|Charles Bowdre (1848 – December
23, 1880) was an American cowboy and outlaw. He was an associate and member of Billy the Kid's gang.
Bowdre was born in Wilkes County, Georgia. When he was three years old, he
and his parents moved to Mississippi. By 1854, young Charlie started working in his father's farm, and as he grew
up became an adept farmer. Much of what Bowdre did between the year in which his last sister was born (1863) and
1874, remains a mystery.
It is believed, however, that he abandoned the family's farm to become a wanderer. Records show that by 1874, he
had arrived at Lincoln County, New Mexico. Bowdre became friends with Doc Scurlock during this time, and the two
men opened a cheese factory on the Gila River. He also joined Scurlock on several posses during this period, pursuing
cattle thieves and rustlers, on several occassions taking part in the lynching of those captured. On July 18th,
1876, Bowdre, Scurlock, Frank Coe, George Coe, and Ab Saunders storm the very weak Lincoln jail, freeing cattle
rustler Jesus Largo from the custody of Sheriff Saturnino Baca, taking Largo outside of town and hanging him. No
charges were ever filed for the event.
| On August 5, 1877, he
and a companion were arrested for "shooting up" the town of Lincoln in a drunken frenzy.
Lincoln County War
With the outbreak of the Lincoln County War in 1878, Bowdre sided with the
Tunstall-McSween side, and he met Billy, Jose Chavez y Chavez and the rest of the Kid's associates, including Richard
Brewer and Jim French, George Coe and Frank Coe. During the conflict, he was known to have been present with his
fellow Regulators when William Morton, Frank Baker, and William McCloskey were killed along the Blackwater Creek
on March 9, 1878. Bowdre was shot by Buckshot Roberts during the Gunfight of Blazer's Mills on April 4, 1878, and
in turn shot Roberts. It was never confirmed as to whether Bowdre's shot eventually killed Roberts, or a shot fired
by George Coe killed him. Bowdre would be charged with killing Buckshot Roberts during the Blazer's Mills Gunfight,
and was present in the July 15th through July 19th, 1878 Battle of Lincoln .
After the Lincoln County War
Bowdre worked as a cowboy on the ranchs of Thomas Yerby and Pete
Maxwell as the war went on, as well as being an active participant. Bowdre married a twenty five year old Mexican
girl, Manuela, some months before his death. Manuela was a sister to Doc Scurlock's wife, Antonia. The fact that
he was recently married when he died makes him less likely to have been involved in the gang's activities during
the few weeks that passed between his marriage and his death.
By December 1880, Charlie Bowdre was ready to quit riding with Billy the Kid and surrender for the murder of Buckshot
Roberts, but he still joined the rest of the gang on a mission to ambush Pat Garrett in Fort Sumner. A gun battle
ensued, but Bowdre and most of the Kid's gang members escaped alive. On December 23, however, the gang was holed
up in a rock house at Stinking Springs. At dawn, Charlie Bowdre emerged to feed the horses and was riddled with
rifle slugs by Garrett's posse, which had surrounded the building in the night. Later that day, Billy the Kid and
his partners gave up.
His remains were returned to his wife, and he was interred next to Tom O'Folliard, another member of Billy's gang.
In 1962, a relative named Louis Bowdre was found, and a court tried to have Bowdre's remains removed. But the relative
disagreed, saying that Bowdre would prefer to rest next to O'Folliard. [Source:
Wikipedia - The Free Encyclopedia. Transcribed by C. Anthony]