Johnson County War Wyoming article 1892

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by 45nut, Sep 8, 2011.

  1. 45nut

    45nut Well-Known Member

    Jul 19, 2006
    Dallas, TX
    I found this article several years ago and printed it out, but lost it. Trying to find it again proved very difficult because the web site went down or was removed. I remembered a web site (waybackmachine) that would look for cached web pages and found the old url and viola, I found it. Posting it here so maybe it won't be lost for another 4 years.

    It's very interesting to look at the revolvers and rifles used. This disproves the usually correct Louis L'amour's notion that the single cartridge rifle/pistol combo was extremely popular. I know that about 70% of all Colt SAA's were manufactured in 45 Colt.

    Major Wolcott's List - Guns Used by the Johnson County Invaders

    Bill Hockett
    Revised November 4, 2005​

    The Johnson County War took place in Wyoming in April of 1892. In essence, a group of powerful Wyoming cattlemen created a "Death List" of small ranchers, cowboys and others they considered a hindrance to large scale ranching interests. These cattlemen belonged to the "Cheyenne Club" and included the political, social and economic elite of Wyoming. They included the governor, United States senators, judges, powerful business men, newspaper owners, etc. This was not a group any small rancher or cowboy would want to buck heads against. In early April 1892 these cattlemen staged an invasion of Johnson County and started to look for men on the Death List. They hired Texas gunmen, travelled on a special train, and outfitted in Cheyenne and Casper. Then they moved north into Johnson County. They managed to surround and kill Nick Ray and Nate Champion at the KC Ranch. They then headed toward Buffalo, where many other men on the Death List were known to reside. The men in the county were alerted by this time, however, and the invaders were themselves besieged at the TA Ranch, near Buffalo. They were pinned down for two days until the invaders friends got President Benjamin Harrison to declare a state of insurrection in Johnson County and have the Army put a stop to the fighting. As part of the surrender, the invaders turned in all their arms and equipment to the Army. Major Wolcott, as unofficial leader of the group made a list of these arms and provided it to the government.

    Arms used by the "rustlers" and the Johnson County Sheriff's posse are a bit vague. It is known that at least one Sharps rifle, caliber .45 2 7/8 inch (noted as an 18 pound Sharps) was used by "Old Dan Boone" (real name was Herman Fraker) to fire at the invaders besieged in the TA Ranch. Also, Sheriff Red Angus' Colt SAA is in the collection of the Wyoming State Museum. Few other guns with provenance to the "rustlers" are known. On the other hand, the arms used by the invaders are very well documented for us modern-day historians and collectors thanks to Major Walcott's List. Major Walcott was the self-appointed leader of the invaders. He was a former Union Army officer from Kentucky. When the invaders surrendered to the U.S. Army, Major Walcott presented a list of all firearms belonging to each man. The list shows make, caliber and serial number of each man's arms as well as cartridges, and cartridge belts. The serial number or make is missing from some entries. This is probably the most complete list of firearms that can be documented as used in western gun fights. In some cases, there are questions to which model of Colt revolver some of the men carried, as the serial numbers could be for the Single Action Army (SAA or Peacemaker), the Model 1877 Lightning (.38 Long Colt) or Thunderer (.41 Long Colt), or the Model 1878 Double Action Frontier. The Models of 1877 and 1878 are both double action revolvers. Some of the serial numbers for these revolvers duplicates that of the Single Action Army of the same period, as each type was numbered as a separate series. In other words, there may be an SAA, an 1877 and an 1878 with serial number 11697. If the actual revolver model is not listed (in Major Wolcott's list this serial number is just shown as a Colt in .45 caliber) than it could be an SAA or a Model 1878. Further research by obtaining factory letters would benefit historians.

