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Subject: Manila Letter -- John TAYLOR -- Mar 1899
Date: Fri, 21 Mar 2003 09:00:06 -0800

The Free Lance
Hollister, CA
17 Mar 1899

Manila, Jan. 21, 1899
The hysterical Filipinos have subsided again to a certain extent, but we
are keeping a strict watch on them. “La Independencia,” their official
organ, says that the appointment of a commission by President McKINLEY is
another ruse to deceive them. The leaders and papers of the Filipinos use
all means in their power to prevent the peacefully inclined among them
from favoring annexation. Lying newspaper articles and pyrotechnical
proclamations are the most common means employed by AGUINALDO and his
advisors, whose educations were sufficiently advanced under Spanish rule
to perfect them in the art of lying, if they did not learn much of the
art of governing. These islands are surely a while elephant on our hands.
One thing is certain, we cannot abandon them entirely without trouble,
and we will have trouble if we hold on to them. In my opinion the easiest
and shortest way to settle the question is to keep the islands and hammer
the natives into submission. It will be the best for them in the long
run, and cheapest for us.

Every day or 2 a native is shot for stealing or attacking a sentry. A
couple of weeks ago one of our sentries was attacked and stabbed, but he
quickly got his gun in operation, with the result that there were 2
Filipinos to bury. He received a cut that will disfigure him for life.

We are wondering now whether we will be among the lucky ones to be
relieved when the regulars arrive. Most officers are of the opinion that
the Third will be sent home. For my part I would rather be discharged
here, but if they send me home and discharge me right away, that will
suit me. The question then will be to get back to the islands.

I read in the “Weekly Call” 2 letters from their correspondents giving a
most dismal picture of this place, claiming that Manila was reeking with
pestilence, and that the hospitals were filled to overflowing, and that
they were badly managed, besides a lot of other stuff, and all of it is
mere rot. The hospitals are well managed, and the best of food that can
be obtained is furnished the sick, and every means possible taken to
prevent the spread of contagious diseases, such as small-pox. Of course,
at first, there was a great deal of sickness on account of the men not
being acclimated, improper food, and not taking care of themselves. Our
hospital facilities were not sufficient at that time to handle the great
amount in a proper manner, but all that has been remedied since. It is
quite likely that there was more sickness among the volunteers than the
regulars, due to lax discipline and the lack of proper sanitary
precautions. Our battery has lost but 1 man, and he was the most careless
man in the battery in regard to his health. I am safe in saying that 2/3
of the sick men have only themselves to blame for their sickness. Don’t
you believe all these tales. The health of the troops is far better than
at Camp Merritt.

Manila, Jan. 27th
Yesterday was a big holiday in Manila. We received loads of papers and
letters, and everybody was happy. Every mail day is a holiday to us. To
receive mail is better than receive presents. We expect more in a few
days on the transports.

There is nothing new in the insurgent situation. I do not think anything
will be done until our policy is settle regarding the islands.

Gustave ROSCHEL, a member of our battery, who is on duty as interpreter
for General OTIS, was sent out to Malalos a few days ago by the General
to interview AGUINALDO. ROSCHEL is a bright fellow and afraid of nothing.
He not only succeeded in getting to Malalos, which is in itself a
difficult feat, but he succeeded in getting an interview with the
President, something that no private soldier in the American army has yet
been able to do. His ostensible purpose in seeing the President was to
procure a pass through Luzon Island, but in reality he went to make
observations. He was stopped when the train got outside of our lines, but
finally getting an interview with the insurgent General, who commands the
army near Manila, he, with his 2 companions, were allowed to proceed on
their way to Malalos, the capital. The General sent a guard with them,
and it was shown many times before they returned that the guard was
necessary. They were greeted with taunts, and in many unmistakable ways
showed the bitter feeling against the “mucho malo Americanos.” Arriving
at Malolos they were ushered into the presence of AGUINALDO, who treated
them in a very respectful manner, as did all the officials they came in
contact with. In reply to ROSCHEL’s request for a pass through the
interior the President said that he could not grant it for the reason
that he could not insure an American’s or Englishman’s life beyond the
provinces controlled by his soldiers, on account of the great excitement
prevailing. ROSCHEL and the 2 other Americans with him, after being
advised by AGUINALDO to return to Manila on the next train, were given
their dinner and 2 prisoners (American) turned over to them to take back
to Manila. One of these prisoners was a dishonorably discharged soldier
and the other was a sailor from the “Indiana,” who had strayed out into
the insurgent country, and had been gathered in by the soldiers of

When ROSCHEL took the returning train for Manila, the President sent one
of his Captains with them as an escort. They gave him an invitation to
come back to Malolos when the trouble between the Filipinos and Americans
is over, and they would extend to him all the favors possible.

ROSCHEL told me that AGUINALDO is one of the most intelligent looking men
he ever saw. They are satisfied to have the U.S. establish a protectorate
over them until such time as they are able to govern themselves, but U.S.
ownership they will not submit to.

A number of sick were sent home on the Zealandia and among them Sergeant
Thad. B. SIEGLE and 3 privates from our Battery.

There seems to be an opinion among officers that the third will be sent
home when the Infantry arrives. As politics seem to be a more powerful
influence with the War Department than anything else, it is probably that
the 3rd Artillery will have to remain here while those fortifications at
Fort Baker and elsewhere, are going to ruin, for want of proper care. I
noticed in the papers that the Volunteer Battery, who relieved us, have
gone to Angel Island for the winter, leaving a detachment of 20 men to
care for property that is worth several millions.
Battery L., 3rd Art’y

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