DiscoverThe Wild West ExtravaganzaBilly the Kid | Lincoln County War (Part 3)
Billy the Kid | Lincoln County War (Part 3)

Billy the Kid | Lincoln County War (Part 3)

Update: 2023-03-29


Lincoln County, New Mexico Territory was the setting of a brutal conflict between rival factions vying for control of the county's dry goods and cattle interests. The Lincoln County War, as it came to be known, began in 1878 and persisted until 1881, a time of lawlessness and bloodshed in the Old West.

One side of the feud was led by James Dolan, a powerful figure who wielded a monopoly over dry goods through his establishment "The House". The other faction was established by English-born John Tunstall and his partner Alexander McSween, who opened their own competing store with support from established cattleman John Chisum. Both sides gathered lawmen, businessmen, and criminal gangs to their aid, setting the stage for a violent and deadly confrontation.

The Dolan faction was aligned with Sheriff William J. Brady and supported by the notorious Jesse Evans Gang. The Tunstall-McSween faction organized their own armed posse, the Lincoln County Regulators, with their own lawmen in the form of town constable Richard M. Brewer and Deputy US Marshal Robert A. Widenmann. And of course the notorious Billy the Kid.

The War was characterized by a series of brutal revenge killings, starting with the murder of Tunstall by members of a Dolan authorized posse and the Evans Gang. The Regulators retaliated by killing Sheriff Brady and others in a series of violent incidents. The conflict continued to escalate for several months, culminating in the epic five-day battle of Lincoln, which resulted in the death of McSween and the dispersal of the Regulators.

William H. Bonney rode into Lincoln County a teenager on the run from a noose. By the time he came out of McSween’s burning home, guns blazing, he was well on the way to becoming the legend known as Billy the Kid.

This is part three in the series on Billy the Kid. For the previous two installments see the links below.

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Billy the Kid part 1 | Orphan -


Billy the Kid part 2 | Prelude to War -


Billy the Kid: A Short and Violent Life | Robert Utley -


Billy the Kid: The Endless Ride | Michael Wallis -

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Billy the Kid | Lincoln County War (Part 3)

Billy the Kid | Lincoln County War (Part 3)

The Wild West Extravaganza