The violence that occurred during the
night of Thursday, August 23, 1917 is often referred to as the Camp
Logan Riot. Some sources call the events the Houston Riot of 1917, and
that is probably a better appellation since the actions of the mutinous
soldiers assigned to Camp Logan took place away from the actual
premises of the military base.
The acts of violence took place in two locations along Buffalo Bayou.
The first was the suburban residential community of Brunner, located on
the north side of Buffalo Bayou and centered at the intersection of
Washington Avenue and the modern Shepherd Drive. The second scene of
rioting took place on the south side of Buffalo Bayou along San Felipe
Road, now known as West Dallas Avenue, in a residential area of the
Fourth Ward known as the San Felipe District.
There was a third scene of violence in the episodes of this night that
is not strictly part of the riot, but is rather more of an epilogue.
Sergeant Vida Henry, the leader of the mutinous troops, stood alone
near the tracks of the GH&SA Railroad along the eastern edge of the
Fourth Ward, probably close to the modern intersection of South Main
Street and Wheeler Street. At about 2:05 am on Friday, August 24, Henry
took his own life with a single shot from his revolver.
The events of that August day began when reports circulated in the camp
on Reinerman Street that Corporal Charles W. Baltimore, an off duty
military policeman from the 3rd Battalion, had been roughly treated by
a Houston policeman and arrested. Later, rumors that Baltimore had been
killed provoked intense feelings of anger and frustration among the
troops. The unrest among the soldiers continued to build during the
early evening, and when Sergeant Vida Henry of I Company reported the
situation to Major Kneeland S. Snow, the commandant, Snow ordered Henry
to collect the rifles and ammunition from the men. About 8:00 pm,
shortly after sunset, as Henry was gathering the rifles and ammunition,
a soldier screamed that a mob was coming toward the camp. Private Frank
Johnson yelled for the troops to get their guns. A shot was fired and
bedlam broke out as the soldiers raided the supply tent for their
weapons, and shots were fired wildly into the residential neighborhood.
Ironically, Sergeant Henry emerged as the leader of the mob of over 100
soldiers who spilled out of the bivouac area and into the Brunner
community intent on marching to the Fourth Ward jail to release their
The mob of soldiers marched one block east on Louis Street, now Center
Street, to Roy Street, where they peppered the home of Peter Morrison
at 1119 Roy Street with rifle fire. Fortunately, there were no injuries
to the Peter Morrison family, but when the soldiers turned south on Roy
Street, across Washington Avenue, to Lillian Street, two young men at
4910 Lillian Street were not so lucky. Frederick Winkler, age 19, a
machinist, was shot and killed on his front porch as he turned on the
porch light. William J. Drucks, 26, was shot in the right arm, but he
ultimately recovered and lived until 1975.
Although the main body of the mutinous soldiers headed down Roy Street,
it is clear from the other reports of casualties that such a large body
of soldiers fanned out across several blocks and numerous streets,
shooting at random targets and demonstrating their well-honed
marksmanship skills at any opportunity that presented itself.
E. A. Thompson was among the first to be killed by the rioters,
presumably near Washington Avenue. Adam R. Carstens, a 48 year old
house painter with a large family, was shot and killed near Parker
Street and Center Street. M. D. Everton, a member of Company H, 5th
Texas Infantry, was found dead near Carstens. He had been shot in the
liver and in the right shoulder, and he had been bayoneted in the
Washington Avenue was the main street of the Brunner, a working class
residential community that had only been annexed by Houston in 1915.
The local residents would certainly be out on the streets in the dusk
of a scorchingly hot summer's day socializing and completing the
errands of the day. Manuel Garredo, who lived at 4900 Washington Ave,
was shot and killed. Senelton "Senator" Satton, a barber, was shot
through both thighs and bayoneted through the heart and neck. Sammie
Foreman, a member of Company F, 5th Texas Infantry, was shot in the
leg, but did not suffer a serious injury. More seriously injured were
W. A. Thompson, who was shot in the hip, and Alma Reichert, who was
shot in the stomach. George W. Butcher, 41, who worked as an ice man
and who lived with his wife and seven children on Kiam Street in the
Cottage Grove Addition, just north of Brunner, was shot in the left
chest and right side, but he recovered from his wounds.
