Ask The Marshall: Wild Bill Hickok

How was Wild Bill Hickok killed?

James Patrick Gaines
Orangevale, California

Shortly past noon on August 2, 1876, James “Wild Bill” Hickok walked into Bill Nuttall and Carl Mann’s No. 10 Saloon in Deadwood, Dakota Territory, where several men were playing poker.

Charlie Rich was sitting in the wall seat, a spot Hickok preferred, to protect himself from back shooters. Twice, Hickok asked Rich to give up the seat, yet Rich refused. Grudgingly, Hickok sat down between Rich and Mann, where he could see the front door.

Jack McCall walked in the front door and moved to the end of the bar before walking up behind Hickok. The famous lawman was busy checking his cards and paid McCall no mind.

When McCall was within three feet, he raised his Navy Colt revolver and shouted, “Damn you, take that!” as he fired. The ball entered the back of Hickok’s head and exited from the center of the right cheek, causing instant death.

Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official state historian and the vice president of the Wild West History Association.  His latest book is Arizona’s Outlaws and Lawmen.

If you have a question, write: Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or e-mail him at

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