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Abstract

One of the deadliest race riots in the strife-ridden World War I period, the Houston Mutiny, otherwise known as the Camp Logan riot, resulted in more than twenty deaths and the largest number of executions in the history of the United States military.

The mutiny occurred on the night of August 23, 1917, less than a month after the Third Battalion of the African-American 24th Infantry arrived in Houston, Texas. Companies I, K, L, and M, consisting of 645 enlisted men and seven officers under the command of Col. William Newman, and later Maj. Kneeland S. Snow, drew the assignment of guarding the construction site of a National Guard encampment in a wooded area five miles west of the city. Houston, which had rapidly developed into the largest municipality in the state, encompassed the largest black community in Texas and bore the image of a progressive and relatively racially-tolerant Southern city. The local administration, supported by a booster press, keenly recognized the financial rewards of a military base and understood the necessity of cooperating with the War Department in the garrisoning of black soldiers. The regiment, composed largely of Southern recruits familiar with regional mores, had compiled an envious military record of service in Cuba, the Philippines, and Mexico. Nevertheless, Houston remained a thoroughly segregated city and contained a typical share of bigots who placed their racial prejudices above the collective welfare. The soldiers, while thoroughly professional and disciplined, believed that their contributions to the security of their country had earned them the respect of the populace and recognition of their constitutional rights.

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