Army Makes Historic Overturn and Clears 110 Black Soldiers of 1917 Mutiny Charges

( – Just four months after the United States entered the First World War in 1917, the US Army ordered the Third Battalion of the Army’s 24th Infantry Regiment, the Buffalo Soldiers, to go to Houston and guard Camp Logan. The all-black battalion did as they were ordered to do — watch over the construction of a training facility for white soldiers who would soon head to France to fight in the war. A riot ensued, and the Buffalo Soldiers were charged with murder — many were hanged. Now, the Army admits it made a mistake.

On November 13, Stripes reported that the US Army reversed the murder and assault convictions for 110 soldiers charged after the 1917 Houston Riot. The Army Board for Correction of Military Records investigated the ordeal and found the “soldiers were wrongly treated” because they were black. They were also denied a fair trial, as all 118 were represented by one Army officer who wasn’t even licensed to practice law. Three trials took place, with 13 US soldiers hanged less than one day after a review of their conviction. Six more were hanged soon afterward.

According to Stripes, the riots broke out when white police officers arrested a black woman, one of the soldiers — a private — intervened to help the woman, but the officers beat and arrested him. A corporal followed up to check on the private, but was beaten and arrested as well. Those still at Camp Logan believed the corporal had been murdered, upsetting the group. The battalion simultaneously believed a group of white people were coming to the base, so they took up arms and headed out to defend the camp.

At the ceremony to reverse the convictions, US Army Under Secretary Gabe Camarillo said, “We cannot change the past” but, hopefully, the “Army and the American people” can learn from the egregious mistake. All of the service member records were changed to “honorable” and any descendants due benefits would receive them. Jason Holt, one such family member who attended the event, said he always “believed [this day] would happen.”

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