Crime and order in San Antonio during the Civil War and Reconstruction
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Most historians have characterized the Civil War and Reconstruction as a lawless, nearly chaotic period of social, civil, political, and economic turmoil. Yet few studies of this time period offer evidence of the types and the extent of social change and disorder at the local level. This work offers a case study of crime and the criminal justice system in one community, San Antonio, Texas, from 1861 to 1877. The turmoil of the 1860s and 1870s presented the people of San Antonio with a complex set of problems and challenges that threatened their stable existence. This study explores the patterns of crime and criminal activity, and investigates the various elements of the criminal justice system that operated within the city to meet the challenges presented by the upheaval of war. The first half of the study examines the institutions and agencies entrusted with insuring order in San viii Antonio: law enforcement, the courts, judges, juries, legal procedures and processes, and the law. The second half of the study analyzes nearly 3,500 criminal offenses indicted and tried in the Bexar County District Court and the Criminal Court of the City of San Antonio during the period 1861 to1877, inclusive. It explains the factors, both cultural and structural, that contributed to maintaining order in a community that experienced significant social, political, demographic and economic changes as a result of the Civil War and Reconstruction.