The Brownsville Raid of 1906, also known as the “Brownsville Affair,” in Texas resulted in the largest U.S. Army dismissal in the history of the military branch. On the night of August 13th, a shooting spree took place in the town of Brownsville that claimed the life of a White bartender and wounded a Hispanic police officer. Without clear evidence about who was responsible for the shootings, the Whites in town blamed the 25th Infantry Regiment soldiers (pictured) based on earlier tensions.
The 25th Regiment, a unit of the Buffalo Soldiers, were stationed in nearby Fort Brown. The arrival of the 25th sparked division between the fighters and White residents who didn’t want them there. The state was legally segregated and the soldiers endured racist taunts, physical abuse, and insults since arriving at the end of July. A fight between a soldier and a Brownsville store owner occurred, which barred the Regiment fighters from ever setting foot in town again.
On August 12th, it was alleged that a soldier attacked a White woman, infuriating the town’s residents. Sensing trouble, Maj. Charles W. Penrose consulted with Mayor Frederick Combe and put a curfew in place to stave off retaliation. Around midnight, gunfire was heard, and bartender Frank Natus was found dead; town police lieutenant M. Y. Dominguez reportedly lost an arm during the fracas.
The townspeople immediately blamed the Black soldiers, claiming they could see them shooting although it was in the dark of the night.
The all-White commanders of the soldiers stated to the mayor and townspeople that the soldiers remained in their barracks, according to curfew rule.
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