Diary of Lieutenant X (Aime Ernest Motsch)

Friday, July 1, 1898

Bad News

Last night, at 4 o’clock, the sight of smoke immediately signalled the speedy entry into the Manila Bay of the Baltimore and the Charleston, escorting three enormous liners, two of which have four masts and must be the San Francisco-Yokohama lines. Here is the first American expedition with at least 300 or 400 men. It is all humbug. The situation is not yet lost if the Spaniards give the Tagals the autonomy they want. Then both can throw these troops into the sea and reverse this naval victory into a disaster. But the Spaniards will not do it. Moreover the Tagals, who have been repeatedly cheated, have absolutely no confidence in them. They demand genuine proof of sincerity (like the total expulsion of the religious orders to China or Europe, which they want actually executed).

The Reuters dispatches of the week define the situation:

June 23. –A third expedition leaves San Francisco on the 27th for Manila;

June 24. –It is announced at the Cortes that the Camara squadron will return to Manila;

June 26. –The Cadiz Fleet has been seen off Port Said;

June 27. –The Camara squadron consists of two battleships, two cruisers, two big torpedo ships, and five transport ships, with 4,000 men. The Egyptian government refuses to provide coal to the Camara squadron;

June 28. –The third expedition. Four transport ships with 4,000 men have left San Francisco for Manila;

June 29. –General Merritt hastily leaves San Francisco for Manila.

When the fighting begins, there will be clashes everywhere. It is uncertain whether Camara has sufficient coal or not. England seems to be behind Egypt’s unwillingness to furnish it. It should be noted that the Americans were able to secure coal in Hongkong. Undeniably, the morale of the sailors depends on this indispensable item. May Camara make haste and defy the enemy! He can be here in 20 days, descend upon the Americans at dawn, and could easily surprise them before they have time to retaliate.

Britain’s pride and jealousy are evident. Ever since they were informed of the German naval forces anchored at the bat, the English have doubled their fleet. They cannot accept the fact that the Germans have surpassed them. On June 25, after the arrival of the cruiser Iphigenie, the cruiser Plover arrived, followed by five other gunboats. Two days later, the Quee came, followed by six others. This is the British position: when the need arises, they have four or six different battleships ready. Their naval units have an excellent system which gives them the discretion to anchor anywhere in the world as the need arises, thus giving the impression of a force more superior than it actually is.

On the 28th of June, the flag was raised in honor of Her British Majesty. The is the third celebration or the birthday of Queen Victoria, her accession to the throne, and her coronation. In the final analysis, these rituals are grossly exaggerated. All the pomp and decorum over these ceremonies should be revised. Nonetheless, this universal compulsion to be merry is a good excuse for “some drinks,” “some champagne,” “some dry,” and a “little more whisky and soda.”