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Vol. 5 - No.02 February, 2023 Nooseletter Home SUBMIT AN ARTICLE
A Close Call in the Oriental Saloon
December 16,1881
The Tombstone Daily Nugget, published the following report of an altercation on December 16, 1881:
A Close Call A Little Difficulty in the Oriental Which Might Have Ended in Bloodshed.
An altercation occurred in the Oriental Saloon yesterday morning which came very near resulting in the addition of another chapter to the bloody annals of Tombstone. Supervisor M.E. Joyce was in the place mentioned, conversing with Virgil Earp in regard to the attempted stage robbery of the previous evening (attempt to assassinate Clum).

Joyce laughingly remarked to Earp that he had been expecting something of the sort ever since they (the Earps and Holliday) had been liberated from jail. Earp became angry at the remark, and immediately struck Joyce with his open hand in the face.

The parties were surrounded at the time by four or five of Earp’s warmest partisans, all heavily armed. Taking in the situation at a glance Joyce, with rare good judgment and presence of mind remarked, that a man would be a fool to make a fight single-handed against that crowd, and at the same time commenced backing toward the door.

As he reached the door he said to the Earp party, 'Your favorite method is to shoot a man in the back, but if you must murder me you will be compelled to shoot me in front,' and thus saying he stepped upon the sidewalk.

-- end of article.

The Tombstone Daily Nugget was published in Tombstone, Arizona from 1880 to 1882 when a city fire burnt down the paper. The Tombstone Daily Nugget newspaper is regarded by most as being unfriendly to the Earp brothers for what they saw as their heavy-handed style of intimidating the public.

In contrast, The Tombstone Epitaph was consistently supportive of the Earp faction. The above article's reference to "attempt to assassinate Clum" refers to Tombstone Mayor John Clum who was the Editor of the Tombstone Epitaph newspaper and a staunch ally of the Earps.
Comment Posted on the Original Article:
It is said that the Tombstone Daily Nugget was burned down because of the article that the editor wrote about Milt Joyce and Virgil Earp. Joyce and Earp were close friends and it is said that when Virgil slapped Joyce, he said that he hated to have to do it because Milt was such a good friend. When Milt Joyce told him, "Your best way to get a man is in the back. But you will get me in the front", Virgil Earp was said to have replied, "Milt, damn you, I only get the bad ones in the back and a friend as good as you won't be given such a pleasure." When asked why Virgil didn't just shoot him, he simply replied, "Killing him would have been improper." The two remained friends but the article the editor wrote was scathing and very petty. If I were in Tombstone, I'd have shot the bastard and run the prints myself. But since I'm not a violent person, I think I'll just trash the editor online. Forget you, pal. But seriously, this was a fun story. Keep 'em comin'.
About the Author:
Tom Correa is a US Marine first, and a writer for the American Cowboy Chronicles. He loves writing, my horses, target shooting, firearms, trail riding, gatherings, ranch work, fishing, rodeos, volunteering, Conservatism, and researching American History.
Written by Tom Correa of the American Cowboy Chronicles
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