Rapid-Fire History: Gunfight at the O.K. Corral
On October 26, 1881, the most legendary gunfight of the Old West took place in a vacant lot behind the O.K. Corral in the bustling silver-mining town of Tombstone, Arizona. Empowered by their federal appointments and serving as sworn officers, Wyatt, Morgan, and Virgil Earp, who was the officer in charge, and Wyatt’s friend John “Doc” Holliday intended to arrest the cattle-rustling Clanton and McLaury brothers for carrying guns within city limits without a permit. When the lawmen approached the five wanted Cowboys, Ike and Billy Clanton, Tom and Frank McLaury, and Billy Claiborne, the deep-seated tensions between the two sides exploded. It remains unclear who fired first, but the ensuing firefight lasted 30 seconds and 30 shots were fired. The shootout left Billy Clanton and the McLaury brothers dead. Morgan and Virgil Earp and Doc Holliday were all wounded. Sheriff John Behan of Cochise County, Wyatt’s rival in love and politics, witnessed the fight and charged the Earp brothers and Holliday with murder, but a respected judge cleared them of any wrongdoing, ruling that they were “fully justified in committing these homicides.” Dubbed “the gunfight at the O.K. Corral,” the firefight has been immortalized across 30 feature films.
History.com: Shootout at the O.K. Corral.
Houston Chronicle: Why We Still Care About the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.
True West Magazine: What Led to the O.K. Corral Gunfight in Tombstone, Arizona Territory?