We last left The Earp Doc Holliday in the vacant lot between Fly's Boarding House and Harwood's Boarding house. The McLaury brothers and Billy Clanton are seriously dead, Virgil hit through one leg and Morgan hit across the back messing up the flesh over both shoulder blades and chipping a vertebrae. Doc had a bloody chunk blown out of the flesh over his hip.
The brave Sheriff comes out from the cover of Fly's Boarding House and places the Earp Party under arrest, and then scurries away when Wyatt tells him that he will "not be arrested by you". Shortly thereafter Wyatt and Doc post bond while Morg and Virgil are recovering at home.
This brings us to Judge Wells Spicer's court. Spicer, the Justice of the Peace, conducted an examining trial to see if there was enough evidence to hold Doc and the Earps over for trial. Something that is not much known today is that Spicer was from Monmouth, Illinois, the city of Wyatt Earp's birth. I have seen, in various websites, that Spicer and the Earps were related, although I can find no statements as to exactly how.
At any rate the Spicer hearing is very well known, with the transcript available on line. The keys to the Earps not being held to a murder trial are actually pretty simple. The anti-Earp faction claims that the Eaps and Holiday shot these men while they had their hands up, surrendering. They claim that the McLaury brothers and Billy Clanton were unarmed.One can, perhaps, forgive sarcastic old Doc Holliday for asking if Virg and Morg shot themselves.
Now about midway through this hearing, Will McLaury showed up. Will was a lawyer from Fort Worth, Texas and brother to Frank and Tom. He was pretty sure he could make the Earps and Doc do that funny dance at the end of a rope. He was wrong. Judge Spicer said that Virgil was acting as a law officer and that he was legitimately making an arrest. He then blistered Virgil for letting Doc into the party and wasn't too happy about Wyatt, either, him having just buffaloed Frank. Still, although Judge Spicer was critical about Virgil's choice of Deputies, he did have the right to deputise anyone he wanted so, case closed.
Ike and Will tried three times to get the case reopened, no one else wanted the case so, the Earps were free. Virgil was ambushed by shotgun wielding assassins. Witnesses reported five or six shotgun blasts, Virgil picked up some twenty buckshot pellets, wit another twenty-odd pellets hitting the Eagle Brewery and the Crystal Palace Saloon. This was the night of December 28th, 1881.
The lion's share of those buckshot pellets went through his upper left arm. He was crippled for the rest of his life although that did not prevent him from continuing as a law enforcement officer in several cities. Some five and a half inches of shattern bone and fragments was removed from Virgil's arm and it was thought that Virgil was going to die.
It was at this time that US Marshall Crawley C. Dake issued Wyatt his Deputy marshall's commission. Now Wyatt and Morgan were both Federal Officers.
Left at the ambush scene was a hat with Ike Clanton's name written on the inside. This intensified the feud.