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"The 'Mutiny' at Fort Leavenworth Disciplinary Barracks," July 28, 1919
were introduced. Moreover coincident with these events, were the transfer west of several hundred conscientious objectors leaving only fifteen or twenty, most of whom were short timers. And the influx of nearly a thousand disillusioned over-seas prisoners. These men were smarting with a sense of injustice, some had five years sentences, and more for talking to a German woman, for loitering, and similar insignificant offenses. Many had fifteen or twenty years for absence without leave, or some other military charge. Some had long sentences for larceny; it developed that many had received no pay for long periods of time, some indeed had gone eleven months without receiving a cent. These men came fresh with knowledge of a general amnesty in Italy and France. Many suffered severely in the over-seas prisoner camps, and were indignant of brutal treatment.
Monday noon, (July 21st) came the climax of a series of atrocious meals. Beans had been the backbone of nearly every meal consisted of steamed red beans, half a slice of sour pickle and chocolate pudding, which was disagreeably tasteless, bread and water, that was all. It happened that at that very meal Col. Rice, the Commandant, took Col. Penn of the Inspector General’s office, who had arrived on a tour of inspection, through the mess hall. Both of them saw this meal.
It was announced that at one o’clock there was to be a meeting of the General Prisoners Conference Committee, to discuss the mess hall situation. That night the Committee men in each wing announced the results of the meeting. They said that Colonel Rice, Colonel Penn and Lieut. Colonel Smith, the Executive Officer, had been present and had explained the poor mess as the result of the new ration system. However, they felt that an improvement in the mess would take place within twenty-four hours and urged the men to wait that long before taking any further action. “Give the Committee a chance” was their plea. In the seventh wing, where I sleep there was apparent assent to this.
The next morning there was another miserable meal, poorly cooked rice, with a little canned meal, was the piece de resistance. The President of the Committee called for silence, mounted one of the benches and talked to the men. He said that the men at early mess had grumbled about the breakfast and that some had shouted “there ain't no more” – he urged the men not to be so foolish as to quit work now, but to give the Committee a chance to bring improvements. He called for a show of hands from those who were willing to back the Committee and go quietly to work. A large majority raised their hands in assent, although there were one or two shouts of “there ain't no more, and we want general amnesty.” There followed music from the piano,