"The contemporary environment that existed for black soldiers in the military and civilian culture"

Hung Before Dawn

Very much unlike today, The U.S. Army, from the very start of the existence of the Buffalo Soldiers (9th & 10th Cavalry 24th & 25th Infantry 1866 -1951), due to the those times, permitted a level of racism within its ranks in that the Army segregated the black officers and enlisted troops from the white troops, which in turn, to a more than significant degree, established a "them" and "us" environment. What this led to was, as new officers and enlisted whites entered the army with racist Jim Crow mind sets that they possessed in civilian life was only perpetuated by what they encountered after enlistment. What followed was many of the Army’s Jim Crow leaders of this type at times provided little or no protection for its black troops involving adverse racial treatment and confrontations., especially when it came the bad racial treatment of black troops by local civilians and often bowing to local politician. While there are many examples, here are a few:

1867 - The 9th Cav incident at San Pedro Spring, Texas Whereby a bigoted officer, Lt Heyl, after returning from a saloon, was the root cause of the loss of life of an officer & a black trooper, Lt Heyl received no punishment:

1871 - The 10th Cav incident where company C was returning to Ft Sill, Lt Price, in a fit of rage, shot & killed two of his black troopers after an argument. Lt Price received no punishment. Off post recreational establishments in large or small town was available around the Forts, Camps, and posts. As black soldiers visited these establishments, they had no cause to seek trouble - it was waiting for them.

1870 - the incident at Ft McKavett whereby a civilian, John Jackson, shot and killed Pvt Boston Henry in cold blood, long eluded the law and in the process subsequently shot and killed two more buffalo soldiers. When caught & tried, the jury found him not guilty.

1877 - Captain Sparks and several other Texas Rangers visited Nasworthy’s saloon, outside Ft Concho, to drink and dance, and discovered that a number of black troopers were doing likewise, whereupon they drew their pistols and pistol whip the soldiers and threw them out. While Sparks did leave rangers much later, he received no punishment.

1906 - The Fort Brown incident of the Brownsville, Texas riot whereby a bartender was killed and a police officer wounded by gunshots one night and the towns people accused the black soldiers of the 25th Infantry, even though their Commander testified that none of the troops left the post that night. False evidence was planted against the men. Bowing to local political pressure, President Roosevelt ordered the dishonorable discharge of the whole regiment of the 25th infantry stripping them of their pensions, however honorable discharges was restored to all the men 66 years later in 1972 as a result of further investigation. This type of treatment persisted even after the below stated tragedy.

1943 – As in WWl, when the army attempted to enforce their Jim Crow mind sets on the French army by telling them that black Officers under their command were not to receive the same protocols as white officers, which the French blew off as ridiculous, the English also viewed it as ridiculous during WWll in the town Bamber Bridge in Lancashire England. The army did not like the practice of the English not having a problem of black & white soldiers having fun drinking and dancing in same establishments with white English women. Because to them, they were all Americans. But this did not sit well with the white units there. Then there was an attempt to enforce Jim Crow law on foreign soil by restricting the black soldiers from the establishments, which failed. Then the Military Police was sent in to arrest the black soldiers for simply trying to have some fun. Then chaos erupted into white Americans literally fighting black Americans on foreign soil while they were fighting for world democracy. A number of local civilians attempted to help the black soldiers because of the horror of what was happening. The Army went to great length to hush up the conflict because they didn’t want the country to find that they were fighting their own soldiers which would have angered the black population and weaken the moral in the country. A lot of the assigned white officers over the years like and respected the black troopers because of their adherence to military discipline and bravery in batt le and treated them accordingly, but the great weight of Jim Crow & racism over shadowed those officers. The constant bigoted environment both in and outside the military continued for these brave and many Medal of Honor winning troopers down thru the years of their existence.
--Billy Gordon

Sixty-four soldiers from the 3rd Battalion of the 24th United States Infantry, a predominantly black unit, were tried in the largest court martial in US military history over their roles in the Camp Logan riot. Thirteen were sentenced to death. Credit: Public domain.

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