    Major Wolcott's list was originally published in an article called "The Arms of Wyoming's Cattle War" by Robert A. Murray in the July 1967 issue of Shooting Times magazine. Murray discovered the list in the U.S. Army records located in the National Archves. The list had each man's name, his arms and extra equipment such as cartridge belts. This makes sense, but is somewhat difficult for a collector interested in Winchester Model 1873 rifles. I have listed the guns with each man's name, by type, and then in serial number order. This is to assist collectors and historians to easily see all the Winchester Model 1873 rifles, or Colt revolvers, etc. I have also identified the role of each of the invaders and provided any other information I have found. As you will see from the list, the predominant handguns were Colt's and the predominant rifles were Winchester's. This should be no surprise to collectors and historians of the old west period. Note that no Marlin rifles are in evidence. Also, most of the rifles used by cattlemen were "big bore" types such as the Winchester models 1876 and 1886. Conversely, most of the Texans, who were hired as professional gunfighters favored the Winchester Model 1873 rifles, many of which were in caliber .38 WCF (today known as .38-40). Even more surprising, only a few of these men considered it a requirement to have the six shooter and rifle in the same caliber. Young D.E. Booke, known as "The Texas Kid" was the invader reputed to have fired the first shot that hit Nick Ray after he emerged from the cabin at the KC Ranch. The Kid was using a Winchester Model 1873 in .38 WCF. Note also that four cattlemen used the Martini single shot rifle. Two men used the "Old Reliable" Sharps single shot rifle in .40 caliber. Serial numbers are inconsistent for these two Sharps and may be incorrect. Seventeen of the long guns are the veritable Winchester Model 1886 rifle, already very popular only five years after it's market debut. The most popular chambering among the invaders in the 1886 is the .45-90.

    The detectives in the expedition were all veterans of numerous skirmishes, both inside and outside the law. The Winchester Model 1886 was used by five of them, with a sixth opting for the old standby Sharps single shot, and the seventh (W.H. Tabor) probably used an 1876. The other Sharps was carried by Elias Whitcomb, who was the oldest member of the invaders. W.C. Irvine's rifle may be an 1876. The caliber information in the list is partially illegible. It just shows .45. He did not carry a handgun. Some .45-75 shell casings were found in the TA Ranch barn.

    I highly recommend The War on Powder River by Helena Huntington Smith, 1966, McGraw-Hill Book Company for a full account of the invasion.

    Name Manufacturer Model Serial Number Caliber Year Made Other Info. Extras Role
    J.N. Tisdale Smith & Wesson ? 15897 .44 S & W - - Cattleman

