Reconstruction in Montgomery County, Texas

Texas General Land Office Ca.1880 Courtesy of the Library of Congress

After his stint in Mississippi with the U.S. Army’s occupation forces, 1st Lieutenant Erasmus Corwin Gilbreath was reassigned to Texas, then under Federal occupation. Assigned to Montgomery County in 1869, he took charge of the reconstruction efforts. There he got a rude introduction to the “Wild West” from a lawless community rife with gambling, gunplay, drinking, racial violence and vigilante “justice.” Oddly, this was not the stereotypical cow town, but a land of cotton plantations once worked by slave labor; at the outbreak of the Civil War, half the population were slaves.

Map from the Texas General Land Office of Montgomery County.