Campo Gunfight

TOWN OF CAMPO TAKES ON MEXICAN BANDITOS IN HISTORICAL REENACTMENT

                                                                                                                                                            

 

By Ariele Johannson

April 9, 2013 (Campo)--Imagine the Old West back in the 1800s. Lawmen are few and far between. Desperadoes sometimes spread terror throughout the new state of California. And Campo, on the United States-Mexican border, is the site of a confrontation between law-abiding citizens and one such gang of outlaws.

The Gaskill Brothers Gunfighters, an Old West reenactment team, brought history to life with period attire and weapons outside the Golden Acorn Casino on March 23, 2013. The occasion was the Campo Gunfight of December 4, 1875. Forgotten by history, The Campo Gunfight lasted longer and had more casualties than the shootout at the OK Corral.

LIVING IN THE PAST: REENACTORS OF THE GASKILL BROTHERS GUNFIGHTERS

                                                                                                                                                                          

By Ariele Johannson

April 9, 2013 (Campo)--The reenactors involved in this fascinating hobby of bringing the famed Campo Gunfight to life have their own histories and stories of how they came to portray the Old West—that is, when they are not working as investment brokers, linemen, firefighters, lawyers, and more.

Frenchy (photo, right) is played by Bear Larsen, who has acted in Hollywood movies, such as The Dogs directed by John De Bello, best known for directing Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. Larsen has been involved in reenacting for over 30 years. He speaks about it this way: "I love doing it. It's in my heart."

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF THE CAMPO GUNFIGHT

                                                                                                                                                                        

By Ariele Johannson

If you've watched a reenactment of the 1875 Campo gunfight, you may have wondered what led up to the conflict and wanted to learn more about this fascinating tale. Here are the true details behind one of East County's most infamous historical episodes.

The leader of a Mexican gang, or Californios banditos, was Clodoveo Chavez and his most trusted man, Cruz Lopez. Chavez had recently threatened revenge on the gringos, because his “captain,” the infamous Tiburcio Vasquez had been jailed in San Jose for two murders. Vasquez pled innocent, and it is possible he never committed any murders during his “career.”

CAMPO, THE FORGOTTEN GUNFIGHT TO BE REENACTED MARCH 23

 

The 1875 Campo gunfight killed more people and lasted longer than the infamous shootout at the O.K. corral.  But few people have heard about this long-lost true tale from East County’s colorful past.   

But on March 23 at  3 p.m., “Campo: The Forgotten Gunfight” will be reenacted outside at the Golden Acorn Casino. The show is free and open to all ages.  Come learn how local marksmen and townspeople foiled bandits’ plans to rob the entire town.

CAMPO, THE FORGOTTON GUNFIGHT BRINGS EAST COUNTY'S COLORFUL PAST TO LIFE

 

Campo, the Forgotten Gunfight by Bryon Harrington (www.CampoGunfight.com, 2009 Campo, 372 pp.)
 

Review by Miriam Raftery
 

July 3, 2011 (Campo) –Few San Diegans are aware that a Wild West shoot-out deadlier than the famed O.K. Corral confrontation occurred in our own East County.

 

A patron in a Tecate cantina overheard a notorious group of banditos boast of plans to rob the entire town of Campo, a frontier settlement near the Mexican border. So he rode north and tipped off the Gaskill brothers, owners of the Campo Store. The brothers asked San Diego’s Sheriff to send a posse for protection—to no avail. Left to fend for themselves with their lives on the line, the townspeople planned a defense. Then they mounted a vigil that lasted for weeks, until the fateful showdown on December 4, 1875.