Sgt. Mingo Sanders

Click here for more information about pictures of Mingo Sanders.

[The picture on the right was taken at Fort Missoula in 1895. It is from a larger picture of the soldiers of Company B. Sanders was a sergeant in that company at that time. I believe this picture is of him.]

Mingo Sanders
On the journey to St. Louis, Moss' first sergeant was a man named Mingo Sanders. Sanders, born in Marion, S.C., enlisted in the Army on May 16, 1881, and arrived in Missoula with Company B, and wife Luella, in 1888. On the long and arduous journey to St. Louis, while Moss was responsible for logistics, it was Sanders who ensured that Moss' plans were carried out and that the morale of the Corps remained high.

Sanders, partially blind from an explosion* and the oldest and most experienced member of the Bicycle Corps at age 39, had already served in the Army for 16 years and was well-respected by his commanding officers.

In a document dated May 16, 1896, Sanders is described by Brig. Gen. Andrew S. Burt as "a Sergeant with character 'Excellent' and ...much desired by his Company Commander and myself." It is said of Sanders that he was the motivator and spiritual advisor of the group of younger soldiers."

- Sara Bruya, for the Missoulian
Click here to go to a full article about Sanders.

"Sanders worked as a cotton hand , and when he saw an advertisement in a local paper, he joined the Army."

- George Niels Sorenson, Iron Riders, pg. 53

* In the 19th century, soda water was bottled in heavy glass to help withstand the pressures of internal carbonation. Unfortunately for Sanders, a bottle exploded and he lost half the eyesight in one of his eyes. He had to get an exemption to enlist.
1881 (May 16) US Army Register of Enlistments
On May 16, 1881, Mingo Sanders
enlisted at Charleston, South Carolina for a five year term. The record says that Sanders was born in Marion, South Carolina and was 24 years old --which would put his birth year at 1857. His eyes and hair are described as black and his complexion dark. Sander's occupation is listed as "cotton hand" and his height is recorded as 5' 8 1/4". Mingo was assigned to Co. B, 25th Infantry. He was discharged May 15, 1886 at the expiration of his service at Fort Snelling, Minnesota. He had attained the rank of corporal and his character was rated "Very Good".

1886 (May 16) US Army Re
gister of Enlistments
Mingo Sanders reenlisted May 16, 1886 at Fort Snelling, Minnesota. He is 29 years old. His occupation is "soldier"and his physical description matches that of the 1881 Register. Again he is attached to Co.B, 25th Infantry. He was discharged May 15, 1891 at the expiration of his service at Fort Shaw, Montana. He had risen in rank to sergeant and his character was rated "Very Good".
1891 (May 16) US Army Register of Enlistments
For the third time, on a May 16th, Mingo Sanders reenlisted. The year was 1891 and the place was Fort Shaw, Montana. Sanders age is listed as 33 years and 2 months. His birthday would have been in March. The physical description describes his hair as being "R. blk" and his height is 5' 7 1'2". He was discharged at the expiration of his service May 15, 1896 at Fort Missoula, Montana. He held the rank of sergeant and had a character rating of "Excellent".
1896 (May 16) US Army Register of Enlistments
This record tells us Sanders re-upped a fourth time at Fort Missoula, Montana. He kept alive his tradition of enlisting on May 16. He is 38 years 2 months old. This time his hair is described as "D. Wo."...."D.Mo?" I'm not sure what this means. Otherwise, his physical description remains the same. The expiration of his service and subsequent discharge found him at Fort Apache, Arizona Territory. He was sti
ll a sergeant and had a character rating of "Excellent".
1899 (May 16) US Army Register of Enlistments
Mingo Sanders
re-enlisted at Fort Apache, Arizona Territory on May 16, 1899. He was 41 years and 2 months old. His occupation was "soldier". On the 15th of May, 1902, Sander's service expired at Carona, Philippine Islands. He was a sergeant with a character rating of "Excellent".

1900 US Census

1902 (May 16) US Army Register of Enlistments
Sanders fifth re-enlistment was Corona (sp?) in the Philippines Islands. It was on, you guessed it, May 16. Sanders is 44 years and 2 months old. His eyes, hair and complexion are described as being black. He was discharged May 15, 1905 at Fort Niobrara, Nebraska upon the expiration of his service. He was a sergeant with a character rating of "Excellent".

1905 (May 16) US Army Register of Enlistments
This reenlistment took place on May 16, 1905 at Fort Niobrara, Nebraska. Sanders was now 47 years and 2 months old. Incredibly, Sanders was discharged November 22, 1906 at Fort Reno, Oklahoma without honor!
This was due to President Roosevelt's reaction to the Brownsville Incident.

John Cook and Mingo Sanders were dishonorably discharged from the Army by President Roosevelt.

"In November, President Theodore Roosevelt, with the consent and support of Secretary of War William H. Taft, issued a dishonorable discharge for each of the 167 black soldiers in the 25th Infantry... [Paraphrased from same book. Click here for the full acount of the Brownsville Incident: The men were charged with "a conspiracy of silence", after denying any knowledge of an incident which happened in Brownsville, Texas . At the time, a highly racist atmosphere existed in the town. In spite of the honor and distinction with which the 25th had served, they were met with silence, racial slurs and threats. On July 25, 1906 members of the 25th entered Brownsville and were refused service at numerous bars. Undeterred, two soldiers set up their own saloon just outside the fort. On August 12, 1906 a white woman claimed she had been assaulted by one of the soldiers. The mayor and fort commander issued a town curfew but at midnight, August 13, there was a shooting spree. A local bartender was killed along with other injuries. Immediately, all the soldiers were summoned from their barracks and their guns were inspected. The search turned up nothing. All of the soldiers signed sworn statements that they had no knowledge of who had done the shooting.]
....Among those discharged by President Roosevelt, were two men who had served in the distinguished Bicycle Corps. They were Pvt. John Cook and Sgt. Mingo Sanders. At the time of the Roosevelt dismissal of the entire division, Brig. Gen. A.S. Burt gallantly defended Sergeant Sanders, who had been sleeping a the time of the shooting. Yet, despite many strong commendations and an excellent service record including an outstanding record of fighting in Cuba and the Philippines, he too was a victim of President Roosevelt's decision to expel all of the 25th Infantry from the United States military. Sergeant Sanders had less than a year before his retirement."

