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Black militia company organizes in Nueces County

December
23
1879

On this day in 1879, the Roberts Rifles, made up entirely of African American citizens, organized in Nueces County. The company, the county's first since the Civil War, secured armaments through the adjutant general. The organizational meeting was called by Capt. George Wilson, a commissioned officer from Galveston; Evan M. Mack, a Corpus Christi brickmason, was elected the company's first captain. In 1880 the Roberts Rifles were one of nine "colored" and thirty-eight white units in the Texas militia. The company was the centerpiece of Juneteenth celebrations between 1883 and 1886. The legislature rewrote the statutes relating to military groups in 1889, however, and continuation of such companies became much more troublesome than before. In 1892, a white company in Hempstead asked to use the name Roberts Rifles, and the black company, which had been in decline, relinquished it and adopted the name Bluff City Guards.

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