On July 17, 1870 Deputy U.S. Marshal Wild Bill Hickok was in a bar in Hays City, Kansas when two of a group of five Seventh Cavalry troopers suddenly attacked him from behind. It’s not quite clear what provoked the attack, but there is thought it might have had something to do with an encounter Wild Bill had earlier with Tom Custer, brother of George Custer and a member of the Seventh. So here’s the story of when Wild Bill shoots soldiers.
One soldier held Wild Bill’s arms so he couldn’t fight back. A second put the muzzle of his pistol to Wild Bill’s ear and pulled the trigger. Nothing happened.
Now Wild Bill is fighting with super human strength. He got one pistol upholstered and shot one of the soldiers. Finally able to point his pistol at the man holding him, Hickok shot him in the knee. Released, Wild Bill then did the old stuntman trick of jumping through the window, breaking glass, rolling on the ground outside, and hightailing it out of the area.
It was a good thing too, because when word of the shooting got back to the Seventh’s headquarters a number of soldiers headed into Hayes City looking for Wild Bill. General Sheridan even ordered Hickok’s arrested. But it never took place.
The event, just as it happened, was something most people would find an amazing feat. But as with most of Hickok’s adventures, it immediately took on even larger proportions. At first newspapers said all five soldiers attacked Hickok. And some ten years later Wild Bill had taken on 15 troopers, killing 3, and being wounded 7 times. Now that’s a story you could tell with pride.