The “Brownsville Affair”: The Injustice That Led To 167 Black Soldiers Being Dishonorably Discharged; The Largest U.S. Army Dismissal In History

5 Posted by - October 31, 2023 - BLACK MEN, BLACKS IN THE MILITARY, LATEST POSTS

Between August 13th and 14th 1906, in the city of Brownsville, Texas a shooting took place which left one white man dead and another white man injured.  The shooting happened around midnight. The blame for the shooting was laid at the doorstep of black soldiers who were based at Fort Brown.  The commanders that were over the soldiers insisted that all were in their barracks at the time of the incident. However, the white city mayor and other white witnesses stated otherwise.  They stated that indeed they saw some of the black soldiers recklessly shooting on that fateful night. The witnesses provided shell casings as evidence, even though the soldiers maintained their incidence in the ordeal.

Due to the soldiers maintaining their innocence by stating they had no knowledge of the shooting, their word was still not taken for truth. Then President Theodore Roosevelt, as a result dishonorably discharged the 167 black infantrymen from the U.S. Army. President Roosevelt believed the infantrymen were upholding a silent conspiracy, and were thus guilty of the crime.. This decision caused tension to grow between blacks and whites.  However, there was a slight outcry of injustice from whites in the area. The case was reinvestigated by the U.S. Senate from 1908-1909 however they upheld the president’s decision in the matter.

This incident was felt as a disgrace for blacks that were in the U.S. Army. It also served as a source of embarrassment. Racial tensions in the Texas area remained longstanding as a result. Despite the embarrassment and disgrace, a new investigation took place. It happened in the year 1972. This new investigated overturned the decision made by the president in 1906. It in turn found the black soldiers who were unjustly deemed guilty in the eyes of the government and the public as innocent.

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  • Carol June 2, 2016 - 9:59 am

    What was done about their back pay. Did their decendents receive restitution? Probably not, considering they were only a group of black men….!

    • Anthony Powell April 28, 2020 - 9:36 pm

      Ten soldiers were able to go in the after a congressional hearing in 1910 with full back pay it would during the 1970’s this redressed with back pay the problem is there was only one soldier still living he got a payment $25,000 all of the discharges
      changed to Honorable but again there was only one soldier living the time the families got nothing!

  • Lenny September 7, 2016 - 3:10 pm

    You think we need. A home land the Jews got one for a little of nothing

  • Dee Dee Moor September 7, 2016 - 3:25 pm

    Did you expect different? a white man’s accusation, a white man’s army, and a white president…..

  • sarah tewolde September 14, 2016 - 5:44 pm

    I think we as African Americans need to make sure we educate our children about stories like this. These stories are so informative.

  • Delores Daniels September 3, 2017 - 9:40 am

    Unbelievable, it’s not hard to figure out why COLLINS dishonor the flag. The president didn’t have enough respect to stand up for these brave men that took an oath to protect this country. So sad.

  • Marko davis November 18, 2017 - 12:04 pm

    White people owe blacks in America for slowing our progress down with act li,e these coming from a so called Democrat Whitman they ai t shit neither

  • Carol April 28, 2020 - 10:24 am

    The United States has an apology and restitution owed to those soldiers families!!!!

  • Tom Haines May 6, 2020 - 4:48 pm

    White man here. President Theodore Roosevelt is no longer in my top ten favorite Presidents. Those soldiers in the United States Army should all receive an apology in the form of a $25,000 payment AND an apology from the current President on national TV and other media. I was in the Army in Vietnam and should receive an apology for the Army exposing me and 668,000 other soldiers to Agent Orange and am currently 240% disabled. Stay safe.