The story behind the Lincoln County War could provide material for a dozen spaghetti westerns.
No sooner had the soldiers at nearby Fort Stanton – once commanded by Kit Carson – quelled the Indians, than roving gangs of hooligans and soldiers recently discharged after the civil war, began drifting into the New Mexico territory from Texas. Merchants and ranchers, vying for land and local trade, recruited guns for hire and by the late 1870s the Lincoln County War was raging.
One camp was headed by merchants Lawrence Murphy and James Dolan and the other by cattleman John Chisum and lawyer Alexander McSween.
A posse of 45 men, led by Sherriff George Peppin, one night besieged the McSween house, eventually setting it on fire. One of the 20 men trapped inside was one William Bonney, otherwise known as Billy the Kid.