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Black Battalion: Speech of Hon. Joseph B. Foraker of Ohio in the Senate of the United States, 1908

  "The number firing from the barracks is unknown, but perhaps 20
men were involved.  A smaller number went to the ground and followed
the leaders up the alley.  It will be remembered that one of the wit-
nesses testified to hearing some one of the group of soldiers exclaim,
'There they go!"  Whereupon  these men leaped over the wall and
ran up the alley.
  "Boyd Conyers is the man whose gun jammed at the exit of the alley
by the Cowen house, testified to by Herbert Elkins, and it was taken
from him by De Saussure and fixed in the street where the light from
the street lamp at the corner of Elizabeth street shone on them.
  "Less than five minutes elapsed from the time the first shot was
fired until these men were all back inside the fort.
  "Conyers stated that Reid was told that they were going to shoot
up the town, and he had laughed and said, 'Don't go out there and let
the crackers get the best of you.'
  "When Conyers and De Saussure reached the guardhouse they ran
in the back way and got into their bunks. Sergeant Reid came in and
swore at them, but Conyers was so excited and out of breath that he
could hardly stand, so Reid stationed him at the rear of the guardhouse
in the dark where he could not be scrutinized so closely.
  "Holloman came around with extra cartridges about daybreak and
Reid passed them out. The guns were all cleaned before daylight."
  This day personally appeared before me William Lawson, who, being
duly sworn, deposes and says:
    "On June 5, 1908, I was sent to Monroe, Ga., to interview Boyd
Conyers, one of the soldiers who was stationed at Brownsville, Tex., in
August, 1906.  I was sent by Mr. Baldwin to get in with Conyers and
ascertain if he knew who did the shooting at that point. I was not
given the names of any of the members of either of the companies
stationed at that point, nor was I given any other information, except
the fact that a shooting occurred at the time and place above men-
tioned and that Boyd Conyers was suspected of knowing who did same.
  "I arrived at Monroe, Ga., on June 5, and stopped at the home of
Esther Crews, colored.  I met Boyd Conyers, who is known as 'Buddie'
Conyers, on the morning of June 6, but had very little conversation
with him, but was introduced to him as an old soldier. On the morn-
ing of June 8, between 8 and 9 o'clock, I met Conyers about halfway
between the station house and Main street. We talked some twenty or
twenty-five minutes.  I broached the Brownsville case, and mentioned
the fact that the soldiers had shown their good sense by keeping their
mouths while at Washington.   I then asked  him what  the motive
was for the shooting.  He told me that the 'crackers' at Brownsville
had made threats that they would have no negro soldiers at Browns-
ville, and the soldiers had made it up in their minds that if they
bothered them that they would go in and clean up the ground. He also
said that they mentioned this to Sergeant Reid, who was commander
of the guards, and that Reid said, 'All that I have to say is to take
care of yourself and the boys when you go down there.' S. H. Parker,
whose home is at Charleston, S. C., was present and heard the same
  "About then a gentleman called Conyers to come and clean some
clothes, and Conyers left, and nothing further was said about the mat-
ter at this time. I was with Conyers nearly every day, and went to
Gainesville, Ga., on an excursion with him on the 15th of June.  I did
not mention the Brownsville matter to Conyers again until on the 29th
of June, when I returned from Atlanta, having gone there on June 27.
On this date I met him at Joe Blassingame's, and had a pint bottle of
liquor, offered him a drink--he would not drink in the house, but we
went up the street and we stopped under a storehouse porch, near Main
street. We took a drink or two, and I started the Brownsville case
again.  He told me that he was doing guard duty at the time of the
shooting at Brownsville, and was stationed at the outlet toward the
town.  He said that when the guard was called the night of the shoot-
ing they mentioned to Sergeant Reid what had occurred downtown,
and he said, 'Boys, if you are not satisfied, you will have to go and get
satisfied,' and they remarked that they were going to get satisfaction
that night. Reid then laughed and said, 'Boys, don't you go down
there and let them get the best of you.' He then assigned the guard
and went away.
  "In this conversation Conyers told me that John Brown, J. H. Hol-
loman, and a man named Powell, and several others, came down where
he was on guard, and that they went downtown and just gave them
hell, and after they shot out all of their cartridges they ran back to the
barracks, and when they got back to the barracks they found that the
alarm had been sounded and the officers were calling the roll. Hollo-
man. Brown, and himself were late for roll call, but that some one an-


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Black Battalion: Speech of Hon. Joseph B. Foraker of Ohio in the Senate of the United States, 1908



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