"Tall Tales" - Adventure for Deadlands
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Player Handout: Billy the Kid

Billy the Kid

Billy the Kid started his career as a gunslinger at just twelve years of age in Silver City, New Mexico Territory, where he killed a blacksmith who had insulted his mother. According to testimonies of the time, he was widely regarded as a talented musician, very polite, but with a temper that -- when it flared up -- almost always resulted in someone dead.

He killed three Apaches from Chiracahau in Arizona, then in Camp Bowie he killed a blacksmith who had called him "Mister Billy Goat". He teamed up with another youth, and together they cut down several men in bars and gambling halls along the southern Confederate border.

For a time, Billy the Kid worked for the Murphy-Dolan outfit, which had an arrangement with the Confederacy to fill beef contracts near the Coyote Confederation. They were able to provide their cattle so cheaply, because they got it by rustling it from old John Chisholm's vast cattle empire. Eventually, however, an Englishman by the name of Tunstall bought a store to compete with the Murphy-Dolan outfit, and Billy the Kid quit his "cattle-rustlin'" job to go work for Mr. Tunstall on Rio Feliz Ranch.

Colonel Murphy didn't like this turn of events, and called in Sheriff William Brady and had him organize a posse to go over to the ranch, under the pretense of looking for some of his stolen horses. A few trigger-happy lads who had previously been Billy's companions went along, with instructions to shoot down Tunstall if he became "unwieldy". They came across Tunstall on his way back to Lincoln, and shot him on sight, then blasted him in the head, just for good measure. Billy the Kid swore that he'd have revenge, and thus started the Lincoln County War.

In July of 1878, troops arrived to try to bring peace to the situation. While negotiations were in progress, some from the Murphy-Dolan camp set the house ablaze where Billy the Kid was hiding out, forcing him to run for his life, and killing several others.

Word reached the Confederate president of the bloodshed in New Mexico. He named Lew Wallace the new governor, who met Billy the Kid and offered him clemency if he would stand trial and testify against murderers from the Murphy-Dolan organization. Billy agreed, but changed his mind, skipped jail, and headed for Fort Sumner. At last, the governor had a new sheriff, Pat Garrett, capture Billy the Kid, where he was taken to Lincoln to await his hanging. Billy the Kid then made his famous escape by killing deputies Bell and Ollinger. Billy the Kid went right back to Fort Sumner, where Sheriff Garrett found him and shot him in a dark bedroom.

Thus ended Billy's career, dead at the age of 21, and having killed 21 men during his gunslinging career, a victim of circumstances and a dupe of the Lincoln County War.

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