Dec. 11, 1917: Black Soldiers Executed for Houston Riot

Court martial of 64 members of the 24th Infantry on trial for mutiny and murder of 17 people at Houston, Texas, Aug. 23, 1917. Image: © W.C. Lloyd, San Antonio, Texas.

“The primary cause of the Houston riot was the habitual brutality of the white police officers of Houston in their treatment of colored people.” —The Crisis Magazine, November 1917

On December 11, 1917, 13 African American soldiers were hanged just outside of San Antonio for alleged participation in the Houston Riot (or Mutiny) in August. They were:

Sgt. William C. Nesbitt
Corp. Larsen J. Brown
Corp. James Wheatley
Corp. Jesse Moore
Corp. Charles W. Baltimore*
Pvt. William Brackenridge
Pvt. Thomas C. Hawkins
Pvt. Carlos Snodgrass
Pvt. Ira B. Davis
Pvt. James Divine
Pvt. Frank Johnson
Pvt. Rosley W. Young
Pvt. Pat MacWharter

The army held three courts-martial following the Houston Riot and found 110 African Americans guilty.

Nineteen African American soldiers were hanged and 63 received life sentences in federal prison. Two white officers faced court-martial, but they were released. No white civilians were brought to trial.

Learn more from the Paris, Texas NAACP and Executed Today. Find a collection of primary documents at the South Texas College of Law.

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