What was the “Dodge City Gang?”

mtrimbleIn his book The Gunfighters, Dale T. Schoenberger states that Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, Doc Holliday and Luke Short were known as the “Dodge City Gang.” Why were they called that?

Bob Wood

Hugo, Minnesota

Maniac #451

The “Dodge City Gang” you mention wasn’t really a gang. These sporting men worked in various capacities for the Oriental Saloon in Tombstone, Arizona. All had previously spent time in Dodge City, Kansas, hence the name.

Bat Masterson had already left Tombstone by the time of the famous gunfight behind the O.K. Corral in 1881; Luke Short was out of town that day. But they came together in Kansas in 1883 as the so-called “Dodge City Peace Commission.”

The Dodge City War began when reformer Larry Deger became mayor and passed ordinances against prostitution. As house dealer at the Long Branch, technically a brothel, Short took umbrage when some of his shady ladies were arrested. Short and some other gamblers were escorted out of town.

Short rounded up his pals Wyatt Earp, Masterson and Charlie Bassett, and they took the train to Dodge. Mayor Deger asked the governor to send in the militia, but he got a mediator instead. The mayor backed off. The war was over. And Luke and the boys posed for the famous Dodge City Peace Commission photograph. Not long after, Short and his partner sold the Long Branch.

What do you think?

Marshall Trimble

Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian and the Wild West History Association’s vice president. His latest book is 2018’s Arizona Oddities: A Land of Anomalies and Tamales. Send your question, with your city/state of residence, to marshall.trimble@scottsdalecc.edu or Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327.