Chuck's Cowboy Shooting Blog is a simple little place where I log my activities in the world of Cowboy Action Shooting. I am new to this hobby, so I hope to grow in experience and wish to share any knowledge that I come across. This blog will also be used to share some of the rich history of the Old West that I come across. Enjoy!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Fight of the Week: The Four Dead in Five Seconds Gunfight

The date: April 14th, 1881. The place: El Paso Street, El Paso, Texas. The man: Marshal Dallas Stoudenmire, a noted gunfighter that had been a lawman all of three days. The fight: a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it exchange of gunfire that left four men dead in less time than it took to read this sentence.

Marshal Dallas Stoudenmire

The gun battle began as fallout from a trial earlier in the day on the 14th. Over seventy heavily armed Mexican had rode into town looking for two missing vaqueros, and the entire band was then led to the ranch of a local cattleman and suspected rustler named Johnny Hale by the El Paso County Constable, Gus Krempkau. The bodies of the two dead vaqueros were found on Hale’s ranch, and the entire party, including Hale, returned to El Paso for the court to hold an inquiry as to the men’s deaths.

The verdict was that the two men had died looking for rustled cattle, and were killed by two of Hale’s ranch hands who feared the vaqueros would return with more men to recover the stolen herd. The two ranch hands were immediately arrested. Meanwhile, a large crowd had gathered in El Paso, including Hale and his friend, the former City Marshal George Campbell. Campbell was concerned that the large number of heavily armed Mexicans in the city would cause trouble, seeking retribution for their dead comrades. The arrests made, the trial ended and the crowd ordered to disperse. The Mexicans rode back to Mexico with the bodies.

El Paso, Texas, c.1880

The current City Marshal, Marshal Dallas Stoudenmire, had only been a lawman for three days. He had been in the courtroom throughout the day, and when the inquiry was complete he went across the street to eat dinner. Krempkau went to the saloon next door to get his pistol and rifle. While there, he was confronted by Campbell and Hale. Campbell didn’t like some of Krempkau’s statements made during the trial (Krempkau had been acting as an interpreter for the Mexicans) and Hale, who was already heavily drunk, wasn’t happy that he had been brought into the matter.

Hale shot first. Drawing one Campbell’s two pistols, he yelled, probably in a drunken slur, “George, I’ve got you covered!” and shot Krempkau. Krempkau slumped backwards against a doorframe and drew his own pistol.

Next door in the Globe Restaurant, Marshal Stoudenmire heard the shot and immediately headed toward the door, drawing his pistols. Now, I got conflicting information when it came to what kind of pistols Stoudenmire favored, but in all likelihood it was a pair of .44 caliber Smith and Wesson Model 3’s: even at the time he was noted for carrying two pistols, instead of the regular one, and was equally accurate with both of them.

A pair of S & W Model 3 Revolvers

Stoudenmire ran out into the street and fired wildly, and instead of hitting anyone involved he nailed Ochoa, an innocent, college, college educated Mexican man who had been diving for cover, killing him instantly. Hearing the shot, Hale jumped for cover behind an adobe pillar, but Stoudenmire then drilled him right between the eyes with his off hand when Hale drunkenly poked his head out from behind cover.

Campbell jumped from cover with his pistol drawn, and when he saw Hale collapse he yelled to Stoudenmire that it wasn’t his fight. Krempkau shot him twice instead, thinking he was the one who had initially shot him. Krempaku’s first shot hit Campbell in the wrist, causing him to drop his gun, and the second hit Campbell in the foot. Krempkau then lost consciousness. Campbell scooped up his gun, but before he could get a shot off Stoudenmire fired, hitting Campbell in the stomach. Stoudenmire slowly walked toward the dying Campbell, and the two men glared at each other. Campbell’s dying words: “You big son of a b****! You murdered me!”

Both Krempkau and Campbell died within minutes of being shot. The gunfight had not lasted for more than about five seconds.

Three days after the fight, James Manning, who had been a friend of Hale and Campbell, hired a former deputy to assassinate Stoudenmire. The drunken deputy tried to bushwhack Stoudenmire by hiding behind a stack of bricks, but his wobbly legs caused him to fall, making him pull both triggers of his side-by-side shotgun and narrowly missing Stoudenmire with the buckshot. Stoudenmire whipped out his guns and fired eight shots, blowing off his testicles. The deputy quickly bled to death. This started a feud between Stoudenmire and Manning, which would ultimately lead to Stoudenmire’s death over a year later.

For a different account, see

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