By the time the U.S. entered World War I, black soldiers and white Texas civilians had a history of hostile relations dating back more than fifty years. At Camp Logan, men with the Third Battalion of the Twenty-fourth U.S. Infantry faced increasing harassment from Houston authorities.

On August 23, 1917, a rumor reached the camp that Corporal Charles Baltimore had been killed for interfering with the detention and interrogation of a black woman by Houston police; in fact, Baltimore had been beaten but survived and was later released.

Reacting to the rumor and to racial discrimination, about 150 black troops marched for two hours through Houston. As local whites armed themselves, a violent confrontation ensued that claimed the lives of four black soldiers and fifteen local residents, and wounded a dozen others. The soldiers’ leader, Sergeant Vida Henry, killed himself after the death of a national guardsman whom the troops had mistaken for a policeman. The group subsequently fell into disarray and the violence dissipated.

In November, the largest court-martial in U.S. military history convened at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio to try sixty-three soldiers from the Third Battalion. Thirteen of the convicted men were executed by hanging on December 11.

The following year, two additional courts-martial were held and another sixteen sentenced to hang. Responding to pressure from black leaders, President Woodrow Wilson commuted the death sentences of ten of the condemned men. In total, nearly sixty soldiers received life imprisonment for their roles in the affair.

The Houston Mutiny anticipated the “Red Summer” riots of 1919 in which many African American servicemen retaliated against white mistreatment.

The names of the executed soldiers:
Sgt. William C. Nesbitt

Corp. Larsen J. Brown

Corp. James Wheatley

Corp. Jesse Moore

Corp. Charles W. Baltimore

Pvt. William Brackenridge

Pvt. Thomas C. Hawkins

Pvt. Carlos Snodgrass

Pvt. Ira B. Davis

Pvt. James Divine

Pvt. Frank Johnson

Pvt. Rosley W. Young

Pvt. Pat MacWharter

The sentence was carried out without appeal, the time and place only announced after the men had already hanged but evidently witnessed by the NEW YORK TIMES reporter who wrote that “the negroes, dressed in their regular uniforms, displayed neither bravado nor fear. They rode to the execution singing a hymn, but the singing was as that of soldiers on the march.”

A Documentary was produced on the event, titled "Buffalo Soldier Mutiny: Houston 1917"

[QUOTED FROM FOLLOWING SOURCES: Robert V. Haynes, A Night of Violence: The Houston Riot of 1917 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1976)]

A Documentary was produced on the event, titled "Buffalo Soldier Mutiny: Houston 1917", directed by Alan Berg.

A dramatic presentation on the event is called "Mutiny on the Bayou" and can be viewed on youtube here: