Saturday, August 13, 1898

The final act of this conflict between the Spaniards and the Americans has taken place. It lasted two hours this morning; the simulated attack was met by a simulated defense.

At 9 o’clock, the American fleet readied itself by raising its flag, positioning the Charleston in front of Parañaque, and rallying the other ships behind the Petrel right in front of Manila. The Concorde is moving to the north of the Pasig, where she will keep watch over the Tondo coast until the city surrenders. It is hard to believe that the cannons on the southern pier have been ordered not to fire to prevent the likely bombardment by the Americans.

The fleet coming from Cavite is sailing in the following order: Olympia, Monterey, Raleigh, Charleston, Baltimore, Boston. The small ships are moving independently of this formation.

At 9:38 the Olympia opened fire west-southeast, at 5,000 meters, followed by the Monterey and the Raleigh a few minutes later. All three ships aiming their shots at San Antonio were missing their target completely. As I watched the continuous fire to the finish, the following words of a Spanish officer ran through my mind: All this cannon fire is merely a bluff and Fort San Antonio would not be threatened if they did not fire at the American troops.”

Some missiles landing on Spanish trenches have caused some lost lives. After the Monterey took the lead position at 9:49 a shell fell on Malate. By 10:00, a heavy shower of rain hid the details of the struggle, if there actually was one. I would say it was Much ado about nothing.

At 10:25, the weather cleared to show the Americans drawn up in two columns pointing approximately north-northwest. The Petrel and the Callao approached land, with the latter merely 2,000 meters from San Antonio, and the next day’s observations showed that six shells penetrated the fort, one of which was responsible for the death of three men manning a cannon. Another flattened the ramparts at the point where there were no gun emplacements. A shell, apparently fired from the Callao, exploded close to another cannon, lifting its parapet and killing several servants.

At 10:40, the fleet stopped firing. The only shots heard were those directed towards San Antonio and the trenches, but the Spaniards were not responding to the enemy fire. At any rate, from our decks we saw no counterattack. If we can believe the Americans, 20 projectiles were fired from the fort, killing two men and wounding six. They could scarcely have done less. The start of the siege is not exactly like a ballet performance. The 24cm and 25cm cannons at the ramparts of Manila remained silent for the same astonishing reason, the “prevention of the city’s bombardment” rapidly becoming a proverb since it was being heard constantly everywhere.

At 10:52, the artillery fire resumed both at sea an on land. Undoubtedly, the infantry had not been able to take over the trenches. There was one final burst of cannon fire from the fort. One minute later, a massive shell smashed into it.

By 11:00 the American flag crowned the crest. The soldiers retreated from the trenches which hardly showed any trace of battle. From this point onward, the Spaniards were obviously on the defensive. The troops from San Antonio and the surroundings either capitulated or beat a retreat. In the direction of Paco, the confusion continued as the insurgents attacked a battalion of sailors and captured two sections.

The victorious American troops were suddenly everywhere, coming from Malate and arriving in Luneta at 11:30. Along the way, they took over the 24cm cannons without firing a single shot, making one believe that a tacit agreement did exist between them, since both camps did not use their cannons.

The Spanish volunteers guarding the ramparts fired only a single volley as the Americans appeared. There again a situation of pure bluff. The Americans replied with a few shots, and then gave orders for an immediate ceasefire. The end result showed a few wounded on both sides. The white flag was raised in the southern part of the city as the comedy continued to unfold. When the Olympia finally signalled the city to capitulate, it was obvious that no reply came since the city had already surrendered.

From noon to 2 o’clock we took a much-needed rest. Then we dined. At 2:35, a Belgian vessel flying a parliamentary flag came alongside the Olympia. Admiral Dewey boarded a small American steamer full of troops which entered their new port. The Callao followed it. This is the end. They are negotiating the terms of surrender. The general feeling is that this whole scene has been meticulously prepared since yesterday, or perhaps earlier. W find this deception completely offensive.

At 3:38, the American squadron anchored 4,000 meters south-southwest of the Walled City. By 6:00, they celebrated their victory by lowering the Spanish flag and replacing it with the American fla to the thundering sound of a 21-gun salute.

This is definitely a great American victory, but a humiliating defeat for Spain, and undoubtedly, for Europe. Someday we shall discover the real truth. Spain is finished, and no matter what she chooses to believe, she has lost both her influence and possessions throughout the world primarily through her own fault. Her ferocious presence will fade away and, as it often happens, will end in ridicule and absurdity. And thus, the final curtain drops on this shameful tragedy. The sun which has shone for 400 years on the pearl of the Orient seas will no longer shine over Spain.

The Americans are festively marching into Manila with their rifles on their shoulders. Not a single gunshot is heard. The Spaniards do not show any resistance, except for the artillery unit in Luneta which fired this morning against the rebels in the north. One thousand five hundred Spaniards, a thousand Tagals, and one sole American regiment took part in the struggle. The next day, those in the garrison who were not involved in the fighting left their trenches, taking their guns with them.

Some details about the Americans. Some Yankees were seen entering the Pasig on a small steamboat; instead of hoisting their flag, they put up some sort of American publicity. Even worse, before the end of the day, two drunk volunteers were beating up the natives and pushing them around with the butts of their rifles.

And soon after Manila opened its gates, a formal order posted on the road to Paco prohibited the Tagals from entering the city. A group of natives, refusing to take heed, were blocked by the Americans, who harassed them with their bayonets.


