"An enormous man dressed in an oilcloth slicker had entered the tent and removed his hat. He was bald as a stone and he had no trace of beard and he had no brows to his eyes nor lashes to them. He was close on to seven feet in height"

This is our first introduction to Judge Holden, one of the most villainous characters in modern literature. While the historical existence of many of Blood Meridian’s characters is verified by several contemporary sources, Judge Holden is mentioned by name only in Samuel Chamberlain’s My Confession, the only personal narrative written by a member of the Glanton gang. While evidently McCarthy’s main source for the gang’s actions in the novel, it should be kept in mind that Chamberlain’s account is filled with errors and inaccuracies, and attempts to confirm Holden’s existence has so far defeated even the most determined of McCarthy scholars. Still, it is clear that Chamberlain’s description of Holden forms the basis of McCarthy’s conception of the Judge:


The second in command … was a man of gigantic size called “Judge” Holden of Texas. Who or what he was no one knew but a cooler blooded villain never went unhung; he stood six feet six in his moccasins, had a large fleshy frame, a dull tallow colored face destitute of hair and all expression...

(My Confession)


McCarthy’s main deviation from Chamberlain is in portraying Holden as completely hairless. An illustration by Chamberlain depicts Holden as beardless, but with dark eyebrows and long black hair. Click here to see Chamberlain's painting.