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Black Battalion: Speech of Hon. Joseph B. Foraker of Ohio in the Senate of the United States, 1908
			
                                   21

were kept by the quartermaster-sergeant and showed numerous changes
and irregularities.
  There was no actual inspection of the guns in the arm chest by num-
bers until long after the raid.  There was no absolute testimony from
an unprejudiced source as to the Blaney gun being in the arm chest,
and it was known and acknowledged that guns were being changed more
or less among the men without authority.  If the Blaney gun was out,
there was ample opportunity to return it without detection.  Pvt. Joseph
L. Wilson so declared to Captain Baldwin.
  The argument advanced in defense of the soldiers, that these shells
came from a box of empty shells lying open in the gallery of B barracks,
and that they had been taken by townspeople and scattered in the alley
to throw suspicion on the soldiers, was buttressed by the further expla-
nation that several of them showed double-firing marks, due to a failure
of the first attempt, the firing mechanism being stiffened by the cosmo-
         line on the weapons when issued.  These shells had come from the tar-
  get range at Fort Niobrara.  This argument is destroyed by two facts
  First. The box mentioned contained over a thousand shells, discharged
from nearly fifty rifles, thrown in indiscriminately, and roughly shaken
in the transportation and numerous handlings from the range at Nio-
brara to the barracks at Fort Brown, thus being thoroughly mixed.
There would be mathematically only one chance in hundreds of millions
that out of this box 30 shells selected at random would exhibit the abso-
lute firing marks of only 3 rifles out of nearly 50; therefore a practical
impossibility.
  Second. There were 6 of the 30 shells showing marks of having been
inserted in a rifle twice.  No such proportion of misfires-one in five,
20 per cent was reported from Fort Niobrara--was in evidence on the
remainder of the shells, or was claimed by the soldiers to whom  the
guns identified with the shells were issued.
  But the conclusive evidence as to the double markings on these shells
and three others referred to in the expert testimony of Lieut. W. J.
Hawkins (S. I., p. 1319) can be had from Hon. M. D. Purdy, former
Assistant Attorney-General, who gives the information that several of
the shells picked up at Brownsville were in his presence inserted in a
Springfield rise and tested by an army officer at Fort Sam Houston to
illustrate the working of the guns.  This accounts for the double mark-
ings.  Moreover,  in case two attempts were made to fire a cartridge
the primer markings of the first and unsuccessful attempt would be
completely obliterated by the greater explosive blow of the second and
successful attempt.
                            THE AMMUNITION.
  Boyd Conyers furnishes the information that before the battalion left
Fort Niobrara rumors were circulated that they would not be welcome
at Brownsville; that there would be trouble with the citizens; and the
rough element of the battalion determined to prepare for trouble.  On
the way down boys at the stations would importune the soldiers for car-
tridges.  Some were given, but more were held out, and on inspection
at Brownsville the shortage was accredited to their having been given
away.
  "Lieutenant Lawrason," declares Conyers, "scolded the men  and
threatened punishment, but he ordered more cartridges issued.  Some
had been held out at target practice.  So there were plenty of cartridges.
John Holloman took care of them, and I think he hid them over in the
Allison saloon, which he backed. After the raid he brought around a
lot to the guardhouse to make up the shortage and Sergeant Reid
handed them around."
  Lieutenant Lawrason gave an original estimate that from one-fourth
to one-third of Company B came down to roll call at the time of the
raid without their ammunition.  Before the Senate committee he raised
his estimate to one-half. This latter estimate coincides closely with the
number whom Boyd Conyers states as having come out on the upper
gallery of B barracks and blazed away after the signal shots. It is not
claimed or charged that the men shot away all their cartridges, but the
resulting confusion was evidently a part of the premeditated plan to
secure as much delay as possible in calling the roll to let the raiders
have time to get back in line. From eight to ten minutes elapsed before
the roll call was fairly started, and the raiders were all back.
  The entire distance traversed by the raiders from the fort to the Till-
man saloon, the farthest point, and return, can be and was covered in
less time than six minutes from the firing of the first shot.  A fast
walk out and a run back will do it in less than three minutes by actual
test.  The distance is less than one-sixth mile each way.  Allow a speed
of a mile in twelve minutes out and of a mile in six minutes back and
    65504--7984




			
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OHS Archives/Library Pamphlet Collection

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

B.


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