The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 60, July 1956 - April, 1957 Page: 29
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The Texas Militia during Reconstruction
zens and arrested on the charge of illegal entry. Spurred on by
fear of mob violence, they escaped and hurriedly transmitted to
their superiors a report of conditions in Hill County. The adju-
tant general hastened to the scene, and after surveying the situa-
tion, requested that the governor proclaim martial law. This was
done, and State Guards were ordered in. Davidson arrested Gath-
ings and several other leaders and assessed them $3,000 to defray
costs of militia activities."
A more serious incident occurred in that same month which
resulted in a proclamation of martial law in Walker County.
L. H. McNelly, later to become a prominent Texas Ranger, was
in command of a detachment of State Police which had been sent
into the county to investigate the brutal slaying of a freedman,
Sam Jenkins. McNelly arrested four suspects and brought them
to trial. One was released; the other three were found guilty as
charged. The announcement of these findings turned the court-
room into a shooting gallery. The prisoners, using guns smug-
gled to them by friends and sympathizers, opened fire and a gen-
eral melee ensued. McNelly and another policeman were shot
down, the judge and the district attorney were sent scurrying for
cover, while the prisoners, aided by a sizable body of townsmen,
escaped. When an effort was made to summon a posse, only two
persons could be found who showed a willingness to be depu-
tized.20 When this incident was reported to the governor, he
promptly proclaimed martial law and sent Adjutant General
Davidson and a militia unit into Walker County to restore or-
der.21 Davidson immediately set up a military commission, before
which some twenty citizens were tried. One of the escaped pris-
oners, Nat Outlaw, was captured, tried by the commission, and
sentenced to five years imprisonment. Governor Davis, after re-
viewing the case, pardoned Outlaw, who thereupon filed suit on
grounds of false imprisonment and was awarded $2o,ooo dam-
z9Report of Adjutant General Davidson to Governor Davis in Daily State Journal
(Austin), February lo, 1871.
20Ibid. A complete report of the incident was made on January 25, 1871, to
Governor Davis by W. E. Horne.
21Proclamation dated January 20o, 1871 (MS., Executive Record Book No. 284,
Texas State Library, Austin). Martial law in Walker County was continued for
two months, finally being revoked on March 2o, 1871.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 60, July 1956 - April, 1957, periodical, 1957; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101163/m1/42/: accessed April 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.