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Letter November 14, 1918 from [Clark Getts] to Mrs. Anna M. Davis


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Box 60, Fort Leavenworh [sic]

November 14, 1918

Mrs. Anna N. Davis

44 Edgehill Road

Brookline, Mass.

My dear Mrs. Davis:

Francis Hennessey has asked me to send you this message, for just now he cannot write. The group of boys from Fort Ri[ley] and Camp Funston came to Leavenworth more than a week ago. Most of them began working in and about the prison, but practically all have refused to work longer and are now doing penance in the "Hole".

The Hole is our jail, you know, - a black cold place in the sub-basement. The men hang ther [sic] chained by their wrists to their cell doors for nine hours a day. They sleep on the cold cement floor between foul blankets and are given bread and water if they will eat at all. They cannot speak, and of course they can neither read nor write.

There is brutality enough, too. Some of the men have been beaten periodically. I saw one man dragged by his collar across the rough corridor floor, screaming and choking, to the bath. He was knocked about on the floor for failing to undress and was then stripped roughly and thrust under the icy water for more than ten minites [sic] and scrubbed with course laundry soap and a heavy scrubbing brush. He has since gone to the hospital.

Several Russians -- Holy Jumpers from Arizona -- have been hunger striking in the Hole. Two of them were beaten so beastially [sic] that evn [sic] the authorities were shocked and the sentry is to be court martialed. The sentry is being tried, however, only because he exceeded his authority. The other beatings and tortures were matters of general knowledge and are accepted by the authorities as justifiable. These Russians wer [sic] so weak at the end of six days that two of them had to be sent to the hospital -- vertible [sic] ghosts. The others finally accepted a bowl and a half of cornflakes and milk daily in preference to forcible feeding. They say that in Russian prisons they were let alone and permitted to live separately and to prepare their own food. They are ready to die in this dungeon. Their courage so firm and beautiful shames the others of us.

Evan Thomas, Howard Moore, Rose of Philadelphia, Hennessey and about twenty others are now in the pit. They are protesting against the brutalities and tortures, compulsory work, compulsory chapel on Sunday and against the imprisonment itself. The local officers are relentless in punishing this breach of discipline and promise one man a court martial, I am told, as a lesson to the rest of us. Little more could be expected of them. But from Washington we hope that some recognition of the condition may be drawn. We hope, of course, that the administration will act as liberally as it has so often spoken and that it will recognize the right to be free-minded religiously and politically. We feel that if the government is not committed by deed to this principle the sacrifice we have been making as accomplished nothing -- except perhaps to create splendid social propagandidt [sic] material.

We wish that someone could visit us and see with his own eyes the result of the repressive policies which these military persons call justice. And we wish Mr. Norman Thomas and the others who may still be enjoying some degree of liberty to know all that is passing.

We have all come to love Francis in the few days that he has been here. He is a lad of the quietest courage. He has not the slightest hesitancy about stepping into this dungeon. He wants you to be assured that he will come through happily.

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