- Encyclopedia of American Race Riots, Walter C. Rucker, James N. Upton, pg. 79-80
[excellent synopsis of the Brownsville Incident, starting on page 77]

We know the most about Sanders because of his later involvement in the Brownsville Raid.

Washington Post, Wednesday, December 12, 1906

President Tempers His Order Against Negro Troops
May Now Prove Innocence
May Submit with Application for Reenlistment Evidence of Noncomplicity in the Brownsville Riot and Lack of Knowledge of Participants Therein. Steward Presents Some New Evidence
......Sergt. Saunders' Case with President
The case of Sergt. Mingo Sanders is now before the President and the latter's action upon it will govern the officials of the War Department and the recruiting officers in all re-enlistment applications of the discharged men already filed or those that may arise in the future.
Sergt. Saunders was one of the 170 men dishonorably discharged by the President's order because of participation int he riots at Brownsville on August 13 of this year. Saunders asserts that at the time of the riots he was asleep and know absolutely nothing of the riot or of the identity of the guilty men. His testimony is verified by his officers and fellow-soldiers. At the time of his discharge Saunders was in his twenty-sixth year of honorable service, and within four years of being retired on three-fourths pay. He has seen hard service in both Cuba and the Philippines. Convinced of the strength of his own case, he applied for advice to Secretary Taft, who referred him to the Military Secretary, Gen. Ainsworth, the latter, in turn, referring him to the local recruiting officer. The application for reenlistment was received and filed for the President's action, together with similar applications from two other men of the dismissed battalion.... Mrs. Mary Church Terrell, of 325 T Street Northwest, a local member of the Constitutional League, recently received a visit from Sergt. Saunders and Private Brown, another discharged soldier. The men talked of the circumstances related to their dismissal. In speaking of the call, Mrs. Terrell said yesterday that she was greatly impressed at the absence of any ill feeling toward the Chief Executive or the officers who recommended their discharge. They reasserted their innocence, and believed that the President will take a favorable view of their applications to re-enter the service."

Washington Post, Wednesday, December 26, 1906

"Sergeant Mingo Sanders

R.L. in New York Sun.
Sergeant Mingo Sanders, black as ace o' spades.
Thirty years in service, been on so many raids;
Fought the feathered Indian, fought the Spanish don
Down at Santiago and at Sanny Wann;
Fought the Filipino--red or brown or white,
Sergeant Mingo Sanders never flunked a fight.

Somewhere 'round Manila
Bullets whistling shrill,
Sergeant Mingo Sanders
Climbed Camanast Hill

Colonel Teddy Roosevelt, sword and shoulder strap.
Thirty days in service, saw a Cuban scrap;
Home he came in glory, heralded afar
As the battle's hero--stock exceeded par;
Told us all about it, never seemed to balk;
Book and speech and so on--never flunked a talk,

Nearing Santiago,
Fighting with a will,
Colonel Teddy Roosevelt
Also climbed a hill.

Sergeant Mingo Sanders, fifty years of age,
Growing old in service eager still to wage
Battle for his country, standing by his flag
For a hunk of bacon and a khaki rag;
Hoping still for service till he might retire
Honored in his papers--couldn't hope for higher

Sergeant Mingo Sanders
Thirty years on deck,
"For the good of service"
Gets it in the neck!

Colonel Teddy Roosevelt, chosen to command
All the nation's armies and to run the land;
Honored by his people, 'round the world proclaimed
As the great and mighty, feted, flaunted, famed:
Surely paid for service, got at least his rights;
Colonel Teddy Roosevelt still is climbing heights.

Poor old Sergeant Mingo,
I am one to dare
The remark, by Jingo!
That it's hardly fair."

Washington Herald December 29, 1906

The picture above is from the cover of Harper's Weekly, January 12, 1907. The cover was titled "Dishonorably Discharged". From the description on the armband, the medals and the crumpled paper I believe it is a picture of Mingo Sanders. For more thoughts click here

