"Conscientious Objectors at Camp Meade, Maryland" (The Friend)




"Conscientious Objectors at Camp Meade, Maryland" (The Friend)




Conscientious objection


Camp Meade (MD)


Lane, Harold M.


Swarthmore College Peace Collection


Swarthmore College Peace Collection


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Tenth Month 4, 1917


[The following undated letter was received on the 28th ult. - Eds.]

Dear friends:-

After several very long days of uncertainty, feeling altogether out of harmony with all about me, and absolutely unable to stop the machine. I've been transferred to quarters with the other C. O.'. Evidently mere possession of No. 174 counts for nothing, we are to be worked into the military machine unless we object. This I did on the evening of arrival, stating my position to the Captain in charge of barracks, to which I'd been assigned. He said it meant going to 23rd Engineers and being put at hard labor with pick and shovel, and advised that I stay with him. To another C. O., an ethical culture man in same barracks, he practically offered the company clerkship. But I asked him to report me for 23rd Engineers. On First-day I refused to be measured for uniform and on Third-day when drilling commenced I feel out of line, telling the Lieutenant that I could not drill. Shortly thereafter I was brought over to a barracks of the 23rd Engineers, via their Colonel's office. He asked what my church membership was; what I thought about the German bombing of London and sinking of ships; whether I was born in this country and if it was worth serving; whether I'd a mother, how about the other fellows in camp who were having to fight for us. My answers were such as to make him remark that I must have been mixed up with some Germans, which I denied. Finally he gave me up for hopeless.

No one understands our position, of course. It was very good to get in with the other C.O.'s. Two Friends from Fifteen and Race, a Socialist, an Ethical Culturalist, a "Church of God" man, four or five Dunkards and about fifteen Mennonites made up the crowd. Most of us unite on a platform of no work under War or Navy Departments, nor in munition making, i. e. no participation in war and we're going to stand by it. To date we've been well treated. We do not leave barracks, 'tis true, without a soldier, but when we are on hikes we stop at P. O. store and Y. M. C. A. There are two hikes daily through the dust, wending our way over stumps and logs or through old strawberry patches, dodging trenches and squads of men drilling to the drill-master's sharp "one, two, three, four." We wash clothes, read, talk and write all the rest of the day. Last evening the Mennonite men started a song service in the twilight, which had a splendid tonic effect. They are very devout and some of them splendid fellows.

Joshua L. Bailey, Jr., is here. We look daily, almost hourly, for new arrivals. If this should be of any use to others, will thee pass the information on?

Sincerely thine,

Harold M. Lane

Care 23rd Engineers, Barracks D18, Camp Meade, Maryland.


Lane, Harold M. , “"Conscientious Objectors at Camp Meade, Maryland" (The Friend),” Conscientious Objection & the Great War: 1914-1920, accessed February 27, 2021, https://cosandgreatwar.swarthmore.edu/items/show/850.

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