Baldwin, the senior member of the firm, was a native of Tazewell County, Virginia. An avid reader of detective novels in his youth, Baldwin was a small storekeeper in his early days. He then studied dentistry, but left that profession in order to become a detective. He began his career in 1884 with the Eureka Detective Agency in Charleston, West Virginia. After founding the Baldwin Detective Agency, he then moved to Roanoke to oversee security operations in the Norfolk & Western Railroad’s coalfield district, later being appointed chief special agent (a position he held until his retirement in 1930).
Thomas Lafayette Felts was a native of Galax, Virginia who was educated as a lawyer, and a member of the Virginia bar association. In 1900, he joined the Baldwin Detective Agency as a partner who could provide legal advice to the firm. In 1910, the name of the agency was changed to the Baldwin–Felts Detective Agency, headquartered in Bluefield, West Virginia.
Originally, the company provided investigative services to railroads for train robberies and other crimes. Little is known about this chapter in the history of Baldwin–Felts, but it is known that the company provided security guards for the railway and mine payrolls, as well as to accompany coal trains into the coalfields. The company investigated train wrecks, robberies, and thefts. By the early 1900s the agency had also undertaken detective work for both federal and state government agencies.
The agency became known for crime-busting after it successfully tracked down members of the Allen family wanted in a shootout in 1912 at the Carroll County Courthouse in Hillsville, Virginia, that left the judge, the sheriff, the prosecutor, a juror, and a witness dead or dying. Though two of the Allens fled the state, the Baldwin–Felts detectives (led by Thomas Felts) managed to locate and arrest all of the fugitives within six months.
By 1913, railroad crimes and associated banditry had decreased, and Baldwin–Felts turned to other fields, in particular the provision of private security forces for mining companies. At the time, public law enforcement and the maintenance of order in labor-management disputes was often left to the company owners. Baldwin–Felts supplied guards and detectives that were used by the mining industry to suppress strikes, to collect intelligence on the movement of union operatives, to prevent labor organizers from entering company grounds, and even to evict workers in company-owned housing who had joined a union, gone on strike, or failed to pay rent. This work soon brought the agency into conflict with labor and labor unions. Baldwin–Felts is today best known for its violent confrontations with labor union members in such places as the Pocohantas Coal Field region of West Virginia and in Las Animas County in southern Colorado. Among union members, the agency was regarded as nothing more than union busters and hired thugs. A former Attorney General of West Virginia, Howard B. Lee, who knew both William Baldwin and Thomas Felts, recalled that the men were the "two most feared and hated men in the mountains." They also fought against the Blair Mountain Rebal's
Agents generally carried their own privately-purchased firearms. William Baldwin was reportedly an excellent marksman and normally used a S&W New Model No. 3 revolver in .38–44 caliber. He also had a Mauser 1878 revolver, possibly chambered in 10.6mm caliber, that he used in at least one gunfight.
Both Baldwin and Felts were also involved in banking, and William Baldwin later served as president and member of the board of directors of several banks. Felton was later elected to two terms as a state senator of Virginia.
Battle vs. The Untouchables (by Samurai234)Edit
4 months after the Capone case has closed, Elliot Ness has recruited 4 new cops as the members of the new Untouchables. Their investing a robbery that happened there earlier. Unaware to them, William Baldwin and 4 other members of The Baldwin–Felts Detective Agency have been called to the scene. They approach the bank and enter.