Negro Soldier Remorseful Over His Discharge------------------------------
Mingo Sanders, late a sergeant in the Twenty-fifth Infantry, three companies of which, all composed of colored men, were discharged from the army without honor by President Roosevelt, on a charge of “shooting up the town” of Brownsville, Tex., is still in Washington. He is waiting and hoping for word from the commander-in-chief that his name has been restored to the rolls of the army, in which he served for nearly thirty years.
I would have retired for age in May, 1908, on a pension of $35 a month,” said the colored veteran sadly, last night. “I don’t know how it’s all going to end. There seems to be a lot of ‘fighting’ over it.”
Sanders, as is typical of his race, is an optimist. He “feels in his bones that it’s going to come out all right, but he doesn’t know just how.”
Long service as a soldier has taught him reserve. “There isn’t much for me to say,” he continued. “I was not in the raid; neither do I know who participated in it.”
Sanders is fifty years of age, but he does not look his years. He is a dark-skinned nego, intelligent, bright, and active. He was born in South Carolina. Early in his youth he spent some years in the Northwest, and returning to his native State, enlisted in the army in May, 1878. During the period elapsing since that time, when assigned, he was with the Twenty-fifth.
Sanders is evidently crushed by the misfortune that has befallen him and his supposedly innocent comrades. He hardly realizes that he has doffed the uniform of his regiment. He still speaks of the service as if he were a part of it.
On his arrival here Sergeant Sanders went at once to the War Department, where he filed affidavits in his case. He did not see the Secretary of War. He took up the matter with a subordinate. These affidavits set forth that Sanders did not participate in the affair at Brownsville; that he did not and does not know the names of the guilty persons.
Senator Culberson, of Texas, had a conference with Secretary Taft on the Brownsville affair yesterday. He suggested the names of a number of persons at that place who are said to have knowledge of the facts concerning the now famous raid. A report has been current in Washington for several days that Secret Service agents are engaged in a search for evidence to show that the Brownsville raid was the work of members of the Twenty-fifth Infantry, but it cannot be verified. Doubt is expressed that the President has taken such extreme steps in the matter.

On the very next column over from the above article!
[Washington Herald December 29, 1906]


Some Army Officers and Legislators Favor Plan to Have Only White Soldiers in Service
Congress will be urged to rid the army of all of its colored soldiers when it takes up the consideration of the Brownsville affair. This drastic action has been proposed, and is receiving serious consideration from army officers as well as members of Congress. Four regiments would be affected—the Ninth and Tenth Cavalry and the Twenty-fourth and Twenty-fifth Infantry.
The suggestion grows out of the fact that ever since the incidents which led the President to discharge three whole companies of the Twenty-fifth Infantry, a veritable wave of crime seems to have swept over the negro troops. Whether or not it was a member of the Twenty-fifth Infantry who shot Capt. Macklin at Fort Reno, there is no denying the participancy of members of the negro regiments in two disgraceful affairs on Christmas Day. At Leavenworth, Kans., members of the Ninth Cavalry indulged in a street car riot, and at Fort Sheridan, Chicago, a sergeant of the Ninth Cavalry shot and killed a corporal of his company. On Wednesday a member of the Twenty-fifth Infantry assaulted a white woman on the streets of El Reno.
The law which authorized the enlistment of four negro regiments—two of infantry and two of cavalry—in the regular army was passed July 28, 1866, since which time the colored troops have been a regular part of the military establishment. They have been good fighters, whether against the Indians of the West, the Spaniards in Cuba, or the natives of the Philippines. At the same time, their records in times of peace are full of stories of brawls, street fights, and efforts to “shoot up” towns. These things have not only brought disgrace upon the United States uniform, but have resulted in making it exceedingly difficult for the War Department to station them when not on active service.
Representative Slayden and Garner, of Texas, haveintroduced bills in Congress providing for the discharge of all the regiments and intend to press them after the holidays.
Mr. Slayden is not hopeful that the object aimed at will be attained. “From what the Republicans tell me,” he said last night, “I am not inclinedto believe that there is a chance for the passage of my bill. One of my Republican friends told me just a day or two ago,laughingly, that he would be compelled to oppose my plan . When I asked him why, he replied, still laughingly, that he had too many negro voters in his district to permit him to support any such bill as mine,”
President Roosevelt is determined, if possible, to have the assailant of Capt. Macklin, at Fort Reno, arrested and brought to trial. By his direction, the Department of Justice has instructed United States Marshal Abernathy, at Guthrie, Oklahoma, to co-operate with the military and local authorities in the effort to apprehend the man.

