This Day in Texas History:
Alleged Attack on Fort Ringgold Draws Machine-Gun Fire
November 20, 1899
On this date in 1899, U.S. troops fired on civilians at Rio Grande City, Texas.
Black soldiers of Troop D of the Ninth United States Cavalry, sent to garrison nearby Fort Ringgold after returning triumphantly from the Cuban campaign, grew impatient at racial restrictions and harassment. Tensions heightened amid conflicting reports of impending attacks on the fort and town.
On the night of November 20 post commander 2d Lt. E. H. Rubottom responded to a presumed assault on the garrison by ordering Gatling gunfire on the area between the post and town. Only one minor injury resulted, but Rubottom’s action succeeded in quelling the disturbance. Ensuing federal, state, and grand jury investigations failed to specify culpability or motivation. Military authorities concluded that Rubottom had acted unwisely but recommended no charges against him or others.
Governor Joseph Sayers favored the locals’ demand that the Ninth Cavalry be moved, and the residents requested that a white garrison be retained.
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