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Philip Coholan recommended that the “places where diseased women lived” be placed off-limits. The commission's report about installations in the greater Norfolk, Virginia, area said that Norfolk's "segregated vice district” had been abolished in the summer of 1917, but that "many temporary boarding houses are open to suspicion.” Its New York City report showed that 500 servicemen were "suffering from venereal diseases” at Hoffman Island Hospital. In addition to treating venereal cases in hospitals, the Army also took other measures to keep the diseases from spreading. An enlisted man stationed at Camps Gordon, Georgia, and McClellan, Alabama, claimed that his unit had to stand formation in the barracks every morning before breakfast and submit to "short-arm inspection” by the medics. He also recalled that one chaplain gave “V.D. lectures” in which he described the dangers of fornication and advised continence, but added that "if you can't refrain from doing it, use prophylaxis.
While General Pershing was in France, he placed great emphasis on the prevention of venereal disease, and for good reason. When he arrived there in 1917, the British Expeditionary Force had about 23,000 men in hospitals as venereal cases, and the French Army had reported about 1,000,000 cases of syphilis and gonorrhea since the beginning of the war. As a matter of military necessity, as well as for moral reasons, he was determined to avoid such a waste of manpower among his troops. Every morning he carefully examined the venereal report, and if it showed "an increase of one thousandth of a per cent,” he learned the reason. When he inspected a unit, he always asked to see its venereal report; if its rate was too high, he required an explanation. Brigadier General James G. Harbord said that there was “no subject on which more emphasis was laid, throughout the existence of the American Expeditionary Forces.” Unit commanders were held responsible for the venereal rates in their units. The medics and the chaplains did their part to support the unit commanders. As a result, the A.E.F. made a remarkable record in holding down the venereal rate. In August 1918 The Stars and Stripes reported on its front page that the rate was only one-fourth as much as that among troops in the United States. In September 1918 the rate was less than one case among 1,000 soldiers. Pershing, however, had an advantage over military authorities in the United States; infected soldiers were not permitted to board a ship to France.
Everything considered, Pershing's policy regarding the venereal situation was that the American soldier was “expected to be continent”; that the A.E.F. "would try to provide recreation and to eliminate temptation and would, all else failing, provide prophylaxis”; and that an infected soldier "could expect a court-martial and punishment.” Bishop Brent's diary and final report indicate that he helped to forge that policy. From the time Brent arrived in France, he advised Pershing to be "uncompromising" and to publicly uphold the “highest principles in dealing with [the] venereal question,” and he was pleased with the general's stand. He did differ with Pershing, however, in regard to the distribution of prophylaxis packages. As a practical matter, Pershing felt that the packages should be made available to a “person determined to go to a prostitute.” Conversely, Brent was convinced that the “indiscriminate distribution of prophylaxis packages is ... a psychological error that carries evil consequences in its train,” but he never made a public issue of his difference with the general. Nevertheless, it was common knowledge that his unvarying position was that "trying as Army conditions are, continence is a possibility and a duty.'
Some French officials considered Pershing's policy impractical and requested an opportunity to dissuade him from his course, but the general asked Brent to represent him when they called and “make it clear that there can be no departure from the position which we have taken and to which we are pledged.” 51 Pershing even received a letter from French Premier Georges Clemenceau critical of the A.E.F. policy; it suggested, as an alternative, licensed houses of prostitution, which he would help to establish. Pershing gave Raymond Fosdick, the chairman of the Commission on Training Camp Activities, a copy of the letter to show to Secretary of War Baker. Upon reading it, Baker exclaimed, “For God's sake, Raymond, don't show this to the President or he'll stop the war.” 52
The A.E.F. chaplains appreciated Pershing's policy and enthusiastically promoted it with lectures and recreation programs; apparently they contributed to its success. When one regiment returned from France with an extremely low venereal rate, medical authorities doubted the figures, but upon making an investigation, they discovered that the figures were accurate. Moreover, they learned much of the credit for the regiment's fine record was attributed to its chaplain, Remsen B. Ogilby. 53
It was unfortunate that a policy similar to Pershing's was not established and enforced within the A.E.F. units in Siberia, for it was greatly needed. Major General William S. Graves reported that there was a high rate of venereal disease with his command, especially in Vladivostok where the number of prostitutes was “appalling.” Chaplain Joseph S. Loughran agreed; he said that the “opportunities for meeting prostitutes were plentiful,” and that a certain street in Vladivostok frequented by American men was called “Shanker Alley." In August 1919 Chaplain Zachary T. Vincent reported that the number of infected patients admitted to Evacuation Hospital 17, Vladivostok, showed "a moral condition that [was] deplorable,” that no effort was made “to prevent the men
men from frequenting houses of prostitution,” and that there was “no prophylaxis station near at hand where they could] ... be treated.” General Graves was apparently as concerned as Vincent, for he once called Chaplain Loughran to his office to discuss the “VD situation.” Loughran was impressed with his earnestness and said:
It was then that I decided to make my talks on character building more frequent. Even in my sermons I tried to show the men how dreadful it would be to carry back to Wichita a "package" as a Siberian souvenir. Since I believe in salvation by character as well as by grace ... I was very serious in my approach to this perilous situation. We had a saying “15 minutes with Venus and 3
years with Mercury.” This was prior to the invention of penicillin. Whether his talks and sermons had the desired effect, Chaplain Loughran could not say; he could only hope that they did.
