Young Guns (1988)

 

 

 

 

Director:     .

Starring:     Emilio Estevez (William H. 'Billy the Kid' Bonney), Kiefer Sutherland (Josiah Gordon 'Doc' Scurlock), Lou Diamond Phillips ('Jose' Chavez y Chavez), Charlie Sheen (Richard 'Dick' Brewer), Dermot Mulroney (Dirty Steve Stephens), Casey Siemaszko (Charles 'Charley' Bowdre), Terence Stamp (John Tunstall), Jack Palance (Lawrence G. Murphy), Terry O'Quinn (Alex McSween), Sharon Thomas Cain (Susan McSween), Geoffrey Blake (J. McCloskey), Alice Carter (Yen Sun), Brian Keith (Buckshot Roberts), Thomas Callaway (Texas Joe Grant), Patrick Wayne (Patrick Floyd 'Pat' Garrett).

six boys, including Billy the Kid, are hired as "regulators" for a rancher

 

 

Spoiler Warning:

 

 


Historical Background:

 

Source:  from a really good book by Michael Wallis named Billy the Kid: the Endless Ride.  New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 2007.

 

Billy the Kid

 

New York City might have been the birthplace of Billy the Kid. But he might have been born in Indiana or even elsewhere. His name was Henry McCarty. His brother was named Joseph McCarty. His mother was Catherine McCarty. His father was Michael McCarty, who died on November 30, 1863 in the Civil War as the result of leg wounds inflicted on him at the Battle of Chickamauga.

1863 -- in New Mexico Territory Kit Carson followed orders to kill all Mescalero braves. In less than three months he crushed the Mescaleros. Soldiers from the newly built Fort Sumner [40 miles southeast of Santa Fe] guarded the perimeters of the Mescalero Reservation. Carson's next task was to carry out a scorched earth campaign against the Navajo and in a short while the Navajo Nation was starved into submission.

1865 -- in Indianapolis, Indiana Catherine meets William Henry Harrison Antrim, whose own father ran the Railroad Hotel in Anderson, Indiana.

First recorded address was 385 North New Jersey, Indianapolis, Indiana.

1868 -- They moved later to 199 North East Street.

1870 -- the Antrim family turned up in Wichita, Kansas. Catherine opened a hand laundry service on North Main Street.

1870 (August 1) -- the family moved into a house William had built six miles northeast of Wichita.

beginning of 1871 -- Catherine had tuberculosis. Her doctor recommended a drier climate.

after August 25, 1871 -- the family vanishes from history for more than a year and a half. They may have gone to Denver, Colorado Territory.

early 1873 -- the family moves to New Mexico Territory. They settled in Santa Fe.

1873 (March 1) -- William Antrim and an ailing Catherine McCarty get married.

1873 (early summer) -- after only two months in Santa Fe, the family moves to Silver City, after a very short stay in Georgetown. Silver City was in the foothills of the Pinos Altos Mountains.

Now known as Henry Antrim, Billy was just naturally drawn to the Hispanic people and culture of the area.

spring, 1874 -- Catherine's tuberculosis that seemed to be under control resurfaces. The stepfather was often away on prospecting trips and the family fell on hard times. The boys have little adult supervision and Henry Antrim started taking liberties with the law. He had planned a robbery, but the scheme was uncovered and the robbery never took place.

1874 (September 15) -- the death of 45 year old Catherine Antrim. Henry was just 14 years of age. He and his bother felt alienated and alone. Henry Antrim would stay in Silver City for almost another year.

by the end of 1874 -- the Antrim brothers split up. Different families took the now separated boys in. Henry went with Gerald and Clara Truesdell, who were pillars of the community.

at the age of 15 --Henry stole some fresh butter. He got a spanking from the sheriff.

1875 (July) -- because of discord in the Truesdell house, Henry moved into a boardinghouse. He became a good card player.

1875 (September) -- Henry was a courier of stolen goods and was charged with larceny and placed in the county jail. He escaped after just two days by climbing up and out of the jail chimney. He goes to the mining camp of Clifton in Arizona Territory. Henry would stay in Arizona Territory for two years.

