I am so used to being viewed as the old lady who doesn't know what she is talking about that I sometimes get a little silly.
And like everyone else, I am still trying to figure it out though I have convinced myself on certain points and will hold to them until someone can convince me otherwise. None of us were actually there but we have some evidence and we have logic and a little knowledge to fall back on; some of it from real life experience.
That is what I try to draw on in examining our extensive discussions. Without boring the life out of you, I have already described my background where many, many years ago I ignorantly married into the tail-end of the past along the border ranchland. There I learned about the nature of people from that fading time period.
And that reminds me of a very insightful post by Gary Roberts down below, an old fellow like me. He suggests that it is hard for us to grasp the feelings and the reasonings of the people involved on that day's events. I believe him to a point. Some of it, I think, can be reasoned out; which brings me back to your evaluation which is a very fair one. How would the McLaury boys have cared for each other under such circumstances? Do we have any idea what they would have done?
If I can keep from being too long-winded, here is how I see it so far. Right off the bat, I have to say that the Earp brothers openly lied in their testimony, actually not even supporting each other's accounts. Therefore, to take their stories seriously indicates to me a little too much hero-worship or downright gullibility.
That said, the population in Tombstone at the time was quite generous, probably seven or eight thousand people or more. It was booming. That means that Fremont street, the main business center was very active and at the time of the gun fight there had to be a Lot of people on the street going in and out of banks, the courthouse, the newspapers, ect. So there were a lot more witnesses to what happened than were called into court, which all told, both sides, was roughly thirty. Who chose them and why? Didn't the whole presentation seem out of whack? It seemed very controlled in the favour of the Earps and even the Justice seemed ill-prepared.
Anyway, back to the situation you referred to. When the Earp crowd approached the ranchers, the thing that I see is that the cowboys are standing there together observing the approach and are not demonstrating any activity such as moving around or talking loudly. They are under control by the local sheriff who has done the right thing by examining the situation peacefully but firmly and has told the men to stay put while he goes toward the Earps to tell them there is no need to pursue the matter. The gun situation is all blown out of reason. Frank and Billy are still wearing guns because of their decision to leave town to avoid any trouble, which they don't even really understand at this point. Neither do we to some point either. When Behan came to them, Ike stepped forward and asked him what was wrong. He seemed somewhat surprised there was anything serious going on. Don't forget he earlier walked right in front of Virgil who was standing on the street with a shotgun and Virgil said nothing to him, peacefully or otherwise, so Ike has no reason to see a threat.
Billy has been told by the local authority, the sheriff, that he can keep his gun as he is leaving when everyone is ready as they are waiting on the wagon and team. Frank and the sheriff have had a conversation over Frank's gun and Frank has been hesitant to give it up because he feels the trouble after his brother was beat but also has business her needs to finish up. He is not looking for trouble and has agreed, according to the sheriff, to turn the gun in at the sheriff's office across the street but then time does not permit it.
Tom demonstrates quite clearly through the observations of several witnesses that he is not armed in any way. No matter what Wyatt says in court, the fact remains a number of witnesses on the street tell it differently. Addie Bourland, right across the street, observes Doc, in the long coat and distinctively different from the others in his group, walk right up to Frank, who is standing holding his horse and described as having no hands anywhere near his pistol strapped around his waist. (the cowboys never wore guns hanging down their hip like in the movies).
Addie sees Doc go right up to Frank, prod him with a gun in the belly, I assume with the intent of causing a reaction that will justify shooting him, but Frank keeps his hands away from his weapon. That leaves Doc, at that point, in a position where he has to shoot. He and Virgil have already agreed earlier, heard by Mrs. King, to 'let them have it!'
Frank is shot in the gut, a painful and shocking action, and instinctively turns away from increasing danger and no doubt in shock and pain. He is unaware that his brother is in the same danger as he probably can't do much more than react at that second.
Tom sees this as he is standing holding his coat open but Doc has turned toward him, lifting the shotgun up toward him. No doubt Doc raised the barrel with the right hand still holding the pistol as a prop because he is never described as dropping the hand gun. Because he is quickly propping it toward Tom who is now reacting instinctively to the oncoming danger, the shotgun is pointed upward at an angle and therefore hits Tom in the right side of his shoulder and chest, destroying his lung, I would think. When this is happening, Tom turns toward the street and almost certainly instinctively raises his arm and hand up against his face in self defense because that is what almost anyone would do when endangered. That would explain why the wound hit where it did. Tom staggers away from the impact blindly, also not aware at that moment what his brother's situation is.
So to cut my long story short, Bob, that is how I see the situation for those few seconds. I don't think the brothers neglected each other. Frank's concern when dealing with the sheriff demonstrated his wanting to get his brother and his friends out of an impending bad situation. His decision at the saloon to leave immediately was followed further by the good sense of not reacting to Wyatt at the gun shop and his dealing peacefully with the sheriff as they proceeded to the lot.
If you look at any he of my posts on Tom, I think I have made it clear that I don't have any idea if Tom was armed, if he jumped behind the horse, or if he did try to take cover behind the horse whether... more
Apology excepted (not a missprlling). Re-reading my original post about Wyatt supposedly telling Clum that Tom was unarmed but ran to a horse to get a gun, I can see how you may have thought I believed... more
Mr Cash ... I'm with you in that I have no place for conjecture ... we might as well all go home now ... but are you willing to accept Joyce's new [to me] supposition that Tom attempted to get the rifle... more
Gobs, I don't think it was Joyce's supposition. I think what she was respondinding to was my description of William McLeod Raine's account in his 1927 article HELLDORADO in which he says that, already... more
Breakenridge was not in town on the day of the street fight, so I don't know where Raine got this story. Raine was in Arizona for a fair amount of time in the early 1900's so I suppose he got it then.... more