Fort Leavenworth Strike, The

Date

1919 [??]

Title

Fort Leavenworth Strike, The

Date

1919 [??]

Description

account of strike by prisoners at Ft. Leavenworth

Subject

WWI conscientious objection / objectors

Coverage

Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas

Creator

unknown

Source

Swarthmore College Peace Collection

Publisher

Swarthmore College Peace Collection

Rights

Copyright for this material may have been transferred to the Swarthmore College Peace Collection or may have been retained by the creators/authors (or their descendants) of this set of papers or records, as stipulated by United States copyright law. Please contact SCPC staff for further information.

Format

image/jpg

Language

English

Type

text

Transcription

THE FORT LEAVENWORTH STRIKE

Military prisoners at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, went on strike on Thursday afternoon, January 29, and demanded their immediate release from confinement, immunity for their leaders, and sweeping reforms in conditions in the mess, the hospital and sanitary regulations.

When addressed in the prison yard by the Commandant, Colonel Sedgwick Rice, and the adjutant, Captain Harry B. Mitchell[?], the men refused to go out on the work-gangs and into the shops. They had to be returned to the cell wings.

Not more than 300 of the 3500 men went to work. In all cell wings the man are unanimous, conscientious objectors and military offenders acting as one.

“We are not angry because 113 C O’s were released Monday morning” said one prisoner. “We are sore because we weren’t released with them. Most of our sentences have been declared unjust and excessive by Senator Chamberlain and other national figures, as well as by Colonel Rice.”

Colonel Rice wired to Washington that the situation is beyond his control. Major W. M. Modisette was relieved as Executive Officer and Major Walter H. Smith succeeded him immediately.

On Thursday, the day of the general strike, the only violence committed was by the guards. Two of them, Corporal Morgan and Private Montgomery, were placed under arrest for beating prisoners without provocation who offered no resistance.

Wednesday night a fire, believed to be of incendiary origin, destroyed the quartermaster’s store room. At that time the strike had not broken out.

The action of the prisoners was completely spontaneous, everyone having the same object, rightful liberty, in mind; and

[page 2]

all prepared to insist on it by the same peaceful methods. Men engaged in the kitchen, power plant and hospital remained at work by common consent of the rest.

The demands, as formulated by the prisoners in one cell wing are as follows:

MANIFESTO OF THE SEVENTH WING.

We, the men confined as military prisoners in the U.S.D.B. present the following as essential for the restoration of normal conditions.

1. That the Commandant recommend to the War Department the immediate release of all military prisoners confined here.

2. That the Commandant grant immunity from punishment to all men who from the beginning of abnormal conditions have been known or suspected to be representatives or leaders of the men.

3. That the Commandant recognize a permanent Grievance Committee to be elected by the men. This Grievance Committee shall have the right to discuss with the authorities such improvement of conditions as seem in the Committee’s judgment to be desireable.

The authorities are still undecided what action to take.

Citation

unknown, “Fort Leavenworth Strike, The,” Conscientious Objection & the Great War: 1914-1920, accessed October 19, 2020, https://cosandgreatwar.swarthmore.edu/items/show/1719.

Transcribe This Item

  1. TheFortLeavenworthStrike1.tif
  2. TheFortLeavenworthStrike2.tif