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in 1906, in Brownsville, in a series of encounters that involved civilians and members of the First Battalion of the TwentyFifth Infantry. One incident began with the beating of a private accused of jostling a white woman on a city sidewalk. On the evening of August 12, rumors swept through town that a local woman had been assaulted by a black soldier. Later that night, an armed band briefly roamed city streets, firing hundreds of shots, killing one man and injuring several others. Townspeople claimed that black soldiers were responsible and offered handfuls of spent cartridges as proof. In the preliminary report sent to the army, an investigator noted that there were civilians in Brownsville who “think that the colored soldier should be treated like the negro laborer of the south,” adding, “…the colored soldier is much more aggressive in his attitude on the social equality issue than he used to be.” Although the investigator ultimately concluded that the soldiers were guilty of the assault, witnesses could not identify individual members of the mob, and an inspection of the soldiers’ rifles following the raid showed that none of them had been fired. Christian’s own examination of the evidence leads him to believe that none of the battalion members was involved in the crime. But public furor in the South over the incident was unprecedented, and elected officials demanded that the War Department immediately withdraw all black troops from the state. Under the pressure of election-year politics, President Theodore Roosevelt announced that the entire battalionone hundred and sixtyseven men in allwas to be cashiered. Not only were the men dishonorably discharged, they were barred from federal employment for the rest of their lives. Among those discharged, without the benefit of a court martial, were thirteen men decorated for bravery, including six winners of the Congressional Medal of Honor. It would take more than sixty years for Congress to finally clear the names of the men involved and restore the pensions of the survivors. During World War I, black troops were once again assigned to posts in Texas, in the summer of 1917. This time they were garrisoned in cities, where large AfricanAmerican communities made their presence even more volatile. In Waco, soldiers demanded to be served at a drug store that refused blacks, and tore down “White” and “Colored” signs posted in restaurants. When city police began harassing patrons at a local bar, about a dozen soldiers fled to their base, secured rifles, and returned to town to settle the score. After firing a few shots at a military patrol sent to detain them, the men returned to base without further incident. Two days later, a similar incident in Houston had more murderous results. As in Waco, recently-arrived troops began making their presence known by ripping down Jim Crow signs and refusing to sit in seats reserved for blacks in city street cars, in some cases tossing the partitioning screens out of the cars. Soldiers at the camp also refused to drink water from segregated water cans. Houston business leaders, who had worked tirelessly to have the Army build Camp Logan \(located west of downtown worry about the effects this militant defiance of Jim Crow was having on the large African-American population concentrated in the nearby Fourth Ward neighborhood. On the morning of August 23, a Houston detective pursuing two dice players forced his way into the house of an African-American woman. When the woman protested, the officer dragged her out into the street, telling her, “Since these God damn sons of bitches nigger soldiers come here you are trying to take the town…Don’ t you ask an officer what he wants in your house. I’m from Fort Ben[d] and we don’t allow niggers to talk back to us.” When a passing soldier attempted to intercede, the officer clubbed him with his pistol. Later that afternoon, the detective pistol-whipped and arrested a military policeman inquiring about the incident. That evening, rumors swept through the camp that a mob of armed whites were planning to attack the camp, and approximately one hundred soldiers left their positions and began marching towards Houston. Over the course of the next few hours, sixteen civilians \(including five policethe outskirts of downtown before abandoning their assault. Once order was restored, the military’s punishment was swift and severe. In the first trial, sixty-three men were charged with a variety of crimes, and fiftyfour were convicted. Thirteen of the fiftyfour were immediately executed in secret and buried at a military base in San Antonio. Subsequent trials resulted in the con viction of another fifty-six soldiers, but no further executions. Christian provides a good basic recounting of events surrounding the Houston mutiny, described more thoroughly in Robert V. Haynes’ 1976 book, A Night of Violence: The Houston Riot of 1917. Haynes notes, for example, that far from being an unruly mob, the soldiers moved toward Houston in military formation, followed the commands of their non-commissioned officers, and were planning a fullscale assault on the city jail. Haynes also explores the relationship between the soldiers and the local African Americans, and notes that in some cases black civilians cheered the column on and asked to join the march. Takeri together, these items suggest that, at least for a short period of time, the situation teetered on the brink of a general uprising. “To Hell with going to France,” one of the mutineers was reported to have shouted. “Get to work right here.” Forty years after the events in Houston, a foot-weary seamstress in Montgomery, Alabama, refused to give up her seat to a white passenger and move to the back of the bus. Rosa Parks’ act of defiance was heroic, but as Christian’s book makes clear, it was not unprece dented. A generation before the civil rights movement swept the South, small groups of African-American soldiers fought a series of desperate, losing battles against the virulent racism engulfing the region. Christian’s story of the men who fought these battles is dark and sometimes troubling, but it is a story that needs to be toldand remembered. Texas today. A state full of Sunbelt boosters, anti-unionists, oil and gas companies, nuclear weapons and power plants, political hucksters, underpaid workers and toxic wastes, to mention a few. r ., THE TEXAS 1 op server TO SUBSCRIBE Name Address City/State/Zip $32 enclosed for a one-year subscription. Bill me for $32. 307 West 7th, Austin, TX 78701 Far from being an unruly mob, the soldiers moved toward Houston in military formation, followed the commands of their non-commissioned officers, and were planning a full-scale assault on the city jail. 20 JANUARY 12, 1996