Washington Post, Wednesday, January 16, 1907


Right in Discharge of Troops, Says Spooner
Wisconsin Senator, Goaded by Numerous Interruptions, Pours Forth a Bitter Denunciation of the Firey South Carolinian--Tillman Later Notifies Senate He Will Answer "Insulting Allusions."
When Mr. Sppooner, the advocate in charge of the President's defense in connection with the dismissal of the battalion of colored troops of the Twenty-fifth infantry ceased speaking yesterday afternoon, he had consumed in the two days a little more than six hours in the delivery of his argument.
The Wisconsin Senator long ago achieved the reputation of being one of the great constitutional lawyers of the Senate, and his speech of yesterday sustained that reputation. It was a significant speech in many respects, and especially in view of the fact that Mr. Spooner was quoted by some of his colleagues two weeks ago as saying he would not make a speech in defense of the administration in this matter, and that he could not approve of all that had been done.
It was noticeable yesterday that Mr. Spooner declared that no lawyer could have defended that portion of the President's order of dismissal in which he forever debarred the dismissed men from entering the civil service of the government. It has been the gossip of the Capitol for some days that it was due to the representations of Mr. Spooner that the President agreed to revoke that part of his order, and Mr. Spooner yesterday expressed his gratification that this has been done.
Interrupted by Tillman.
Although intended to be a defense of the President Mr Spooner was so goaded by the frequent interruptions of Mr. Tillman that the latter part of his remarks became a severe arraignment of the Senator from South Carolina. He quoted from Mr. Tillman's utterances defending lynching as a means of controlling negroes and declared that to encourage such mob violence was a disgrace and a crime against civilization. Mr. Spooner's denunciation of Mr. Tillman and his publicly expressed sentiments was so severe that at the conclusion of his speech, Mr. Tillman took the floor, when everbody expected an explosion from the fiery Southerner.
But no explosion came. It was easily seen that Mr. Tillman was intensely indignant. He spoke in a manner quite apart from his usual habit, weighing carefully every word, as he said, slowly and with great distinctness.
'I had expected to have a few brief words to say to the Senator from Wisconsin in view of the direct personal attack he has made on me this afternoon, but the latter part of his speech has widened the scope of the reply I wish to make, and I therefore, will take occasion in the near future to have something to say on teh question, and in answer to some of the insulting allusions he has made.'
Debate to Continue.
The bitter feeling provoked by this controversy makes it impossible to say when a vote can be had on the pending resolution. Debate may become more extended than has hitherto been anticipated. When the Senate is ready to vote, the pending Foraker resolution will be withdrawn and another resolution providing merely for an inquiry by the Committee on Military Affairs into the facts of the Brownsville riot will be adopted. The question raised as to the constitutionality and legality of the President's action will be left open for future consideration.
Senator Carmack had the floor when the Senate adjourned, and will speak this morning immediately after the conclusion of morning business. He probably will be followed by Senator Stone. The chances are that the debate will be continued into Friday, as the Senate will listen to speeches to-morrow in memory of the life and services of the late Senator Bate, of Tennessee.
Early in his speech Mr. Spooner took the positive ground that Congress could not sit in review of the acts of the Executive. If any of the dismissed men felt aggrieved, they had their remedy in the Court of Claims, where they might sue for their pay, and thus test the legality of their discharge. Mr. Spooner admitted that the President might make mistakes in the discharge of his duties; it would be remarkable if he did not, but if he did exceed his constitutional powers, Mr. Spooner argued that the only way Congress could inquire into it was through impeachment of the courts, when the courts were invoked to pass upon the legality of his acts.
Congress Also Makes Mistakes
Mr. Spooner likewise contended that Congress made mistakes. Admitting that the President was not infallible, he said no lawyer could defend that portion of the President's order, as originally issued which forever debarred the discharged soldiers from holding positions in the civil service. He was glad that part of the order had been revoked. The Wisconsin Senator declared he was not opposed to the investigation , and regretted that those charged with the responsibility of the investigation had not gone further into the affair.
Taking up the President's course in dismissing this batallion "without honor," Mr. Spooner made an elaborate argument to prove from his point of view, that the President was clearly within the power conferred upon him by the Constitution and the laws.
'I believe,' said Mr. Spooner, 'that the President, the Secretary of War, our department commander has the power, and ought to hae the power to discharge, at their discretion, any soldier, with honor or without, whose service, in the opinion of his superior officers is detrimental to the service.'
Continuing, he said that 'this authority applied to the dismissal of one man, two men, fifty men or any number of men necessary to the discipline and efficiency of the army.'
He did not, however, contend that the President has the power without limit to make rules and regulations for the government of the army.
Power to Punish Troops
While agreeing with Mr. Foraker that the President has no power to punish troops, Mr. Spooner defended the Chief Executive against the charge of usurpation in discharging the soldiers of the Twenty-fifth Infantry.
'Every man charged with crime is entitled to his day in court,' he admitted, but at the same time contended that in the present case there is no charge to justify an impeachment of the Presidential authority.
Mr. Spooner explained the failure to turn over to the Texas civil authorities the perpetrators of the Brownsville crime by saying that it had been impossible to identify them. In this connection he referred to the possibility of lynching, saying that such a crime might have been possible in the North as well as in the S outh. He also spoke of the natural regret of the President over the course which he had found himself impelled to pursue.
'Sharing with them black as the were, the fame of a soldier in Cuba, none can doubt that he arrived at his conclusion with deep reluctance and none can doubt his sincerity in the course he entered upon', he said impressively.
Justifies President's Course.
