Diary of John E.T. Milsaps

Thursday, January 26th, 1899

Camp Santa Mesa, Luzon Island –Entry made in parlor of No. 2 Calle Santa Elena, Manila.

Mail day –day of expectation, excitement pleasure and pain.

Out at Camp Santa Mesa; in ever tent almost passed by the writer he saw one or more soldier-boys reading letters. A letter from home! How we Americans do appreciate them in this distant region of the far East or far west as you please. The letter I wrote to Private V. Herron of the Nebraska troops requested him to announce a service next Saturday night or evening in the Chaplain’s tent. On my way to the post office to mail the letter I met Chaplain Mailie of the Nebraska regiment & spoke to him about the proposed meeting with his troops. He advised me not to come. Gave as an excuse that the muddle with the Filipinos is worse than ever; the troops are liable to be called out any moment & for that reason he has discontinued his services there. Thereupon I decided not to mail the letter. Visited the post office: were distributing U.S. mail; no time to wait on me. Pushed on to the native market at the Suspension bridge across the Pasig. Bought some newspapers in Tagalog & Spanish & ordered more. Then called at the office of the “New Orient.” Had a long talk with Corporal Wilson, editor of that paper. He practically gave me the same news as did Chaplain Mailie re the Filipino situation. Bought a couple of his papers & returned home & made a cold dinner satisfy my wants. Then in company with Rev. Chas. Owens hired a quilez to take us out to Camp Santa Mesa. Out there I called on several soldiers, specially Privates Gilbert & Hunting & discussed the subject of meetings. They announced me for last Saturday night & had a full tent but I did not show up: Reason: did not receive Herron’s letter until 23d or 24th. About 3 days late. Outcome of my visit: Hunting will have me announced for next Saturday evening. This was arranged without the knowledge or consent of the Chaplain. If he objects & stops it I am no worse off than I am now without his sanction. He may let the unsettled state of affairs prevent him from holding services, but the Y.M.C.A. & other religious organizations are going ahead with their meetings as usual.

Yesterday p.m. 14 A. battery, Utah light artillery, men marched out to Camp Santa Mesa & pitched 22 tents; 48 more are are to follow. Cannon were hauled out last night to avoid attracting attention. They are hid in a couple of large tents & closely guarded.

From Camp Santa Mesa we drove down to San Juan bridge which crosses San Juan estuary. An American sentry stands on the Manila side & a Filipino sentry on the opposite side. Took a snap shot of the bridge & sentries. Counted 15 Filipino soldiers on the other bank of the stream. After satisfying our curiosity returned to the post office.

Received an armful of War Cry & newspaper mail besides several letters. Threw the papers in the bottom of the quilez & returned home. Paid $1. Mex; as my part of cab fare. The distance from the Port Captain’s office on the Pasig to Camp Sta Mesa is about 5 miles.

Rec’d 119 S.F. War Crys No. 577, Dec. 17th 1898.

Saw one copy (Peter Schipper’s) of the S.F. Xmas War Cry. Is the poorest gotten up edition that has appeared for years.

From Ensign Maud Sharp, Hilo, Hawaii came 2 letters. She offers herself for the Philippines but especially China. God bless her. Ensign Rosa Young also writes. Ensign W.J. Dart, cashier San Francisco H.Q. with letter dated Dec. 20th ’98. Sends postal money order No. 856689 for one month’s salary –$36. U.S. coin. Complains that no receipts have reached him from me.

The assistant editor of the New York War Cry under date of Dec. 6th requests an article for their Easter edition.

Visitors today 4. –cooked supper.