Last Updated on May 10, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 436
Gil Carter, a wandering ranch hand who drifts into Bridger’s Wells looking for a girl. When she returns to the town, after having reportedly gone to San Francisco with a husband, Gil is furious. He joins a posse, but thinks more of his disappointment in love than of the hanging of three innocent men.
Art Croft, Gil’s friend and companion. Though wounded by mistake by a stage driver, he goes on with the posse in search of rustlers.
Rose Mapen, the girl Gil loves and who disappoints him by marrying another man while gone from Bridger’s Wells.
Canby, the saloonkeeper at Bridger’s Wells.
Farnley, a cowboy who assists in hanging the three innocent men. When one of them, Donald Martin, dies too slowly in the hangman’s noose, Farnley shoots him.
Kinkaid, Farnley’s friend, supposedly killed by rustlers. He turns up alive after three innocent men have been hanged for his murder.
Davies, a storekeeper in the town. He tries to prevent the hanging of innocent men and fails. He takes a ring and a farewell letter to Martin’s wife and two children. After the lynching, he comes to believe, erroneously, that the fault was his.
Osgood, a Baptist minister. He tries to help Davies prevent mob action.
Joyce, a young cowboy who goes with Croft to ask Judge Tyler to swear in the posse.
Judge Tyler, the local magistrate. He tries to prevent mob action but ironically stimulates it.
Sheriff Risley, whose absence from town allows the mob to act. He returns just too late. He refuses to arrest the members of the posse, claiming lack of evidence.
Mapes, the sheriff’s swaggering deputy, who leads the posse he illegally deputizes.
Jenny Grier, called Ma, keeper of a boardinghouse. She helps hang the supposed rustlers and murderers.
Tetley, a rancher. He forces his son to participate in the mob’s precipitate action. After his son commits suicide, he does, too.
Gerald Tetley, an emotional young man. Horrified by having to participate in the mob killings, he commits suicide.
Donald Martin, a rancher. Wrongly accused of being a rustler, he is hanged unlawfully by the mob.
A Mexican, Martin’s rider, also hanged by the mob.
An Old Man
An Old Man, Martin’s simpleminded worker, the mob’s third victim.
Drew, a rancher. He failed to hand Martin a bill of sale for cattle purchased, thus contributing to the man’s death.