• Dennis McCaslin

Chronicle of the Old West: Charlie Short got exactly what he wished for


My mother used to say, "You had better watch what you ask for, because you might just get it." If Charles Bryant's mother had passed on that saying, it could have extended his life.

It seems that everyone in the Old West had nicknames... And some of them were very strange. But, none was as strange as Charles Bryant's. He was called "Black Faced Charlie." It seems that he was shot point-blank in the face. The bullet just creased his cheek. But, the burnt powder coming out of the pistol imbedded in his face, giving him his nickname. 

Later, Bryant joined the Dalton gang. And during the gang's shootout with a posse was heard to say something like, “Me, I want to get killed in one heck of a minute of action." Well, Bryant put it out there, and on August 23, 1891, he got his wish. 

Being arrested, Bryant had to be transported to jail by Deputy U.S. Marshal Ed Short. Marshal Short was transporting the handcuffed Bryant in a train baggage car when he had to visit the john. Marshal Short gave his pistol to the railroad messenger and left. The messenger put the pistol in a desk drawer and went about his chores.

Unnoticed, Bryant moved around to the desk and got the pistol, just as Marshal Short entered the baggage car. Bryant placed one shot into Marshal Short's chest. Short, carrying a rifle, shot Bryant…severing his spine. Bryant continued firing the pistol until it was empty. The rest of his shots went wild.

Bryant was killed in one heck of a minute of action just as he wished. Marshal Short helped the messenger pick up Bryant's body. Marshal Short then laid down on the cot and died... also the victim of heck of a minute of action.

Both bodies were left on the train platform at the next stop.


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