State Historic Site

Letters Home - Milton DeWitt Long

(From In the World War)

Trail End

A large number of Sheridan homes have reason to be interested in Camp Lewis, and a few days ago I drove down from Tacoma and had a time with the boys. ... It was my hope to get to grip the hand of every Sheridan County boy remaining in camp, but I was not able to find them all in the limited time I had allotted to my visit. But the parents and wives may rest assured that the boys in camp are doing finely, though I suspect that some of them get lonely at times ...

I was deeply struck with the conduct and order of the thousands of young soldiers. At almost any hour until ten o’clock at night women and girls may be seen, very frequently alone, or in groups of three or four, in all parts of the camp. In almost any city in the country these would have received comment from some of the young bloods on the street. But here they passed and repassed without even a challenging look. Morally, Camp Lewis is a safer place than any town of its size in America.

Later I had the pleasure of visiting the ship yards at Seattle. Strangers are not allowed within the gates without a pass, and I had gone without a pass. However, that look of harmlessness which I wear won the day.

I saw the steel ships in every stage of construction and was exceedingly fortunate in seeing a finished one start on a trial trip over the sound. She was delightfully camouflaged. My conception of camouflage was wrong in one particular. I had supposed that the colors were put on in wavy or spiral designs, but they run in absolutely straight lines, but in very odd designs. This one was painted very brightly in grey blue, white and black. I could draw you a picture of it, but I will wait till I see you. These patterns swept up over hull and cabin and wheel-house.

Indeed, ship building, and the getting out of lumber for that purpose, is the one outstanding wonder of this northwest. ... Whatever else Washington and north Idaho are good for, they are good for timber. I wish you would ask the chamber of commerce to pass a vote of thanks to Marcus Whitman for saving that part of the country to us. However, if you are busy, you can let that wait.

THE SON OF a United Brethren minister, Milton DeWitt Long was born in Sandusky County, Ohio, in 1854. After being ordained himself, Long went on to a long career in the ministry and - sometimes - education. In 1884, for example, he was hired as a professor of "languages, mental and moral sciences" at Fostoria Academy in Seneca County, Ohio.

After his daughter moved to Sheridan in 1905, Rev. Long followed, taking charge of the local Presbyterian church. 

During the World War One, Rev. Long - in the company of other ministers and community leaders - was one of President Wilson's so-called "Four-Minute Speakers." Addressing topics of national interest, the group got its name by presenting short monologues during the four minutes it took to change reels in movie theaters across the country.

This letter, published in The Sheridan Post in August 1918, describes a visit to the army training facility at Camp Lewis, Washington.