Andy’s interest in The Hickok-Tutt gunfight began more than 20 years ago when he did the original painting.
This original painting brought the entities of the History Museum on the Square in Springfield, MO to contact Andy. He did two more paintings of the Springfield Square. It will be used in a 360-degree room at this museum, which is scheduled to open in late spring of 2019.
The Story As Told By Joseph G. Rosa
Springfield may be best remembered as the place where, on July 21, 1865, Wild Bill Hickok and Dave K. Tutt shot it out in a pistol duel that proved to be a model that innumerable shoot-outs followed.
James Butler Hickok, by the time he was featured in Nichols’ Harper’s article was already well known in Springfield, having served the Union loyally as a wagon master, provost marshal’s detective and spy- the latter occupation in service of the District Commander, General John B. Sanborn, who considered “Wild Bill” to be his principal scout and detective.
As for Davis K. Tutt, he probably was a deserter from the Confederate army, who appeared in Springfield late in 1863 or early 1864. He and Hickok became gambling companions until they fell out over a debt on the evening of July 20, 1865. Tutt claimed that Hickok owed him 35 dollars which Hickok maintained was only 25 dollars. Tutt then picked up Hickok’s prized Waltham repeater watch and said when he received his money he would return it, otherwise, he would wear it on the Public Square.
As late as 5 pm on the 21st they were still arguing. Hickok said that Tutt had been his friend, and he would rather fall out with anyone than him. Friends tried to persuade both men to shake hands and compromise, but Dave refused and strode off. Despite the early evening heat, he reappeared on the square outside the courthouse wearing a long “duster”. Hickok walked onto the square from the opposite side, calling out to him not to wear his watch on the square. Dave Tutt ignored him and drew his pistol. Hickok immediately drew his and, according to some witnesses, both men fired “simultaneously”. Tutt missed but the force of Hickok’s shot made him stagger backward; he stumbled into the courthouse, reeled out through one of its arches, and with the chocked cry: “Boys, I am killed” fell dead on the square.
By actual measurement, both men were 75 yards apart when they opened fire. Dave turned his body side on (dueling fashion) when he fired, which made him a more difficult target; but Hickok’s Colt’s Navy ball entered at his fifth rib on the right side, and exited at the fifth rib on the left, passing through his heart–a remarkable shot!
Hickok was arrested and later charged with manslaughter. At his trial on August 5, the defense attorney declared him the aggressor; but the judge pointed out that Tutt had made threats against him, which meant that Hickok’s actions could be construed as self-defense–the jury agreed and acquitted him.
From witnesses’ statements, it is clear that neither men wanted to fight. Rather, pride came first. But for Wild Bill Hickok, it elevated him one step further toward becoming the Old West’s archetype gunfighter and premier “pistoleer” which is how he is still remembered.
If you would like to order Andy Thomas’ western painting reproduction of Wild Bill Hickok vs Dave Tutt, you can find more details here.