    J.C. Johnson Webley ? ? .44 Cal. - - Texan

    D.R. Tisdale Colt M1877 18766 .41 Colt 1879 Probably M1877 Cattleman

    Frank Canton ? ? 55728 ? - Probably an SAA Detective

    L.H. Parker Colt M1877 17954 .41 Colt 1879 Probably M1877 Cattleman

    W.J. Clark Colt M1877 11926 .38 Cal. 1878 Probably M1877 Cattleman

    A.R. Powers Colt M1877 179? .41 Colt - Probably M1877 Cattleman

    W.S. Davis Colt M1877 14991 .38 Cal. 1879 Probably M1877 Detective

    G.R. Tucker Colt SAA 293 .45 Colt 1873 Possibly M1878 Texan

    F. Hesse Colt SAA 10163 .45 Colt 1874 Possibly M1878 Cattleman

    A.D. Adamson Colt SAA 11697 .45 Colt 1874 Possibly M1878 Cattleman

    G.A. Campbell Colt SAA 17632 .45 Colt 1875 Possibly M1878 Cattleman

    W.H. Tabor Colt SAA 29768 .45 Colt 1877 - Detective

    Ben Morrison Colt SAA 50240 .45 Colt 1879 - Detective

    W.E. Guthrie Colt SAA 63501 .45 Colt 1881 - Cattleman

    Mike Shonsey Colt SAA 97587 .45 Colt 1883 - Detective

    S.S. Tucker Colt SAA 97623 .44 WCF 1883 - Texan

    F.H. Laberteaux Colt SAA 102242 .45 Colt 1884 - Cattleman

    F. DeBillier Colt SAA 103825 .45 Colt 1884 - Cattleman

    L.H. Parker Colt SAA 109305 .45 Colt 1884 - Cattleman

    W.S. Davis Colt SAA 109511 .45 Colt 1884 - Detective

    Alex Hamilton Colt SAA 112878 .45 Colt 1884 - Texan

    K. Pickard Colt SAA 116184 .44 WCF 1885 .44 WCF rifle Texan

    J.C. Johnson Colt SAA 117844 .45 Colt 1886 - Texan

    J.A. Garrett Colt SAA 118765 .45 Colt 1886 - Texan

    D.E. Booke Colt SAA 120241 .45 Colt 1887 The Texas Kid Texan

    B. Wiley Colt SAA 135184 .45 Colt 1890 - Texan

    J.D. Mynett Colt SAA 135929 .45 Colt 1890 - Texan

    J. Barling Colt SAA 139904 .45 Colt 1891 Brother to Bob Texan

    E. Whitcomb Colt SAA 140710 .41 Colt 1891 - Cattleman

    Joe Elliot Colt SAA 141080 .44 WCF 1891 - Detective

    W.A. Wilson Colt SAA 141475 .44 WCF 1891 .44 WCF rifle Texan

    Charles S. Ford Colt SAA 142387 .45 Colt 1891 - Cattleman

    F.M. Benford Colt SAA 142781 .45 Colt 1891 - Texan

    Bob Barling Colt SAA 142792 .45 Colt 1891 Brother to J. Texan

    B.C. Schultz Colt SAA 143314 .45 Colt 1891 - Texan

    William Little Colt SAA 143567 .45 Colt 1891 - Texan

    M.A. McNally Colt SAA 143609 .45 Colt 1891 - Texan

    Phil DuFran Colt SAA 144414 .45 Colt 1892 - Detective

    Will Armstrong Colt SAA 144682 .45 Colt 1892 - Texan

    Buck Garrett Colt SAA 145105 .45 Colt 1892 - Texan

    W.B. Wallace Winchester 1873 54763 .44 WCF 1880 Englishman 1 belt Cattleman

    Buck Garrett Winchester 1873 66960 .44 WCF 1881 - 1 belt, holster Texan

    Alex Hamilton Winchester 1873 179707B .44 WCF 1885 - 1 belt, ctgs. Texan

    A.D. Adamson Winchester 1873 197923 .44 WCF 1886 60 .44 WCF ctgs. 1 belt, ctgs. Cattleman

    K. Pickard Winchester 1873 251649 .44 WCF 1887 .44 WCF revolver 120 ctgs. Texan

    A.B. Clark Winchester 1873 26178?B .44 WCF 1888 150 .44 WCF ctgs. 50 Webley ctgs. Cattleman

    W.A. Wilson Winchester 1873 324793B .44 WCF 1890 .44 WCF revolver 1 belt, scabbard Texan

    J.A. Garrett Winchester 1873 327276B .44 WCF 1890 - 1 belt, carts., scab. Texan

    M.A. McNally Winchester 1873 32733?B .38 WCF 1890 - Texan

    B.C. Schultz Winchester 1873 335042 .44 WCF 1890 27 .44 WCF ctgs. 60 .45 Colt ctgs. Texan

    William Little Winchester 1873 345860 .38 WCF 1890 - 1 belt Texan

    Will Armstrong Winchester 1873 345928B .38 WCF 1890 - 1 belt, holster Texan

    B. Wiley Winchester 1873 362439 .38 WCF 1890 - 1 belt Texan

    F.M. Benford Winchester 1873 362444B .38 WCF 1890 27 .38 WCF ctgs. 20 .45 Colt ctgs. Texan

    W.J. Clark Winchester 1873 363142 .38 WCF 1890 - 1 belt Cattleman

    D.E. Booke Winchester 1873 386977B .38 WCF 1891 The Texas Kid Texan

    F. Hesse Winchester 1876 46257 .45-60 1884 - 1 belt Cattleman

    W.H. Tabor Winchester ? 48917 .45-75 ? 1884 May be an 1886 3 belts, 142 ctgs. Detective

    Frank Wolcott Winchester 1876 52944 .40-60 1884 - Cattleman

    G.R. Tucker Winchester 1876 55201 .40-60 1885 Also had 1886 Texan

    Ben Morrison Winchester 1886 ? .45-90 ? 104 .45-90 ctgs. 34 revolver ctgs. Detective

    W.S. Davis Winchester 1886 8257 .40-82 1887 - Detective

    Bob Barling Winchester 1886 30284 .40-82 1889 Brother to J. 30 ctgs. Texan

    J.D. Mynett Winchester 1886 42164 .45-90 1890 - 1 belt Texan

    Charles S. Ford Winchester 1886 47097 .45-70 1890 shotgun also 1 belt (not full) Cattleman

