August 23, 1877 climaxed probably the most dramatic manhunt in the Old West.

Although John Wesley Hardin had killed a number of men, on May 26, 1874 Harden Killed Deputy Sheriff Charles Webb in Texas and killing a lawman couldn’t be overlooked.

For three years Harden was able to elude the Texas Rangers by using an alias and keeping a low profile. He also moved to Florida.

But, the Rangers discovered where he was, and even though they had no authority in Florida, sent John Armstrong after him.

Acting on a tip, Armstrong spotted Hardin in the smoking car of a train stopped at the Pensacola station. Local deputies were stationed at both ends of the car, and the men burst in with guns drawn. Hardin reached for the gun holstered under his jacket. The pistol caught in Hardin’s fancy suspenders, this allowed Armstrong time to club Hardin with his long-barreled .45 pistol instead of having to shoot him.

They spirited Hardin back to Texas on the next train. Hardin was tried and found guilty of killing Sheriff Webb and sentenced him to life in the Texas state prison at Huntsville. He served 15 years before the governor pardoned him.

Filed under: Old West History

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