Tuesday, August 30, 1898

The Germans Again

The Americans are relieved by the departure of both the German and the French admirals. For the past three months, the Germans appeared to br searching clumsily for a pretext to interfere between Spain and the United States, but merely succeeded in provoking overt hostilities between the sailors of the Union and the Germans.

In discussions, the Americans freely demonstrate their disgust and anger. Admiral Dewey himself, unequivocally praising the neutral position of French ships present in Manila, stated: “This is so unlike the Germans. Believe me, I was obliged to ask Admiral von Diederichs if he had any intention to go to war! His movements in the bay were disturbing me.” Meanwhile, the English are bragging about their prediction of the inevitable breakup in relations between the Germans and the Americans. Captain Chichester of the Immortality is very popular with the American fleet, and he is considered to be Admiral Dewey’s confidant. The French may have expressed neutrality and the Germans may have been hostile, but the English certainly took sides. One feels that they are prepared to defend the Americans morally in all circumstances. What ingratitude towards Spain! And one might even add, what a lack of tact. During the Spanish rule, they were the most sought after, the most influential, and the richest commercial leaders of Manila. It will not be long before they realize what they shall have lost by aligning themselves with the United States government in Manila.


Monday, August 15, 1898

The Germans

The escape of the former Governor, Agustin, on board the Kaiserin-Augusta, the fastest German flagship, was the news of the day. It was a smart trick played on the Americans, who undoubtedly would have taken him prisoner. The flagship left on Saturday before the end of the bombardment and headed for Hongkong. The United States will evidently presume that this flight was made possible only with the complicity of the Germans, in particular, Admiral von Diederichs. A naval battle between these two countries would have been sensational! But a dog does not feed on another dog when there is a third victim that can be devoured. In this case, the prey is worth their while.

The bombardment of Manila has not caused much damage. General Merritt has requisitioned all public services, but refuses to pay the unsettled wages of the Spaniards who are leaving the country, indeed an incredible situation. Even the religious who were responsible for a great part of the problems show their desire to flee. All the Spanish property has been transferred to the Americans, thus leaving the Filipinos in the same miserable state. The shameful absurdities of the Spanish policies are evident. After having occupied this country for 350 years, all their soldiers, priests, monks, and public officials will leave, and not a single Spaniard will remain. According to the consul general, the Spaniards had one bank, but no large-scale rural development, no mining company, nor any form of public works company. The 1897 figures for trade show that the English represent 80 percent, the Chinese 14 percent, and the Spanish a mere 4 percent. The figures speak for themselves, and any further comment would be superfluous.


Sunday, August 14, 1898

Admiral Dewey informs the foreign battleships that they can anchor in their original positions in Manila Bay. The naval officers hastily go on land but the overly cautious Germans, heedless of the dispatches concerning the treaty, go ashore fully armed. On land or at sea, Admiral von Diederich’s presence reaffirms the dominance of a formidable Germany.

It is said the Spaniards lost 400 men in yesterday’s fighting. Even if it were 40 or a hundred, the toll would still be too high since these men, dispersed everywhere on the ramparts, awaited the enemy without fighting and were ordered not to fire a single shot. The Spanish soldiers within the walls hae already relinquished their guns unloaded and discharged, before they are allowed entry. Within the walls, an American officer piles up the confiscated guns in the guardhouse. I have also seen an infantry regiment and a battalion of soldiers disarmed before the city gates.

The Spanish soldiers keep their sabers and clench their teeth, perhaps out of rage or out of sheer humiliation. They undoubtedly harbor these feelings of betrayal in varying degrees, fully aware that there was no battle and that the troops present could have kept the Americans at bay.

Admiral Montojo has bluntly stated that the siege of Manila was a farce played by General Merritt. But he seems to forget that he also played a role similar to that of General Jaudenes and the Spaniards.

Now, Manila definitely looks like a conquered city. There is hardly any Spaniard on the street and all shops are closed. Panic is rising out of fear that the Tagals might pillage this city tonight or possible plan a massacre. Meanwhile, the Americans continue to exercise very strict surveillance.

Within the Walled City, the inhabitants and soldiers move around, and one can see the Spanish military men carrying on friendly conversations with the soldiers of the Union. Some are even drinking together in the cafes. What an encouraging sight! The streets are full of disarmed soldiers, but in the churches and convents, where the entire Spanish garrison is confined, the air is permeated by unbearable stench and dirt.

General Merritt has had a manifesto posted in English, Spanish and Tagalog declaring that Manila is now under American military government. There is no mention whatsoever of the insurgents. The American military is speaking on behalf of the United States in the same way that the Spaniards were speaking yesterday in the name of Spain, the repetition of this twist of fate clearly indicating the stranglehold of another foreign power on Manila.

A considerable number of American troops seen at close range show no signs of order, or discipline. It is obvious why the Germans look down disdainfully on them. They look like an army organized for manhunts, while the English marines remind me of a flotilla of yachtsmen. The Americans involved everywhere, just like their counterparts, the English, remain different from them, like the contrast between the rustic and aristocratic or between the workhand and the lord of the manor. The American army has always been regarded as a school for athletics, a notion that should be expanded to moral gymnastics or a virtual seminary for democracy.

The American soldiers are hefty and tall but appear narrow in the chest in relation to their height. It seems that tuberculosis is their Achilles heel. These men who exude self-confidence are more comfortable wearing cowboy outfits than the military uniform. Their huge felt hats resemble the plumed hats of musketeers in operettas. The color of their sporty brown uniform is very similar to that worn by our marine infantry. Some wear dark-blue tunics, which look too warm for the tropics. They all wear gaiters and belts of cartridges. During the day they are on their best behavior and pay for all their purchases. At night, they rid themselves of their inhibitions, drink excessively and, when quite drunk on whisky, become unbearable savages, killing at the slightest provocation. They do not unleash their brutish behavior on each other but rather on the natives. As soon as they see one, the manhunt begins. This sport enjoyed by these champions of humanity has been inherited from their forefathers, who pursued the Redskins and Negroes. This war has certainly given the Americans the opportunity for magnificent manhunts in the Philippines and Cuba at very little cost.

Rumors about the impropriety of this siege is spreading fast. It is said tha when General Jaudenes stated, On the presumption that Manila cannot defend itself, no cannons should be fired, only one general defiantly protested and said, When the hostilities start, we should fight to the bitter end!” Strong words spoken by a man who dared speak his mind at a time like this.

The Spaniards have convinced themselves that they had no other alternative, a convenient excuse for a well deserved defeat. Colonel ___________ now insists that the situation was inevitable, but vehemently denies that the Spanish artillerymen were inferior to their mediocre American counterparts. “In fact, most people are unaware that we used armor-piercing shells to destroy bridges and watchtowers. Let it not be said that our shells were useless. But when asked why the other types of missiles were not used, he had to admit that the Spanish officers had not been instructed on the use of the various projectiles.


Sunday, August 14, 1898

Surrender

The American and Spanish officers have signed the treaty of surrender. When the Americans took over the government of Manila, they accorded the Spanish prisoners the honors of war.

The terms of the surrender worth noting are as follows:

  1. Only the City of Manila and its environs are included in the terms of surrender.
  2. The sovereignty of the United States is merely provisional with the possible withdrawal of the American army.
  3. This convention is dated August 13.

This last observation is important because Admiral Dewey apparently overlooked his dates, the peace treaty between Spain and the United States having been signed on August 12, the eve of the siege of Manila, while the Spanish flag was still flying.

 


Monday, July 11, 1898

Americans and Germans

A Reuters dispatch states that the English are displeased with the influx of Germans into the Philippines. Early in the game, we see Mr. Chamberlain’s policies in action. The friends of our friends are our friends, goes a saying, but I think we cannot be sure of the German position. Numerous rumors are spreading all over the Far East about the Irene. The following is an account which appears in an English newspaper.

The Germans’ movements in the Manila Bay are causing much anxiety. They have not scrupulously observed the rules of moral courtesy. They have aggravated everyone by constantly dispatching their ships in all directions in the bay, a practice which is completely against all regulations. But the most extraordinary event was the taking of the Rio Grande at the entrance of Subic Bay. The insurgents had succeeded in overrunning the whole countryside, village after village. The Spaniards were finally obliged to take refuge on the island. The rebels, having captured the steamer Filipinas, were preparing to launch an attack on the island. The German cruiser, Irene, intervened, intending to shield the Spaniards if the insurgents opened fire. When the Filipinas returned to Manila, the incident was reported to Aguinaldo, who immediately conveyed the information to Admiral Dewey. The following day, at dawn, Captain Coghlan received orders to head for Subic with the Raleigh and the Concorde, take possession of the island, and to hold the Spaniards as prisoners. As soon as the Americans appeared, the Irene weighed anchor and headed for Manila.

Meanwhile, the Spaniards indicated that they were prepared to surrender if the Americans took them into their charge. Captain Coghlan asked the Concorde to obtain new instructions from Dewey, whose response was as follows: “Execute orders received.” The Spaniards were informed that this was irreversible and that they were expected to surrender. Initially, they refused to comply, but realized they had no other alternative after a few shells were fired at them. Then they raised the white flag. Taken prisoner were 400 armed soldiers, 100 sick, and 100 women, all of whom were handed over to the insurgents.

