John F. Fannin


In the fall of 1865, white officers of the 3rd Regiment, United States Colored Troops (3rd USCT) hung a black enlisted man by his thumbs on the Jacksonville parade ground-a misdemeanor-level punishment-for stealing a jar of molasses from the field kitchen. Black soldiers gathered around the officers standing in front of the dangling prisoner and loudly objected to the thumb-hanging. The protest quickly turned into a melee in which enlisted soldiers and officers exchanged gunfire and grappled hand-to-hand. Subsequently, six soldiers would be tried for mutiny and executed. Another seven received lengthy prison sentences and one was released without penalty. That these soldiers rioted over a routine (for the times) army thumb-hanging on the eve of their discharge from historic military service invites inquiry.