A surprising number of Texans disagreed with their state's decision to secede from the Union in 1860. Most of them immigrants from Northern or Border states, many had settled in Cooke and surrounding counties in the years before the Civil War. Though they abided by the decision to secede, they disagreed openly with some of the Confederacy's laws, such as the rule exempting certain slave-owners from military service.
James Lemuel Clark, eighteen at the outbreak of the Civil War, was the son of one of those men. These memoirs, which he wrote in his seventies, recount his involvement in a series of tragic events that typified the disruption and confusion of the Civil War years. Clark relates his experiences with the Texas militia in Indian campaigns and with the Confederate Army after he could no longer avoid service, but the key event in his memories is the Great Hanging at Gainesville, Texas, in October, 1862. In that affair more than forty men, including Clark's father and many of his neighbors, were executed for their Union sympathies.
This book is a valuable addition to other contemporary accounts of the Great Hanging, but on a larger scale it affords a new view of life in Texas and in the Confederate armies during the Civil War and of many of the events that shaped that war's survivors and Reconstruction Texas.
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