Ben Thompson was a gunman, gambler, and sometimes lawman of the Old West. He was a contemporary of "Buffalo" Bill Cody, Bat Masterson, John Wesley Hardin, and "Wild Bill" Hickock, some of whom considered him a friend, others an enemy. Thompson fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War, and later for Emperor Maximilian in Mexico. When hired in 1881 as marshal in Austin, Texas, the crime rate reportedly dropped sharply. Thompson was murdered at the age of 40 in San Antonio, Texas, in the "Vaudeville Theater Ambush."