Diary of John E.T. Milsaps

Wednesday, March 22d, 1899

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

Clear and cool. Lovely weather.

Bible reading and prayer. The Holy Ghost blesses me in my soul — He did so last night. My God is good to me, blessed be His holy name, and leaves me not comfortless down here in this heathen land.

Wrote and copied 2 letters: (1) Lt-Col. Alice Lewis, New York, 20th Weekly Letter; (2) Major Gen’l Elwell S. Otis, Governor General of the Philippines requesting a pass to visit troops of 8th Army corps.

Hearing the Utah Artillery sentinel in front of my house call the attention of another soldier to a fire, I looked out and saw a cloud of smoke rising from some buildings in our neighborhood. Hastily putting on my street clothes & taking Kodak & umbrella I hastened over to the fire which was on Sagunto street near the Divisoria market site. This region (the market & adjacent buildings. Sagunto street takes the name Santo Cristo on front of the ruins of the market building. This is a peculiarity of Manila streets.

Chinese occupied the burning buildings. They were beside themselves with excitement –rattled– acted like madmen. While it was serious, at the same time it was a most ludicrous scene. The “bombaderos” (Filipino firemen) are an absurdity. They fastened a hose without a nozzle to a hydrant, Chinese carried the hose pouring out water into the second story window of the burning house. They got as wet as drowned rats. Some American soldiers lent a hand to minimize the bungling. A corporal fell from a second story window & injured himself. Another soldier while dashing down the street had his money belt come loose. Ten dollar gold pieces fell out on the pavement in a shower over a radius of about ten feet. Chinese onlookers rushed up to the gold. Rev. Owens, myself & a soldier also rushed to the assistance of the unfortunate man. I saw a Chinese stoop down & pick up a ten dollar gold piece. Grabbing the arm that held the money I made him give it to the owner. The fire was extinguished without much damage.

After Owens & I returned from the fire, a bite to eat, then I got out some Texas & U.S. railroad maps & an old pamphlet history of Texas, by an anonymous writer –published in 1846. Studied the maps & read with much interest current history of Texas in the days of the Lone Star Republic. The history gives a peculiar insight into the society & habits of those days.

About 4.00 o’clock went to the post office & mailed my letters. Rec’d 2 copies of the “American” –Saturday last and Wednesday –today.

The member of the 3d Artillery who brought my evening “Times” late this afternoon, quite enthusiastically exclaimed that an advance is to made against the enemy tomorrow. The front has been very quiet the past two days.

News is that the Filipino prisoners held in the walled city have sent a note to their relatives in Aguinaldo’s army, calling on them to cease fighting, as it is hopeless, & that the U.S. Government is good enough for them.

Down on the Escolta while I was buying a dozen Chinese oranges from a Filipino woman for Rev. Owens, 2 civilians stepped up & asked me to give them some advice. About 50 –all the crew I think– of the “Indiana” has been discharged. They had no money, no place to stay & were in a quandary what to do. The Governor General would have nothing to do with the tumble, Consul Williams said he washed his hands of the whole business: they could get satisfaction nowhere. I advised them to call on General Hughes, Provost Marshall General, who has jurisdiction over the city, as he might be able to do something on the line of sleeping accomodations, etc.

The U.S. transport “Sherman” arrived in port today bringing reinforcements. The American army is getting strong. I hope & believe that the war will soon end.