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TARGET PRACTICE ON THE FIFTY-FOOT RANGE AT PLUM ISLAND Every cadet of the camp was required to fire at least thirty shots on this range. The shortness of the range was compensated for by the smallness of the target. Those cadets who were especially proficient here were entitled to shoot with service ammunition on the regular range. The officer in command of the company may be seen in the center of the picture leaning on his elbow and facing to the left; and the officer in immediate charge of the platoon at
practice is the second standing figure from the right. The shooting was thus carefully supervised
THE BOYS OF PLUM ISLAND'
As I heard these words I turned be kept straight, only when each one in the
the corner and came upon the company is acting jointly with all his comstalwart youth to whom they were addressed. rades. It means being clean in body and He was raking the sandy soil around the mind. It means obedience and loyalty, beback of the camp. He was not enjoying his cause it is often only those in command who task. He was in khaki. The only sign that know which way is the straight way. It distinguished him from a soldier of the regu- means bravery, for the straight way leads lar army was the red, white, and blue cord sometimes to danger. It means efficiency, around the crown of his hat. The speaker for it avoids the wasteful ways around. It was an older man—well bronzed, well set means democracy, for you cannot go the up. The cord on his hat showed that he straight way if you play favorites. was a “regular.” Perhaps he was over- This, I am sure, is a part of what the seeing the job. I judged so from what he straight way means to the boys who spent had just said. The boy didn't answer, and five weeks this summer in camp at Plum the speaker went on, turning to me :
Island under military discipline. “I'll leave it to you, sir, if the straight All of Plum Island is a Government reserway isn't the best way.”.
vation; it is one of the Nation's coast de" I don't quite understand," I answered. fenses. The fortification there is known as “Do you mean the straight way of holding Fort Terry. It helps to guard the entrance the rake ?"
to Long Island Sound from the east. As “ No," he replied. I mean the straight you land there from the boat, which will stop way is the best way in everything."
on signal, you see that the dock is guarded It was not till afterwards, when I had by a sentry with a rifle on his shoulder. followed the routine of the camp for two Visitors come and go only with the knowldays, that I realized how aptly those words edge and consent of the military. Plum summed up the lesson that that boy and Island is about four miles from end to end, about twelve hundred others, varying from and varies greatly in width, from a few score fifteen to eighteen years of age, were learn- yards (at the neck, which connects the easting. These boys (or perhaps they had rather erly and smaller portion with the other and be called young men, for some of them were much larger) to a mile or so. Scattered over six feet tall, and they were a manly- about where they will do the most good, looking lot in the American fatigue uniform) some on the hilly portions, others along the had come to this island from over a score of shore, are the big guns of various sizes. States ; and they were living there and drill- The only dwellers on the island are the offiing and studying under the control and cers and men and their families), whose direction of the United States Army.
business is that of the coast artillery. When It is a hard lesson that they were learning; the twelve hundred boys landed there on for the straight way is not only the best way, July 6, they were completely removed from but is also always a hard way. The easiest the distractions of town, and in as safe and way is the way of least resistance, and is wholesome a place as it is possible to imagine. therefore crooked or sinuous. The straight Here I found them after they had been way, on the other hand, is one that encoun- there a day or two more than a week ; and ters obstacles-inconvenience, discomfort, already they showed the physical benefit of bad weather. If it is in parade, it takes no the life they had been leading ; but what was account of tired muscles; if it is in skirmish- still more impressive was the democracy of ing, it takes no account of bushes, or rocks, the camp. The uniform was the symbol of or casual water. It means self-control. It it. Millionaires' sons were there, but you means telling the truth when it hurts. It could not distinguish them by their clothes ; means administering discipline as sternly to and, when you found that out, you found that a friend as to a stranger. It means co- you could not distinguish them at all. operation ; because the company's line can And the first work those boys had been
put to enforced the lesson of democracy. "An account of the origin of the Fort Terry Training Camp was given in The Outlook for May 3 (page 3), and They were set to work making the camp an account of its opening was given in The Outlook for July 26 (pages 685 and 686).