Even though they were busily engaged in the various duties, chaplains gave some consideration to how their identity and status affected their effectiveness as religious leaders within the Army. In that connection two issues emerged, one briefly and the other for an extended period. Both resulted from changes either proposed or made in regard to chaplain insignia; before they were settled, both generated considerable heat among chaplains throughout the Army. The shepherd's crook was the first insignia to be authorized for chaplains; it was of frosted silver and symbolized the pastoral function. It was authorized for wear in the center of black velvet shoulder straps from 13
February 1880 to 5 May 1888. The apparent reason for the distcontinuance of that insignia was to create a new uniform for chaplains, obviously plain and without insignia. But 10 years later, 31 May 1898, chaplains were authorized to wear shoulder straps of “dark-blue cloth . . . with a plain Latin cross, of silver, in the center.” Thus the cross insignia became both a means of identification and a sacred symbol. Chaplains accepted it without dissent.56
Twenty years later, however, a problem arose when rabbis entered the chaplaincy and Jewish organizations protested to the General Staff against the regulation which made the cross a part of the chaplain uniform. They appealed for an insignia “symbolic and free from criticism from believers in any creed.” 67 To satisfy that appeal, Secretary of War Baker authorized Jewish chaplains to remove the cross. Still they were not satisfied; they rightfully wanted an insignia that would represent their faith as the cross did for their Christian colleagues. Baker, who found religious distinctions contrary to his liking, ordered all chaplains to wear the shepherd's crook instead of the cross, and it appeared that the matter was settled. But while the size and design of the shepherd's crook was under discussion, numerous Christian chaplains vigorously objected, and the order was suspended. Finally, on 15 October 1918 the Jewish chaplains were authorized to wear a distinctive insignia representing the “Tables of the Law surmounted by the Star of David." 58
In the meantime, another controversy had evolved from an order that precluded chaplains from wearing insignia of grade. Though Federal legislation passed in 1866 and 1867 authorized the commissioning of chaplains in a grade roughly equivalent to that of captain, chaplains were not authorized to wear insignia of grade. Their uniforms were distinctly clerical. In 1904, when they began to hold their commissions in the grades of first lieutenant through major, some felt that they should be authorized to wear appropriate insignia and that the complete uniform ensemble should “conform more nearly to that of other staff officers." They reasoned that grade insignia would give chaplains the “added strength” and “added prestige” required in their work, and that the chaplain uniform was “an invidious distinction” that tended to lower prestige. Other chaplains disagreed, but on 9 April 1914 chaplains were authorized to wear the insignia and complete uniform ensemble of a staff officer. There the matter rested until 22 May 1918, when the War Department ordered the removal of such insignia from the chaplain's
uniform and the relocation of the silver Latin cross from the collar to the shoulder loop.69
The change was initiated by Bishop Brent as a result of a discussion with General Pershing on 27 February 1918; both men agreed that “it would be better to have no commissions for chaplains,” and that “insignia of rank should not be worn if commissions are held.” Brent believed that commissions and grade insignia tended to make chaplains "less free" and somewhat militaristic. More important, both men were convinced that chaplains without grade insignia could establish better relations with enlisted men. On 30 March 1918, therefore, General Pershing cabled the Secretary of War:
Believe work of chaplains would be facilitated if they were not given military rank. I have personally held this view for a long time. Many of our principal ministers believe that their relations would be closer if they did not have military titles and did not wear insignia. They should be given assimilated rank and pay. The above view is held by Bishop Brent, Bishop McCormick, and many others whom I have consulted. Recommend that the matter be given
Upon receiving Pershing's recommendation, the War Department concurred and on 7 and 22 May 1918 published appropriate changes in the uniform regulation. When news of the changes reached the field, many chaplains expressed their displeasure. Three senior chaplainsJoseph L. Hunter, Joseph M. Kangley, and Julian E. Yates--complained to Brent personally. Some ignored the order and continued to wear the insignia; chaplains at the Training School for Newly Appointed Chaplains and Chaplain Candidates at Camp Zachary Taylor, Kentucky, did not remove theirs until four months after publication of the changes.
The most vigorous opposition to the changes occurred in the school. On 23 September 1918 Chaplain Aldred A. Pruden, who was not only the commandant but also the chaplain whose efforts were largely responsible for convincing the War Department in 1914 that chaplains should wear grade insignia, assembled the faculty and about 252 students, read the changes to the uniform regulation, and explained where the cross would be worn. Following his remarks, however, he and some faculty members expressed their disapproval of the order, and the students asked, “What can we do?” Pruden replied that they should "send telegrams and night letters to Congressmen, Senators,