As a saddle tramp, Henry moved around to different ranches and farms along the Gila River and San Simon Valley.

He played faro or monte game at the recently decommissioned army post of Camp Goodwin on the Gila River. Other places he went to were Stafford and the nearby Pueblo Viejo.

early 1876 -- Henry stole a horse and went to Camp Grant in the Sulphur Springs Valley below the towering Pinalona Mountains. Camp Grant was located at the junction of the San Pedro River and the Aravaipa Creek. Henry was 17 years old. [In 1968, the state of Arizona officially assigned the site to the Department of Corrections and in 1973 Fort Grant became a state prison for male convicts.]

late summer 1876 -- Henry picked up the nickname Kid and was often called Kid Antrim.

1876 (November) -- Henry was back near Camp Grant and stayed not far from McDowell's store at the Hotel de Luna. Bill started running with a gang of rustlers led by John R. Mackie.

Henry was taken into custody at the Camp Grant stockade for being a horse thief, but escaped with the help of John R. Mackie. Billy rode off toward the countryside near Camp Thomas.

1877 -- Henry Antrim killed a bully who attacked him. The bully was Francis P. Cahill, the local blacksmith, and he attacked Billy at a saloon and gambling house that is now called the Bonita Store, located a few miles from Fort Grant. Henry got his right arm free, grabbed his pistol and shot Francis with a mortal wound.

Kid Antrim went to Apache Tejo on the ruins of old Fort McLane, south of Silver City, New Mexico. He took up with a bunch of thieves and rustlers known as the Boys. The leader of the gang was John Kinney, a native of Massachusetts. Kinney had a ranch just west of Mesilla, New Mexico.

1877 (October 1) -- Kid Antrim was riding with the Jesse Evans gang.

1877 (October 9) -- the gang road to a trading post run by John Ryan near the Mescalero Apache Indian Agency. They camped overnight near the summit of the Sacramento Mountains.

1877 (September and October) -- the Salt War erupted in San Elizario near El Paso, Texas. The cause was the so-called Salt Ring run by Anglo politicians and lawyers, who tried to grab up the title to the salt deposits for their own profit.

1877 (October) -- Kid Antrim entered Lincoln County and would stay there until he was killed. He came to stay at the Heiskell Jones family. Billy laid low to avoid capture.

A little later the Boys settled in the county settlement at Severn Rivers. The area became a haven for the rustlers and they loved to prey on the great cattle herds belonging to Texan John Chisum.  Chisum's open range area ran for more than 200 miles from Fort Sumner in the north all the way south to the Mexican border.

Billy fell in with the Boys.

El Paso called for help and John Kinney and some of his men became a force of 70 hired killers in Texas.

1878 (January) -- by this time the deputized Kinney group had murdered many in the area, both Anglos and Hispanics. This helped Kinney's group to later become mercenary fighters in the upcoming Lincoln County War.

[Lincoln County was at one time the largest county in the USA. The biggest center of population is in the south central part of the county in Ruidoso. The town is located northeast of the town of Las Cruces. The Lincoln County town of Lincoln is northeast of Ruidoso and just south of Lincoln Forest on Route 380. North of Ruidoso is White Oaks. White Oaks is northeast of Carrizozo, New Mexico.]

The Kid was hanging around the town of Bonita, which later was named Lincoln. The town was the county seat.

The homicide rate in New Mexico Territory was 47 times higher than the national average.

The Lincoln County War was about to begin. The wealthier faction was led by L. G. Murphy who ran the largest store in the town of Lincoln. Murphy has the help of his partner James Joseph Dolan. The big store came to be called "The House". Later it housed the jail, from which even later Billy would make a bloody escape.

Captain Evans and his gang were on The House's payroll. So, in effect, the Kid was working for Murphy, Dolan and another man named Riley. Sheriff Brady was on the side of Murphy.

