Adam Houston – First Sergeant, United States Army

Adam Houston, First Sergeant, Troop C, 10thUntied States Cavlary


Non-Commissioned Officers of the 10th Cavalry around 1902 (The Squadron Sergeant Major, top row, left, still wears the chevrons authorized from 1899-1902 while the rest of the men wear the chevrons in use from 1902-1916) The regiment was then at Fort Robinson, Nebraska. Seated from left to right: Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant B. A. Anderson, Sergeant Major Presley Holliday, Commissary Sergeant William H. Hill. Standing from left to right: Squadron Sergeant Major Paschall Conley, Color Sergeant Adam Houston, Color Sergeant J. C. Pendergrass, Squadron Sergeant Major E. P. Frierson. Q.M. Sergeant Anderson won a bronze medal in the 1903 Department (Missouri and Texas) Cavalry competition. Adam Houston, as 1st Sgt. of Troop C, 10th Cavalry, was recommended for a Medal of Honor for his gallantry in the Battle of Santiago, July 1, 2, and 3, 1898. Frierson retired but returned to the Army in 1917 to receive an officer’s commission and train black troops for the newly organized 93d Infantry Division.

July 1, 1898 – Took part in general engagement around Santiago City, beginning at 6.30 a. m.

Killed were:

  • Troop A, John H. Smoot
  • Troop B, Corporal William F. Johnson
  • Troop C, Private John H. Dodson
  • Troop D. Private George Stroal
  • Troop F, First Lieutenant W. E. Shipp (brigade quartermaster)
  • Troop G, First Lieutenant W. H. Smith and Private William H. Slaughter

Wounded: Major T. J. Wint. Troop A. First Lieut. R. L. Livermore and Second Lieut. F. R. McCoy, Sergt. Smith Johnson. Corpl. Joseph G. Mitchell, Privates William A. Cooper, Benjamin Franklin, Wiley Hipsher, Richard James, Robert E. Lee, and Trumpeter Nathan Wyatt; Troop B, Private John Chinn, and William Gregorey and Peter Saunderson, on duty with Hotchkiss guns; Troop C, First Lieut. E. D. Anderson, First Sergt. Adam Houston, Sergts. Edward Lane and Walker Johnson, Privates John Brown. William Matthews, Lewis Marshall, Benjamin F. Gaskins. and Frank Ridgely; Troop D. Capt. John Bigelow, jr.; Sergts George Dyres and Willis Hatcher, Privates J. H. Campbell, Fred Shockley, Wade Bledsoe, William Tyler, Harry D. Sturgis. and Henry Fearn, on duty with Hotchkiss guns; Troop E, Sergt. John J. L. Taylor, on duty with Hotchkiss guns, and M. Sergt. William Payne. Blacksmith Lewis L. Anderson, Privates Henry McCormack, Gilmore Givens, Hillery Brown. and Allen C. White; Troop F, Second Lieut. H. C. Whitehead. Sergts. Amos Elliston and Frank Rankin, Corpl. Allen Jones, Blacksmith Charles Robertson, Privates Isom Taylor, John Watson, and Benjamin West; Troop G, Second Lieut. T. A. Roberts, Sergt. E. S. Washington, Corpl. Marcellus Wright, Privates Charles Arthur. John Brooks, Charles Hopkins, Joseph Williams, and Samuel T. Minar. Troop I, First Sergt. Robert Milbrown, Sergt. U. G. Gunter, Privates Frank D. Bennett, Thornton Burkley, Thomas H. Hardy. Wesley Jones, and Houston Riddill.

Firing ceased about 7.30 p.m., the regiment then occupying a part of the most advanced intrenched position. Troops on guard and extending intrenchments during the night.

Although they suffered heavy losses, especially in officers, the men fought with the same gallantry they had displayed on the plains, as is attested by the honors awarded. In every company there were instances of personal gallantry. The first sergeants especially lived up to the responsibilities placed upon them. The color sergeant of the Tenth Cavalry, Adam Houston, bore to the front not only his own flags, but those of the Third Cavalry when the latter's color sergeant was shot down. In several emergencies where troops or companies lost their white officers, the senior sergeants took command and handled their men in a faultless manner, notably in the Tenth Cavalry.”

A week later, the expeditionary force launched a two-pronged attack intended to secure the outpost at El Caney and the entrenchments on San Juan Hill. The two forces were to gain their objectives and join together for the final assault on Santiago. Troopers from the 25th Infantry acquitted themselves well at El Caney and were among the first to reach the outpost after heavy fighting. Meanwhile, the 24th Infantry and the 9th and 10th Cavalry regiments were establishing a reputation for “themselves as fighting men” at San Juan Hill once more in the shadow of the more heralded, but no more effective, Rough Riders. As the Rough Riders advanced up San Juan Hill they found themselves attacked from all sides and in great danger of being cut to pieces. The black troops of the 9th and 10th Cavalry were some distance away when the word reached them. They went to help on the run. Leaving a trail of dead and wounded left behind, the troopers of the 10th Cavalry advanced under heavy fire, according to a New York reporter, “firing as they marched, their aim was splendid. Their coolness was superb and their courage aroused the admiration of their comrades.”