    W.C. Irvine Winchester 1886 47098 illegible 1890 May be an 1876 cartridges Cattleman

    W.E. Guthrie Winchester 1886 47100 .45-70 1890 - cartridges Cattleman

    S.S. Tucker Winchester 1886 48143 .45-70 1890 - 1 full belt Texan

    Phil DuFran Winchester 1886 49164 .45-90 1890 - 1 belt Detective

    F.H. Laberteaux Winchester 1886 50129 .40-82 1891 - 1 belt, scabbard Cattleman

    Frank Canton Winchester 1886 51980 .38-56 1891 - 2 belts Detective

    Mike Shonsey Winchester 1886 58018 .45-90 1891 - 1 belt, holster, ctgs. Detective

    D.R. Tisdale Winchester 1886 58136 .45-90 1891 - 1 belt, 60 ctgs. Cattleman

    J.N. Tisdale Winchester 1886 58153 .45-90 1891 - 200 cartridges Cattleman

    G.R. Tucker Winchester 1886 59760 .40-82 1891 Also had 1876 107 ctgs. Texan

    J.C. Johnson Winchester 1886 60038 .45-90 1891 - 1 belt, scabbard Texan

    J. Barling Winchester 1886 60504 .45-90 1891 - 1 belt, holster Texan

    L.H. Parker Winchester 1886 62798 .38-56 1891 - 3 belts, holster Cattleman

    A.R. Powers Martini ? ? .44 cal. ? broken stock 1 full belt Cattleman

    C.A. Campbell Martini ? 10805 .38 cal. ? - 1 belt, holster Cattleman

    H. Tesmacher Martini ? 54745 .44 cal. ? - Cattleman

    F. deBillier Martini ? 54763 .44 cal. ? - Cattleman

    E. Whitcomb Sharps 1874 15914? .40 cal. ? 50 Sharps ctgs. 50 .41 Colt ctgs. Cattleman

    Joe Elliot Sharps 1874 162453 ? .40 cal. ? - 1 belt, holster, ctgs. Detective
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2011
  2. James 313

    James 313 New Member

    Oct 7, 2011
    I noticed this write up and it tells that Sheriff "Red" Angus' Colt SAA is in the Wyoming Museum. Do you have any of the particulars on this Colt SAA such as serial #, cal, etc.? Any information would be greatly appreciated.

  3. The Duke

    The Duke New Member

    Mar 11, 2006
    NW Louisiana
    I read that article somewhere also.:confused:..There has even been a movie on the subject that was quite entertaining with some good gunfight scenes..
  4. MrMitch

    MrMitch New Member

    Apr 18, 2012
    There were a few guns the calvery did not confiscate. My father (an avid collector untill his death) owned Fred Coates(WSGA hired gun) 1889 45 cal Colt along with a rare 1st edition copy of A. S. Mercers book "Banditti of the Plains. If anyone on here is interested or knows an interested party it is up for sale.

  5. James 313

    James 313 New Member

    Oct 7, 2011
    I would be interested in the old gun. What provenance do you have with it to show that it belonged to Fred Coates?

    Thank you, James
  6. James 313

    James 313 New Member

    Oct 7, 2011
    Hi Mitch,

    I'm not sure if my private message went through to you. I am very interested in the gun that you have and what you are asking for it. Part of my reason for being interested in it is due to the fact that I own the Colt single action army revolver that was owned and carried by Sheriff "Red" Angus who was the sheriff who led the posse against the invaders in the Johnson County War. I have ironclad provenance on this gun and am interested in finding out approx. what it might be worth.

    In one of the posts above, it stated that Angus's pistol was in the Wyoming State Museum. I contacted the museum about the one that they have (or rather had) but it turns out that it was stolen from the museum several years back. I asked the lady at the museum about the serial number of the stolen gun and was interested to note that the gun that they had had was built in 1923, a year after Sheriff Angus's death! They also had no actual provenance on the piece other than the person who had donated it to them said they thought it had belonged to the sheriff ?

    Any information on the value of a gun with this type of history would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks, James
  7. MrMitch

    MrMitch New Member

    Apr 18, 2012
    I did get your PM James and sent you one back. May want to email me direct.
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