HOUSTON AND HOUSTONIANS 45
and idle negroes who were completely under the control of designing
carpetbaggers, who were constantly putting them up
to do something to enrage the white men. Slung-shooting
and highway robberies were of almost nightly occurrence,
and every man carried his life in his own hands and knew
that he did so.
To contend with conditions such as these, Marshal Lord had
only four or five policemen, who were expected to look after
the whole city night and day. However, there was one thing
that saved the officers much trouble. Each citizen knew that
he was expected to take care of himself, and did so.
/ Perhaps the presence of Davis' regiment here did more to
cause trouble than anything else. This was a notorious Federal
regiment commanded by E. J. Davis, afterward reconstruction
governor of the State. It was called a-"Texas regiment," and
was made up of deserters from the Confederate army, Mexicans,
negroes, thugs and a generally undesirable element of
society. They had not made camp here a week before robberies
and knockdowns began to occur.
Finally there were dead soldiers found once or. twice each
week on the back streets; and as these dead soldiers had handkerchiefs
tied over their faces and slung-shots tied to their
wrists, it was not'difficult to guess why they had died. No one
ever knew the details of their taking off, for the surviving
actors were not anxious to brag about their share in it, since
it was an easy thing for the Federal authorities to claim that
the affair was a murder pure and simple, and that the robbery
features had been introduced by the slayer, after the death,
in order to make it appear justifiable. There was practically
martial law here then, and to get in the hands of the Federal
military authorities was a very serious matter.
To show how severe the military authorities were the fbllowing
instance is given: One of the Houston policemen was shot
at by a drunken Federal soldier, whom the policeman tried to
arrest for trying to kick in the door of a millinery establishmenton
Main Street. To protect himself, the policeman was forced
to shoot the soldier. He did not kill him, but he might as well
have done so, for he was arrested, thrown in the guardhoue
and had a terrible time before he was released. Finally, after
several of the lawbreakers had been killed by the citizens, they
concluded that the business was too unhealthy and quit it.
But the marshal and police force had troubles of their own
in the way of keeping the disorderly negroes in line. There
were, as already stated, a number of trifling irresponsible whte
politicians here who were constantly stirring the negroes U and
causing them to make bad breaks. They organised what ws
Young, Samuel Oliver. True stories of old Houston and Houstonians: historical and personal sketches / by S. O. Young.. Galveston, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth24646/. Accessed July 30, 2014.