Expressing the opinion that some of the men of the discharged battalion were guilty Mr. Spooner asked what the President was to do in face of the fact that both innocent and guilty stood mute, and answering his own question by another, asked, 'What town would want the men who were charged with making a night attack upon defenseless citizens and shooting at women with government weapons, men emboldened by their successful attack without detection who might commit the same crime, or worse again?' In view of these facts he justified the course taken by the President.
The men, continued the Senator, could not have been sent to any other Southern town, and even Sergt. Mingo Sanders, with his twenty-six years of honorable service, could not have gone to South Carolina, the State of his birth, without running the risk of being shot down.
'Would the Senator like to have him sent to Wisconsin?' asked Mr. Tillman.
'I would not object at all so far as he is concerned,' retorted Mr. Spooner.
Later Mr. Tillman asked Mr. Spooner to yield to him, and the Wisconsin Senator said he would do so for a question, but when Mr. Tillman began to preface his question with a statement, Mr. Spooner said he had not yielded for a speech.
'If I wanted to make a speech I should do so and speak directly so that I should be understood,' declared Mr. Tillman.
'I don't know about that,' replied Mr. Spooner.
Never Misunderstood Him.
'You never misunderstood me at any rate,' asserted the South Carolinian.
'Out of charity for the Senator,' retorted Mr. Spooner ironically, 'I have sometimes wrought myself up to the conclusion that I had misunderstood him.'
Mr. Tillman's question related to the charges against the men for whom warrants were issued, and Mr. Spooner said an answer would not illuminate the subject at all.
Again Mr. Tillman sought recognition but Mr. Spooner first undertook to learn the length of the question he purposed to ask Mr. Spooner had criticised the course of the officers of the battalion and had spoken of the President's confidence in Maj. Penrose.
'I'll make my question like a bullet,' said Mr. Tillman
'And shoot it very slowly I suppose?' said Mr. Spooner.
The question at last admitted, was as to why the President had not adopted Maj. Penrose's recommendation for the ferreting out of the guilty.
'The President of the United States will never require any defense from the attacks of the Senator from North Carolina,' was Mr. Spooner's reply. 'He has developed a mania for attacking the President. I did not intend to branch off on such a discussion, but I have never been so surprised by any man's attitude as I have by that of the Senator from South Carolina. He is so filled with animosity for the President and has so often taken occasion to express it that I do not believe his attacks will be taken seriously by the people.'
Declines to Yield Floor
Mr. Tillman attempted to reply, but Mr. Spooner declined to yield. He went on to criticise Mr. Tillman for the harsh words he had hurled at the President in untempered speeches, which the Wisconsin Senator declared, were ungracious and unjustified. He condemned Mr. Tillman for impeaching the motive of the President, and ridiculed Mr. Tillman's claim that he stood for the fundamental principle of liberty.
'Quote me accurately,' shouted Mr. Tillman
'You quote yourself,' replied Mr. Spooner.
The South Carolina Senator then said he had declared it was the fundamental principle of English and American liberty that every man is innocent until he has been proven guilty.
Mr. Spooner replied that that was the correct principle, but the South Carolinian, contrary to that principle, had begun his speech on the race question by convicting the whole black race. He scored Mr. Tillman for the sentiment before uttered that 'we shot 'em; we killed 'em, and we'll do it again'. He said that frequently he had heard Mr. Tillman utter those sentiments in defending lynching in the South.
'May I get in?' asked Mr. Tillman.
'Why do you want to get in?' responded Mr. Spooner.
'Well, I should like to know how much provocation you are going to give a man without giving him a chance to strike back a little,' said Mr. Tillman.
'Well, get it, then,' said Mr. Spooner.
As Mr. Tillman started to reply he suggested to Mr. Spooner that he had better sit down a while.
Refused to Sit Down.
'No, I do not intend to yield for a speech, the Senator can reply later. I will yield for a question,' said Mr. Spooner.
'Is that all?' asked Mr. Tillman
'That is all,' replied Mr. Spooner sharply.
The South Carolina Senator took his seat and was then subjected to one of the most direct and stinging indictments ever delivered by a Senator against a colleague. Mr. Spooner quoted from Mr. Tillman's utterances defending the burning of negroes at the stake and said:
' No man ought to encourage such a horrible thing as that. It is a crime against civilization to encourage it.'
Continuing he said he had looked with admiration upon the efforts of Gov. Vardaman and other executives of Southern States to suppress mobs seeking the lives of negroes without giving them trials on account of the crimes they were suspected of having committed.
'I have been shocked,' he said, 'by the attitude of the Senator from South Carolina on more than one occasion when he has spoken here in justification and support of the continuance of lynching. If there is one man who ought not to encourage it, it is the man who sits here as the maker of laws.'
Disclaiming any intention to abuse Mr. Tillman, the Wisconsin Senator said it was his purpose only to make a plea for good government. He said he had not intended to be led into such a discussion, but had been goaded to it by Mr. Tillman himself.
Encouragement of Lynching
'And I want to say here,' he continued, 'that any man who encourages lynching, murder, and lawlessness will have much to answer for, and the higher his position and the mightier his influence, the more will he have to answer for. No man can come here with good grace to berate and vituperately impeach the President for his dismissal of men because they were not identified as criminals, who comes to that accusation from a lynching bee, or who justifies one.'
After declaring that there should not be one law for the colored man and another for the white man, Mr. Spooner again deprecated that fact that he had been drawn from the course mapped out for his speech, and resumed his argument.
After again stating his belief in the legality and justness of the President's action, Mr. Spooner concluded his speech with a brief discussion of the race question, declaring his belief that the majority of the people of the South did not entertain the radical views which had been expressed by Senator Tillman. He admitted the difficulties and hardships of the race problem in the South, and said the people of the North felt the best way to aid in the solution of these difficulties was for them to refrain from discussing them.
In this connection, he did not believe the agitation of Senator Tillman could have the effect to quiet the situation. Mr. Spooner quoted a newspaper report of one of Senator Tillman's lectures, in which he referred to negroes as baboons, and said when asked 'How about the law,' replied 'To hell with such laws'.
Mr. Spooner said he knew of no better way to perpetuate the struggle between the two races than to be constantly and violently declaring such troubles to be imminent and unavoidable.