Aguinaldo later confirmed that both the Spaniards and the Germans had made overtures towards him, but naturally gave no details.In a letter to Consul General Wildmann in Hongkong, he was alluding to the Spanish fleet en route to the Philippines when he said:

“This news of a reinforcement does not frighten me at all. I doubt that these ships will be able to enter Manila Bay. Admiral Dewey is not sleeping!”

It appears, in fact, that the admiral decided to undertake the defense of Corregidor with cannons and torpedoes. The idea seems feasible, bur do they have the necessary weapons to carry it through?

At this point, the English insist on showing their strength beside the Americans, their only sincere friends. According to the English, the American soldiers and marines are indignant over German bravado. “The maneuvers could be doomed to fail because of these Germans.”

Everyone’s attention is focused on Dewey’s diplomatic movements because he, more than anyone else, is constantly informed of the activities taking place in the bay. He uses great tact in his dealings with the German admiral. It is said that Admiral von Diederichs informed Dewey that he never had any intention of offending the Americans and that the increasing movements of his ships were merely a demonstration of their military strength. Admiral Dewey is understood to have replied that it would have been better if he had acted differently.


Tuesday, June 14, 1898

The Germans

The day before yesterday at noon, the German admiral was acknowledged in Corregidor. The Americans saluted him. The Kaiserin-Agusta dropped anchor at 13H30 after a 21-gun salute. Other ships are expected to follow her. Meanwhile, Prince Heinrich is landing in China where he can make his presence felt. During this time, neither the French nor the Russians are succesful in diverting the attention of the German vice-admiral from the China Sea, where a great rivalry exists. The Germans are sending their ships here. There is no clear order of hierarchy since anyone can give the necessary orders today or tomorrow, depending on the situation. And if the situation becomes increasingly complicated, someone else takes over as spokesman.

The weather is horrible. A typhoon must be brewing somewhere. Continuous hurricanes and incessant heavy rains. However, the atmospheric depression is supposed to be far away from Manila and there is no danger.

For the past week, the most positive fact is the presence in the bay of ships bearing the insurgents’ flag — blue, red and stars in one corner. These ships continue to and fro between the bay and Cavite to the north of the bay. These small steamships carry Filipino soldiers. If one is to believe an eyewitness, one of these ships accosted the Immortality on Friday. I can swear that none of our helmsmen saw the encounter, but who am I to doubt its credibility? If this is so, and if the insurgents are in touch with both the English and the Americans, how can Spain remain neutral? In the final analysis, I regret the fact that France does not want to initiate the recognition of the flag of the Republic of the Philippines, which the other countries refuse to acknowledge.

The Kaiser dropped anchor in the bay on the 18th. The Cormoran is on a reconnaisance mission in Mariveles and will enter the bay tonight. The Kaiser  is using its floodlights to exchange signals with Kaiserin-Agusta. These maneuvers, like most other German ventures, are being carried out with great precision. Evidently they know what they want and are doing what they want.


Friday, May 27, 1898

What will be the German strategy?

The Spaniards have great hopes in the Germans who have extensive interests in the Philippines. “They will defend us, not out of generosity, but out of the need to defend their interests in the islands. They will lend us their assistance against both the Americans and Aguinaldo.” There they are waiting for the fleet of Admiral von Diederichs! They are counting on the arrival of the Deutschland with Prince Heinrich on board. They have reason to believe that the Germans can change the course of events, basically due to their strength in the Far East; their ships, their traders and their goods are everywhere. Secondly, the German expedition against China, the taking of Kiao-Tcheon, the decisiveness displayed, the brutal raids, and the swiftness of action have had an impact on the Spaniards. Germany’s rationale for its invasion in China is the safeguarding of the former’s interests by establishing a strong base in the Gulf of Pe-Tchi-Li. Why did they not use the same strategy for the Philippines?

Now there is no doubt that the Germans will send their squadron from China. The Americans have made no further moves after their discussions with Aguinaldo, who is setting up his headquarters in Cavite. Both the insurgents and the Spaniards seem to be staying in their respective positions. The Americans have left the way open to the rebels but are not providing any artillery. It is rumored they are not bombarding Manila because the German consul has made representations on the matter. The Spaniards are certainly expecting the German squadron to appear in the bay.

Of course, there will be a few fools in Europe who will appreciate Admiral Dewey’s passive position, just as much as they have exalted him for what he has done. They are so lacking in foresight! In my opinion, Aguinaldo seems more cunning and resolute than all the rest. I hope he will make use of all of them. But can he count on the rebels? Would the Tagals be loyal to him on all fronts?