The Handbook of Texas is free-to-use thanks to the support of readers like you. Support the Handbook today.

Font size: A / A reset

Support Texas History Now

Join TSHA to support quality Texas history programs and receive exclusive benefits.

Become a TSHA Member Today »

Roberts Rifles

Frank Wagner General Entry

The first militia company organized in Nueces County subsequent to the Civil War, the Roberts Rifles, was made up entirely of black citizens, who provided themselves with uniforms and secured armaments through the adjutant general. The first meeting took place on December 23, 1879, called by Capt. George Wilson, a commissioned officer from Galveston. Evan M. Mack, a Corpus Christi brickmason, was elected first captain. The company was the centerpiece of Juneteenth celebrations between 1883 and 1886, and was a secular institution largely free of political and religious tensions. The legislature, anxious about black militia companies, rewrote the statutes relating to military groups in 1889, and continuation of such companies became much more troublesome than before. When White militia companies were organized in the 1890s, the black company declined. A White company in Hempstead asked in 1892 for the name, Roberts Rifles, and it was relinquished. The Corpus Christi militia company adopted the name Bluff City Guards on June 9, 1892, and elected Evan M. Mack as first captain. The company remained Company F, First Colored Regiment of Infantry. Evan M. Mack died in Corpus Christi on January 26, 1929.

Frank Wagner, Robert's Rifles and the Bluff City Guards (MS, Local History Collection, Corpus Christi Public Library).


  • Peoples
  • African Americans
  • Military

Time Periods:

  • Texas Revolution

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Frank Wagner, “Roberts Rifles,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 21, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

June 1, 1995
January 19, 2021

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: