[Punishments for Prisoner Strike]




[Punishments for Prisoner Strike]




account of punitive measures put in place during/after prisoner strike (and riot?)


WWI conscientious objection / objectors


Ft. Leavenworth?




Swarthmore College Peace Collection


Swarthmore College Peace Collection


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[page 2; page 1 missing]

population of 2200 men was reduced to a diet of bread and water, with a scant allowance of bread. So far as I am informed, there was no attempt at violence on the part of the strikers. In shameful contrast was the conduct of certain officers, quoted as follows in the prison letter:

“One officer standing on a pile of boards between the sixth and seventh wings emptied his revolver into the sixth wing. He shot at figures which he saw between the bars of the window. By no means was it possible for him to distinguish one man from another at that distance. Furthermore, any action inside could not have enabled any man to escape from the wing or to injure any soldier or officer on guard outside. The brick walls are thick, and the windows stoutly barred and nearly inaccessible. But further proof that the action was nothing more than brutal blood lust was evidenced by the action of another officer of a few minutes later. He sat with his chair tilted back against the corner of the prison wall. Over a hundred feet away was a thick brick wall pierced with many rows of heavily barred windows. Fully fifteen within that wall rose six tiers of cells with corridors surrounding them. On the tiers ranged several hundred helpless, unarmed, half-starved prisoners. And yet this “officer and gentlemen” sat there with elbow on knees and from time to time, as he glimpsed a figure within, smiling he fired shots from a big blue automatic. Occasionally he would get up and pace back and forth, peering intently up at the windows, until he could see some one clearly, then he would take careful aim and fire. At least two men were carried wounded to the hospital from the sixth wing that afternoon. The men in the sixth wing shouted over to me that two men had been killed.”

When the strike was declared off – the men all giving in on Friday afternoon – the following punishments were visited indiscriminately upon innocent and guilty alike:

1. The prisoners’ grivance [sic] committee and honor system was abolished.

2. All home parole and barrack parole privileges were cut off.

3. All the shortening of sentences earned by individuals for good conduct was cancelled.

4. All yard, entertainment and recreation, privileges were withdrawn, the men being confined to their cells all of the time when not working and eating.

5. The rule of silence was enjoined prohibiting all conversation at meals and at work.

6. The hours of work were increased to exclude a rest day on Sunday and to compel the workers in the power plant to toil for twelve instead of eight hour shifts.

[page 2]

In a word, all these outworn unsocial and vindictive expedients of unscientific penology were imposed on over 2000 boys of the American Army. Furthermore, according to the testimony of a prisoner released from Leavenworth within the past two weeks, many of these regulations are still in force.


unknown, “[Punishments for Prisoner Strike],” Conscientious Objection & the Great War: 1914-1920, accessed September 21, 2021, https://cosandgreatwar.swarthmore.edu/items/show/1721.

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  1. PunishmentsForStrike1.tif
  2. PunishmentsForStrike2.tif