"Excuse me, but we're working. Please go away and come back in an hour." says one of the work
Baldwin, believing him to be a threat, pulls out his S&W New Model No. 3 and shoots him in the chest. He then pulls out his Mauser 1878 Revolver and shouts him in the head, killing him. (4-5) Ness quickly grabs his Tommy Gun and riddles a Detective with his bullets. (4-4) They enter a brief firefight, which ends with the Detective Agency retreating deeper in into the bank. One Detective places a stack of TNT by a door. He runs off, but another Untouchable throws a MK 2 "Pineapple" grenade at him and blows up. (3-4) However, the TNT's fuse runs out and blows the Policeman to Kingdom come. (3-3)
Meanwhile, the two other Untouchables run into another room. Two more Detectives approach the room. One fires his Winchester Rifle and takes out an Untouchable but He is taken out by the other Untouchable with his Springfield M1903. (2-2) The other Untouchable grabs his dead partner's Winchester Model 1897 and exits the room. However, He is taken by the last Detective with his Colt Model 1878 Shotgun. (2-1) The Detective smirks but he shot from behind the head. (1-1)
Nearby, Ness reloads his Colt Official Police. He tries to leave, but he is almost shot at by Baldwin with his Remington Revolver. They both fire at each other, until they run out of ammo. They both pulls out their knives and charge at each other. Ness makes the first move and punches him in the face. He tries to slash him, but misses. Baldwin punches Ness in the face and slashes him in the stomach. He tries to finish it, but Ness regains his balance and Thrusts the knife forward into Baldwin's throat. The Detective chokes on his blood and dies. (0-1)
Ness smokes a cigar and says "Sorry, but it had to come to this."
Winner: The Untouchables
The Untouchables were able to come out on top in this battle because they wielded superior weaponry, better training, and more versatile, military weapons. The Detectives were armed with weaponry of far less effective and far more specific ranges and situations, desptite the Detective's superior accuracy.
Battle vs. Pinkerton National Detective Agency (by LB&SCR) Edit
The town was rather small, and had few alleys, and single criminal was on the run, gasping and panting. He could hear the bootsteps of the pursuing authorities behind him. He tore around a corner, only to be confronted by five armed men. These men were dressed differently, but one looked over at him for a few seconds, before attempting to apprehend him. He turned around, only to be confronted by the five men who had been originally chasing him... wait, four men and one woman. He hadn't seen that coming. He looked between both groups of detectives, not sure which he would rather take his chances with.
Meanwhile, both groups of detectives had finally managed to take notice of the other group, and something of a silent standoff commenced. Finally, a rather fat-looking man wearing a bowler hat and smoking a cigar, yelled something along the lines of telling the other group to get lost. His badge (which appeared to be solid silver) easily read 'Pinkerton Detective Agency' on it, and the man could easily read the name on the badges of the other group. it read 'Baldwin-Felts.'
With both groups obviously not in the mood to stand down, one of the Pinkerton Agents made a move that sent a message of about how this standoff was going to end....
He went and cocked the hammers on his coach gun.
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Everyone tensed at the clicking sound of the hammers of a shotgun being cocked. Blood would be spilled today, all because of a fight over a criminal. Then everything happened at once.
The head Baldwin-Felts man quickly pulled out his Schofield and fired into the group of Pinkertons, the bullet striking a man holding a Spencer squarely in the chest, dropping him dead . The Pinkertons momentarily scattered, two of the men and the woman scattering out into one of the town squares, while the last man tore off down an alleyway. The Felts then split into two groups: four men would head out into the square, while one would chase the one that had split off. The group then split.
The three Pinkertons had taken cover out in the square: a second man with a Spencer had taken cover behind a fountain, a man with a Henry Repeater had overturned a bench, and the woman (who had drawn her Colt 1851), had taken cover in the lee of a doorway. When the four Baldwin-Felts detectives had emerged into the square the man with the Spencer popped up from behind the fountain and fired, striking the Baldwin carrying a Sharps rifle in the neck, making him fall to the ground clutching his neck . His fire was soon returned by two Baldwin-Felts detectives, one with a Winchester and the other with his Colt Shotgun. He ducked back down behind the fountain, marble chipping peppering his face. He rose up again to fire only to be shot by the third Baldwin-Felts agent in the square, being shot in the face with the man's Winchester .
