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Mingo Sanders

September 13, 2017

President Theodore Roosevelt had painted himself into a corner.  If he had known more initially, he might have made a different decision, but having made the decision to discharge the entire battalion of black soldiers, he found it impossible to reconsider.  He was instinctively inclusive, but he did not want any special interest to control the government: not big business, not labor, not white Southerners, and not even the blacks who so frequently voted Republican.  By looking at things that way he became blind to the real possibility that the black soldiers formerly stationed at Brownsville, Texas had been innocent of any wrongdoing.

Sentiment counted for nothing with President Roosevelt when a principle was at stake, and former 1st Sgt. Mingo Sanders discovered this to his chagrin.  In Cuba Sanders had saved the Rough Riders from starvation by sharing his men’s rations with Colonel Roosevelt’s men.  Perhaps the Colonel, now President Roosevelt, would grant him an interview to discuss the Brownsville situation.  But Roosevelt believed Sanders had shielded the perpetrators who shot up Brownsville on the night of August 13, 1906.  When Sanders came to Washington to apply for reenlistment, he was not invited to the White House.  When the court of inquiry made the final decision which caused Sanders and others to lose their military pensions, Roosevelt was no longer President.

1st Sgt. Mingo Sanders is buried at Arlington.  He never did receive his military pension.  He and the rest of Companies B, C, and D, 25th Infantry (Colored) were eventually exonerated, but that would not happen until long after most of them were dead.

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