“BULLETS AND BLOODSHED”

— LAST DAY OF THE DALTONS —

The five men who rode into Coffeyville, Kansas, at mid-morning on October 5, 1892, wore disguises. But some residents recognized them as members of the Dalton Gang who once lived in Coffeyville for a short time.

RAID AT COFFEYVILLE

Before their journey to Coffeyville, the Dalton brothers staged four train robberies in Indian Territory, enriching themselves by several thousand dollars. But Bob Dalton considered the wildest of the brothers, yeared for something more than money. 

Bob Dalton came up with the idea of robbing two banks in the same community at the same time and in broad daylight—something that would overshadow the escapades of his rival, Jesse James.

Gang members crossed the spacious town plaza, entered an alley, and hitched their horses to a fence.

Gratton Dalton, Bill Powers, and Dick Broadwell headed for the new C.M. Condon Bank, while Bob and Emmett Dalton slipped inside the First National.

While bank tellers inside the Condon bank filled a sack with money, Dalton ordered cashier C.M. Ball to retrieve the money inside the safe.

Ball lied and said he couldn’t access the vault for another few minutes because of a time-lock.  

Outside the bank, a local merchant—Aleck McKenna—recognized one of the five as a Dalton and shouted a warning about the banks being robbed.

Bystanders quickly armed themselves with rifles and revolvers. 

Less than a minute later, citizens of Coffeyville began firing and shattered the plate-glass windows of the Condon bank, pinning down the three gang members.

With no other way out of the bank, they ordered two bank employees to carry the sack of money to the front door. But, withering firepower from outside forced them to retreat further inside the bank.

At First National, in the meantime, a similar scene took place. The two Dalton brothers tried using employees as shields but heavy gunfire pushed them back inside.

When the two groups finally made their way to the street, the people of Coffeyville showed no mercy. Grat Dalton and Bill Powers tried to take cover but died in a hail of bullets. 

Broadwell, struggling from the pain of a bullet in the back, sought refuge in a lumber yard. Taking advantage of the confusion, Broadwell mounted his horse and rode off. But more bullets riddled his body and he was found in the dirt about a half-mile west of the city.

Bob and Emmett Dalton managed to escape from the First National, but a bullet toppled Bob from his saddle.

Emmett spotted his brother on the ground and tried to help, but one of the townspeople fired his shotgun and wounded the outlaw in the back. Emmett fell to the ground not far from the money bag containing over $21,000. 

Bullets and bloodshed delivered an unceremonious end to the Dalton gang. 

Their bodies were dumped in a pile in the town jail and then displayed side-by-side the following day in a hay wagon and photographed.

Emmett Dalton, however, survived to serve a 14-year jail term.

Killed in a blaze of bullets was Marshal Charles Connelly, who was shot and killed as he ran across a vacant lot and into the alley where the gang tethered its horses.

_______

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2 comments to “BULLETS AND BLOODSHED”

  • Rob Morse

    Connelly was not the only town member to die in the gun battle of Coffeyville. All in total 4 town defenders died and 6 wounded. For a 8-10 minute gun battle the casualties were severe.

  • Thanks for adding to the story, Rob. Lots of bullets in such a short amount of time.

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