The mob of soldiers headed south to converge at the narrow bridge
across Buffalo Bayou at Shepherd's Dam at the end of Brunner Avenue.
For those who were unaware of what was taking place in their
neighborhood that evening, the consequences were dire. Charles W.
Wright, a barber, came out of his home on Wood Street, now Floyd
Street, near Brunner Avenue to investigate all the commotion. He was
shot in the stomach and killed. Jitney driver E. M. Jones, 53, drove
his last fare of the day and was found dead on a shell road near
Brunner. He had been shot several times and his right arm had been
severed by a saber. Earl Fendley, age 16, who had been with a group of
friends on Washington Avenue earlier that evening, was found in the
road near Shepherd's Dam, shot through the heart and
The soldiers converged on the narrow bridge at Shepherd's Dam and then
made their way up the dirt road through the riparian forest along the
banks of the bayou to the San Felipe Road. The San Felipe Road ran due
east, directly into the heart of the Fourth Ward. It would place them
near enough to their intended location, the jail on the banks of
Buffalo Bayou at the corner of Bagby Street and Capital Avenue. This
route also offered an unobstructed path to the city. Although they
encountered the small, black community of Green Pond adjacent to the
College Memorial Park Cemetery established by Jack Yates, and across
from Yates' Houston College, there were only a cluster of houses in the
Stanley Subdivision near the Magnolia Cemetery (near modern Montrose
Boulevard). The road passed through scattered rural farms and fields
until it reached the western edge of the San Felipe District near
present day Taft Street.
After marching for an hour or so, the soldiers stopped to rest in the
1600 block of San Felipe Road, near Gillette Street, about three miles
from where they had begun their journey. The mob numbered slightly less
than 100 men now, since some of the rioters had wearied of the quest
and had drifted back to camp. It was still a well armed and formidable
As they resumed their march to town, the mob encountered a captain and
a lieutenant from Camp Logan. Although the soldiers almost shot the
officers, they decided instead to allow them to pass, perhaps
indicating that the mob was focusing its hostility, not on its own
military comrades, but on the Houston police.
Within 10 minutes, the mob was at the call box on San Felipe Road at
Wilson Street. Mounted officers Ross Patten and W. H. Long were at the
call box and Long was making a call. A dozen soldiers fired on the
police, killing Patton's horse and wounding him. Patten and Long took
cover in an adjacent house. Patten would die from his injuries two
At just that time, a vehicle driven by businessman Charles W. Hahl
approached the scene. Police officers Rufus Daniel, W. C. Wilson,
Horace Moody and C. E. Carter had commandeered the car for a ride to
the action. The car stopped when they heard shots fired on Patten and
Long. Sergeant Henry ordered his men to take cover in the City Cemetery
on the south side of the street. Daniels then proceeded to charge the
troops in the cemetery with only his hand gun, and he was instantly
killed. Carter, Wilson and Moody took cover in a nearby garage. Moody
was shot in the leg and severely injured. Moody later died while
doctors were amputating his
The firing ceased, and the soldiers brutalized the dead body of Rufus
Daniels, battering his face and bayoneting his body. The mob then
Four blocks later, at Heiner Street, the troops encountered a seven
passenger touring car driven by James E. Lyon. This car had two
civilian passengers and police officers John E. Richardson and Ira
Raney, who had hitched a ride to get to the area of the action.
The mob disarmed those in the touring car and held them in the road
with their hands up. When Richardson inadvertently let his hands down a
soldier struck him over the head with butt of his rifle. At that point,
Raney and the civilian passenger Eli Smith took off running in opposite
directions. The 56 year old Smith was an easy target for expert
riflemen. Smith was later found in the ditch at Heiner Street. He had
also been bayoneted in the hip and the left arm pit, a thrust that
penetrated his heart. Officer Raney's dash placed him in the
illumination of the car's lights where he was shot. Raney's body was
beaten and bayoneted like that of Officer Daniels.
Lyon, who jumped as a soldier took aim at him with his rifle and he was
only hit in the arm. Lyon ran for two blocks where a police officer
found him and took him to a hospital. Lyon survived with only minor
wounds in the leg and
Asa Bland, the other civilian passenger in the touring car, was shot
over the left eye, but received only a slight graze wound. He was
knocked unconscious by a soldier and lay motionless in the middle of
the San Felipe Road. Officer Richardson feigned death nearby.
