The era of the wild west began after the Civil War in 1865 and has provided some of the most lasting and talked about tenets of American mythology. This period was full of drama because of the lawlessness of the time.
The era is quite famous in Hollywood movies set against the backdrop of the wild west. However, this condition of anarchy and outlaw dominance lasted for only 30 years.
The era is famous for a number of popular cowboys and outlaws, specially gunslingers, who ruled flatlands, small settles, and became the heroes and villains of American folklore.
Famous Outlaws of the Wild West:
There is something to talk about with these outlaws since they ruled a period of almost three decades, and their business was often deadly and violent. Let’s have a look at the famous cowboys and gunslingers of the famous old west.
Billy The Kid
Henry McCarty, who would become known as Billy the Kid, had a short but remembered career as an outlaw. He spent much of his life in and out of jail and had a record of escaping jail multiple times.
He is said to have murdered a total of 21 men, but most people think this may be exaggerated. He also participated in the Lincoln County War, where he was found guilty of killing several men.
Later, in 1881, he was killed in a shootout while on the run to escape being sentenced to death.
Jesse and his brother Frank turned into criminals after the war, when their family was tortured by soldiers for information. They were turned into the most feared outlaws from the 1860s until 1882.
His gang, “James-Younger Gang,” became famous as they were the most wanted outlaws with a high price on their heads. They robbed more than 20 banks and did train robberies and looted a huge sum of money.
All told, Jesse was killed by a new member, Bob Ford, who shot him in the back of the head to get all the looted money.
John Wesley Hardin
John Wesley Hardin was the most famous gunslinger of his time because he killed over 42 people. He was a killer psychopath, known for even killing a man for snoring!
In 1877, he was arrested and served a sentence of sixteen years and was released after reforming into a better person. But he was shot dead due to his old reputation by a lawman in El Paso.
The Wild Bunch
The Wild Bunch was a gang of horse robbers and bank loots. The gang included the famous gunslingers like Sundance Kid, Kid Curry, and Butch Cassidy. They were famous for a train robbery where they stole around $65K, but failed to actually have anything as the bills were unsigned by the bank and therefor worthless.
The old west was a bloody and dangerous period of American history. These famous outlaws were a part of an era of uncertainty when men had taken the law in their hands as the rule of law was scarce.
But the glamor of gunslingers and cowboy culture will not fade in the minds of the majority of Americans; credit goes to the Hollywood movies for keeping them alive in film and television.