Saturday, 28 May 2011

when you're in texas look behind you

Facing the threat of invasion from the north and fearing a Unionist uprising in their midst, the people of North Texas lived in constant dread during the Civil War.
Word of a "Peace Party" of Union sympathizers, sworn to destroy their government, kill their leaders, and bring in Federal troops caused great alarm in Cooke and neighboring counties. Spies joined the "Peace Party" discovered its members and details of their plans. Under the leadership of Colonels James Bourland, Daniel Montague and others, citizens loyal to the Confederacy determined to destroy the order; and on the morning of October 1, 1862, there were widespread arrests "by authority of the people of Cook County." Fear of rescue by "Peace Party" members brought troops and militia to Gainesville, where the prisoners were assembled, and hastened action by the citizens committee.

At a meeting of Cooke County citizens, with Colonel W.C. Young presiding, it was unanimously resolved to establish a Citizens Court and to have the Chairman choose a committee to select a jury. 68 men were brought speedily before the court.
39 of them were found guilty of conspiracy and insurrection, sentenced and immediately hanged. Three other prisoners who were members of military units were allowed trial by Court Martial at their request and were subsequently hanged by its order.
Two others broke from their guard and were shot and killed.
The Texas Legislature appropriated $4,500 for rations, forage used by State troops here during the unrest. (1964)
In his book, Lies Across America: What Our Historic Sites Get Wrong, James Loewen gives an interesting take on the Gainesville Hanging historical marker.   Loewen considers the modest marker an "extended excuse" for what happened in October 1862.   He explains how years earlier in 1911, Gainesville put up a Confederate monument on the courthouse lawn that was "a counterfactual statement to cover over the awful crime that the Confederates carried out on these very grounds in October 1862."

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