James Butler 'Wild Bill' Hickok Kills Davis Tutt, Jr. In First Recorded Quick Draw Gunfight

Hickok's reputation as a gunfighter began when he killed David Tutt in the public square of Springfield on 21st July, 1865.

The two men had quarrelled over cards and decided to have a gunfight. At 6pm Hickok and Tutt arranged to walk towards each other. When they were about 50 yards apart both men drew his gun. Tutt fired first but missed. Hickok's shot hit Tutt in the heart. This was the first recorded example of two men taking part in a quick-draw duel. The following month Hickok was acquitted after pleading self-defence.

On July 21, 1865, in the town square of Springfield, Missouri, Hickok killed Davis Tutt, Jr. in a "quick draw" duel. Fiction later typified this kind of gunfight, but Hickok's is in fact the first one on record that fits the portrayal.

Hickok first met former Confederate Army soldier Davis Tutt in early 1865, while both were gambling in Springfield. Hickok often borrowed money from Tutt. They were originally good friends, but they eventually fell out over a woman, and it was rumored that Hickok once had an affair with Tutt's sister, perhaps fathering a child. This was likely exacerbated by the fact that there was a long-standing dispute over Hickok's girlfriend, Susannah Moore. Hickok refused to play cards with Tutt, who retaliated by financing other players in an attempt to bankrupt him.

According to the accepted account, the dispute came to a head when Tutt was coaching an opponent of Hickok's during a card game. Hickok was on a winning streak and Tutt, frustrated, requested that he repay a $40 loan, which Hickok did. Tutt then demanded another $35 owed from a previous card game. Hickok refused, as he had "a memorandum" proving it to be for $25. Tutt then took Hickok's watch, which was lying on the table, as collateral for the $35, at which point Hickok warned him not to wear it or he, Hickok, would shoot him. The next day, Tutt appeared in the square wearing the watch prominently, and Hickok tried to negotiate the watch's return. Tutt stated that he would now accept no less than $45, but both agreed that they would not fight over it and went for a drink together. Tutt left the saloon but returned to the square at 6 p.m., while Hickok arrived on the other side and warned him not to approach him while wearing the watch. Both men faced each other sideways in the dueling position and both fired almost simultaneously. Tutt's shot missed, but Hickok's didn't, piercing Tutt through the side from about 75 yards away. Tutt called out, "Boys, I'm killed" and ran onto the porch of the local courthouse and then back to the street, where he collapsed and died.

In July of 1865 Hickok met up with a twenty-six-year-old gambler in Springfield, Missouri, to whom Hickok lost at the gaming tables. When Bill couldn’t pay up, Dave Tutt took Hickok's gold pocket watch for security. Hickok growled that if Tutt so much as used the timepiece, he would kill him. However, on July 21, 1865, the two met in the public square and Tutt was proudly wearing the watch for all to see. This insult, of course, soon led to a gunfight. At a distance of about 75 yards, the two faced off. Tutt's shot missed but Hickok's hit Tutt in the chest. The wounded man then stumbled for about twenty feet before he finally fell to the ground dead. Two days later, Hickok was arrested and tried for manslaughter.