Washington Post, Tuesday, January 29, 1907, pg. 1 and continued on 9

Pittsburg Correspondant's Account of the Debate at the Gridiron Dinner.
From a Washington Dispatch to Pittsburg Dispatch
An impromptu, very interesting and somewhat spectacular, discussion of the Brownsville affair took place last night between President Roosevelt and Senator Foraker at a dinner given by the Gridiron Club. The President during his remarks made a reference to the "academic discussion" of the Brownsville affair.
For about twenty minutes Senator Foraker devoted himself to setting forth reasons why the President would have reason before long for regretting that he ever used the words "academic discussion" of a matter that so vitally affects the rights of all citizens to whom the Constitution guarantees freedom in person and property.
He referred to the case of Mingo Sanders, the sergeant, who served twenty-six years, and in a short time would be entitled to retirement on a pension of $30 a month and a right to end his days in the National Home for Soldiers of the regular army had he not been dismissed without honor by the President, who in dismissing him had violated a very plain law of Congress and thereby made himself amenable to the processes of law, besides laying himself open to a well-founded charge of having done the greatest injustice to a man who, it might be supposed, would have no powerful friends to assist him.
Foraker protested against a discussion of such a case being called "academic" and deplored the fact that it now seemed to be the idea that the President could do no wrong, even if he violated the plain letter of the law.
When Foraker finished, the diners applauded and yelled, many of them rising from their places to get over to him to congratulate him.
The challenge to the President to defend his position was too plain for a fighter like him to decline. He took up the gage, rising immediately after Senator Foraker had taken his seat, without waiting for the toastmaster to invite him to reply.
Those who were pleased with Foraker's utterances forgot the courtesy due the President of the United States, and continued cheering for a minute after Mr. Roosevelt rose to his feet. They kept it up even after he began speaking and gesticulating to emphasize the points he was making.
Those sitting near him heard some of his words, but for a few seconds it looked as if a deliberate effort was being made to howl him down, just as if the affair were a political convention instead of a dinner attended by gentlemen.
Finally, however, the noisy ones were hissed into silence, and the President made answer. In substance, his reply was that he had done nothing for which he apologized or had any regrets: not even for the so-called injustice to Mingo Sanders. He insisted that the discussion was "academic," because the incident was closed, and that no matter what the Senate or Congress should do, it would not be reopened.
The inference to be drawn was plain. If, in the improbable event of Congress passing a bill to reinstate the dismissed members of the three companies, the President will veto it, and if, in the still more improbable event of its being passed over his veto, he will ignore it.
Foraker had nothing to say by way of rebuttal.
Another Account of the Debate
President Roosevelt was also called upon and spoke at some length. He said the Gridiron dinners furnished the only occasion for him to unburden himself freely. And he did. He talked freely about control of corporations, his remarks being emphasized by the presence of some of the great captains of finance and industry.
He was followed by Senator Foraker in an outspoken talk, which dealt in the frankest manner with the Brownsville case. President Roosevelt found it desirable to reply to Senator Foraker, and there was a happy interchange of felicitations. The rule of the club forbids detailing speeches made at the dinner, but it is violating no confidence to say that the guests were furnished a highly interesting half hour by the remarks of these two courageous and plain-talking men.


Washington Post, Tuesday, February 12, 1907, pg. 4
Mingo Sanders So Testifies in Brownsville Inquiry
Veteran Negro Soldier Discharged After Twenty-five Years Service Recounts Circumstances of "Shooting Up" of Brownsville--Insists Attack War from Outside--Never Court-martialed
The man whose name was made famous in the Brownsville debate in the Senate--Sergt. Mingo Sanders--was the star witness yesterday before the Senate Committee.
Sanders is a very black negro, one of the kind found on the Southern plantation before the war. He was by no means an unwilling witness and impressed the committee with his earnestness and apparent veracity as he told his story. Sanders was first sergeant of Company B at the time of his discharge without honor.
According to his statement, the shooting up of the town was in the form of an attack upon the garrison at Fort Brown. Sanders' story created something of a stir in the committee as he said that while running from his quarters to Company B barracks, after being awakened by the firing on the night of August 13, the shooting was going on and it came from the town and was toward the hospital on the military reservation.
First to Tell of Attack
He said bullets were whizzing over his head. This is the first direct testimony given by any of the discharged negro soldiers that the firing came from the town.
Sanders said he had served in the army twenty-five years six months and twenty-three days, including the campaign in Cuba, and three years in the Philippines. He said he had never been court-martialed, and never reprimanded or found fault with to his knowledge. At Brownsville he had a house to the left of company quarters [married housing] and directly in front of the hospital.
His story of the incidents of the night of August 13, was not interesting until he told of his experiences in trying to get to the barracks after being awakened by the shooting. He said he started on a run to B Company's quarters, and just after he left his house the firing was renewed. It came from the town, he said, and bullets were flying thick and fast over his head. As he reached C Company's quarters, he said he saw the men assembled were excited and shouting to one another.
Gun Racks Locked
"I heard some one yell 'Fall in!' he said. "Then some one shouted to get the guns, and another person answered that they could not get the guns, as the racks were locked and the man with the keys could not be found. Then, Lieut. Greer (I knew his voice) said: 'Break those racks open.' There has been a great deal of testimony concerning the broken racks of C Company, but no person had testified positively before as to the manner in which they were broken. The testimony of Sanders indicated that the racks were in good condition before the shooting and were broken open by command of one of the company officers.
Continuing his testimony, Sanders told of finding his own company in confusion and of his efforts to straighten it out. He said he found some of the men down on their knees and that others were yelling to put out the lanterns so that it would not furnish a target for persons to shoot.
Told Men to Stand Up
"I told the men to stand up and be soldiers, and that it would be better to be shot in the ranks than out," said Sanders. "When the men didn't stand up I told them some other things I don't want to repeat here."
Lieut. Lorison, the company commander, he said, cautioned the witness to keep the men in restraint, but to defend the fort in case an assault was made upon it.
Sanders said that at inspection the morning after the shooting all the guns of the company were found in proper condition. He also accounted for the ammunition. When the Twenty-fifth went to Fort Brown, he said, they brought along a box of loose cartridge shells, which were in a box on the rear porch of the barracks.
Mexicans were accustomed to go into the barracks and carry off anything they could pick up. They took away caps, clothing, and even "arctic overshoes," which the men had brought from the North. They also picked up the cartridge shells.
Under Fire Many Times
On cross-examination, Sanders said he could not tell the location of the first firing. He said he had been under fire a number of times [in his career] and he was familiar with the reports of the various makes of arms.
On that night it was "mixed firing," he said. He thought it came from six-shooters, Winchesters, and Mausers.
At the afternoon session, Sanders resumed his testimony. He said he had nothing to do with the shooting; did not know any one who had, did not suspect any one, and had made diligent inquiry among the men to find out from them what, if anything, they knew, and has been unable to get any information.
He declared he had not withheld any information, and that there was no conspiracy of silence.
Sanders detailed an interview he had with Gen Garlington recounting his services in the army, and in which interview he asked that he be reinstated. Recounting Gen. Garlington's comment on his application, Sanders said:
Had Nothing to Tell
"The only reason I did not give Gen. Garlington information was because I had none to give, but my application received no consideration until after the Senate resolution passed."
Sanders was cross-examined by Senator Warner. He repeated that many of the shots fired on the night of August 13 came from the town and said he had reported this fact to Maj. Penrose, although it did not appear in his evidence taken by Capt. Lyons. Indeed, he said, he had not stated this to any one else until this time. He had not been asked about it, and did not volunteer information.
"I am looking after Sanders first," said he.
He had never examined the hospital or other buildings to see whether bullets were fired into them, because he had no opportunity to make such examination.
Sanders said that his gun was not in the rack at the time of the shooting, but in the sergeant's room, and that he returned to his room for it. He was not required to keep his gun in the rack on account of peculiar duties.
He thought there were about nine guns out of the company's racks on the night of the shooting, but they were all accounted for. Sanders' evidence was not concluded when the committee adjourned until to-day.

