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This summer marks 100 years since Germany invaded Belgium and Europe went to war. When the United States entered the global conflict on April 6, 1917, the country was unprepared for modern warfare. After the government passed the Selective Service Act, over nine million men registered for the draft. To mobilize the men for battle, the country needed temporary facilities or camps to organize and train the recruits. On June 14, 1917 it was announced that Houston had been awarded a training camp site for a division of the Illinois National Guard. The facility was to be named Camp Logan, for Major General John A. Logan, a veteran of the Civil War and U.S. Congressman who in 1868 helped found Memorial Day as a national holiday.

Few Houstonians today realize just how extensive the camp was. Workers transformed a massive forest just west of the Houston city limits into a working training facility complete with a hospital, post office, tents to house the soldiers, a YMCA auditorium, mess halls, artillery ranges, stables and more. The construction proceeded at an astonishing pace and by mid-August most of the 1,329 buildings had been completed. On August 23, 1917 the intense activity at Camp Logan was interrupted by one of the most tragic events in Houstonís history. The 3rd Battalion, 24th Infantry, composed of African-American soldiers, had come to Houston to guard the construction of Camp Logan. Houston was a southern city governed by Jim Crow laws, and the weeks of harsh treatment by locals and the Police Department directly affected the morale of the soldiers. The boiling point occurred with the arrest of an African-American soldier, followed by the false rumor of his death at the hands of the police. Over one hundred mutinous soldiers took their rifles and headed to the police station. In all, eleven citizens lost their lives, five police officers were killed in the line of duty, and four mutinous soldiers died. The next day the entire battalion of the 24th Infantry was place on a train out of town, where they would be court-martialed.

The soldiers from Illinois who arrived at Camp Logan early in September 1917 were largely unaffected by the tragic and violent events that had just taken place. These men were there to train for combat and most went on to fight in France. Some lost their lives and many were awarded for their valor. After Armistice Day in 1919, the camp was shut down and quickly dismantled. Today, Memorial Park encompasses most of Camp Logan. Although there have been many changes to the landscape, local archeologists Louis Aulbach and Linda Gorski have found some remaining footprints of the structures from the camp. An exhibition based largely on their research and featuring artifacts from Camp Logan will be on display at The Heritage Society from August 13, 2014November 15, 2014.

The Heritage Society is funded in part by a grant from the City of Houston through Houston Arts Alliance.

Houston Public Media story on Camp Logan exhibit originally aired Sunday, October 26

YouTube Video of the Camp Logan exhibit

News92FM on Camp Logan exhibit

Cox Radio Houston Public Affairs Show FYI with Suzi Hanks on Camp Logan exhibit





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