Updated: Nov 1
In 1862, a petition signed by several men in Cooke County circulated that opposed the Confederate Conscription Act of 1862. According to the petition, the draft was unfairly administered and biased against small-holding farmers. The claimants weren't wrong, as slave-holders were actually exempt from fighting.
Those who opposed the draft were accused of being Kansas abolitionists (ala John Brown) or, at the very least, Union sympathizers. This is how the Great Hanging of 1862 occurred: a kangaroo court comprised of mostly slave-owning planters who desired to kill their detractors.
Ultimately, the "panic" against the "Union conspirators" resulted in the hanging of nearly over forty men in Cooke, Grayson, Wise, and Denton counties. In the Great Hanging, southern planters targeted "unionists" in Texas counties along the Red River. These counties, coincidentally, voted against secession. They recognized their reliance on the U.S. government: the federal mail stagecoach (Butterfield), desire of federal fort protection against attacks by native tribes, and their brisk trade with Indian Territory. While the "unionists" in North Texas opposed the state's conscription act, they weren't the only ones doing so. For example, in July of 1862, seven families in Galveston who opposed the draft were hanged for treason after they were found safeguarding a U.S. flag.
It is hard to come by complete facts about the Great Hanging. The lack of surviving newspapers from the Civil War era, specifically in Texas, as well as the editorial slants apparent in reporting the events demonstrate the brutal division between countrymen. These newspaper articles report on the same event -- the Great Hanging in Gainesville, as well as other murders that took place in North Texas, and depending on the location of the newspaper's printing offices, the viewpoint changes.