Report of John W. McCuen, B Co, 3d Inf. Okla. Natl. Guard

“B” COMPANY 3d INFANTRY OKLAHOMA NATIONAL GUARD

TO: Lt Col L.J.F. Rooney

SUBJECT: Duty performed by Company 3d Inf Okla National Gd at Negro Uprising May, 31st, 1921 .

  1. Reported for duty at Armory at 11 :00 PM May 31st. All arms and equipment under double lock and key. Armorer on duty uniformed and armed. Telephone in order. 16,000 rounds of rifle ammunition in vault. Eighty Springfield rifle Cal.30 Model 1906. Six .45 Colts, auto pistols and necessary ammunition. Six Browning automatic rifles.
  2. None of my guns or ammunition had been issued or were afterwards issued to any person other than National Major Bell ordered me to report with 20 of my men who had come in, to Col. Rooney’s headquarters at police station. These men were fully uniformed, armed and equipped for riot duty. On reaching the police station I reported to Col. Rooney and was assigned to posting guards to keep people from entering 2nd street between Main and Boulder Ave. This duty required continual attention from me for several hours when I was ordered by Col. Rooney to proceed with him to the vicinity of Elgin and Detroit Ave on the Service Co army truck. From this point we advanced east to a depth of two blocks taking a few negro prisoners. While surrounded by negroes near Gurley hotel on Greenwood Ave Sgt. Hastings of “B” company was wounded by rifle fire, the bullet inflicting a scalp wound. After some scouting work in this vicinity we fell back to Detroit Ave in order to establish a base line and await reinforcements from the Armory. We formed a skirmish line on Detroit Ave. We executed a flank march to the right at this point and halted with our right flank at Archer St thus throwing our left flank midway between Brady Stand Cameron St. This skirmish line moved north and south continuously from Archer St to Cameron St. The army truck was with us and had an old machine gun mounted on it, but it was not fired, for the reason that it was in bad shape. It was an old machine gun that I understood some ex-service officer had brought from Germany as a souvenir.
  3. While patrolling Detroit Ave a large number of negro prisoners were taken by us from the houses on Detroit Ave, Elgin Ave, Cameron Stand the rear out-houses of this area, and these negroes were turned over to the police department automobiles that kept close to us at all times. These cars were manned by ex -service men, and in many cases plainclothes men of the police department.
  4. Some time after day light, it may have been 8 or 9 o’clock in the morning, by urgent request of the police department the service Company and “B” Company moved north to Sunset Hill to stop negroes from firing into white peoples’ homes on Sunset Hill from the Negro settlement further northeast. We advanced to the crest of Sunset Hill in skirmish line and then a little further north to the military crest of the hill where our men were ordered to lie down because of the intense fire of the blacks who had formed good skirmish line at the foot of the hill to the northeast among the outbuildings of the negro settlement which stops at the foot of the After about 20 minutes “fire at will” at the armed groups of blacks the latter began falling back to the northeast, thus getting good cover among the frame buildings of the negro settlement. Immediately we moved forward, “B” Company advancing directly north and the Service company in a north-easterly direction. Little opposition was met with until about half way through the settlement when some negroes who had barricaded themselves in houses refused to stop firing and had to be killed. At the northeast corner of the negro settlement 10 or more negroes barricaded themselves in a concrete store and a dwelling and stiff fight ensued between these negroes on one side and guardsmen and civilians on the other. Several whites and blacks were wounded and killed at this point. We captured, arrested and disarmed a great many negro men in this settlement and sent them under guard to the convention hall and other points where they were being concentrated.
  5. From the time “B” Company reached Detroit Ave as earlier mentioned herein until we were relieved about 11 :00 A M Jun 1st, fires were started in all parts of both negro settlements and a continuous discharge of fire arms was in progress. Very often it was difficult to tell where bullets came from owing to the fires and also to the fact that so much ammunition exploded in the building as they were being consumed.
  6. I did not have all of my company with me for the reason that a number of them reported at the Armory and were held there by Maj Bell for various duties. At all times our men were under close control and acted like veteran soldiers, as many of them were. At all times I warned them not to fire until fired upon as we had been ordered by Col. Rooney to fire only when absolutely necessary to defend our lives.
  7. To the best of my knowledge all firing and raiding had ceased by 11:00 A M Jun 1st in this area although it had begun to diminish along about 9:30AM. The reason for this, of course, was that practically all of the negro men had retreated to the northeast or elsewhere or had been disarmed and sent to concentration points.

[signed] John W. McCuen

Capt “B” Co 3d Inf

 

 

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