When we got up this morning we had a two miles march in heavy marching order to make before breakfast. This gave us a good appetite, but breakfast was not ready when we arrived which annoyed us somewhat as we expected to advance against the Filipinos. We had orders to be in readiness after breakfast as we were to be in the reserve but the advance after meandering around the country all day returned empty handed. So today has been a day of rest with us. I have had a bath again in the San Mateo [river]. Its bottom is sandy and the gravel is plainly visible and the smallest fish can be seen. Ten days rations were just issued to us here and our dinner was an excellent one we had been having poor fare since we have been in field hitherto. It is nearly supper time and I am writing seated in a species of rubber tree. This tree is large and spreading and close to camp. Under it is an immense stone a boulder with steps up it, so one can walk up the steps and step off in the tree. There was a bombardment of Caloocan, a small town, by Dewey this morning. During the middle of the days the heat is hardly bearable but in the evenings and mornings it is quite cool and the nights are cold. Very dry here now, even too dry to plow. We hear many banterings and quarrels now about what troops did this and that. But I can hardly realize the honour that is to be gained any way fighting a people struggling for liberty. Many of the boys have a poor opinion of the Filipinos simply because they have talked ill of them so long that now they hate them. I think they are doing unwisely in fighting so powerful [a] nation as the U.S. It reveals at once the[ir] patriotism as well as their ignorance. Nor is it by any means all ignorance.
This day passed with little done save waiting for orders which came at supper time. In the morning we enjoyed another bath in the clear and swift San Mateo [river]. When we reached camp again we found letters from home. Mine announced the death of my father [Richard Thornton Payne, b. 1828]. He died of paralysis on the 18th of Dec. 1898. This was sad news to me. I had written him in Jan. some time after his death. I had hoped to be home and see him again before he died. Indeed I often thought I would like to see father again. My nephew tells me he died reading the bible. He was alone on his farm near Otto [Webster County] Nebr. Late in the evening we rec’d orders to return partway back to the filtering station and resevoir. There were said to be some 20 or 25,000 Filipinos.going to attack no. 7 block house and force an entrance to Manila combined. They did not try it that night.
This morning our company rec’d orders to go to the water works. We left the “Asilo de Huer-fanos” Orphans Home, an old brick building which had been used by the Filipinos for barracks, about 8 o’clock and reached the Pumping Station about one. Co. L our friends had a dinner ready for us when we reached there. They gave us three cheers when we came to which we responded heartily though we were very tired. We enjoyed our dinner very much. In the afternoon James, my tent mate and myself were down to the river a small mountain stream called San Mateo. Here we enjoyed a fine bath. The water was very chilly however. In the pumping station are four mammoth engines capable of 120,000 gallons per hr each. The natives had not destroyed a thing here though it could easily have been done and one would think they would from the way our forces burnt their homes.
This day was spent waiting for orders which came and were revoked several times. The Tenns. [First Tennessee Volunteer Infantry] left for Iloilo and in a few days the fight will be on there. Dewey bombarded a few towns where there might be Filipino soldiers stationed, and several of these towns burned. Kansas [First Kansas Volunteer Infantry] had another brush with the natives who tried to effect an entrance through our lines at that point north of the city. So far as can be heard our boys have done bravely through the whole army corps. The Washingtons [First Washington Volunteer Infantry] shot a little too much ammunition perhaps and the Minns [First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry] who were police in the city killed too many harmless people if accts are true.
Today has been an uneventful day. The dead were buried and a little skirmishing done but few natives could be found. The boys are taking a much needed rest. Our 2nd sergeant and a pvt have returned from the front. By the way these are the two men who started the war. The sergeant, a Dutch man [Sgt. Joseph De Vriendt], told the guard [Pvt. William Grayson], a man of little character, not to stand any monkey work. There was a lieut. on the Filipino side who had about as much sense as the afore mentioned who had been getting drunk and causing trouble before. He came down and ordered a post of ours moved back which had been moved up to hold one in check which had been pushed up by the Filipinos. This had been done during the day and when night came the lieut. came up and was halted by our sentinels. He called back “Alto,” the Spanish for “halt” at which our sentenel fired upon him and it is stated killed him but he was taken back by the native soldiers with him. Then the post was reinforced and on the natives making a second advance were fired upon again, which was answered as stated before by the Filipinos on all sides of us save the Manila side.