The poorer faction was composed of a Scottish descendant known as Alexander Anderson McSween; Englishman John Henry Tunstall and Texan John Simpson Chisum, the rancher.

The two factions both strive to create the most dominant ranching-mercantile empire in Lincoln County.

Meanwhile the Kid made lasting friendships with George Coe, cousin Frank Coe and Frank's brother-in-law Ab Saunders. The men were connected to John Tunstall's growing ranch staff. Tunstall's foreman, Dick Brewer, caught the Kid for stealing horses and took him to jail, but Billy was soon released. The Kid ended up on Tunstall's payroll. He was 18 years old.

The Kid liked to hang around the small village of San Patricio (on the Rio Ruidoso just above its junction with the Rio Bonito).

The local court ruled in favor of Murphy's faction in their suit for $10,000 dollars against McSween and Tunstall.

1878 (February 18) -- A Murphy faction posse starts for the Tunstall ranch to collect their money. Tunstall and his young men were on their way to Lincoln. The guys chase after some wild turkeys leaving Tunstall alone. The posse reaches Mr. Tunstall.   Tunstall approaches the posse when leader Buck Morton shoots Tunstall with a rifle through the man's upper chest. Then posse member Tom Hill dismounted and shot the prostrate Tunstall with Tunstall's own pistol.

The Lincoln County War now begins and will last three years.

McSween obtains warrants to the arrest of Tunstall's killer. Dick Brewer formed the "Regulators". He deputized a posse that included Billy, Charlie Bowdre, Fred Waite, Doc Scurlock, the Coe cousins, Henry Brown, John Middleton, Jim French, Frank McNab, Sam Smith and John Scroggins.

1878 (early March) -- the Dick Brewer posse takes into custody McCloskey, Buck Morton and Baker. The captured men never make the ride to jail as the Regulators most likely executed them.

Governor of New Mexico Territory, Samuel Axtell, is concerned about the bloodshed in Lincoln County and declares the Regulators as outlaws.

1878 (April 1) -- Sheriff William Brady was killed. The Regulators opened fire on Brady and his men. He was hit by at least a dozen bullets. Killed with Brady was a man named Hindman. Billy was wounded in the thigh. The same bullet that hit Billy went into Jim French's leg.

1878 (April 4) -- Regulator leader Dick Brewer from Vermont was killed in a shootout at Blazer's Mill. Also killed was Murphy man Buckshot Roberts. Frank McNab was elected as the new captain of the Regulators. Not long afterwards, McNab is killed in an ambush arranged by the Seven Rivers posse. Doc Scurlock now becomes the captain.

The regulators get a new man, Thomas O'Folliard, and he and Billy became good friends.

1878 (July 14) -- there was a fight of the Dolan faction and with the Regulators at the McSween residence. The Dolan forces had their headquarters in the Wortley Hotel. The skirmish became known as the Five-Day-War. The Cavalry under Captain Dudley came out to back the Dolan forces. A cannon is pointed at the Regulators and the 60 Regulators are quickly whittled down to only 13.

Billy's shot at John Kinney rips the man's mustache off his upper lip. Deputy Bob Beckwith is killed. Alex McSween and his unlucky law clerk are killed. McSween's death marks the conclusion of the Five-Day-War. And Billy becomes the most wanted man in the Southwest.

Billy starts hanging around Fort Sumner. He likes Sallie Chisum, the daughter of Jim Chisum. The Regulators start making Fort Sumner their base of operations. Billy becomes the leader of the group. The outlaws like to go to Puerto de Luna and Anton Chico because of their fine dances.

The Regulators go into the Texas Panhandle and more specifically into the town of Tascosa.

Billy becomes smitten with Paulita Maxwell Jaramillo, Pete Maxwell's young sister at Fort Sumner.

1878 (October 20) -- in Santa Fe Murphy dies nearly destitute.

