Wild West Wednesday: The Sweetwater Shootout

BatMastersonThis event which took place on January 24, 1876 might have been just an obscure piece of American Western history if not for the fact that it involved twenty-three year-old William Barclay “Bat” Masterson.  He was born on November 26 ,1853 and raised in Kansas.  His first job at the age of seventeen was working a Santa Fe Railroad construction job.  Bat was known to be handy with any gun he picked up, and when his employer failed to pay him he took a job as buffalo hunter.

After an Indian fight, he went to work as a civilian scout for General Nelson Appleton Miles.  His first assignment took him to a place in Texas called Sweetwater (first called “Hidetown” and later officially named Mobeetie).  At the time, it was a buffalo hunting camp on Sweetwater Creek, the north fork of the Red River.  Nearby was an United States Army outpost (later named Fort Elliott) where troops were assigned the duty of transforming Indian hunting grounds to an area suitable for settlement.

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