Diary of Alfred Burton Welch

May 24th-99

This morn the outposts started across the river, and just as they reached the church a man came out of the bamboos waving a white flag and shouting “Espanol.” His Mauser was slung and he carried his sombrero in his rt. And flat in left. hands. A sentry met him and shook hands and bro’t him in. Poor Man! He had been a prisoner for 13 mos. And was delirious with joy. He was afraid at first and saw one of our Togalo [Tagalo] workmen and said, “Ha! Tagolo!” [Tagalo] in a tragic manner. We took him to breakfast –and how he did eat. The first bread he had had for eight mo’s. And eggs he had almost forgotten. Upstairs, while changing his insurgent uniform for a suit of white, and putting a pair of shoes upon his feet, he told his story.

13 mo’s ago he was captured, and moved from one place to another until taken to Lipa in Batangas. An American prisoner is there, and has freedom of the city, but the soldiers are not allowed to talk to him. The Spaniard was forced to fight since last March. Yesterday he went with the insurgent general to inspect their skirmishline extending from Laguna to Smith’s Run. He had been the Gen’s orderly for two weeks. A body guard of 12 men was also along. They went to the North end of line, then started back when the storm caught them and they camped for the night. He slept with one eye open, and when they were asleep, he grabbed a gun and belt and sack full of ammunition and made a leap into the darkness for life and liberty.

How the poor fellow’s sparkled and burned as he told of how they shot at him. He returned five shots then made for our church… about two miles away. He passed the Filipino trench O.K., and crawled thro’ the bushes until he discovered our outpost, when he very wisely waited until morn, for we shoot on sight. All night in the storm, sure death behind and in advance, uncertainty. No wonder he was nervous. This was the first time he had the faintest chance to escape.

We have him shaved and then he went into the Major’s office. He also said there were 5000 niggers ahead of us –300 rifles and 2000 bolomen. With trenches clear to Batangas, a distance of about 20 miles. He said we killed a Captain and two Lieuts. on the 19th, also about a doz. soldiers and one non-commissioned officer. I hope one of them was my friend of the red sash. 500 men were at the ruined church that day & ever since, so it is a good thing we did not advance that far, for there were only 17 of us. He certainly was the happiest man I ever saw –and it almost broke my heart to watch him and translate his story. A guard took him to Pasig. We had lots of shooting today at 700 to 1000 yds. On outpost tonight. Splendid grub today.