I had joined my company during the night and now we anxiously waited orders to go to the front but instead were ordered to hold the captured places while two battalions of Nebr and two co’s of Colo [First Colorado Volunteer Infantry] moved against the waterworks or pumping station. When they had gone about two miles they [found] a quartermaster of the Utahs shot full of holes and with his throat cut from ear to ear and his heart cut out. He had lost his way trying to join his command which were advancing with Nebr with two guns. This nerved the boys who soon came upon the entrenched Filipinos. The advance guard fell back and the Filipinos mistaking this for a retreat made a charge out of breast works. They were fairly mowed down. 78 were found and buried here. After that there was no more opposition till the pumping station was reached which is eight miles east of Manila and now Nebr holding this and all surrounding territory. The pumping station is in a deep vale [illegible] splendidly fortified. There is a fine fort on a high point which commands the entire valley. The country around here is a country of ledges and places not naturally adapted to battle it is terraced with rice fields. The ground is dry and hard now and in splendid condition for a campaign. Those boys of the two battalions went into camp here in separate co’s. Co L our friends at station and others here and there in nice spots. The night of the sixth was uneventful save that where we were quartered a K man got scared and began shooting and of course there was a call to arms, but there was not a shot fired by a Filipino in hearing. This camp at the waterworks was named after our Col. Camp Stotzenburg [John Miller Stotsenburg]. Our col. was very brave and led the charge against the block houses 6 and 7 which K and D men took on Sunday morning. He found a Remington Rifle and used it in the thickest of the fight. There are strict orders issued against pillaging which up to this time has been carried on to excess.
Sunday morning dawned bright and clear. The sun had no sooner rose bright and clear than the Americans began an advance on their entire lines. The advance was an inspiring sight. Our soldiers fired volleys by the platoons and then advanced under cover of the smoke and lay down behind the convenient rice ridges. Unfortunately our fort was soon behind the firing line and we could not fire. However I got in three shots at a sharp shooter in a tree. At this time a private in Co. C who had come out of the block house with me to get a crack at the sharp-shooter was shot through the shoulder. Then the Col came along and ordered us out of the block house and into the trenches. The men were coming back at this time from their advance and lay there the rest of the day. The Utah Artillery [Utah Volunteer Light Artillery] did fine work in their fire on block house no. 7 which was held by over 200 Filipinos, at San Juan Church at the Filipinos quarters just south of camp, and at two cannons they had mounted. The Filipino heavy cannon were soon silenced and general retreat of the natives took place all along the lines. The gunboat which had specially been prepared for this occasion came up the river Posig [Pasig] and began firing on churches and buildings occupied by the native troops. Many churches and other buildings were built of a sort of soft stone that is bullet proof of rifles, but the guns on the gun boat sent great holes in these buildings and soon there was not a native to be seen in five miles. In the afternoon I visited the battle field where my CO. “D” had been located. I saw there fifteen dead Filipinos, and heard that [Pvt. John L.] Bronson one of our men had been severely wounded in the arm. Many of the boys had killed from one to two Filipinos but they were not there to be found so of course it is hard to tell who killed the luckless fellows laid so low, one with the whole top of his head torn off and others with ghastly holes in them. This shows how deadly a weapon the Springfield is. During the day Dewey took some part in the fight in firing on towns and cutting off trains with reinforcements from Malolos. A whole train load was wrecked it is rumored. In the afternoon our boys crossed the river San Juan and took all of the Filipino works and occupied their headquarters which was the resevoir and filtering station of the waterworks. These places were occupied and held without attack for the night.
On the evening of this day was placed on guard or rather Cossack outpost at Block house no. 8 in the Santa Mesa district. Our orders were to hold this place and report anything suspicious. A number of recruits had been rec’d on this day by the Filipinos in the shape of wild men from the mountains who were armed with bows and arrows. They wore red breech cloths. [Pvt. James I.] Bowe]s] from our company had been placed on guard. The other private, the corporal and myself had lain down. At about 8 o’clock I heard a rifle shot, a Springfield. We did not pay much attention to this, but directly we heard two more shots. We began to hastily put on our stuff, but before we could get on our belts and haversacks on, firing began on our camp from all sides, and balls began to bing and chug around us. In a minute or two we heard footsteps approaching from camp. It was eight men and a sergeant from C to reinforce the post. Our orders were now to hold the blockhouse and fire only when the enemy advanced in the immediate open and were visible, so during the fire of the night which was incessant we lay sleepless and keeping a sharp watch.