Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Some Books & Articles about the Great Hanging at Gainesville, Texas

Suggested books & articles to learn more about the Great Hanging at Gainesville:
1. Richard B. McCaslin, "Tainted Breeze, The Great Hanging at Gainesville, Texas, 1862"
(Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Louisiana State University Press, 1994).
(Shown above)
This book is a MUST READ!  McCaslin's book, Tainted Breeze, is the definitive source for information concerning the Great Hanging at Gainesville.  He gives a "fair and balanced" narrative of the Great Hanging.

2. James Lemuel Clark, "Civil War Recollections of James Lemuel Clark, Including Previously Unpublished Material On The Great Hanging at Gainesville, Texas In October, 1862" (Republic of Texas Press, Wordware Publishing, Plano, Texas, 1997), Edited and with an introduction by L. D. Clark, grandson of James Lemuel Clark.

3. George W. Diamond, "Account of the Great Hanging at Gainesville, 1862" SOUTHWESTERN HISTORICAL QUARTERLY, Vol. 66, no. 3, January, 1963, p. 331-414, edited by Sam Acheson and Julie Ann Hudson O'Connell.
George Diamond's brother, James Diamond, was one of the key players in trying to rid Cooke county of anyone with Union sentiments. Diamond was asked to use the records of the court to prepare an "official account" of the court proceedings, with the purpose of "preserving them and so disposing of them that the history of its (Citizen's Court) transactions might be perpetuated and justice done to those who participated (Jurors & accusers) in its deliberations. Diamond's compilation of "memoranda" was to be offered to the public as a just vindicaton of the conduct of those whose judgements were under national criticism. So, basically, Diamond's job was to make the court look good.  In his conclusion, Diamond states, "The proceedings of the Citizens Court are characterized with as much wisdom, justice and moderation as may anywhere be found in the history of criminal procedure."   Naturally, the members of the court examined Diamond's account and gave their unanimous and unqualified approval. He apparently completed the manuscript before the end of 1876, but it was not published until 1963 by the Texas State Historical Association. It is not known what happened to the actual records of the Citizens Court. 
How much, if any, did Diamond edit, change, or leave out from the original "citizens court" records?  Were the originals destroyed on purpose or are they still laying around in some dusty attic?
Diamond's account of the hanging can be found online at:
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 66, July 1962 - April, 1963, H. Bailey Carroll, editor, Journal/Magazine/Newsletter, 1963; digital images, ( : accessed March 25, 2011), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Texas State Historical Association, Denton, Texas.

4. Thomas Barrett, "The Great Hanging at Gainesville, Cooke County, Texas, October, A.D. 1862," Gainesville, Texas: January, 1885; Old West Magazine, pages 49-66, Summer 1981, Note: Original pamphlet was written in 1885. Its author, Thomas Barrett, was on the Cooke County jury that found 42 men guilty of conspiracy against the Confederacy in the Fall of 1862. According to the Handbook on Texas, Barrent "deprecated the role of emotion in the jury's decisions and argued that his being on the jury had saved large numbers of lives." Note: Barrett did NOT mention names of the victims.

5. Pete A. Y. Gunter, "The Great Gainesville Hanging, October, 1862, Rebel Colonel Bourland's 'Witch Hunt' in North Texas" Blue and Gray (magazine) April-May 1986.

6. C. N. Jones, "Early Days In Cooke County (1848-1873)" 976.4533 H2j, FHL US/CAN Book


Anonymous said...

A+++ site. Well documented and sourced. Lots of good information not only on the Gainesville Hanging but also on the victims of the hanging!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all this info -- sure helped with my report for school.:)

Anonymous said...

Is McCaslin going to update his book?? Seems like you have better information about the guys who were hung. Didn't the newspapers at the time of the hanging list the men who were hung?

Anonymous said...

I think that McCaslin needs to update his book -- it appears that new information has become available since he wrote the book. I for one would purchase books for my family if McCaslin came out with an updated version.

Matt said...

This is a great resource for those of us who are trying to find out what really happened during the time of the Great hanging. It all boils down to individual people and how they treated each other and how they reacted to the pressures of the war. What a nasty war - but then all wars are nasty. The Civil War was particularly cruel because it pitted neighbor against neighbor. And all for what?? Just so rich plantation owners could keep their wealthy lifestyles?