Military Honors Rendered For Owen Leonard Clements

Owen Leonard Clements and three other soldiers drowned in the Rio Grande during a border skirmish at Progreso, TX on January 26, 1916.

Image detail- military honors for Sergeant Owen Leonard Clements, Corporal Michael F. Ring, Private Perry H. Rhode, and Private Charles D. Wilton Best, drowned January 26, 1916

Image detail- military honors for Sergeant Owen Leonard Clements, Corporal Michael F. Ring, Private Perry H. Rhode, and Private Charles D. Wilton Best, drowned January 26, 1916

Clements was a sergeant serving with Battery D, 4th Field Artillery Regiment, on the Mexican border. Owen Leonard Clements (subject of previous post: see Owen Leonard Clements and the 4th Field Artillery) grew up in the Ray City, GA vicinity and entered the Army as a young man.

The bodies of three of the drowned men were found five days later about five miles down stream from Progreso, as reported in the The Chicago Day Book:

Bodies of soldiers drowned in the Rio Grande recovered.  The Day Book, January 31, 1916.

Bodies of soldiers drowned in the Rio Grande recovered. The Day Book, January 31, 1916.

The Chicago Day Book
January 31, 1916

BODIES OF SOLDIERS DROWNED IN RIO GRAND RECOVERED

Brownsville, Tex. , Jan. 31. – Bodies of three of four United States soldiers who drowned while crossing Rio Grande last week to aid in rescue of two comrades kidnapped by Mexican bandits have been recovered.  They are those of Corp. Michael L. Ring of Lenox Mass.; Private Perry A. Rhodes of Seattle, Wash., and Private Charles W. Wilton-Best of East Boston, Mass.  The two former were of Battery D., Fourth Field artillery, and the latter of Troop A., Twelf cavalry.
     A hat was thrown in river at Progresso, Tex., where men were drowned.  When hat stopped with current at a point five miles below Progreso, two charges of dynamite were exploded in river there.  The three bodies rose to the surface.  None of them bore any wounds, dispelling theory that soldiers were hit by Mexican bullets before they went down.

Additional reports indicated the search for Clements continued:

January 31, 1916 edition of The Day, New London, CT reports on the recovery of the bodies of three soldiers who drowned in the Rio Grande. The body of Owen Leonard Clements is reported still missing.

January 31, 1916 edition of The Day, New London, CT reports on the recovery of the bodies of three soldiers who drowned in the Rio Grande. The body of Owen Leonard Clements is reported still missing.

The New London Day
January 31, 1916

U.S. SOLDIERS NOT SHOT BY MEXICANS

Dynamite Floats Bodies of Three Victims – Examination Shows No Wounds.

      BROWNSVILLE, Texas, Jan. 31. – Use of dynamite has resulted in the recovery today of the bodies of three of the four soldiers drowned in the Rio Grande, Jan. 26,  at Progreso, Texas, when American soldiers entered Mexico in an effort to rescue two companions.  The bodies recovered were those of Corporal Michael Ring and Private Henry A. Rhode, Battery B, Fourth field artillery, and Private Charles D. Wilton Best of the Twelfth cavalry.
    Examination of the three bodies at an undertaker’s establishment where they were embalmed last night revealed no bullet wounds and so disposes of the rumors that they were drowned after being shot by Mexicans.
      Search for the body of Sergt. Owen Clements will continue tomorrow.

Within a few days the body of Owen Leonard Clements was also recovered.   The Army provided a funeral service for the four soldiers with full military honors.

Quadruple funeral for Sergeant Owen L. Clements, Corporal Michael F. Ring, Private Perry H. Rhode, and Private Charles D. Wilton Best, drowned January 26, 1916.  The Robert Runyon Photograph Collection, 01167, courtesy of The Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.

Quadruple funeral for Sergeant Owen L. Clements, Corporal Michael F. Ring, Private Perry H. Rhode, and Private Charles D. Wilton Best, drowned January 26, 1916. The Robert Runyon Photograph Collection, 01167, courtesy of The Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.

