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Letter from Eric
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May 22nd, P.O. Box 60
Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas
Your letter of the 14th received this P.M. undoubtedly by this time you have read my letter to Oscar and know of the change in our imprisonment. In connection with it, it is only necessary to say, that in comparison with our former quarters the transformation may well be symbolized to that of the 15, 16th and 17th century serfs hovel, in contrast to the modern slaves tenement home, as yet it is necessary to have the lights on all day. This is due mainly to the architectural structure of the building and the position of our wing in it. We are allowed two hours exercise daily out in the air and sunshine on condition that we conform to strict military calisthenics, so that our mind would not be confused as to what this meant the major in charge of us amplified it by saying, "The same as a recruit would undergo in his training at Camp." For two or three days there was no response to his morning and afternoon query of "anyone here want calisthenic drill." But one afternoon three of the boys decided to find out just what this drill would be by making a practical and applied experiment in it. They were let out on a stretch of green grass and then were put through right face, left face and about face, also, some good setting up exercises. Though we would be greatly benefitted [sic] by the sunshine and exercise we have foreborne [sic] this requisite to good health because of our distaste to the rudimentary military drill which must first be done.
I do not know just what it is that keeps you constantly working for me aside from interviewing prominent people. To be frank I think this method is a case of loves labors lost and inopportune. Besides it is so individualistic that my social sense recoils at its narrow application. Do not take me for an ingrate for I am sure you will readily understand the sentiment which prompts the above on recollecting that Debs, O'Hare, Stokes, Mooney, Billings and the other political and industrial prisoners have as much call upon your energies as your loving brother.
One of the boys here whose case with the civil authorities that is, the method by which he was indicted in the army is almost identically the same as mine. He is having a writ of habeas corpus taken out, I believe, by the Civil Liberties Bureau of New York. If his case is a success, it is, I believe their intention to use the same method in similar cases.
A large number of the boys have high hopes that a good many of us will be released on the signing of peace. Others, myself included, feel that the most that can be expected is that we may be set free when the army has been virtually demobilized. If this is not the policy or intention of the War Department then I believe the only effective method of obtaining our release is through organizing the workers in demanding our release through the use of the general strike.
Yesterday the prisoners were in an uproar over the shooting of one of their number. As far as I can ascertain the facts leading up to the fray were as follows. A number of prisoners attempted to break into the storehouse and peculate the lemon extract contained therein. The lemon extract is used by the prisoners for the same reason that the Kentucky colonel used bourbon rye. Frustrated by a sentry they endeavored to overcome the opposition with Bismarkian tactics and the recent applauded method of bringing democracy to the people of the world. The result of the melee was one prisoner was shot in the leg, another badly beaten up, also, two soldiers, according to the Kansas City Times (this paper has been the most rabid, bitter and despicable opponent that the C.O's had against them) interview with the Commandant of the prison, the C.O's were not mixed up in the fracas but they did line up along the wings, windows cheering and encouraging the prisoners "to get the guards."