Diary of John E.T. Milsaps

Sunday, March 12th, 1899

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

The night closes in dark & threatening rain. Reminded me of fall weather in Humboldt county, on the north coast of California. This forenoon the sun shone out quite hot at times.

As usual, Bible reading & prayer; special prayer for God’s guidance upon this day’s work. Cooked breakfast, washed dishes, tied up 40 S.A. Camp meeting song books, then at 9.35 a.m. struck out on foot for Bilibid prison. Followed the large, wide cross street Calle Azcarraga to the same, thro’ the large Filipino quarter. The sentries readily passed me in. Major Edwin S. Bean instructed Lieut. Geo Wolf to arrange details for a service among the prisoners –American military. Before doing so, the Lieut. went the rounds with a doctor on a tour of inspection & took me along, thus giving me a pretty good idea of the interior of the prison.

The government of the same is military. As stated U.S. military prisoners are kept here, also Spanish & Filipino civil convicts who are kept separate under a special overseer. Lieut Wolf instructed Provost Sergeant M. Ryan to let the military prisoners out to meeting such as cared to come. These were ranged in the shade of a prison parallel to the main entrance gate. A sentry, 17th U.S. Infantry, regulars –with Kragg-jorgensen on shoulder paced to & fro behind me. I stood out in the hot sun to lead the service, while Sergeant Ryan timed me by his watch. Mess call would blow at 11.45 a.m. Distributed the song books. The men helped me sing. Having no assistant, all the praying, bible reading, fell to my lot. Before closing I asked the prisoners if they wanted another meeting next Sunday to raise their hand. About 4/5 responded affirmatively. Audience including guards 28. I felt greatly pleased over this beginning. Praise God.

Before leaving I showed Sergeant Ryan the letter of application sent by me to Major Gen’l E.S. Otis–Philippine Governor general. Is a curiosity. My letter is covered with endorsements –only 5. (1) commencement: John Milsaps requests permission to hold services for American prisoners in Bilibid. (2) Referred to Provost Marshall Gen’l by Maj-Gen Otis; (3) Referred to Major Bean by Brig-Gen’l Hughes (4) Major Bean returns the application to Acting Assistant Adjutant Provost Marshall, with request that the writer apply to him (Maj. Bean) in person to make arrangements & passed it back to Provost Marshall Gen-Hughes who invites Gen’l Otis attention to Major Bean’s endorsement. At this juncture all the blank space on the back of my application was used up. The application was returned for final action to Gen-Otis & an additional piece of paper was pasted on my letter & printed thereon my attention was called to Major Bean’s endorsement –i.e. John Milsaps’ attention was called to it, by the Asst-Adjt Gen’l. After all this travel & toruble Mr. Milsaps, called on Maj. Bean Saturday Feb. 11th & held his service Feb. 12th. Date of application: Jan’y 25th.

Returned from Bilibid via Paseo de Azcarraga. About half an hour later dense clouds of smoke & raging flames attracted attention to that street. In company with Rev. Owens I went over there. About 2 or more squares of nipa huts, which I passed but a few minutes previous, were in ashes. Filipino “bombaderoo” (firemen) & American soldiers fought fire. Great crowds of people watched the exciting scene.

I met Mr. Waddell, an ex-Salvationist, whose brother is now an S.A. Ensign in the Pacific Coast Division at the fire. Urged him to return to Christ. Waddell is an engineer on the U.S. transport “Indiana.”

During the afternoon remained a home reading. About dark Mr. Isaac Russell came up stairs & we had a long conversation. Russell was formerly editor & proprietor of the defunct “American Soldier.” The first Am. paper published in Manila. Russell is fresh from the hospital. Was cut twice (in 2 frays) about the head by Filipinos. He shot 4 or 5 Filipinos since Feb. 4th, killing 3 or 4 of them. Formerly belonged to the Utah artillery but is now a civilian.

This morning about 3 o’clock I awoke with the sound of battle in my ears. A “scrap” was in progress at the front. An uprising was expected again last night in Manila. American troops were on the alert. The Filipinos are evidently not yet satisfied in this city. Trouble may come tonight, or some night when we are not expecting trouble. Possibly all of 150,000 Filipinos reside in Manila. To live under a constant apprehension of this flood breaking its bounds, is very unpleasant. Fire & blood such an event means, & death to many who are now living.

One of the Utah light artillerymen shot a boa with his revolver & killed it. This snake was a large fellow, about 6 feet long & 3 inches thick. His snakeship was dragged into my backyard where a Filipino skinned him & then sliced the reptile into sections for the cook pot. These snakes catch rats & eat them; Filipinos also catch the rat catcher & eat him.