Quadruple funeral for Sergeant Owen L. Clements, Corporal Michael F. Ring, Private Perry H. Rhode, and Private Charles D. Wilton Best, drowned January 26, 1916. The Robert Runyon Photograph Collection, 01167, courtesy of The Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.

Quadruple funeral for Sergeant Owen L. Clements, Corporal Michael F. Ring, Private Perry H. Rhode, and Private Charles D. Wilton Best, drowned January 26, 1916. The Robert Runyon Photograph Collection, 01167, courtesy of The Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.

Quadruple funeral for Sergeant Owen L. Clements, Corporal Michael F. Ring, Private Perry H. Rhode, and Private Charles D. Wilton Best, drowned January 26, 1916. The Robert Runyon Photograph Collection, 01167, courtesy of The Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.

† † †

Quadruple funeral for Sergeant Owen L. Clements, Corporal Michael F. Ring, Private Perry H. Rhode, and Private Charles D. Wilton Best, drowned January 26, 1916. The Robert Runyon Photograph Collection, 01167, courtesy of The Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.

Quadruple funeral for Sergeant Owen L. Clements, Corporal Michael F. Ring, Private Perry H. Rhode, and Private Charles D. Wilton Best, drowned January 26, 1916. The Robert Runyon Photograph Collection, 01167, courtesy of The Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.

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Quadruple funeral for Sergeant Owen L. Clements, Corporal Michael F. Ring, Private Perry H. Rhode, and Private Charles D. Wilton Best, drowned January 26, 1916. The Robert Runyon Photograph Collection, 01167, courtesy of The Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.

Quadruple funeral for Sergeant Owen L. Clements, Corporal Michael F. Ring, Private Perry H. Rhode, and Private Charles D. Wilton Best, drowned January 26, 1916. The Robert Runyon Photograph Collection, 01167, courtesy of The Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.

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Military honors for Owen L. Clements, of Ray's Mill, GA. The Schulenberg Sticker, February 11, 1916.

Military honors for Owen L. Clements, of Ray’s Mill, GA. The Schulenberg Sticker, February 11, 1916.

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Gravemarker of Owen Leonard Clements (1886-1916), Cat Creek Cemetery, Lowndes County, GA.

Gravemarker of Owen Leonard Clements (1886-1916), Cat Creek Cemetery, Lowndes County, GA.

1919 Epilogue:

Investigation of Mexican affairs:

Hearing before a subcommittee of the Committee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate, Sixty-sixth Congress, first[-second] session, pursuant to S. res. 106, directing the Committee on Foreign Relations to investigate the matter of outrages on citizens of the United States in Mexico, Volume 1, 1919:

On January 26, 1916, Pvts. W. P. Wheeler and Biggo Pederson, Battery D. Fourth United States Field Artillery, while swimming in the Rio Grande just south of Progresso, swam to Mexico side. There they were taken prisoners by the Mexicans and carried back from the river. As soon as it was reported to the officers in charge of the commands, believing that it was the intention of the Mexicans to abuse the two soldiers, Lieut. John E. Mort, Second Lieut. Bernard R. Peyton, and Lieut Albert W. Waldron, all of Battery D, Fourth United States Field Artillery, with about 20 men, started across by fording and swimming. All but Sergt. Owen L. Clements, Corpl. Michael F. Ring, Pvt. Perry M. Rhode, and Pvt. Chas. D. Wilton Best landed safely, but those  named were drowned, their bodies being recovered about three days later.
   This detachment was unable to find the two soldiers, though they searched many houses.  Being informed that Carranza soldiers had taken them and would not maltreat them, the expedition return to the Texas side.  On January 27, 1916, the Carranzists commander at Matamoras turned the two men over to United States Consul Johnson and they were soon back on Texas soil.  A court-martial was convened to try the offending officers, who received some minor reprimand, and were detailed for more onerous duties elsewhere.

-30-

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1 Comment

  1. Ron Yates said,

    June 16, 2012 at 9:52 am

    Nice Job on putting this together!


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