Diary of John E.T. Milsaps

Saturday, March 25th, 1899

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

Sky cloudy but weather hot & oppressive. My overshirt was wet with perspiration. Tonight I am tired; don’t feel like writing.

Bible reading, prayer, breakfast –cooked & eaten– then leaving my dishes for “Muchacho”, the Filipino servant boy to wash. I took my Kodak & umbrella & walked over to the Dagupan railroad depot to catch the 9. o’clock train. I waited in the depot with a party of soldiers & civilians until 9.45 o’clock a.m. when a mixed passenger & freight rolled in from Pasig quay near the Port Captain’s office. Without asking leave of anybody I jumped into a box car with some U.S. troops. The floor & wall in places with fresh wet blood, from wounded men. At daylight this morning a combined advance movement was made all along the line. While Bible reading in my bedroom this morning I heard firing at the front. The work of death commenced early. A company of soldiers came out on the train. Going over to the bluff back of the post office overling Dagatdagalono bay from whence a fair view was had of Malibon [Malabon]. Heard constant firing over there but could see nothing. Went over to the temporary fort back of the cemetery & watched Section 2, Battery A. Utah Artillery put some shots into Malibon [Malabon], The 2 guns face the causeway. Here a German –photographer, Peter Dutkewich* [*See page 239 re Private Julius Kuester], of No. 15 Plaza Santa Ana, Manila, joined me. He is taking pictures for G.M. Davis, No. 21, Washington St., New York. for public sale, stereopticon views & newspapers. This was the German’s first trip on the battlefield & was hard on him –the heat & work. An Englishman had joined me before. Together we visited the Filipino trenches, abandoned this morning. Found piles of empty catridge shells in the holes under the thatched roofs covering the holes. What a quantity of lead was shot at our men! Followed these trenches about one mile. No dead in them, but back I counted about 8 dead Filipinos. One I saw with brains oozing out of his head. Photographed the corpse.

By the roadside saw the dead body (alone & deserted) of Private Thompson, K. battery 3d Reg’t Heavy Artillery, lying in the shade behind a clump of tall bamboos. His neck & face were purple. Ants were attacking Thompson’s face.

Down in the forest North west of La Loma cemetery I separated from my 2 companions. German returned to the city. Pushed on alone north by a forest road. Came to 2 dead American soldiers –a lone sentry stood guard over them. In a bamboo & nipa shack (village of Balintaoag) [Balintawak] opposite the old ruined stoned church I saw a Filipino man stretched out wounded in the hand & leg. Asked me in Spanish for some “chow”. Gave him boiled rice. Then rustled around the houses near by & in water jars managed to get a little water, which I fetched him. Not wishing to have the poor fellow lie there & perhaps be burnt with the hut, seeing a book lying on a table, hastily tore a double leaf, meteorlogical report out & on the back wrote with a lead pencil:

“Attention There is a wounded Filipino in this house Take him to town. Milsaps.” Hung this paper under the eve of the hut facing the road & went on. Here Bro. Arthur Temple of the 2d Reserve Hospital (Salvationist of No. 1 corps San Francisco) came up with me. He was driving 4 ponies hitched to a hospital ambulance, going out to the fighting line. Climbing on to the back end of the vehicle I accompanied the 3 men to the road –& a rough road it is– about one mile. They halted for orders & I pushed on afoot. Ober in the forest to the left –bay side– came the sounds of a battle or engagement. In an open plain between the first line of forest & the 2nd line skirting the Tuliaha [Tuliahan] o Taasá (probably) river, I saw a picture of more than usual interest –a mass of army teams– mules drawing covered wagons, cavalry, Chinese, with arms & in U.S. soldiers uniforms, carabao carts, & in infantry guarding the same. This mass of men & animals stretching out perhaps a half mile long was halted awaiting orders. They stood there, the teams, loaded with commissary supplies, ammunition & baggage. A grand spectacle of war. Halfway down the line, 2 soldiers grimy and black, were sitting on the ground making dinner of jelly, bread & water –the latter tepid, out of a canteen. Asked me to share their meal. Did so gladly as I had nothing to eat since morning it was now about 2.45 p.m. Retraced my steps back. Near the rear of the train saw Chaplain (Father) McKinnon, of the 1st California vol. Inf. We shook hands. I remarked “I see most of your regiment has gone south?” (Negros & Panay Islands) Replied “Yes they have about left me all alone.”

