Citizen’s Training Corps

Morey croppedPrior to the U.S. entry into World War I, neither the Army nor Navy was prepared for war. In many parts of the country patriotic rallies and preparedness meetings were held as early as 1915. Colonel Charles Hyatt responded to a 1917 rally in Chester by offering training and equipment to those men who could not join the National Guard but wished to receive practical military training in preparation for service.

In early April, a group of eighty boys and 104 men braved a cold rain to enlist in the Citizen’s Training Corps at PMC. Two groups were formed. Those boys sixteen or older were part of the High School Cadet Corps, and those men eighteen to fifty-five were part of the Citizen’s Training Corps. Eventually the number rose to 400, many traveling from as far away as Wilmington and Philadelphia. The course, conducted by Captain Lewis Morey and the Military Staff of PMC, was to last for ten weeks. The Citizen’s Training Corps drilled two nights each week for two hours. The high school cadets trained two afternoons for an hour and a half each week. Drills were originally held in the riding hall, but with the arrival of eight arc lights from the City of Chester, the citizen soldiers began to drill outdoors. Besides the drills and strenuous physical exercises, lectures in the Assembly Room in Old Main were held. The topics included a variety of military subjects, such as the mechanism and use of the Army rifle and trench construction.

While PMC made an important contribution on the home front, graduates were training similar groups throughout the United States. Colonel Hyatt received frequent reports from alumni in New Jersey and Tennessee.