While the bullets were flying out in the square, the one Baldwin-Felts agent had caught up with the one Pinketon detective in the alleyways. This was the Pinkerton with the shotgun, he turned briefly and fired a barrel of the coach gun towards the pursuing Baldwin-Felts agent, which missed. The Baldwin-Felts man drew his sidearm and fired two shots with his revolver, the Pinkerton man dodged, and used his shotgun as a crude club, hitting his adversary in the side with the shotgun, which caused the man to drop his revolver. The Pinkerton then recieved a punch in the nose, dropping the shotgun. They both drew their knives and took turns trying to stab each other. A close slash with the Baldwin's Maxam knife hit the Pinkerton in the cheek, drawing out a jagged cut on his cheek. The Pinkerton landed a stab with his clip point knife, getting the man square in the chest with his the knife. A bit of blood trickled from the Baldwin's agents mouth, before the Pinkerton withdrew the knife and the man fell to the ground . The man pulled out his Colt Navy and then took off towards where all the gunfire was occuring.
In the town square, the two Pinkertons had been doing their best to hold off the three Baldwin-Felts with combined fire from their Henry and Colt. The Pinkerton with the Henry managed to land a few hits on one of the Baldwin-Felts wielding a Winchester , only to be cut down by a blast from the shotgun .
The remaining Baldwin-Felt wielding a Winchester motioned for the other with the shotgun to reload and advance upon the position of the female Pinkerton Detective. The man broke open his shotgun, placed in two fresh rounds, and started advancing upon the lee of the doorway with the head Baldwin-Felt covering him with the Winchester.
The female Pinkerton quickly checked the cylinder of her Colt Navy. Three. She took a breath and pulled the hammer back on her revolver. The moment she revealed herself was also the moment that the Pinkerton from the alleyway burst out. He aimed and fired two wild rounds of his revolver at the head Baldwin-Felt agent, only to be cut down by returned fire from the Baldwin-Felt . The Baldwin-Felt with the shotgun turned his head to see what was going on. That was a chance she needed, and she whirled out of cover and fired the Colt Navy at almost point blank into the shotgun wielding Baldwin-Felt, hitting him squarely in the chest witht he fired round . Two rounds left.
The head Baldwin-Felt agent whirled around upon the revolver shot and saw his last remaining man fall to the ground dead. He raised his Winchester and squeezed the trigger, only for no round to come out. He dropped his Winchester and drew his own Schofield, and charged forward at the Female Pinkerton, firing his Schofield as he went. The Pinkerton emptied her Colt Navy, only the Baldwin-Felt to drop his shoulder and ram her into the wall of the building. The wind was knocked out of her and she slumped to the ground, the only good thing being the Baldwin-Felt dropped his Schofield in the process. The Baldwin-Felt drew his Maxam knife, and prepared to finish her off, but she managed to draw her clip point and feebly knock the blade away from her, making her adversary's aim go off and instead drive the knife into her arm. She yelped and shoved the Baldwin-Felt away with her remaining arm, making him stumble back. She struggled to her feet, picking up her clip point again as the Baldwin-Felt made another charge, slashing wildy with his Maxam, landing one across her chest. She stumbled and fell onto her back. Her arm let go of the clip point and started frantically feeling around for something useful to use as her last adversary stood over her. Her hand close around something and she brought it up in front of her.
The Baldwin-Felt basically gaped as he found himself staring down the barrel of his own Schofield revolver. The Pinkerton smiled weakly as she pulled the trigger, firing the gun into the Baldwin-Felts face .
- - - - - - - -
As the last Baldwin-Felt tumbled over backwards, the remaining Pinkerton managed to get to her feet, her arm going to clutch her other arm, which had the horrid stab would from the maxam knife. Bleeding from the arm and the chest, she looked over the town square... this had gone to hell pretty quickly. She then looked back at where they had all come from... well, the criminal got away.
She grumbled something before she started to stumble off towards the nearest doctor.
Expert's Opinion Edit
The voters believe that the Pinkertons would of won this battle do to the fact that they trumped the Baldwin-Felts in both operational experience and in firepower. The Baldwin-Felts may of had the more advanced weapons, but the fact that the Pinkertons could simply spew out more rounds at about the same distances gave them that win. That, and the Baldwin-Felts had only ever faced helpless strikers before in battle. They had never faced an organized enemy that was on their same level of confidence and training. That, and to put it simply, the Pinkertons had faced more dangerous enemies also, whether it be the James Gang or Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch. The Baldwin-Felts were simply armed thugs outclassed by an organized, better group of armed thugs who knew what they were doing.