Letter April 25, 1919 from Howard Moore to Evan Thomas




Letter April 25, 1919 from Howard Moore to Evan Thomas




letter re: deluge of water turned upon C.O.s at Ft. Leavenworth


WWI conscientious objection / objectors


Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas


Moore, Howard


Swarthmore College Peace Collection


Swarthmore College Peace Collection


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USDB Fort Leavenworth, Kansas

April 25th, 1919

Dear Evan:

…..We have left the cantonment. Tuesday we political objectors, 25 strong, with the exception Lunde and Abrams, were brought to the Post Guard House to join the 35 men who were recently taken from the “hole” (solitary confinement). Eight religious objectors who were here were taken to the cantonment. We do not know the reason for this move.

Last night after lights were out we were talking in low whispers. When the O D came in, sometime between ten and eleven o’clock, the guard ordered every man to his bunk. As soon as we were in our bunks a stream of water was played upon us all with a small hose. This was done without provocation or warning. Some of the men who had retired got out of their beds as they became wet. They protested and became targets of the stream. This was not enough. The fire department headed by the O D brought in the three inch fire hose with which we were deluged.

We were drenched. The cell was flooded. The water around the cell was a good three inches deep as it was over the ankles of the boots worn by the guard and firemen. The force of the water lifted Bernstein from his top bunk, which was near Roderick’s and mine, and tumbled him to the floor. He, Bernstein, became hysterical and yelled. The water was still played upon him and as he rose from the floor the water knocked him prostrate over the rejoining lower bunk occupied by Shotkin. His yells were drowned as he became choked with water. The stream was then played on all. It hit me in the back turning me nearly over. We were like rats caught in a hole and drowned. Bernstein had not become unconscious but we had to assist him to a corner bunk which was not absolutely drenched. Here he sat with others wrapped in semi-wet blankets which had been protected by bunks nearer the hose which got the worst of it. The rest sat or lay in drenched or partially soaked bunks.

During the beginning of the affair the O D was heard to remark, “Give them lots of it.” His orders were carried out. A guard said that we had been

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asking for a bath and now we would get one. Several times since our arrival here we have made inquiries regarding bathing facilities. Toilet facilities are so bad that it is necessary to keep urinal pails in the cell, I should have told you that 26 men occupy one cell and 24 on the lower floor of the Guard House. Our cell with the 26 in it was the only one subjected to the water, although garrison prisoners on the floor above us were singing and talking in ordinary tones.

This morning boys in the next cell proffered dry blankets and coats, but the guard said he had orders to permit nothing in to us. Our blankets and clothes are hanging round the cell, but they will not be dry by night. The straw mattresses will not dry out for days. In the mean time we are doing the best we can in fatigue clothes, which most of us had wrapped in raincoats and were thus partially protected. We have no underwear or socks and it is difficult to keep warm.

These are the simple facts. I refrain from comment or speculation as to what will occur again tonight as it will be necessary for us to share the dry and partially wet blankets together and this doubling up may precipitate more trouble.

Regards from all,

Howard Moore

Note: The two cells mentioned in the letter are dark and will accommodate normally not more than 25 men. The letter shows that sixty men are crowded into them. This over crowding is without excuse as there is a large stockade or cantonment at Fort Leavenworth where these men could be segregated, as is being done with the religious objectors, if the prison authorities saw fit…

EWT [Evan W. Thomas]


Moore, Howard, “Letter April 25, 1919 from Howard Moore to Evan Thomas,” Conscientious Objection & the Great War: 1914-1920, accessed September 21, 2021, https://cosandgreatwar.swarthmore.edu/items/show/1717.

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