Crime, Justice and Retribution in the American West, 1850–1900


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About the Book

Western movies are full of images of swaggering outlaws brought to justice by valiant lawmen shooting them down in daring gunfights before riding off into the sunset. In reality it would not have happened that way. Real lawmen did not simply walk away from a gunfight—they had to face the legal system and justify shooting a civilian in the line of duty. Providing a more realistic view of criminal justice in the Old West, this history focuses on how criminals came into conflict with the law and how the law responded. The process is described in detail, from the common crimes of the day—such as train robbery and cattle theft—to the methods of apprehending criminals to their adjudication and punishment by incarceration, flogging or hanging.

About the Author(s)

Jeremy Agnew, a biomedical electronics consultant, holds a Ph.D. in engineering and has been involved in the design and manufacture of medical devices for more than 30 years. He lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and has written several books on the Old West.

Bibliographic Details

Jeremy Agnew

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 268
Bibliographic Info: 49 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2017
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6447-7
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2778-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface  1
One. The Criminal Classes  5
Two. Petty Crimes  25
Three. Stagecoach Robbers and Train Bandits  45
Four. Cattle Rustling and Horse Theft  62
Five. Mayhem and Murder  74
Six. Personal Violence and Gunfights  88
Seven. Discrimination and Hate Crimes  103
Eight. Officers of the Law  119
Nine. Lawmen by Any Other Name  138
Ten. Pursuit and Capture  155
Eleven. Lawyers and Judges  170
Twelve. Trials and Errors  189
Thirteen. Retribution and Punishment  209
Fourteen. Military Discipline  223
Postscript  241
Chapter Notes  245
Bibliography  253
Index  257