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Lincoln County War

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Lincoln County War
Highway 380
Lincoln, New Mexico 88338

The Lincoln County War started in February, 1878, and ended in July, 1878. This short war took place in Lincoln County, New Mexico.

In the events leading up to the war, there was a large cattle company run by L.G. Murphy and J.J. Dolan. This company sold cattle to anyone who would buy. A rival company was set up and run by a man named John Tunstall.

Infuriated at Tunstall, Dolan took him to court to try to seize some of Tunstall’s cattle. After being denied this, Dolan hired Sheriff William Brandy, who formed a posse to force Tunstall to give Dolan the cattle. After arguing about the posse being on his land, Tunstall was shot in the head.

Tunstall’s foreman, Dick Brewer, formed a group called the Regulators. This group was filled with outlaws, including the notorious  Billy the Kid, who were out to avenge Tunstall’s death.

Over the time span of a few months, the regulators hunted down and killed everyone who had to do with Tunstall’s murder. On April 1, the regulators ambushed and killed Sheriff William Brandy and a deputy.

The war came to an end a short time later after Alexander McSween’s, an associate of Tunstall, house burned to the ground after a five day siege by 40 of Dolan’s comrades. The only survivors that were in the house were a small group of outlaws that included Billy the Kid.

Written by Kathrine Franklin



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