It was this action that led a grateful Rough Rider corporal to proclaim, “If it hadn't been for the black cavalry, the Rough Riders would have been exterminated.” Five black soldiers of the 10th Cavalry received the Medal of Honor and 25 other black soldiers were awarded the Certificate of Merit. For action on July 1, 1898, Private Conny Gray Co. D 25th Infantry, 1st sergeant John Jackson, Troop C, 9th cavalry, Sergeant Elisha Jackson, Troop H, 9th Cavalry, Corporal George W. Pumphrey, Troop H, 9th Cavalry, Private James Bates, Troop H, 9th Cavalry, Private Edward Davis, Troop H, 9th Cavalry, 1st sergeant Charles W. Jefferson, Troop B, 9th Cavalry, Saddler sergeant Jacob C. Smith, Troop C, 10th cavalry, 1st sergeant Adam Houston, Troop C, 10th cavalry, corporal John Walker, Troop D, 10th cavalry, Private Luchious Smith, Troop D, 10th  Cavalry, 1st sergeant Peter McCown Troop E, 10th Cavalry, Sergeant Benjamin Fasit, Troop E, 10th Cavalry, Sergeant Ozrow Gather, Troop E, 10th Cavalry, Sergeant John Graham, Troop E, 10th Cavalry, Sergeant William Payne, Troop E, 10th Cavalry, Corporal Thomas H. Herbert, Troop E, 10th Cavalry, Trumpeter Oscar N. Oden, Troop I, 10th Cavalry, Sergeant James Satchell, Co. A, 24th Infantry, Private Scott Crosby, Co. A, 24th Infantry, Private Loney Moore, Co. A, 24th Infantry, Corporal Richard Williams, Co. B, 24th Infantry, Sergeant John T. Williams, Co. G, 24th Infantry, Corporal Abram Hagen, Co. G, 24th Infantry,Corporal Peter Jackson, Co. G, 24th Infantry, Corporal William H. Thornton Co. G, 24th Infantry, Artificer Jesse E. Parker, Co. D, 24th Infantry, for action June 24, 1898, Private John A. Humphrey, Troop I, 10th Cavalry. Cuba.

In 1922 the War department began systematically reviewing official reports and records and 8 other black soldiers were awarded the Silver Star Citation and Medal's, Presly Holliday, Isaac Bailey, John Buck and Augustus Walley of the 10th Cavalry, George Driscoll, Robert L. Duvall, Elbert Wolley and Richard Curtis of the 24th Infantry.

At San Juan Hill alone, there were 21 who received citations for gallantry 13 received the Certificate of Merit and one Medal of Honor recipient 8 others the Silver Star. But it was not all glory: “We had been on the hill about three hours and my gun was almost red hot. I had fired about 175 rounds of ammunition, and being very thirsty, I gladly accepted the detail, as the hill was ours then and we had been shooting at nothing for about an hour. what a sight was presented as I recrossed the flat in front of San Juan. The dead and wounded soldier! It was indescribable! One would have to see it to know what it was like, and having once seen it, I truly hope I may never see it again….before sunrise the battle was raging furiously. It lasted all day with no intermission, until dark. Everybody being his own cook, and not having anything to cook, I had a very simple diet that day. Almost all the army had the same–breakfast, canteen half full of water: dinner, full canteen of water; supper, the empty canteen. We were relieved after dark by a part of the 71st, and to the rear to get sleep and rest. In about one or two hours, at 8 or 9 o'clock, the Spanish made an assault on our position, which was repulsed with terrible losses to them. The casualties were light on our side, but we learned since that it cost the Spaniards more than 600 men in attempting to drive us from San Juan. They found the Yankee wide-awake and not giving an inch. The attack lasted about forty-five minutes, and while it was going on it seemed ten times worst than the battle of the day before. We were finally allowed to return to position in reserve and go to sleep.” While most black troops were participating in the actions around Santiago, Troop M of the 10th Cavalry had joined General Gomez of the Cuban Army and took part in several actions. Their activities, once again unheralded, earned the Congressional Medal Honor for four of its enlisted men. “These soldiers of Troop M were isolated from other American forces about three months while they fought with the Cuban insurgent army, they participated in several notable engagements, these cavalrymen would be the only mounted troops during the Cuba campaign, four privates, Dennis Bell, Fitz Lee, William H. Thompkins and George H. Wanton, won particular distinction for staging a daring rescue operation on June 30, 1898 at Tayabucoa. But here again, there was an obstacle to overcome. “The whole company came near getting massacred on account of his (1st lieutenant Carter P. Johnson), getting drunk. After the Cubans and his command had taken a fort and a block house, he got a barrel of rum, got drunk, pulled down the Spanish flag and ran up his blouse as the American flag. He was given just one-hour to leave the fort. He ordered his men to fire upon the Cubans, which they refused to do, as they would have been massacred had one shot been fired.”


  • DATE OF DEATH: 04/19/1926

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