Well the county was in an uproar. And every man saddled up to ride. Caught the cattlemen at the T. A. Ranch. And surrounded all four sides. We hailed the house with bullets. Swore they were going to pay. But the cavalry came across the plains. And once again saved the day.
— Johnson County War by Chris LeDoux

The Johnson County War was a range that was fought in Johnson County, Wyoming in the years between 1889–1893. Considered to be the most popular and recognisable range war in Old West history, the war was fought between large cattle barons and corporations against small ranchers, cowboys and homesteaders who both competed for the open range in the county. In the late 19th century, harsh weather forced the large cattle industries to take control of the land, water and roving cattle in the region to keep their businesses afloat. This monopoly was challenged by the small ranchers and homesteaders who also want to make a living in the region. Tensions soon worsen when the cattle barons started to imprison, lynch and outright murder civilians who they suspected of rustling or going up against them, including Ellen Watson and her husband Jim Averell, who were lynched by workers of the cattle barons. After the death of Nate Champion, a cowboy and prominent leader of the homesteaders, the Sheriff William Angus and the Johnson County Residents retaliated against the cattle barons and soon the war involved the state lawmen, two cavalry units and even the national government.

Battle vs. Blair Mountain Rebel (by Elgb333)

There was a fine and peaceful weather in the forested hills of the American countryside. Five hardluck Western Virginian miners were camping in one of the hills, cleaning their rifles and fixing their tents. Its been months since these grit-covered rebels have seen civilization, for they've been fighting this guerrilla war against those corporate bastards for a very long time. They were all feeling hungry both physically and mentally, craving food that they should be enjoying with their families, as well as morale and the will to go on. The only thing that's pushing these poor miners forward now is the faith that they are fighting a good cause for the future and betterment of their families.

And now was just another day for the life of these lonesome but noble hillbillies in America.

But then, they started hearing sounds of thundering hooves and tired animal grunts. Sensing an incursion, the miners then armed themselves and went out to the bottom of the hill to see what's the commotion about. They hid in the trees near one side of the main road and waited.

A small group of five Wyoming cowboys, with brands that stated that they were from Johnson County, was passing along the main road together with their small herd of sturdy and lean longhorns. Singing their jaunty Western shanties, they didn't notice the miners hidden in the trees as they ride through the road.

The booties these Wyoming cowboys have and the meat that they were dragging along tempted the hungry miners. Those walking beef steaks can feed them all for a month, maybe even two. Taking the opportunity, the miners sprang from their hiding spots and aimed their guns at them. The startled cowboys then went for their holsters, but before they can draw and violence can ensue, one of the cowboys raised his hand and pleaded with the bandits.

"Easy there friends! There's no need for fightin'. We were just passin' along that's all!" he yelled.

"Who're you folks? And what ya'll doin' here, may we ask?" one of the miners asked.

"Us? We just a bunch of herders escortin' these cattles to the city. We don't mean no harm, and I hope we didn't violated anythin' or anyones around 'ere."

"No, but ya'll are a bunch of dumbasses for bein' here. Don't ya'll know the state is under a war? "

The cowboys all looked at each other in shock, knowing that they are in one very big dilemma that's gonna screw them up. But as they were going to converse what they're gonna do, a miner opened a parley again for them. "Listen up! We'll let you go through... but as payment and gratitude, and also to show your support for our cause and our bee-loved state, you're gonna offer some of them cows, and all yer guns, to us."

The parley had a different effect on the cowboys than what the miners thought. Their looks of fear and anxiety now turned into anger and defiance. "I'm afraid we can't do that, friend..." one of the pissed off cowboys said. "These ere's our livelihood. And we ain't gonna give em to you just like that..."

"So there's no deal then..." a miner interrupted. "We jist gonna kill y'all instead!" And after that he fired both barrels of his large shotgun that cut one of the cowboys in half; the top-half of his body dangled from his spine while the other half still seated on his now jumping horse. Blue.png Both sides now went for their guns, but unfortunately, the miners who have already unsheathed their weapons, fired the first volley.

With the miners already surrounding one side, and the panicking cows scattering around the road, the cowboys can't ride off and escape, having no choice but to dismount and take cover from the opposite side of the road using the cows as cover. As the miners exposed themselves in the open to get a clearer shot, one of the retreating cowboys opened fire with his .44 revolver, hitting one miner multiple times in the chest. Light-blue.PNG

Firing continued as both sides were now locked on each side of the road. The longer range rifles of the miners gave them the advantage though, as one miner manage to headshot a cowboy with his bolt-action rifle. Blue.png

"Dammit we gettin' killed out here!" said one of the cowboys. "Someone gotta sneak through this hill and kill those sons of bitches from behind."

"Gimme a minute," said one of the cowboys as he dashed through the trees, looking for any concealed way to get to the miners side unnoticed. The remaining cowboys continued firing from their side, one cowboy manage to load up his Sharps rifle and snipes a miner right in the face. Light-blue.PNG

"Goddammit!" a miner cursed. "I've had enough of this. All of you get up, we're gonna storm these bastards."

And with a loud cry, the remaining miners charged at the cowboys position with all their might and with guns blazing. The cowboys, shocked from such audacity, prepared to hold their ground at all cost. The rapid-firing capabilities of their Winchester rifle manage to kill one of the charging miners after it hit him in lung, Light-blue.PNG and it wounded some of the others, but the wave of miners felt unstoppable and soon they reached the cowboys' position. The cowboys tried to fend them off with the butt of their rifles, but one of the miner shot a cowboy multiple times point blank with his M1917 revolver. Blue.png

The remaining cowboy started to back away but still kept on firing. As the miners methodically approached him like a cornered animal, ready to finally put an end to him, shots suddenly rang out from behind. One of the remaining miners fell dead as his back was pumped with lead from a revolver fired by a cowboy, who suddenly appeared from behind. Light-blue.PNG Now only one miner remained, and he's got cowboys right in front of him and in his back.

"Give it up," the cowboy from behind said. "It's all over. Go home soldier."

"Is it now?" the miner said, before firing the last bullet from his Vertelli rifle from the hip at point blank, killing the cowboy in front of him. Blue.png "It ain't over as long as I'm still breathin'."

"Nooooo!" the enraged cowboy said before tackling the miner to the floor. As the two wrestled on the ground, the miner managed to grab a hold of a pickaxe lying around, and jabs its metal head on the cowboy's jaw, breaking off some teeth. The cowboy fell down, almost losing consciousness, as the miner stood up with his pickaxe.

"We were fightin' hard to build a union. All of us. We wanted this country to see how cruel we poor mining folks have been treated and we want the debts of those coal barons be paid. But our fight doesn't end here even as my brothahs lay dead. As long as the fire of injusticed men everywhere still fumes, we will continue this war, but first, I'm gonna finish this fight." the miner spoke as he readies to raise his pickaxe.

The downed cowboy, though missing some teeth, started laughing. Confused and inflamed, the miner asked, "What the hell are you laughin' about?"

"You stupid dumb hill people..." mocked the laughing cowboy. "You're fightin' for whut? Goddamn coal? What in coal that makes you people die for it? You can't eat it. You can't feed it to your families. All you rednecks are dumb sons of bitches!"

The cowboy then sat up and spat a tooth from his mouth, before continuing, "You don't know us, boy. We're from Wyoming, we've seen how our lands and our livelihood were stolen from us. And we did everything we can to get 'em back. And there's no way in hell, that you stupid hillbillies are gonna take that away from us too!"

"SHUT UP!" the coal miner yelled before plunging his pickaxe down towards the cowboy. But the cowboy managed to roll out of the way, grabs his bowie knife, and slices the coal miner in the stomach. Yelling in pain, the coal miner tried to swing back at the cowboy, but every swing he made were dodged by the buckaroo. The cowboy then retaliated by throwing his bowie knife, hitting the miner in the eye.Light-blue.PNG

The tired cowboy then knelt down and rested. He took his time to remember all his dead friends, try to cope with the violence he just witnessed, and muster whatever energy he has left. He then picks himself up, silently giving a final glance to the people that died today, and slowly walked to the road to look for his cows.

Expert's Opinion

The Johnson County Residents won because experts believed that they had the better weapons besides the rifles. The Blair Mountain Rebels were tough but the Wyoming settlers were smarter and more successful.

To see the original battle, weapons, and votes, click here.

Battle vs. Sioux Warrior (by Elgb333)

Powder River, the late 19th century.

It was an arid mid-afternoon in the banks of Powder River. The ground was dry and crusty, with dust in the wind as fine as polvo. You can literally walk on the ground and see the dust shoot up, fly and dance in the air. The animals were gathering up in the water’s edge to drink and be hydrated, from the simple cattle to the obnoxious moccasins. Settlers too were there of various occupations. There were farmers in their wagons, gathering up wood and water for their homes, as well as drovers guiding their cows on the river to get a drink.

However, the peaceful serenity of the frontier was again being challenged.

A tremor was shaking up in Powder River. The homesteaders saw the waters wave and ripple, and the ground beneath them move mildly. They first thought that it was just an earthquake, but as they looked into the horizon their faces were filled with shock. A huge dust cloud loomed in the plains, but it was no ordinary cloud. It was a storm of dust being swept by the clashing hooves of horses. It was approaching them fast and as it got closer they hear the distinct war cries that made them flee.

The settlers at Powder River knew of the Lakota going on a rampage once again, but now the danger is at their doorsteps. Hundreds of braves went down from the plains of Dakota and into Wyoming.

They gathered their belongings and tried to ride out. Some who were slow were arrowed and lanced on the spot. Even the riders had a hard time trying to outrun them, and they too were shot off their horses. Some went into their houses and cabins scattered in the outskirts of Powder River. But while they put up their guns to shoot back, their enemies just casually burned them down or raided them inside.

Men, women, young and old were slaughtered. For the Lakota Indians, such slaughter was justified. Their enemies don’t care about them either, the government’s plan was to either lock them up or starve them slow. So they can’t show mercy to them as well. Years the Lakota warriors have been confined in their godforsaken reservations. Their children were starving and dying, and their culture disappearing in those frontier ghettos the government stated to be their new homes. But now they have escaped to try and reclaim their true homes, their hunting grounds, and they’ll do everything to accomplish that.