Washington Post, Tuesday, June 15, 1907,
pg. 2

Brownsville Hearings at End Until November 18.
Retired General, Former Colonel of Twenty Fifth,
Says Men "Were Not All Angles, but Near It"--

Pays Tribute to Mingo Sanders' Record --
Would Believe Everything Old Sergeant Said.
The investigation of the Brownsville affray by the Senate Committee on Military Affairs came to a close yesterday, when an adjournment was taken until November 18. At that time the committee will decide it is necessary to go to Brownsville to continue the investigation. No attempt will be made to formulate a report until the next session of Congress.
Four witnesses were on the stand yesterday. Brig. Gen. Andrew Burt, retired, renowned Indian figher, who was colonel of the Twenty-fifth Infantry at the time of his promotion and retirement, testified that this regiment of negro soldiers was one of the best in the United States army, or, in fact, any arm of the world. He said he had served with as many regiments as any man in the United States army, and with no troops of higher character than the Twenty-fifth. Of course, there were some bad men in the organization, he said, as in every organization: that he did not mean that all of the men "were angels with wings sprouting, but they were very near it."
Praises Mingo Sanders
Concerning Mingo Sanders, the first sergeant of Company B, with twenty-six years' continuous service, he said there was no better first sergeant in the army; that his veracity was beyond question, and that he could be depended upon under all circumstances. An incident was recalled by Gen. Burt, since the discharge of the negro soldiers without honor. Mingo Sanders called upon him after he came to Washington to testify. Gen. Burt said to Sanders:
"Sergeant, we are here alone. Now tell me all about this affair."
He said that Sergt. Sanders told him that if he knew anything about it he would tell, but that so far as he knew none of his men had had anything to do with the shooting. He had tried his best, he said, to find out all about the affair, and that he did not believe any of the negro soldiers were implicated in the outbreak.
Gen. Burt testified as to a number of the men he remembered and gave incidents to show the confidence he had placed in them. He declared that all of the men were to be believed on oath, and said:
"I would believe them if I were sitting on a court-martial, even if they were testifying in their own defense."
Senator Foraker asked the witness if he would expect 140 or 150 men to withhold what they knew of a raid upon a defenseless town if such a raid had been made by 10 or 15 other men of the command.
Some Would Have Leaked
Gen. Burt replied that such a thing was an impossibility from what he knew of the negro race; some of the men would have leaked.
Lieut. Harry C. Leckie, of the Twenty-sixth Infantry, who was on the stand several weeks ago and testified concerning the finding of a bullet in a post in front of the Crixell saloon, yesterday produced the shavings of the bullet, which had been removed with a brace and auger. The bullet had no steel jacket, and he was sure that it was not government ammunition. On cross-examination it was brought out that he went to Brownsville to make his examination, with a view to becoming a witness for the defense, in the Maj. Penrose court-martial.
John I. Klieber, prosecuting attorney of Cameron County, Tex., who conducted examinations of witnesses before the grand jury, which inquired into the shooting, testified concerning the failure of the grand jury to return indictments.
Capt. John H. Rice, of the ordnance department of the army, told of the cleaning of the guns sent to the committee as exhibits.

7 March 1910 Record of Court of Inquiry- Affray at Brownsville Texas

"By Gen. Daggett:
Q. Now, Conyers, I have requested, and the court has permitted you, to come in to add to your statement that you made sometime ago.  You spoke to me about some things you wanted to add, and I told you then you would in all probability have the opportunity.  Make it as brief as you can, and bring in those points which you spoke to me about.
A. What I want to say is why I was convinced no soldier had anything to do with that shooting that night, for one reason, if the soldiers were shooting up that town, the shots wouldn't have come into the garrison, because I heard shots, and I heard mixed shots I think that night.  And why I was convinced again, after we moved to Fort Reno, Okla., when the orders came on a Sunday--I forget the date--when we was to be disarmed the soldiers fell about on their bunks, and it was one of the saddest things I ever seen in my life.  The soldiers were crying, even Mingo Sanders was crying and his wife was screaming, when we was disarmed.  I never experienced such saddness in my life.  We were fatigued there every day, and I believe if any man had been implicated in that shooting he would have told something about it.  I know I would.  If I had knowed anything about that shooting at that time I would certainly have told it, because I never experienced such saddness in my life among all the soldiers.  That is what I wanted to state."
Companies B,C, and D, Twenty-fifth United States Infantry: Report of the United States Court of Inquiry, Brownsville Riot, 1909

1910 Census- Washington D.C.
Sanders and his wife live on "M" Street. Sanders is listed as "Mu" (mulatto), 53 years old and married 12 years. His wife "M" is also listed as "Mu" and is 41. Sanders birthplace, as well as his parents, is listed as South Carolina. His wife's birthplace is Illinois. Sanders occupation is "night watchman" at a stone yard. Both he and his wife can read and write.

back to list of riders

Sergeant Discharged After Brownsville Riots Made Messenger by Taft.