Wednesday, August 10, 1898

The Waiting

Nothing. The Americans have not stepped up their attack. Three hours full of tension follow as the Concorde and Petrel are sighted approaching the city. Both are anchored 4,000 meters from the shore, six kilometers from San Antonio. An open mockery on the part of the Spanish artillery could provoke an immediate reaction. In this case, it would be best for the Spaniards not to furnish their enemy with a perfect excuse to open fire. At present, the art of provocation seems to be their only skill. It is difficult to refrain from criticizing the lethargy of the Spaniards. I am extremely tempted to use another term to define their attitude. Actually, every marine in this blockade dreams of a nocturnal attack on the American fleet as it lies anchored in the bay. Obviously, it is just a dream, since the logical consequence of a bombardment is retaliation. Why don’t the sailors on land arm the steam launches in the Pasig with torpedoes to use in the event of a surprise attack from these insolent Americans? If eight or ten steam launches fire on the Olympia or any other ship, one good hit would suffice to make the Americans uncomfortable.

The inertia of the Spaniards is beyond belief. An insurgent’s barge driven off-course by the typhoon of August 2 is now 600 meters from the Pasig. All one has to do is to take possession of it. On its foredeck is a 120mm cannon. There is much talk among the port authorities, but no one has acted.

Among the Spanish refugees on board the Adelaide, there are men who could be useful on land. One of them is this so-called photographer, who claims he is a correspondent for an illustrated magazine. And what about this captain of the artillery who has lost his right arm? He does not appear to be ill. Most of us on board think he should be on land. There is an armless hero called Cervantes, whose example he should follow.


Monday, August 1, 1898

This is the situation on the 1st of August.

Admiral Dewey can no longer delay taking action against Manila. Yesterday, the third expedition of American troops arrived in the bay on five transport ships: Indiana (with Brigadier General MacArthur on board), Ohio, Morgan City, City of Peru and Valencia. Granting that this convoy that arrived carried 5,000 men, the American troops present would total 11,000. Of the warships in the bay, 26 are American, four English, two French and one Japanese. Day by day, both the wind and the sea get increasingly worse. The only means of communicating with the mainland is by sending a dinghy across.

The Union’s troops occupy four different points on the battle front: in the north beyond Caloocan, in the northeast from LaLoma to San Juan del Monte, and in the south between Malabon and Fort San Antonio. The commandant of the Kaiser estimated that the American forces have 12,000 men. He confirms that the commander-in-chief, General Merritt, who arrived on a separate ship on the 25th, hastened his trip, thinking that Camara’s squadron would be diverted towards Manila. The unnecessary installation of this squadron in the Suez Canal, costing Spain over one million francs, is a deplorable example of indecisive naval strategy.

The battle fought last night lasted 11 hours, and took place in Malate, southeast of Manila. This first serious encounter between the Spaniards and the Americans must have been a bloody one. The Spaniards attempted an attack against the front and the right flank of the 10th regiment of the Pennsylvania volunteers positioned in trenches in Malate. The battle continued until dawn and took place in the midst of torrential rain and high winds. Now it is certain that the Spaniards have lost. They allegedly lost 300 men, while the Americans lost only seven. It is a fact that the Americans put the insurgents in the line of fire as human shields to protect themselves. How long will the Filipinos accept this demeaning role?

At 10 o’clock tonight, gunfire was resumed near San Antonio when the insurgents armed with rifles forced Spanish troops to retreat.

According to the Americans, their fighting force here will number 20,000 at the end of the month.


Tuesday, July 5, 1898

Tonight we are on red alert. Gunshots and cannon fire. Are the American troops getting ready for battle? This morning we went ashore. Three of us went to find out if the good old Coronel de la C___ was still alive since no one could inform us on the latest events. He is alive. We met him in Malate, but he appeared gloomy and crestfallen. Seeing him like that made us sad. Camara is not yet here and the Americans are disembarking. He pretended to be unaware of the situation and asked us for information. Considering the overall picture, it was difficult to reply to his questions, but in the end, we told him all we knew. To raise his morale, I tried to convince him to initiate a possible reconciliation between the Tagals and the Spaniards to fight against the Americans. If this plan could succeed, not even a force of 50,000 Yankees would be sufficient to take over Manila. He made me sketch out the defense plans, showing the forts which surround the place. From the daily reports he receives, he was informed that yesterday alone 4,000 cartridges had been used. He was disturbed by this absurd wastefulness. We cannot be properly conducted if some sense of moderation and order is not inculcated in these men. The Spanish troops have lost their confidence but not their courage.

A substantial amount of defense is going on but there are very few soldiers. The Spaniards are increasing their trenches, and denuding the city of all its trees and gardens. A series of wooden barriers surround the Walled City. Would this system of defense be sufficient for an infantry or artillery attack?

This threat of a siege could last a very long time. For the past six days, Admiral Dewey has been the master of the bay. What is he waiting for? Does he intend to be the master of the Filipinos and Manila, too? Life is becoming difficult. No more changes. No more action. Just nervous tension, each day increasingly more demoralizing. Let the end come!

Tonight, cannon shorts are heard from San Antonio. A huge fire occurred in the city at dawn.


30th of September, 1762

The thirtieth, the bombardment continued, and the vessels fired some shots from their cannons. From the city four chaloupes were seen which had overturned; they were coming ashore with men and war supplies. The same accident happened to a champan which they had captured in the days preceding. This accident had happened through the violence of the west wind which had freshened. This was at four in the afternoon, and at six, a bomb-ketch made shore opposite the reduct of San Antonio Abad.