THE HOT SPRINGS GUN BATTLE

We all know what the movies and Western shows tell us about the old West, but what are the facts? Here, we’ll discuss what these truths are, and get a better idea of what life was like in the real West!
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THE HOT SPRINGS GUN BATTLE

Post by cowgirl » Tue May 30, 2017 3:40 pm

Renewed Fan:4049 wrote:I started the other day to discuss the relative efficacy of pistols versus shoulder weapons, but decided to expand the topic just to discuss some of the less famous shoot-outs of the west.

This one is of special interest to me:  It happened in Arkansas.  And when I was a boy, I knew an elderly man who WITNESSED this gunfight when he was a boy.

The shootout happened on March 16, 1899 in Hot Springs, Arkansas (about 50 miles s.w. of Little Rock).  The odd thing about the shootout was that it was between the Hot Springs Police Department and the Garland County Sheriff's Department.  The cause was a feud between the sheriff and the chief of police - the sheriff desired to shut down illegal gambling in Hot Springs, while the chief of police was friendly with the gambling interests.

On the afternoon of March 16, Sheriff Bob Williams, accompanied by a deputy, met a police officer named Goslee on Central Avenue in Hot Springs.  An argument began and quickly escalated.  The sheriff pulled his coat back and showed the police officer he was unarmed, and stated he wanted no trouble.  The sheriff then saw his son (another deputy) emerging from a store - he went to his son, obtained a pistol, turned and fired.  The sheriff exchanged several shots with the police officer, but neither were hurt.  Fourteen shots were fired.  Shortly thereafter, a warrant was issued for the arrest of the sheriff.

About 5:00 that afternoon two police officers (including Goslee) met three deputies (including Sheriff Williams' son Johnny) on Central Avenue.  The five of them retired to a bar (naturally!) to talk things out.  Police chief Toler soon joined them.   Present at this moment were Haley, Gosley, Toler  of the Hot Springs Police Department, and deputies Williams, Coffee and Spear of the Sheriff's department.

Over booze, insults were exchanged.  A bartender named Hinkle pulled a knife and cut the throat of Deputy Spear.  Deputy Spear pulled his gun and shot Hinkle.  Patrolman Goslee was shot by Deputy Williams.  Goslee fired back, inflicting a mortal wound on Williams.  Another deputy then killed Goslee.

Chief of Police Toler, meanwhile, exchanged shots with the wounded deputy Spear, wounding him again.  Deputy Coffee killed Chief of Police Toler.  This ended the second phase of the gunfight.  

Toler, Gosley and Hinckle were dead.  Williams was dying.  Spears would recover as would an injured bystander.

Sheriff Williams arrived, as did police detective Hart.  Sheriff Williams killed detective Hart.  Chief of Police Toler's wife arrived with a gun, with the stated intention of killing the sheriff, but he had left the scene.

Final score - 5 dead, two wounded (more dead than at the OK corral).

After a series of trials, no one was ever convicted of any crime in connection with these incidents.

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Re: THE HOT SPRINGS GUN BATTLE

Post by cowgirl » Tue May 30, 2017 3:40 pm

Michelle P.:4050 wrote:Ohmygosh!  Living in Arkansas, I read this to the girls in my office, and they agree with me...this is BETTER then TV...We are still trying to figure this out!!!

Too bad that never made a movie!
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Re: THE HOT SPRINGS GUN BATTLE

Post by cowgirl » Tue May 30, 2017 3:40 pm

Renewed Fan:4588 wrote:Michelle- You aren't in Hot Springs, by any chance, are you?

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Re: THE HOT SPRINGS GUN BATTLE

Post by cowgirl » Tue May 30, 2017 3:41 pm

Michelle P.:4589 wrote:No.  Quite about three hours or so- in Harrison, AR (a small town just south of Branson, MO)
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Re: THE HOT SPRINGS GUN BATTLE

Post by cowgirl » Tue May 30, 2017 3:41 pm

Renewed Fan:4590 wrote:I know Harrison very well......

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Re: THE HOT SPRINGS GUN BATTLE

Post by cowgirl » Tue May 30, 2017 3:41 pm

Renewed Fan:4591 wrote:By the way, I am in soggy Little Rock.

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Re: THE HOT SPRINGS GUN BATTLE

Post by cowgirl » Tue May 30, 2017 3:41 pm

rooster davis:4592 wrote:What a neat story - and to have talked to someone who actually was there to see it happen.

My great grandmother died in 1960 at the age of 94; I remember her just vaguely from before she died. I like to imagine what she might have seen and heard about - she lived over a third of her long life in the 1800's. Even just knowing someone who actually saw something as neat as that shootout between the two groups back when, is neat.
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Re: THE HOT SPRINGS GUN BATTLE

Post by cowgirl » Tue May 30, 2017 3:42 pm

Renewed Fan:4623 wrote:Rooster - I am in the same boat you are in - I was too young to pay too much attention or learn too much about the gunbattle and, unfortunately, the old gentleman passed away when I was about 8 or so.

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