Wild Bill Hickok & Dave Tutt
Chapter One of the book is an account of Wild Bill Hickok's shootout with Davis Tutt on the Springfield square shortly after the close of the Civil War. I won't try to recount the event here, but I'll mention two or three things that struck me as remarkable as I was doing my research, because they were things I was not already aware of. The first thing is that the circumstances surrounding the event and the guilt or innocence of either party were not black and white. In the popular myth, of course, Wild Bill is the good guy, but in reality, he had something of a notorious reputation himself, at least around Springfield. Many Southern-leaning citizens felt that the jury, composed almost exclusively of Northern sympathizers, brought in its not guilty verdict more because of the fact that Hickok had been a Union soldier and Tutt had served in the Confederate army than because of the circumstances of the duel.
We usually hear that the Hickok-Tutt gunfight grew out of dispute over a card game, but I was a little surprised to learn that Tutt, according to at least one report, was not actually involved in the game. Tension between the two men (partly over a romantic rivalry) had supposedly already reached such a point that Hickok refused to play cards with Tutt, and the dispute that led directly to the gunfight involved a prior debt that Hickok owed Tutt, not a debt arising out of the game that occurred on the fateful day.
Finally, my research has led me to believe that the gunfight occurred later on the same day that the poker game took place, not the next day as many accounts suggest. It should be remembered that back in those days card games were often played during daylight hours, mainly because of the unavailabilty of electric lights. Since the gunfight took place around 6 p.m., it seems logical to conclude, and the evidence seems to suggest, that the card game had taken place earlier the same day, not the previous day.