Diary of Chriss A. Bell

Jan. 14, 1899

Had neglected to write for last 10 days although much has happened that is of interest. A few days ago in fact Jan 5, Lee Morse was killed. He was in New Manila during evening. I was with M. Holbrook, Freeman, and Carr [and] we last saw Lee at the Alabama at 8 o’clock. From there he & Percy went to theater and returned to quarters about 10:30 going in back gate of walled city. On [At] Maekin officers quarters they heard some shots fire wall near magazine. They stopped and spoke to sentry asking about shooting. Capt. Wells of Lee’s company came out of quarters to see about shooting. Together, followed by Percy they went up on the wall. Sentry not on incline [and] who should have challenged them, had left his post looking for natives.

Lee and Wells were followed onto wall by Major Gantenbein and Capt. Heath. None of these officers had a right on the wall as sentrys (sic) had orders that no one was allowed on or near magazines. The officers with Lee stood talking to sentrys (sic) asking about the firing for several minutes. Lee in a few minutes unnoticed left the crowd. He went up and around a small mound and reappeared in front of and about 21 feet from sentry in place where native was last seen. Without any warning sentry fired hitting Lee in ribs. Capt. Heath recognized Lee kahkie (sic) uniform but could not speak quick enough to save him. Percy meantime had gone to quarters. Lee was carried where all was done that could be but it was of no avail. Lee died in about l0 minutes. His funeral occurred next day and was largely attended by officers and men of regiment. On the 13th Percy received a furlough and started home with body.

The situation at Hola [Iloilo] the last 10 days has been critical. We sent down several regiments of troops in Puwua [Paragua with] [Palawan] several cruisers but the instructions of Gen. Miller was such that he did not band when he first went [into] town. Later the insurgents saw his proclamation and heard Aguinaldo’s. Their manner changed and they fortified the city and blockaded the river by every means at their command. They spread coal oil in all principle buildings. It seems as if there may be much fighting before natives are subdued.

The situation in and near Manila is also very critical. Aguinaldo is belligerent in his attitude. The strain is so great that the shooting of a dog in the streets by a soldier a few days ago caused such excitement and such rumors to start that within 20 minutes all business houses were closed. Spaniards were flying toward walled city natives to cover and American soldiers were seizing streetcars and cabs and flying to quarters. The general call to arms was sounded and in an incredibly short time from the shooting of the dog the American forces had taken their positions assigned to them in case of outbreak. It was several hours before officers had quieted down [and] business was resumed.

The natives all over town are getting up subscriptions and leaving town for the insurgent lines. Throughout it all they in most cases seemed friendly, and consider the fact that they are in ending to fight us a great joke !! Their little joke become very serious for them if they are not very careful. The strain has caused us, Co. H, to use guards at night. We have 2 posts and 4 reliefs, posting guard from 9:30 to 5:30 so each relief has but two hours. I act as corporal sleeping downstairs where and[I] can be awakened easily in case of emergency.

The work at Custom House goes on as usual. I have taken about 4 dozen pictures & have copies [and] have done well with them. Watson, Davies, & Ludwig, the small pox patients are doing well. Yesterday met an Mexican girl. Daughter of American Capt. She has a america (sic) [accent and) I went with her & Mr. Peters to the photographers. I have some picture finished. Will probably go out and shop to see her in few days. She expects to be here a week more. Nurses have come ashore but have not yet called. Will soon