Because of all the trouble in Lincoln County, Governor Axtell is removed from the office of governor for the New Mexico Territory. His replacement is Lew Wallace (who later wrote the novel Ben Hur). The now Lt. Col. Dudley is suspended from his command of Fort Stanton.   Wallace tried to get some type of immunity for Billy, but District Attorney William Rynerson desperately wanted Billy punished.

Billy heads north to Las Vegas, near Santa Fe. Supposedly, he shared a Sabbath dinner with Jesse James.

It's not long before the Kid is back at Fort Sumner.

early 1880 -- Joe "Texas Red" Grant makes threats in a bar. Billy asks to see his pistol and sees the man only has three bullets in his gun. So he rotates the cylinder so that the next pull of the trigger will land the firing pin on an empty cylinder.

Grant gets into an argument with Billy. Billy starts to leave the saloon, but hears the sound of the hammer clicking on the empty chamber. Billy whirls round and puts three bullets through Texas Red's chin.

early 1880 (or late 1879) -- the Kid poses for his photograph in Fort Sumner. It is the only documented photographic image of Billy.

1880 (November 2) -- the people elect Pat Garrett Sheriff of Lincoln County.

1880 (December 19) -- Garrett and his men run into the regulators. Regulator Tom O'Folliard is shot through the chest and dies.

1880 (December 23) -- Garrett and his men capture Billy the Kid and his compatriots at a one-room stone house at Stinking Springs on Taiban Creek (a short distance east of Fort Sumner). There was only one death, that of Charlie Bowdre.

The prisoners are taken to Las Vegas. Then they are taken by train to Santa Fe.

1881 (March 17) -- Lionel A. Shelton of Ohio is made the new governor of New Mexico Territory.

The Regulators are now sent to Mesilla (by Las Cruces). The case against Billy for the murder of Roberts was thrown out of court because Roberts was not killed on federal land. But Billy is found guilty of killing Sheriff Brady back in Lincoln.

Billy is sent to the jail in Lincoln to await execution. Billy has a lot of friends in Lincoln and probably one of them put a revolver inside the court house's outhouse. Now Billy asks Dave Bell to take him to the privy. When he finishes with the privy Billy starts walking up a long set of stairs on the outside of the courthouse to take him to the jail cells on the second floor. Nearing the top of the stairs, Billy swings around and clobbers Dave Bell in the head with the pistol. Dave falls all the way down the stairs, but he survives and starts running away. Billy shoots the runaway twice and he dies.

The other jailor was Bob Olinger, a big man who loved harassing the small Billy the Kid. Billy knows Olinger will be returning to the jail to find out what happened. He gets the man's shot gun, opens a courthouse window and waits for Olinger. As Olinger approaches the courthouse, Billy says: "Hello, Bob." Bob looks up and Billy fires the shotgun. "Thirty-six buckshot found their mark and the bullying Olinger was dead before his body slammed to the ground." p. 244.

Billy does not runaway to a far-off place, but rather goes to Fort Sumner and stays there. Why did he stay in Fort Sumner? One possibility was that the gossip was true that Paulita Maxwell was pregnant with the Kid's child.

1881 (July 14) -- Pat Garrett and his men are in Fort Sumner. At night they are at the Maxwell House. They went through the front gate and up on the porch. Garrett goes into Pete Maxwell's room to ask him if he has seen the Kid.

The Kid is home and hungry. He goes with a knife outside to cut some meat from a freshly slaughtered yearling hanging up on Maxwell's porch. The two deputies see the unknown man, but figure it's one of the Maxwells. When the Kid sees the two unknown men he pulls out his .41-caliber Colt thunderer and asks the men in Spanish two times: "Who is it?" As he backs into Maxwell's door he repeats the same phrase.

Backing into the room, the Kid asks Pete who are those men outside? Now the Kid notices there are two people in the room and he asks in Spanish who is it and then the same question again but this time in English: "Who is it?"

Pete whispers to Garret in Spanish: "It's him." Garrett yanks out his gun and fires two bullets into Billy.

"Henry McCarty lay dead on the floor. The endless ride of Billy the Kid had just begun."  p. 247.

 

 

 

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