The 1917 Camp Logan mutiny, Houston Texas

Court martial

Black soldiers stationed to guard the construction of Camp Logan in Texas mutinied over racist treatment from local law enforcement and civilians.

Submitted by Mike Harman on December 12, 2017

The all-black 3rd Battalion, 24th Infantry – a unit of the famed Buffalo Soldiers was posted in Houston to guard the construction of Camp Logan, a $2 million project started as a result of the US's entry into WWI. Houston was fully under Jim Crow, and while many soldiers were from the south, they had previously been posted in Columbus, New Mexico where Jim Crow laws had not been enforced, and expected equal treatment given they were serving army.

The white population of Houston instead was insistent that segregation be upheld, on the basis that black Houston residents would see the soldiers being treated decently and expect decent treatment themselves. As such the soldiers were subject to racial abuse from construction workers on the site, and police harassment in the city.

On August 23rd 1917, the soldiers heard a rumour that Corporal Charles Baltimore had been killed by police. While he hadn't been killed, he had been arrested and beaten for inquiring about the arrest and beating of another black soldier arrested for participation in a craps game. On hearing this, 156 soldiers appropriated rifles from the store and marched into town.

Local whites armed themselves and there were eventually four casualties among the black soldiers, with fifteen white locals killed and a dozen others wounded, this included four police officers (including the patrolman Daniels who was involved with the original craps game arrest) and nine civilians.

This was the only 'race riot' in the US to result in more white than black casualties, however the aftermath of the mutiny was brutal. 13 soldiers were hung on the 11th December 2017 at Camp Travis in Houston. Sixty-three other soldiers were given life sentences, and in September 1918 six more soldiers were hung at the same Camp Travis site.

Only the final six men were identified as having fired shots at civilians, with the rest no material evidence was presented at all.

Two white officers faced courts-martial, but were released. No white civilians were brought to trial.
Some soldiers served as many as 20 years before their release.