Diary of Lieutenant X (Aime Ernest Motsch)

Tuesday, August 9, 1898

The Refugees

Today, at noon, the Americans will bombard Manila, unless it is a vain threat. For the past 24 hours, the ships anchored at bay have been taking aboard different groups of foreigners and Spanish civilians. English and German steamships are towing barges carrying all the refugees under their protection. The women and children being transported in rowboats are frightened by the bad weather. And even the Isabel, carrying a large number of dependents, was forced to return to port.

I have to say that France has not played a role worthy of her during these past three months. It would have been better for her not to have appeared in Manila Bay rather than present such a pathetic position. The English have always been friends and secret allies of the Americans, always providing assistance. The Germans are hated and feared. But France’s presence has not been felt, since she has neither assisted nor bothered anyone. She has been totally ignored, and this is the worst insult that could be dealt her.

This morning, Admiral Montojo, his wife, and two children took refuge on board the _______. Since yesterday, the ladies have been having nervous fits due to the bad weather.

Noon. The bombardment should have begun. Evidently, it will not be today. It is overcast, raining, and the sea is calm. The American fleet is at anchor. The Petrel and the Concorde have just dropped anchor three-and-a-half miles to the west of the Walled City. Perhaps we will see some action tomorrow.

All the ships in Manila Bay are getting ready for action. The English are positioning themselves in Cavite alongside their American friends. The Princess Wilhelm set course for Mariveles in the company of the German steamships at the opposite end of the bay. Between them, the Bayard and the Pascal are also three-and-a-half miles away from the coast, with the Kaiser and Kaiserin Augusta nearby.