Baby brother added to gunfighter’s troubles

When a drinking buddy tried to throw him out in the street in his birthday suit on the night of Sep. 6, 1868, hot-tempered Billy Thompson plugged the prankster and headed for the hills.

A famous gunfighter with a reputation matched only by John Wesley Hardin and Bill Longley, Ben Thompson was a walking bull’s-eye for every barroom braggart out to make a name for himself. Staying alive was tough enough without having to look out for his baby brother.

Inseparable since childhood, the Thompson boys did not let a little thing like the Civil War come between them. Billy enlisted in the Confederate Army at 16 in order to stick close to his protective sibling, and they spent the conflict far from the front fleecing fellow soldiers in crooked card games.


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