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Pale Horse Revelations #22: Dallas Stoudenmire


Hello readers and welcome back to Pale Horse Revelations. This week’s entry will continue the recently established trend of focusing on a significant person, place, or event in Old West history. While I make no promises, don't be surprised if some of these places, people, or events find their way into future Pale Rider adventures.

This week's edition will introduce you to one of the Old West's deadliest gunfighters - Dallas Stoudenmire. He was a contemporary of Wild Bill Hickock and, arguably, his equal as a pistoleer. Yet, while almost everyone in our society has heard of Wild Bill Hickock, very few are familiar with Stoudenmire. Today, we'll look to rectify that situation.

Dallas Stoudenmire was born December 11, 1845, in the town of Aberfoil, Alabama. He was one of nine children born to Lewis and Elizabeth Stoudenmire. He joined the Confederate Army in 1862 at the age of 17. He served in the 45th Alabama Infantry. He was wounded multiple times during the war.

After the war, Stoudenmire, like so many others made his way westward. He arrived in Columbus, Texas in 1867. At some point he joined the Texas Rangers, although the exact years of his service are unknown. We do know that he was listed on the company rolls as a second sergeant in Jim Waller's Ranger company in 1874. After his time with the Rangers, Stoudenmire briefly took up residence in the Texas Panhandle in Mexico. He also served briefly as a marshal in Socorro, New Mexico.

During this time, Stoudenmire developed a reputation as classy dresser and a gentleman around women. However, he was also known to have a quick temper. He typically wore two guns and was known to be equally accurate with both hands. This made him a dangerous man, especially when intoxicated.

It was his reputation as a "tough" man that led to Stoudenmire's appointment as marshal of El Paso, Texas. It was a rough and tumble town looking for an equally tough man to bring law and order. In fact, Stoudenmire, who started his position on April 11, 1881, was the sixth to serve as town marshal in an eight-month period.

Just four days into his stint as marshal, Stoudenmire was involved in what would become known as the "Four Dead in Five Seconds" gunfight. The gun battle occurred in Keating's Saloon and was precipitated by an argument between Constable Krempkau and former city marshal George Campbell. Violence erupted when a friend of Campbell's, John Hale, who was drunk and unarmed, drew one of Campbell's two pistols and fired on Krempkau. Krempkau was hit and fell by the saloon door. Hale took cover behind a post in front of the saloon just as Stoudenmire arrived and opened fire.

Stoudenmire's first shot went wild, hitting and killing a bystander. When Hale hazarded a peek from behind the post, Stoudenmire shot him between the eyes. Campbell then attempted to flee but was shot twice by the wounded Krempkau. Neither shot was fatal, one striking Campbell in the wrist and the other in the toe. However, Stoudenmire had whirled and fired at the same time, pumping three rounds into Campbell's stomach. All told, the battle lasted a total of five seconds but left four men dead: John Hale, Constable Krempkau, George Cambell, and the poor bystander.

Although short, this gunfight began a feud that last lasted a year and would eventually result in Stoudenmire's death. Just three days after the gunfight the Manning brothers, who were friends of Campbell, convinced deputy marshal Bill Johnson, who had his own score to settle with Stoudenmire, to assassinate the new marshal. Johnson, who was drunk at the time, hid behind a stack of bricks with his shotgun and waited. As Stoudenmire and his brother-in-law approached Johnson tried to take aim but tripped and fell. He discharged both barrels of his shotgun harmlessly into the air. Stoudenmire quickly returned fire and killed Johnson.

This only served to further enrage the Manning brothers. In February of 1882, while Stoudenmire was out of town, James Manning shot and killed Stoudenmire's friend and brother-in-law, Stanley "Doc" Cummings. Although Manning stood trial the killing was ruled self-defense and he was acquitted.

This infuriated Stoudenmire who began to drink heavily. Under the influence he habitually confronted those he blamed for the acquittal. He began to drive locals away from town and his behavior became more and more erratic. He was known to use the St. Clement's Church bell for target practice as he patrolled the street. He was also suspected of misappropriation of funds and constantly argued with the city officials. Eventually, the city officials resolved to fire Stoudenmire but relented when a drunken Stoudenmire appeared before them twirling his pistols daring them to take his job or his guns. A sober Stoudenmire resigned two days later on May 29, 1862

The feud with the Mannings would, however, continue until the night of September 18, 1882. Ironically the parties had come together to sign a peace treaty and end the hostilities. Instead, Stoudenmire became embroiled in a fierce argument with "Doc" Manning that ended with both men going for a gun. Manning fired first, hitting Stoudenmire twice, once in the left arm and once in the chest. The round that hit Stoudenmire's chest was stopped by a stack of papers in his chest pocket. While the round did not break the skin it did succeed in driving Stoudemire backward through the saloon doors. As he fell backward, Stoudenmire drew his right-hand pistol and shot Manning, who was charging toward him, in the arm.

At this point, "Doc's" brother, Jim, got involved. He came up from behind Stoudenmire and fired twice. The first shot went wide but the second struck the former marshal behind the left ear, killing him instantly. The Manning brothers stood trial for the killing but were acquitted as the shooting was ruled self-defense.

And so, ends the story of one of the Old West's most prolific gunfighters. In his lifetime Stoudenmire was involved in more gunfights than any of his more well-known counterparts, including Wyatt Earp and Wild Bill Hickock. He also successfully tamed one of the old west's most violent towns.

This brings us to the end of another edition of Pale Horse Revelations. I hope you found it to be both interesting and entertaining. As usual, I have tried to provide some interesting historical information while trying not to bog the casual reader down with too much detail. I encourage anyone interested in learning more to dig in and do a little research of their own.

As a reminder, I would love to hear your suggestions for topics to focus on in future editions of Pale Horse Revelations. If there's a particular location, person, or event that you would like to know more about, please let me know. Just fill out the Contact form found near the bottom of my home page (www.bmiltonhyde.com) and indicate your desired topic in the message box at the bottom of the form. I look forward to hearing from you all.

Please be sure to check back next week for the next installment of Pale Horse Revelations and thank you for your continued interest and support.

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