ready for occupancy. Their tents had been pitched-and big, comfortable tents they were, That does not mean that order was not mainwith wooden floors and even electric lights ; tained. On the contrary, order was the their mess halls built-weather-proof shacks camp's first law. It meant simply that the with deal benches and clean deal tables; officers were wisely initiating their charges their bath-houses constructed-shacks fitted into the observance of military standards a with shower-baths and faucets where they step at a time. For the first two weeks could keep themselves and their clothes clean ; punishments consisted in assignments to duty but their camp was not ready—they had to in camp or kitchen police, which involved make it ready themselves. Some of them, work in cleaning up the camp or helping for instance, were set to digging incinerators about the mess hall. Now it became cus-ditches or holes in which the garbage was tomary to see one or more cadets of the camp to be burned. There was the wiping of walking up and down the company street with dishes to be done after the first meal, and cartridge belt around the waist and rifle on boys were detailed to do that. Then the camp shoulder. A “punishment tour" meant an was to be cleaned up. This meant working hour of this—"no joke,” as several cadets with shovels and picks and rakes; for the vuld bear witness. Though by this time discicompany street (the space between the two pline had "tightened up quite a lot," as one rows of tents occupied by each company of a boy put it, the significant thing was the feeling hundred and fifty boys) had to be cleared of expressed by that same boy when he added, grass and weeds and stones, and had to be "I think that the discipline could tighten up graded as well.
still further.” These boys were beginning to Within nine days, as I can testify, the realize that the enforcement of discipline was camp that those twelve hundred boys, from to their common interest. To talk after taps all sorts of places, rich and poor, city boys was to shorten the none too long hours of and farmers' sons, had made and kept in sleep. Raising a hand in the ranks, or failorder themselves was a model of sanitation ure to have one's tent in order, or to have and cleanliness. I doubt whether any one the buttons on one's blouse properly fastened of them had ever lived under such hygienic at inspection, or to be on time when the and orderly conditions. I doubt whether the bugle sounded “ assembly,” or to respond house of any of my civilian readers could survive with a snap and with vigor to orders, was to the inspection that that camp had to undergo. throw the company out of gear and to lessen
Some of these boys, I learned, had had a its standing in comparison with the other little military drill; but all that was expected companies—and, worse still, was to bring of them at the beginning was to understand reproach upon the company's officers. One the three orders: “Right face," " Left face,” cadet's remark that all the officers of his and “ Forward, march !" Even these simple company were "good skates " expressed orders were too much for some of them. In very colloquially the spirit of loyalty that was a week's time those twelve hundred boys had getting behind and pushing along the willing learned the manual of arms and had been put and even eager acceptance of strict military through the ceremony of parade.
discipline. Pride in one's officers and pride It took these boys five days to “spring in one's company were becoming ingredients to arms." They arrived on the 6th of July, in a new sort of self-respect. and, though their rifles were there all ready And, with that self-respect as a basis, the for them, they were not issued to them till the boys were ready for their lesson in courage. 11th.
Even then these boys were not given Perhaps this lesson can best be described by straps (or "slings," as they are called) for quotation from a letter I have been pertheir guns; nor were they after five weeks mitted to see. It was written by one of the considered sufficiently trained to be allowed cadets after his first experience in guard duty. to have bayonets.
To understand it, it is perhaps necessary to Four days after receiving their arms these know that these boy sentries were sternly boys had been taught what a clean gun meant. tested by their officers. The West Point One of them wrote home: “Every screw men who had sacrificed their vacation (or furhead must be absolutely clean. The insides lough, as the soldier calls it) to volunteer their must be as clean as the outside ”-a lesson services in helping to train these boys were good for other things than guns. Then they especially ingenious in testing the boys' received the slings for the " pieces."
