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Pale Horse Revelations #57 - The Lee-Peacock Feud

Hello readers and welcome back to Pale Horse Revelations. where we explore significant people, places, and events in Old West history. While I make no promises, don't be surprised if some of these places, people, or events find their way into future Pale Rider adventures.

Today we turn our attention to one of the bloodiest feuds in Old West history. While the American Civil War officially ended in April 1865, the hard feelings that both precipitated it and grew from it were not so easily stifled. And on occasion that hard feelings boiled over into outright violence. The Lee-Peacock feud in northeast Texas was one such occasion.

At the center of the conflict were two strong willed men with polar opposite convictions. On one side was Bob Lee. Lee was born and raised in the area known as the Four Corners where the counties of Grayson, Fannin, Hunt, and Collin meet. The four counties converged in area the locals called the "Wildcat Thicket." It was here that the bloody Lee-Peacock feud would play out, ultimately claiming the lives of over fifty men. When the Civil War erupted, Bob Lee left his wife and three children to join the Ninth Texas Cavalry. Many of the young men in the area followed Lee's example and served with him in the Ninth.

Leading the other side of the conflict was Lewis Peacock. Peacock was a Union sympathizer who moved to Texas in 1856. Peacock was also a leading member of an organization called the Union League that worked to protect blacks and Union Sympathizers. The Union League established its North Texas headquarters in Pilot Grove, just miles from the Lee family homes.

While the war raged the sympathizers were persecuted by the pro Confederate residents who called the area home. But as the war approached its end and a Union victory became a foregone conclusion the pendulum began to swing the other way. The Union League grew in strength, and they were soon emboldened by the arrival of Federal troops sent after the war to aid in implementing Reconstruction.

By the time Lee and the others who had fought for the Confederacy returned home, the area was already rife with conflict. Most of the citizens, regardless of whether they had owned slaves prior to the war, resented Reconstruction and the new laws that came with it. Many looked to Bob Lee to lead them.

For his part, Peacock saw Lee as a threat and hatched a plan to strike preemptively to prevent this. Peacock, along with several cohorts, arrived unannounced at Lee's home to arrest him for crimes allegedly committed during the war. Though they claimed Lee would be taken into Sherman, they instead took him to a place called Choctaw Creek Bottoms. Here they relieved him of his watch and other possessions. They also forced him to sign a promissory note for $2,000.00, a significant sum at the time. The Lee family, however, refused to pay and took the matter to the courts. The case was heard in Bonham, Texas and the Lee family emerged victorious. Thus started the all-out war that would come to be known as the Lee-Peacock Feud.

In February 1867, while visiting a store in Pilot Grove, Lee encountered one of his former kidnappers. Lee immediately offered the man a pistol so that they could fight. But when Lee turned his back, the man opened fire. The bullet grazed Lee's head and ear, knocking him unconscious. Lee's supporters carried him to the home of Dr. William Pierce where he received treatment for his wounds.

Days later Dr. Pierce was shot and killed by a Peacock supporter named Hugh Hudson. An enraged Bob Lee vowed to avenge the doctor's death. As word began to spread through the Wildcat Thicket supporters of both men began to arm themselves. Further bloodshed was inevitable.

Lee supporters exacted their revenge by killing Hugh Hudson at a teamster's shop on the road to Jefferson. Over the next year six men lost their lives and many others, including Peacock, were wounded. As this point, the Union League sought assistance from the Federal Government. In response, General John J. Reynolds, in command of the Fifth Military District, issued a $1,000.00 bounty on Bob Lee payable to anyone who could capture or kill the man.

This attracted bounty hunters from all over the country to the area. Among them were three men from Kansas who arrived in the spring of 1869. Their attempt to capture Lee was a complete failure and all three were soon found dead. Lee, meanwhile, went into hiding in the heavily wooded Wildcat Thicket.

General Johnson soon dispatched the Fourth United States Cavalry to find Lee and end the conflict once and for all. The soldiers conducted a house-to-house search for Lee, often resulting in gun battles and multiple deaths. Eventually a man named Henry Boren, who had been a Lee supporter, decided to betray him to the cavalry. The cavalry troops were able to corner and kill Bob Lee on May 24, 1869.

But Lee's death did not bring the violence to an immediate end. Henry would later be killed by his own nephew, Bill Boren, who was a staunch Lee supporter who felt that a traitor deserved death even if he was family. Although the violence began to wane it would not end for another two years when Lewis Peacock was shot and killed on June 13, 1871. Only with his death did the Lee-Peacock Feud finally come to an end.

And so too ends this edition of Pale Horse Revelations. I hope you found it to be both interesting and entertaining. As usual, I have tried to provide some interesting historical information while trying not to bog the casual reader down with too much detail. I encourage anyone interested in learning more to dig in and do a little research of their own.

As a reminder, I would love to hear your suggestions for topics to focus on in future editions of Pale Horse Revelations. If there's a particular location, person, or event that you would like to know more about, please let me know. Just fill out the Contact form found on the "Contact the Author" page of this website and indicate your desired topic in the message box at the bottom of the form. I look forward to hearing from you all.

Please be sure to check back next week for the next installment of Pale Horse Revelations and thank you for your continued interest and support.


 

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