Soon, a second car arrived at the Heiner Street intersection. This
vehicle carried Captain Joseph Mattes from Camp Logan, three enlisted
soldiers and Officer Edwin Meineke. Mattes stood up in the car as if to
address the mutineers, but about forty of the rioting soldiers took aim
at the approaching car and fired on those in it. Both Mattes and
Meineke, as well as one of the enlisted men, were killed immediately.
The driver of this second car ducked under the steering wheel and
crashed the car, but he saved his life. The other enlisted soldier was
covered by the fallen body of Mattes, and he escaped injury.
The rapid sequence of violent and bloody events seemed to call for a
natural hiatus. The Houston police, choosing to avoid a confrontation
with the superior strength of the mob of professional soldiers,
monitored the situation from a perimeter of two blocks or more.
Although the exact time and location of the incidents are unclear, two
other men sustained injuries in the melee. Police detective T. A.
Binford received a minor wound to the knee, and wholesale grocery
salesman William H. Burkett who lived in the Fourth Ward received a gun
shot to his left side and was hit with shotgun pellets, but he survived
these serious injuries.
It had been a little over two hours of violent rioting and, after the
soldiers mistakenly killed their own Captain Mattes, thinking he was a
city policeman, they argued over the next course of
The deflated mob retreated a few blocks to the south and gathered near
the railroad tracks on the eastern edge of the Fourth Ward. Although
Sergeant Henry urged the mob to attack the jail, many of the soldiers
had lost interest in the venture and they drifted away and back to
camp. Others wanted to hide in the woods or stay with friends in the
area. Finally, after two hours of discussion, Henry concluded that the
soldiers no longer wanted to continue, so he sent them away and told
the men to return to camp.
Henry had asked some of his comrades to kill him, but they all refused.
Alone and in despair, about 2:05 am, Henry took his own life. The next
morning, his body was found by some young boys near the railroad
On August 24, 1917, Governor James E. Ferguson declared martial law in
Houston and he placed Brigadier General John A. Hulen, commander of the
Texas National Guard, in charge of the city. That day, three hundred
fifty Coast Guardsmen arrived from Galveston and six hundred two
infantrymen arrived from San Antonio to enforce a curfew that was
imposed on the city.
By 9:30 am on Saturday, August 25, 1917, all of the troops of the 3rd
Battalion were placed on Southern Pacific trains and sent to San
Antonio and New Mexico to await
The civil authority was restored to the city on Monday, August 27, 1917.
In the riot of August 23, 1917, eleven innocent citizens lost their
lives, five police officers were killed in the line of duty, and thirty
citizens suffered severe wounds. Four of the rioters died. Two of the
mutinous soldiers were accidentally killed by their own men, one
soldier was shot by a citizen and died later in a hospital, and
Sergeant Vida Henry died by his own hand.
Three separate courts martial were convened at Fort Sam Houston in San
Antonio 1917, and they indicted one hundred eighteen men of I Company,
24th Infantry, 3rd Battalion. Seven of the soldiers who rioted
testified against the others in exchange for clemency. One hundred ten
of the mutinous soldiers were found guilty of at least one charge,
nineteen of them were hanged, and sixty-three of them received life
sentences. Two officers of Camp Logan faced courts martial, but were
released. No civilian citizens of Houston were brought to trial.
It was a sad and tragic day in Houston history. Several sources discuss
the reasons, the motivations and the causes for the riot, but I have
chosen here to present simply the chronology of the events and the
identities of the persons involved on that dangerous night in town in
the summer of 1917. Please take the time to read the other sources on
this episode in order to form your own opinion on the others aspects of
Haynes, Robert V. Night of Violence: the Houston riot of 1917. Baton
Rouge: LSU Press, 1976.
"Houston Riot of 1917." The Handbook of Texas Online.
Kennedy, Tom. "The Camp Logan Riot of 1917." Badge and Gun, [vol ?].
Zoch, Nelson. "Lest We Forget." Badge and Gun, Volume XXXII, No. 5