Diary of John E.T. Milsaps

Sunday, Feb. 5th, 1899

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

I feel somewhat tired and sleepy this morning. Time now is 7.30 (about.) The sputter of rapid fire guns, heavy cannon from warships and rattle of small arms made sleep well nigh out of question.

The air and building (No. 2 Calle Santa Elena) in which I am writing, vibrate from the concussion of the great guns.

With the dawn of this Sabbath morning, looking across the Estero Tondo, I see groups of Chinese standing on Calle Jolo gazing out towards the place from whence come the sound of firing.

American patrols are everywhere on the streets of Manila dressed in their suits of fighting brown. Mrs. Owens treated me to a couple of cups of strong coffee — a very welcome gift after a night of unrest.

A mounted orderly has just come in from the front to secure a spring for a gun — to replace one out of order. Says our pickets out at the cross roads on Calles Dulumbayan, de Sanloleyes, have taken position at the Filipino cemetery and Leper hospital. The latter & former have high concrete walls, good as a protection against small arms. Also says some of the Montana men have been hurt.

Between the roar of cannon I hear this morning the twitter and singing of birds. What a strange contrast between these sweet sounds of nature and the discord of war!

Following my usual custom when getting out of bed this a.m. read the Bible and prayed. Asked the Lord to give me something in His Word. Opened the book at a venture. My eye fell on Micah IV: Read: “But in the last days it shall come to pass that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; & people shall flow into it. xxxxxx And he shall judge among many people, & rebuke strong nations far off; & they shall beat their swords into plowshares, & their spears into pruning hooks; nations shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”

May all nations speedily learn to follow the path of righteousness and settle their differences by arbitration.

9.40 a.m. There is a lull in the shooting. Occasionally the boom of a heavy gun breaks upon the Sabbath stillness.

Clouds of smoke have been rising some time from the native town out Dulumbayan street, and from burning buildings in Paco district.

Spaniards, mestizos and friendly Filipinos have been in this room & on this our flat all morning.

I wrote my 13th weekly letter to Lieut-Col. Alice Lewis, 124. W. 14thSt. New York this morning while the battle was in progress. Copied the same.

Burnt roofing-thatch from buildings afire has been raining down from the clouds, to whence it ascended with the smoke.

Took breakfast with Rev. & Mrs. Owens.

Private Devine (Landon) has been to the front with food. Said piles of dead Filipinos were seen in places. Also that one company of the 1st Washington vols. was almost wiped out.

12 o’clock noon. Private Devine (Landon) just brought the news that Bro. E. Tarr, of G Battery 3d artillery is dead. Killed in battle. Tarr was one of the most zealous members of the Y.M.C.A. & has taken part in my meetings and own Owens’, held in the Cuartel de Meisig. Devine just started with a gun on his shoulder for the front taking a load of food — dinner to K. battery.

Dense clouds of smoke overhang the native quarter out Calle Dulumbayan. The conflagration is increasing.

1.10 p.m. Filipino men and women are coming down the thoroughfares from the scene of the battle where the houses are burning, bringing their household effects in bundles, baskets & boxes. The fire of small arms has ceased, but frequently the city vibrates from the discharge of heavy ordnance.

A detachment of prisoners just came down Calle Jolo from the fight. A sergeant of the Utah artillery brought tidings that General King is killed & Col. Smith of the Tennessee vols.

4 p.m. (about) 4 or 5 carromatas guarded by American soldiers passed out Calle Jolo. About 5 minutes after passing the junction of Santa Elena street, the rapid reports of rifles followed. We could not see what was going on but for half an hour patrols kept up a continuous fusilade all around our quarters. The sharp, keen explosions of the Krag-Jorgensen rifles soon cleared the streets. The Americans shoot to kill without hesitation. The death of Gen. King who was shot from a window out in Malate, is a warning to Americans. They are dealing with a treacherous foe, who are in Manila by tens, yes probably hundreds of thousands of Filipinos. Manila has a population of about 300,000 inhabitants.

Soldiers are bringing in news from the long battle. The Filipinos have stubbornly contested the field but have been driven back about one mile. Fighting is still in progress. Thousands are reported killed. (Another shot just this moment around our corner). Our troops were fired at from windows in the nation town or quarter near Tondo church (Roman Catholic). Our men enfiladed the quarter shooting through the frail huts. Men, women and babies were killed. The dead are piled in heaps.

A Spanish or mestizo woman who resides down stairs, came up stairs & affrightedly said we are to be killed tonight & the house burned by Filipinos. Almost all day Spaniards — men & mestizo & Filipino women have hung around our rooms afraid to go away.

A patrol brought in word that Private Eli Clampitt of Battery G, 3d artillery, is dead. Was killed in this battle. Clampitt (a backslider) claimed the Lord Jesus as the Healer of his backslidings in a meeting led by me in the 3d artillery barracks –Cuartel Meisig, October 6th, 1898. (I heard he backslid again.)

8.40 p.m. Private Devine (Landon) cook of K battery, left us about 5 minutes ago. He came in from the battlefront. Told us much news. Bullets were flying thick. Our advance lines are now far from Manila that we can no longer hear the firing. All is quiet tonight. Devine said that Tarr is not dead, but Corporal Dean is. The latter was a Christian & assisted in our meetings. Was a frequent caller at No. 2. Took lessons in Spanish from Owens.

An advance is expected to be made tomorrow on Malolos. A Utah cannon by mistake killed one of our own men, SDergeant Whittaker of the 3d artillery. Before Devine said good-bye he & I prayed together with Rev. & Mrs. Owens. I took supper with the latter this p.m.

Held no religious meetings today.

Visitor 1.

This has been a day of slaughter.