WASHINGTON, Aug. 3.--By an Executive order of President Taft, Mingo Sanders, who was a Sergeant of the colored infantry regiment discharged from the army without honor when several companies of the regiment likewise were discharged for participation in the Brownsville riots, became a messenger to-day in the classified service and went to work at the Interior Department at $70 a month. Recently Sanders took part as a spell-binder in the Ohio primary fight between President Taft and Col. Roosevelt.
Representative Rodenburg of Illinois said to-day he would introduce in the House next week a bill to reinstate Sanders in the army and permit his retirement at once.
When discharged Sanders had served twenty-six years, and after another year's service would have been entitled to retirement at two-thirds pay and allowances. Later Mr. Rodenburg says he will introduce a bill for the reinstatement of all the innocent soldiers discharged for participation in the Brownsville riots."
- The New York Times, 4 August 1912

The Afro American October 27, 1934

General, Who Suggested 25th Infantry Brownsville Dismissal, is Dead
Washington. --(CNS) - Brig-Gen. Ernest A. Garlington, former inspector-general of the Army, responsible for "persuading" President Theodore Roosevelt that colored soldiers "shot up" Brownsville, Texas, in August, 1906, died in Coronado, Calif., last week, "unhonored and unsung by the thousands of colored soldiers formerly under his command in many campaigns in the West."
On the night of August 13-14, 1906, a shooting occurred in the town of Brownsville, Texas. One private citizen, a barkeeper, was killed; a lieutenant of the police was wounded. Taking a cue from the predjudiced Southern crackers that colored soldiers of Fort Brown, just outside of the town, had shot up the town, Inspector-General Garlington, entered upon an investigation of the affray assuming that the men were guilty.
Indictment Lacking
In the language of the late Senator Joseph R. Foraker, of Ohio, "at one time did it occur to him (General Garlington) that any but soldiers could have done it." And this conclusion, notwithstanding the town had been shot up more than a dozen times before August, 1906.
A grand jury investigation by county authorities found no testimony upon which to base an indictment. In addition, the government, under orders from President Roosevelt, conducted three other separate investigations, and spent nearly $100,000, but was never able to convict any men of the battalion. President Roosevelt, without ordering a court martial of any of the men, adopted General Garlington's deduction that there was a "conspiracy of silence" to protect from nine to twenty men of the battalion who had done the shooting. On November 9, 1906, 156 men of Companies B, C, and D of the 25th Infantry were discharged without honor, charged with a conspiracy of silence.
The testimony taken showed that the record of each company, down to the time of the shooting, was without any kind of stain or blemish. Almost all of the men had served more than one enlistment. Their terms of service ranged up to more than twenty years.
Sergeant Mingo Sanders, of Company B, had served continuously for twenty-six years, and counting double-time allowances for service outside the United States, had only eighteen months to serve, when he would have been entitled to retire on three-quarter pay with all the rights and allowances provided by law for men who had served continuously for thirty years.
There was abundant testimony that prior to the arrival of the colored troops on Saturday, July 28, four weeks prior to the shooting, there were ugly expressions--among them that "the colored troops will not stay long if they do come."
The government proceeded upon the Garlington theory that seven or eight men of the battalion did the shooting and that all the others entered into a conspiracy of silence to shield them. The opposition, led by Senator Foraker, proceeded upon the theory that there was a conspiracy, but that it was to get rid of the colored soldiers who would not trade in Brownsville, and put up with indignities.
Sergeant Sanders died in Freedmen's Hospital here several years ago, claiming that the Garlington theory of the shooting robbed him of a constitutional right to retirement in 1908.

US Veterans Gravesites, ca. 1775-2006

Mingo Sanders, Sergeant B 25 MD Infantry
Date of Death: 23 August 1929
Buried at Section 2 C E Site 35 Arlington National Cemetery Arlington, VA

also found at

Luella Mariah wife of Mingo Sanders
27 March 1942
Buried at Section Old E Site 35 Arlington National Cemetery Arlington, VA

"The black battalion had come down from Fort Niobrara, Nebraska. There and at every other post where the men had been stationed they had left a record as very decent, well-disciplined soldiers. One of them, Sergeant Mingo Sanders, had so noteworthy an army score that before Brownsville subsided he had figured in hundreds of cartoons. The one best remembered was by W.A. Rogers in Harper's Weekly [January 12, 1907]--"Dishonorably Discharged"--a full-page drawing of this powerful, coal-black negro, covered with medals, standing like a dazed child, his discharge papers in his hand. Sanders had served almost thirty years--in the Indian wars, in the Philippines, in Cuba."
I Would Live It Again, Julia Bundy Foraker pg. 273


  1. Thank you very much for all the information on this interesting but somewhat obscure subject. Every source on the 25th has info about CO Moss, but almost none talk about the enlisted men who made the trip. Thanks again.

  2. Another interesting New York Times article about Mingo Sanders