were reports that Hickok had fathered an illegitimate child with Tutt’s sister; while Tutt had been observed paying a great deal of attention to Wild Bill’s paramour, Susanna Moore.
When Hickok started to refuse to play in any card game that included Tutt, the cowboy retaliated by openly supporting other local card-players with advice and money in a dedicated attempt to bankrupt Hickok.
Author William Connelley (1933) in his book, “Wild Bill and His Era: The Life and Adventures of James Butler Hickok,” (pp. 84–5) explains that their feud came to a head today, when at a few minutes before 6 p.m., Hickok was seen calmly approaching the square from the south, his Colt Navy in hand.
Connelley writes: His armed presence caused the crowd to immediately scatter to the safety of nearby buildings, leaving Tutt alone in the northwestern corner of the square. At a distance of about 75 yards (70 meters), Hickok stopped, facing Tutt, and called out, ‘Dave, here I am.’ He cocked his pistol, holstered it on his hip, and gave a final warning, ‘Don’t you come across here with that watch.’ Tutt did not reply, but stood with his hand on his pistol.
Both men faced each other sideways in the dueling position and hesitated briefly. Then Tutt reached for his pistol. Hickok drew his gun and steadied it on his opposite forearm. The two men fired a single shot each at essentially the same time, according to the reports. Tutt missed, but Hickok’s bullet struck Tutt in the left side between the fifth and seventh ribs. Tutt called out, ‘Boys, I’m killed,’ ran onto the porch of the local courthouse and back to the street, where he collapsed and died.
Words of Wisdom for July 21, 2016
“Wild Bill was a strange character, add to this figure a costume blending the immaculate neatness of the dandy with the extravagant taste and style of a frontiersman, you have Wild Bill, the most famous scout on the Plains.”
— General George Custer, writing about Wild Bill Hickok