A race riot began in Houston, Texas, on August 23rd, 1917, when a white civil policeman who was arresting a black soldier hit a black military policeman, Corporal Charles Baltimore, over the head. A rumour spread that Baltimore, a model soldier, had been arrested, and a group of about 100 black soldiers then decided to march on the police station to secure his release.

They were led by Sergeant Vida Henry, and in their two-hour march the mutinous blacks killed 15 whites, including four policemen, and seriously wounded 12 others, one of whom, a policeman, subsequently died. Four black soldiers were killed.

After two hours on the rampage, Sergeant Henry advised the men to slip back into camp under cover of darkness – and then shot himself in the head.

Seven mutineers agreed to testify against the others in exchange for clemency. A total of 110 men were found guilty and 13 were hanged simultaneously during the night of Tuesday, December 11th, 1917, in a field outside Houston. On the gallows Private Frank Johnson sang out, “Lord, I’m Coming Home.” In September 1918, six more soldiers involved in the riot were hanged on the same spot, making 19 in all. Sixty-three received life sentences, but no white soldiers or civilians were brought to trial. Worldwide Hangings from True Crime Library.

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