Some of the survivors manage to run back to the town, in the effort to warn the other settlers of the impending catastrophe. The people saw their fellow homesteaders bleeding and gutted like animals, with arrows and bullet holes riddling their bodies. The homesteaders went on an uproar, as they prepare themselves once again for an invasion.

Why do people turn away from civilization? The government wanted nothing but to tame these people, who when not trying to kill each other, are out to get the settlers instead. Johnson County never really cared much about these politics and so-called “white man’s burden”. They were just there to make an eager existence. But if these Indians are coming to take what they have worked hard for, well… they’ll have to earn it.

The Lakota warriors on horseback came in like a stampede of dust and death. They arrived riding through the streets shooting their guns and letting out their arrows. At first mo one was there to greet them. But it won’t take too long as the homesteaders started shooting at them in their windows, walls and balcony.

The Lakota tried in vain to calm their horses from bolting and fight back. Accurate rifle shots that rained from the windows struck warriors left and right. They were out in the open, with no defence or cover whatsoever. They tried to fire flaming arrows in an attempt to smoke the homesteaders out, but they get shot by Winchester rifles and Colt Peacemakers before they can even draw.

Some Lakotas tried to dismount and fire with their Henry rifles, but they were outgunned. Some made suicidal charges towards the doors of the houses, but they were met with fierce gunfire. The numbers of the Lakota were dwindling fast, and the Chief signaled their troops to fall back. The braves left the scene, with their dead littering the streets. Any survivors were dealt mercilessly by the homesteaders with shots to the head or chest; they saw them nothing more as pests.

Johnson County waited for several minutes, before finally putting down their guns and going outside. They rejoiced, yelling their hurrahs as the danger finally passed. The men and women congratulated each other, shaking hands and tipping off hats. They have not witnessed such a victory for a very long time. But now, the fighting was over and it’s time to clean up their town.

But alas! They were mistaken.

The sky was suddenly blotted out by flaming arrows sent from the hill. It rained on the homesteaders and many were pinned down like rag dolls on the street. Some went out running and crying as their bodies were engulfed in flame. Worse, was that several of their buildings were on fire, and smoke was filling up the town and choking the people.

The Indians didn’t retreat; they just went out of the town and behind a nearby hill to regroup. They just waited for the homesteaders to feel confident that they have left, before making their second move. After firing their flaming arrows, they charged on the town from several directions. From the North, South, East and West the Indians came flooding in, rage and bloodlust filling their cries.

The homesteaders were now the ones caught unaware, and many were shot by the rifles and bows of the Indians. A game of polo too was being played, except it was the Indians who were playing, using their war clubs as hammers and human heads substituted for a ball. Many fell from the Henrys and the Bows of the Lakota warriors, and those that survived were promptly scalped on the ground.

Homesteaders who survived barricaded themselves on the few houses that survived the flames, but the Indians won’t make the same mistake again. Warriors dismounted and went to the houses, trying to break the doors down. It was not easy though, as the homesteaders inside kept pouring lead on the braves, killing a great number of them. Their chief too was taken by a well-placed bullet from a hidden cowboy with a rifle.

Soon the houses were breached, and a fierce hand to hand fighting arose. One house was overrun as a pack of warriors came in and overwhelmed the family inside, murdering them all. Other houses soon fell, either after being raided upon or burned down.

Two houses remained in the town, and as the Indians try to locate and kill the settlers, the latter fought back. Their pistols were perfect for such close encounters, and the Lakotas were beaten back. Some tried to attack the settlers with their melee weapons, but the bowie knife made mincemeat of the Lakota. The clubs of the warriors were no match, and flesh and limbs were hacked during the fighting. Every charge on the remaining houses ended in failures and the Lakotas were beaten back.

The Indian attack has stalled once again, and the settlers used this chance to gather themselves and their guns and finally push the Lakota away. They poured everything they have inside the safety of their homes, and the Indians couldn’t do anything else but gather their horses and flee yet again. With a large number of them lost, the Indians would never make another raid on the town ever again.

Many people on both sides were annihilated. The remaining tired and bruised Lakota warriors went back to their camps as quickly as they can. The surviving homesteaders, the cowboys and the farmers lay on the street, tired and bruised as well. It was yet another violent chronicle in the history of the American frontier.

Expert’s Opinion

In a simulated battle of what would happen if the Lakota warriors tried to attack the homesteaders of Johnson County, experts initially believed that the former had everything going for them. While the Lakota have the inferior rifle, they are better trained and better experienced. But in the end Johnson's County's more defensive approach to combat proved to be superior than the Lakota's hit and run tactics. Experts believed that if the Lakotas tried to attack Johnson County, the homesteaders can just take cover in the safety of their houses and fire back. The Lakota were no pushovers though, as they had flaming arrows to burn down the homesteader's cover. However, this was still no match compared to the homesteader's better rifle, tactic and logistics that helped them win the day.

To see the original battle, weapons, and votes, click here.

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