The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 76, July 1972 - April, 1973

The Houston Mutiny and Riot of 1917
ROBERT V. HAYNES*
O N THE MORNING OF AUGUST 25, 1917, TWO HEAVILY GUARDED TRAINS
carrying the disarmed men of the Third Battalion, Twenty-fourth
United States Infantry, left Houston, Texas, for Columbus, New Mexi-
co. After the trains had passed through Schulenburg, Texas, a resident
of that town picked up a small piece of paper on the railroad right-of-
way near his ice house. He discovered scribbled on the back of a sol-
dier's unused pass a hand-written message: "Take Tex. and go to hell,
I don't want to go there anymore in my life. Lets go East and be treated
as people."'
Less than four weeks earlier, 654 black soldiers and 8 white officers
of this battalion had arrived in Houston to assume guard duties at
Camp Logan, a new training cantonment then under construction and
located approximately three and half miles from the center of town. On
the evening of August 23, a sizeable group of enlisted men participated
in a mutiny and in a march on the city which left twenty persons dead
or dying on the streets of Houston.2
* Mr. Haynes, a professor of history at the University of Houston, gratefully acknowl-
edges the assistance of the Menil Foundation of Houston, Texas, and of the Office of
Research at the University of Houston, both of which provided valuable financial support
for much of the research; Dr. Edward Holley, former director of libraries at the Univer-
sity of Houston, and Mr. Phocion Park, a graduate assistant at the University of Houston,
also offered generous aid in the preparation of this study.
1J. Wolters to [Commanding General] Southern Department, August 27, 1917, with
enclosure Henry Sengelmann to Wolters, August 26, 1917, U.S. Army Commands, Head-
quarters, Southern Department, File 370.61, Box 364, No. 70, Record Group 393, (National
Archives) .
2 Report of Colonel G. O. Cress to Commanding General, Southern Department, Sep-
tember 13, 1917, p. 2, ibid. This report consists of a typed manuscript of fourteen pages
entitled "Investigation of the Trouble at Houston, Texas, between the Third Battalion,
Twenty-fourth Infantry, and the Citizens of Houston, August 23, 1917." References to this
work hereafter will be cited as Cress Report.
There are two published studies of the Houston disturbance of 1917: Edgar A. Schuler,
"The Houston Race Riot, 1917," Journal of Negro History, XXIX (July, 1944), 300-338;
and C. D. Waide, "When Psychology Failed: An Unbiased Fact-Story of the Houston
Race Riot of 1917," Houston Gargoyle May 15, 22, 29, June 5, 12, 1928. The Schuler ac-
count relies too heavily upon the inaccurate coverage of the Houston Post, and the Waide
article suffers from the author's racial prejudice.

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 76, July 1972 - April, 1973. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101202/. Accessed April 19, 2015.