ask-the-marshallIn my senior year of high school, I wrote a paper on outlaws and gunmen. One was shot in the back by a Frenchman. Do you know who it was?

Eugene Harshbarger

Guatemala City, Guatemala

The gunman you’re thinking of is Jack Slade. A French-Canadian named Jules Reni had been stealing horses from Slade’s express company station in Julesburg, Colorado. While Slade investigated the crime, Reni walked up to him on the street and shot him twice at close range. After Slade fell to the ground, the Frenchman fired three more rounds into his body. Reni then told bystanders to bury Slade, but a mob gathered and ran him out of town. Slade, a tough hombre, pulled through the ordeal. After a lengthy recovery, he thirsted for revenge.

Slade avenged the shooting a year later, in 1859. Some cowboys had captured Reni, who was planning to ambush Slade’s ranch near Cold Springs. Slade had Reni tied to a fence post. While swigging from a bottle of whiskey, Slade methodically began shooting him in the arms and legs. For the coup de grace, he jammed his six-gun into Reni’s mouth and fired a fatal bullet. Then he pulled a knife and cut off Reni’s ears, which he later crafted into a watch fob.

Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian.

His books include The Arizona Trilogy and Law of the Gun.

If you have a question, write:

Ask the Marshall, PO Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327

or e-mail him at

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