Virgil Walter Earp (1843-1905) was one of the Old West’s great lawmen. While not as famous today as his younger brother Wyatt, Virgil’s role in protecting the law of Tombstone and other Western towns was far more impressive.
On June 28, 1880, Virgil was appointed city marshal of the small mining camp of Tombstone, Arizona. Virgil took it upon himself to enforce local ordinances such as the ban on concealed or open weapons within town limits. His actions brought him into direct conflict with outlaws
Frank McLaury and Billy Clanton, which led to the famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Virgil, along with new deputy Morgan Earp and temporarily deputized citizens Wyatt Earp and John “Doc” Holliday took on the Clanton gang in a blaze of gunfire behind the Corral. Three of the outlaws were killed, and in the following week both Morgan and Virgil were the targets of assassination attempts, in which Morgan was killed and Virgil lost the use of his left arm.
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