Diary of Alfred Burton Welch

Tuesday 2-14-99

Fighting at Pasig on the Laguna de Bahia [Bai]. Reg. called out and went directly to San Pedro de Macati, where we rested & had hardtack.

Got coffee from a Cal. lad. Then took march to Pasig, about six miles along the river. It was bright moonlight and the lovely road wound along the shore among the bananas & bamboos. Went thro’ Guadalupe and one or two other towns –deserted.

Road close to H²O with high rocky hills on either side. Right bank more open, but rough & hilly with great stone quarries, potteries and carved doorways carved in the rocks leading to the catacombs, far into the hills. Great cuts in the road made awful good places for ambush.

We came in sight of Pasig, then rt. by file, up a steep, stony path to a high plateau on top of the hills.

During the day two Co’s of Cal. were burning a small village across from Pateros. They were flanked on both rt. & left, and were being cut to pieces when the Wn skirmish lines got them going and saved them from being butchered –even they (the Cal.) say so. We were under command of Col. Smith, Cal.

Slept until morn then threw skirmish line over the plateau to edge of cliff. Up to noon Co. D was reserve. Below was a broad valley of about 1200 yds. to the river, where the burning shacks of a village, and the great inland sea made us feel like the discoverers of Lake Nyaza must have felt. The mountain battery on our left opened up on a church below and the Eng. batt. advanced the rt. of the line to within 150 yds of the el rio –when the bells in the tower boomed out a signal & the Filips who had reserved fire, opened on the Eng’s who had to fall back owing to lack of cover.

The rt. cut loose on us –lying behind the rocks on the edge of the hill with a hard fire. But they are very poor shots. Co’s D & E got orders to charge & were ready when Col. Smyth got scared and ordered us to retreat. Serg’t Burtt was sunstroke & I helped him along, so we soon were far in rear.

How they poured into us. We joined Co. D in a deep buffalo hole where 5 men lay sunstroke. Then down the cliff to river road –a squad of 4th Cav. Troop K covering our rear. Oh! That retreat –tired, hungry, thirst, mad, sick at heart, defeated– we hurried down the road toward Sto. Pedro the Laguna de Bay, covering our retreat with Gattling [Gatling] guns and 3 -2 inch cannon. Cal, Wn, Cavalry, Hawthorn battery all together with buffalo carts, ambulances, orderlies & aids mounted all together –choking the narrow road with the black devils hovering on our rear and left flank. Retreat! Oh, now I know the meaning of that word.