For over eight months in 2001,
investigators pursued Clayton
Waagner. Authorities apprehended the
fugitive after an all-out effort.
But that effort cost an incredible
sum in salaries, travel and various
services. Senior Inspector Geoff
Shank, the Investigative Services
Division case coordinator, recalled
that costs exceeded $200,000
before Waagner was captured in
But closing these cases has never
come cheaply. U.S. marshals and their
deputies have been chasing down
fugitives for 212 years, and even back
in the Old West, they ran up fairly
hefty tabs while performing their jobs.
When factoring in money values of the
times, it's no stretch to say that
deputies of bygone days faced
financial challenges similar to those of
their modern day counterparts.
William Bonney, alias Billy the Kid,
has a firm place in American history.
Legend has it that before he turned 21,
he had killed 21 people - the byproduct
of being a major player in a
turbulent battle between competing
cattle empires in southeast New
Mexico Territory. Like many legends
before and after him, Billy the Kid was
hunted by the U.S. Marshals. They
spent many long hours in the process.
The year was 1881, but just like in
present time, these lawmen still had to eat,
sleep and buy supplies.
A recent discovery in the National
Archives shed some light on the expenses
incurred during the famous
final chase for Billy the Kid, who was
eventually killed July 14, 1881, by
Lincoln County (New Mexico) Sheriff Pat
Garrett. (Shown on Right is William Bonney,
'Billy the Kid')
On Nov. 20, 1882, U.S. Marshal John
Sherman Jr. wrote Attorney General Benjamin Harris Brewster a seven-page
letter. Sherman was writing from law
offices in Washington, D.C., on a
matter of payment.
Part of the letter reads as follows:
Voucher 1, $375.00, is for the subsistence
of my deputies, and posse, and
hire of horses with forage for the same. This expense was incurred in the arrest
of William Bonny (sic), known as "Billy
the Kid, " charged with murder and
passing counterfeit money; also for the
arrest of an accomplice by the name of
Rudebaugh. This man Bonny was a most
notorious character. Large rewards had
been offered for his arrest by the
Territorial authorities, and frequent
attempts made to capture him. He was
finally captured by my deputy, lodged
in jail, and afterwards shot by Deputy Garrett in attempting to escape. The
whole expense in making this arrest
was $1.072.00, all of which has been
allowed by accounting officers with the
exception of $375.00, which they say is
in the nature of an extraordinary
expense, and requires your approval
before it can be allowed. (Pat Garrett shown on left)
In this case, as with many similar
instances, Sherman's request for the
additional reimbursement was disallowed
because the original payments
were already settled. Attorney General
Brewster could have appealed to
President Chester Arthur for funding.
but it was often countermanded by the
advice of the U.S. Treasury, which
operated under strict guidelines.
While $375 does not seem like much
today, it was costly in 1882.
And Sherman's case was not that
obscure. In the 1860s Dakota Territory,
it was not always possible to make a
straight line in order to reach an
objective - especially with Indians
in the way. U.S. Marshal L.H.
Litchfield, disappointed that one of
his official expense reports to serve
process shortchanged him $465.35,
wrote to the comptroller of the currency
in Washington to justify his bill
for travel. It read:
The necessity for so much travel is
apparent ... In this case it became my duty to travel 1,200 miles to
serve & the same to return the attachment & the same to serve and return the execution
making a distance of 4,800 miles
traveled. Almost the entire country between here & Fort Abercrombie
(where the goods were) in a direct
route is inhabited by Indians alone ...
Consequently, the only feasible route is
from here south to Sioux City, Iowa.
thence east across the entire length of
Iowa to the Mississippi River, thence to
St. Cloud, Minnesota, thence west to
Dakota, making three right angles. In
conclusion I have only to say that the
services were performed as economically
as possible and the amount
($465.35) is just1y due me.
U.S. Marshal Henry White of West
Virginia knew all about money
squabbles with Washington. He
served from April 1889 until May 1893,
and his entire tenure was plagued by
the feud between the Hatfields and
When Anderson "Devil Anse"
Hatfield was arrested for violating
revenue laws, Marshal White needed
extra guards. He was meticulous in
tracking his expenses - such as the
charge of 86 miles at 10 cents per mile.
White's group contained 10 guards,
including three Hatfields. This was a
preventative measure, as ambushes
were common and bounty hunters
were trying to capture Devil Anse. The
Hatfields apparently favored the
marshals to the McCoys.
The claim for the escort was $103.20.
However, the attorney general disputed
White's need for so many extra
guards and ruled that $93.20 was
denied because Devil Anse was later
acquitted. He gave White the option of
appealing to a judge, but there was
little sympathy for the marshal.
Historical perspective gives new
insights to old legends. But somewhere
lost in the legends was the
reality of paying for them.