Mr. Peters (artist) was also there. We exchanged a few words. Knew each other on the S.S. “Newport.”

I should state before going further with my narrative that crossing the battlefield from Caloocan to the northwest forest (from La Loma) came up to a party of soldiers & 2 Chinese in the shade of trees by the roadside. The Chinese weak, puny fellows, gave out. Chinese are employed largely to carry wounded men on stretchers. One of the two was lying asleep on the ground –completely used up. A wounded soldier, Private Julius Kuester* [*See page 235 re Peter Dutkewich, photographer], Battery K. 3d Reg’t Art’y., was stretched on the littler, with a bullet hole thro’ one leg, the stretcher was saturated with his blood. Spoke to him about Salvation & called his attention to advice given him on that line before. Acknowledged the advice, but excused himself when advised to seek Jesus. Some strong Chinese came along. They were made to take Kuester to Caloocan.

When I got back to where Bro. Temple was left beind, found him still waiting orders. While in conversation another Salvationist drove up with a 2 horse wagon, Brother Peter Shipper of the Engineer corps. Came in from Tuliaha [Tuliahan] o Taasá river, where a party of Engineers are throwing a bridge across the stream. Shipper had a lot of S.F. War Crys under his wagon seat. Gave me 3 Washington Crys. I passed some on to Temple. Shipper said some one at Headquarters (.S.F.) send him big packages of S.F. Crys. Which he distributes. For some reason unknown to me, I only get 3 copies now. Mistake somewhere; I am glad to learn that Shipper puts them in circulation. Mounting the seat by his side after bidding Temple good-bye, we drove back across the morning’s battlefield into Caloocan. In answer to questions Shipper said he is getting along well in his soul. Praise God. Seeing a big pile of Springfield rifles cartridges by the roadside, hundreds of them, we stopped & threw them in the wagon for the U.S. Army to have the benefit when needed for use. On the battlefield near the spot where Thompson’s dead body lay, we also saw a copy of the S.F. War Cry, Washington number (1899) by the roadside. Left it there for a soldier to pick up.

Arriving at Caloocan R.R. depot I said good-bye to Peter Shipper (gave him spiritual advice) & lo met a 3d Salvationist on the depot –Bro. Geo. Schurmerhorn of Co. D. 2d Oregon Vol. Inf. Has had a hot time today. Detailed to take ammunition to his regiment at the front. Related to me that the Filipinos tried to get him but did not succeed. God care’s for His own, blessed be His holy name.

Scenes of blood met my sight at the depot. Nine dead Americans were taken out of a room & laid in a row on green grass or hay just cut, in a box car. Railroad depot blanks littered the floor, & were sprinkled & smeared with blood. In the depot waiting room, one American lay on the floor. An attendant sat at his head fanning him. On a table lay another. A surgeon & attendants were dressing his wounds. He would cry out with pain. A basin of bloody water the surgeon used.

Gave Bro. Schurmerhorn words of comfort & admonition, we parted, he for the front, & I for Manila. I got into a compartment passenger car with soldiers & civilians, & about 5 p.m. arrived in Manila down near the Port Captain’s office. No one asked me to show my pass today.

Reached home tired & hungry & hot. Found a letter awaiting me on the parlor table which read as follows:

“Major Milsaps: I thought that I would run up and see you. It is the same old story. I have been gambling and I am so tired of it and hate it, but yet I cannoy get the power that I need so much. Major I (ask) you to pray for me, that the Lord Jesus may forgive and bring me back to him, for I have been very unhappy. If we do not go up or out to the line tomorrow, I will come up, but I shall try and make one more fight to overcome the devil.

Edward Stockton, Com. H. 1st Colorado.”

May God save poor Stockton, amen.

I turned to and cooked supper, very tired.

While eating thereof Private Clayton Scott, mounted Q.M. orderly dropped in. Said he will busy tonight & tomorrow. Went out & pressed into U.S. service 50 carabao carts & drivers today. Lost his temper while so doing, but God forgave him.

The battle today has been hard on our men. This evening’s train brought back 12 dead American soldiers. Many have been killed & wounded. We look for another fight & capture of Malibon [Malabon] tomorrow.