We use cookies to track usage and preferences. See Cookie Policy
Pocketmags Digital Magazines
GB
Pocketmags Digital Magazines
Christmas Presents
   You are currently viewing the United Kingdom version of the site.
Would you like to switch to your local site?
Digital Subscriptions > History Revealed > April 2017 > Young Gun Goes For It

Young Gun Goes For It

His lawless days only lasted four years, but he is still remembered as perhaps the most notorious outlaw of the Wild West. Jonny Wilkes asks whether he deserves his ruthless reputation

BILLY THE KID: THE YOUNG GUN

The Old West is steeped in stories of legendary shoot-outs, fast-living outlaws and colourful characters – but none are more famous than Billy the Kid
ILLUSTRATION: JEAN-MICHEL GIRARD/WWW.THE-ART-AGENCY.CO.UK, MOVIE STILLS X1

Atkins’ saloon is a typical crusty den of hard drinking and hard gambling in Arizona territory, where locals belch and grunt away their evenings after a day toiling on ranches or at the nearby military fort of Camp Grant. It’s where young ranch hand and small-time horse-and-saddle thief Henry Antrim – who could be no older than 16 or 17 – often rides with his wages jangling in his pockets in the hopes of getting lucky at poker.

It is a parched and dusty 17 August 1877 when ‘Kid Antrim’ steps inside old George Atkins’ place, but his usually friendly and cheerful mood sours when he spots Frank ‘Windy’ Cahill, the big, burly blacksmith who has taken to picking on him for his youthful, scrawny looks. Windy takes particular pleasure in throwing the Kid to the floor, calling him names and smacking him around in front of everybody.

Trouble erupts when Windy calls Antrim a “pimp”, before he gets violent when called a “son of a bitch” in return. He wrestles his much smaller opponent to the ground, pinning him down with his knees, and gleefully slaps the boy in the face. But the Kid has been humiliated for the last time. He squirms and frees his arm, reaches for his .45 pistol and sticks the barrel into the bully’s gut. Onlookers hear a “deafening roar”, then see Windy slump over as his shirt reddens with blood. The Kid leaps to his feet and bolts, stealing a prized horse to make his escape. It takes a day for Windy to die.

Despite being found guilty of a “criminal and unjustifiable” killing, Antrim hightails it all the way to New Mexico so never faces arrest, jail time and possibly worse. Instead, the shooting of Windy Cahill marks the explosive start of his short but spectacular life as an outlaw – under the moniker Billy the Kid.

This tintype image of Billy the Kid was bought at auction in 2011 by billionaire William Koch for $2.3m

QUICK DRAW

The Kid was a good shot and constantly practiced with his pistol or his trusty Winchester rifle, dubbed ‘the gun that won the West’.

27

The number of men Billy the Kid was reputed to have killed. The actual number was probably eight

Hollywood’s 1941 take on the Wild West’s famous outlaw
ALAMY X2, COURTESY OF THE BUFFALO BILL CENTER OF THE WEST, CODY, WYOMING, U.S.A X1
READ MORE
Purchase options below
Find the complete article and many more in this issue of History Revealed - April 2017
If you own the issue, Login to read the full article now.
Single Issue - April 2017
£3.99
Or 399 points
Monthly Digital Subscription
Only £ 2.76 per issue
SAVE
63%
£2.99
Or 299 points
Annual Digital Subscription
Only £ 2.69 per issue
SAVE
33%
£34.99
Or 3499 points
6 Month Digital Subscription
Only £ 2.77 per issue
SAVE
25%
£17.99
Or 1799 points

View Issues

About History Revealed

This might well be our most-packed issue ever, and we’ve got pretty much every time and place imaginable covered. Our section in the centre pages looks at those archaeological discoveries that make our understanding of the past possible – from buried kings to mysterious writings.
Ways to Pay Pocketmags Payment Types
At Pocketmags you get Secure Billing Great Offers HTML Reader Gifting options Loyalty Points