|Great Hanging at Gainesville, Texas 1862|
The Confederate Citizens Court was not an established legal authority and consisted of a majority of slaveholders. Seven of the twelve jurors during Gainesville lynchings were slaveholders and they insisted on a simple majority rule in the decisions for execution. The slaveholder jurors alone could condemn a person to death! The wealthy slaveholders exerted power and influence far out of proportion to their numbers. Two of the largest slaveholders in Cooke County were Colonel James Bourland and Colonel William C. Young.
Men were also killed in neighboring Grayson, Wise, and Denton counties.
Most of the men killed during this time, were accused of treason or insurrection, but very few had actually conspired against the Confederacy, and many were innocent of the charges for which they were tried.
The Great Hanging at Gainesville, Texas 1862 has been called the largest mass lynching in American history by some historians.
The illustration above is from the Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, 20 Feb 1864. Several smaller illustrations comprised a double-page centerfold, about 22X16 in size and entitled "Rebel Barbarities in Texas." The illustration can be found at Fold3.