As he was deputy sheriff of Socorro County, New Mexico, in 1884, it seemed inevitable that Elfego Baca would start a feud with a local gang of Texas cowboys, because the cowboys loved to ride into town and shoot things up for fun, and part of your job description as sheriff is to discourage that sort of behavior. Baca didn't respond to intimidation, because he was apparently born without the portion of the brain that allows human beings to experience fear, and began the feud by arresting a cowboy named Charlie McCarthy for firing his pistols at the feet of several locals in an effort to get them to dance. (Daft Punk did not yet exist, so at the time this was the most surefire method.)
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"OK, enough. You don't have to be smartasses about it."
However, McCarthy worked for a big-shot rancher named Tom Slaughter, who dispatched a gang of cowboys to threaten Baca into releasing McCarthy. Baca responded by killing one cowboy and wounding another (see "born without fear," above). With one Texas cowboy dead, another wounded, and a third cooling his heels in the county drunk tank, Slaughter rallied 80 (that's 80, as in eight-zero) of his lackeys to ride into town and put Baca in his place. And by "put him in his place," we mean "murder the terror-soaked pants-dook out of him."
Cornering Baca in a tiny adobe shack, the veritable army of cowboys laid siege to the building overnight, firing somewhere in the neighborhood of 4,000 rounds through the shack's flimsy walls. They even tried to burn the place down and almost blasted it from the face of the Earth with a stick of dynamite, collapsing most of the roof on top of Baca. Essentially, it was the scene from Die Hard 2 when the bad guys trap Bruce Willis in a plane, riddle the fuselage with bullets, and toss in some grenades for good measure.
Baca, shown here with actual metal for skin, was widely considered by historians to be the first Terminator.
But Baca never took a single hit, and during the 33-hour ordeal actually managed to kill four of the cowboys and wound 10 others. Ever the iron-scrotumed lawman, Baca turned himself in after it was all over to face down possible murder charges, of which he was acquitted.
From that day forward, Baca rode the crest of his fame as an unkillable justice machine to become one of the most feared lawmen of his time. His reputation became so great that he was eventually able to serve warrants just by sending the following letter, politely requesting that his quarry turn themselves in:
"I have a warrant here for your arrest. Please ... give yourself up. If you don't, I'll know you intend to resist arrest, and I will feel justified in shooting you on sight when I come after you. Very truly yours, Elfego Baca, sheriff."
How can you put these badasses to shame? Pick up a Roosevelt T-shirt and show us your random acts of superheroism.
Related Reading: These gunfights were pretty badass- but in the REAL wild west, shoot outs weren't at all common. We've got more wild west myths than that, just click here. You'll learn that the whole "settlers constantly fighting with Indians" trope is way overblown. Want to see Cracked's best attempt at a realistic western? Have at it.
And if you're in a rush and just need a quick fix of Cracked, check out 4 Recent Headlines That Sound Like Bad SyFy Movies.