Johnson County War

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The Johnson County War, also known as the War on Powder River, was a range war which took place in April 1892 in Johnson County, Natrona County and Converse County in the U.S. state of Wyoming. It was a battle between small settling ranchers and larger established ranches in the Powder River Country that culminated in a lengthy shootout between local ranchers, a band of hired killers, and a sheriff's posse, eventually requiring the intervention of the U.S. Cavalry on the orders of U.S. President Benjamin Harrison.

The events have since become a highly mythologized and symbolic story of the Wild West, and over the years variations of the storyline have come to include some of the west's most famous historical figures and gunslingers. The storyline and its variations have served as the basis for numerous popular novels, films, and television shows.

Contents

Background

Conflict over land was a somewhat common occurrence in the development of the American West but was particularly prevalent during the late 19th century and early 20th century when large portions of the west were being settled by Americans for the first time. It is a period which historian Richard Maxwell Brown has called the "Western Civil War of Incorporation"[1] and of which the Johnson County War was part.

In the early days in Wyoming most of the land was in the public domain, open to stock raising as open range and to homesteading. Large numbers of cattle were turned loose on the open range by large ranches.

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