Diary of Lieutenant X (Aime Ernest Motsch)

Thursday, July 21, 1898

Madness. Mentiras

The problem is settled. The situation cannot last. We have received the details of an irreversible defeat –one in which there was no combat, no glory, only shame. Spain’s most prestigious squadron was sunk in the Gulf of Mexico, a repetition of the disastrous events in Cavite. Here, they had wooden ships, but in the Gulf of Mexico, with their steel ships, they were also beaten to submission.

Tonight, the Spaniards are still convincing themselves that Camara’s squadron is in the Red Sea. They calculate that he is now beyond Aden. The disaster in Santiago does not seem to alarm them. They are incorrigible!

–It’s a stupendous plan, someone said to me, just before the fatal news arrived. Our two admirals, Cervera and Camara, joined forces: Mire usted, haven’t you noticed that Camara left Cadiz on June 18 and returned at the end of the month?

–Yes… and what of it?

–Well, isn’t it common knowledge that Cervera was in Santiago and that right now no one knows anything about his whereabouts?

–True. And so?

–Good! Well, let us look at it this way. Cervera left Santiago and Camara is waiting for him in the Indian Ocean. They are arriving here in the Philippines at the end of this month. Esta sería un plano gigantesco, no?

–What! But that is impossible! Just think of the distance between Cuba and the Philippines, using the Cape of Good Hope! It would be an easier task to go around Africa twice. Your theory does not make sense.

–And why not? It is a Napoleonic plan.

–Undoubtedly, it is as unrealistic as Napoleon himself who, in one campaign, did not take into account either the sea or the wind or Villeneuve.

Mentiras! (Their level of hope is incredibly naive. And they are waiting for victory, poor people. I say, do not wait for victory!)

I doubt whether peace will be concluded before Manila falls. That Admiral Dewey settles this affair quickly is everyone’s wish.

Meanwhile, this morning, preparations have started for the feast of H.M. Queen Maria Christina, the unfortunate Queen of Spain! It will probably be the last time the colors of Castile and Leon will fly over the bay and the city of Manila. I feel that there is a certain animosity towards the Americans in the careless manner that the other ships in the bay have dressed their decks.