nerves. They would try to grapple with a At first military discipline was lenient. sentry and seize his gun. The boy who en
THE BOYS OF PLUM ISLAND
counters such an attack in the dark has to the Sound to the low-lying shore of Connecthave his nerve as well as his wits with him. icut. Behind the camp, on the bluff from
" I am in the third squad," wrote this lad, which the drainage led to the Sound, were “ which is posted from 9 until 10 P M., and the outhouses or “sinks "—including the all persons inust be challenged from 9:30 on. rough but adequate lavatories, with faucets There is one thing that one must be careful and shower-baths. about on guard duty—not to let any one get When I arrived (about half-past eight in near enough to take away your gun; poke the morning), the boys had gone for drill, so him in the ribs, if necessary. At nine I went I stopped at the headquarters of the Young in. My post was at one end of the camp, Men's Christian Association to pay my realong Company X's tents. All went well spects to the men in charge. The service until after 9:30. Suddenly I saw a figure they were rendering to the camp was indisapproaching
pensable. Acting under the military direc66. Halt! Who is there?
tion that has full sway in that island fortress, ««• Officer of the day.'
and receiving the co-operation of the officers " • Advance, officer of the day, to be recog- in command, these men of the Association, a nized.'
few of them employed officers, the rest volun" He approached, and when about ten feet teers, had taken upon themselves duties that off I said, “ Halt!'
the parent of every boy at that camp should "He kept on coming.
be glad to know were discharged by men of Halt!'
character. At each unit (for the camp was “ Still he advanced, and I thought of my really composed of two camps or units” gun, so I lowered my muzzle and pointed it separated by a mile and a half) a group of at his stomach, which by this time was about Association men kept in close contact with two inches away. Then he halted.
the boys, two volunteers being assigned to Lieutenant the officer of the day, so I each company and messing with it. It was let him pass while I presented arms."
at the Young Men's Christian Association Before the third week was up the boys had headquarters at each camp that the boys drill in extended order. Over that rolling, found their social center. It was there sandy country, through high grass and bushes, they had their voluntary religious meetings, a company was sent as an advance guard to there they gathered for “movies ” in the discover nine men concealed in the vegeta- evening, there they mostly wrote their letters, tion. They had to walk several miles with there one could find them eating ice-cream rifles in hand. They discovered seven of the purchased at the post exchange or listennine ; but, as one of the boys very truly re- ing to phonograph records. It was the marked afterwards, the two left undiscovered Association that published a camp periodical, were enough to blow up the camp.
It is a
the "Rangefinder," with original contribugood lesson to learn that seven does not tions from boys as well as officers. And equal nine ; that something less than per- when a boy failed to write home and appeals fection may at times be fatally defective. came in frantic telegrams from the worried
Meantime these boys had been having parents as to his health, it was the Young before them as models the regular soldiers of Men's Christian Association secretary who the post-and models they were in the mat- hunted the boy up, escorted him to a table, ters which these boys were told to observe. and stood over him till he had done his duty. Twelve hundred boys were learning some- And it is worth noting that of the 1,173 boys thing of the men of their own country's army, who left the camp on August 10 about a and what they learned gave them a respect thousand had signed the following: “I hereby they had never had before for those uni- declare that as long as I'am at Camp Washformed guards of the Nation's security. ington I will seek to create, maintain, and ex
The camp was thus in full swing when, tend high standards of Christian character." just after the close of the third week, I had The Association meetings were not the only the privilege of visiting it for the second time services held there, for there were church, and following the camp routine for two days. services for both Protestants and Roman I decided to devote my observations to one Catholics, but the Association was the organic company, which I shall call Company Z. It center of both religious and social activities, was situated with others on a low plateau and it performed its function well. from which one could look northward across As I finished my visit at the Association's
POLICING ONE COMPANY STREET After nearly an hour's work, the cadets of this company are putting the finishing touches to the preparation for the inspection of the camp. The cadet in the foreground is picking up some little scrap or straw. It is interesting to note the straightness of the line of tent pegs. This company stood first in three
successive weekly inspections
ANOTHER COMPANY STREET DURING INSPECTION While the cadets stand at attention, the inspecting officer and the officers accompanying him examine the whole company street, every tent, and every cadet. No allowance is made for any defect, even to a pair of shoes slightly misplaced. The group of officers seen in the distance have gone up one side of the
street and are starting down the other CAMP INSPECTION AS HELD ONCE A WEEK