The morning of the 13th at 6:30 A.M. the Spaniards shot a big gun as a signal, and the whole line of Spaniards opened fire and there was a shower of lead falling all around us. The twenty men under under Lieutenant Hildreth, who had been sent to the extreme front, were in the thickest of the fight. It is said that they distinguished themselves by “Volley to the right!” “Volley to the left!” under the orders of Lieut. Hildreth. We have only their statement for the noble stand they made, but they seemed to be having a lot of fun over some of the incidents that occurred there.
Our regiment being on the reserve that day, had been ordered to the rear, and were behind a thick embankment when Dewey began bombarding the Spanish position to our front. This bombardment lasted about an hour and twenty minutes, when the Spaniards hoisted a white flag in Manilla. The army out in the trenches did not know this and kept up the fire. At 11:00 O’clock we were ordered to the front under fire, passed the first line of our trenches, then the second and by this time the bullets were flying thro the trees thick and fast, and we could see here and there where the trees had been cut down by the shells. When we got to the third line of entrenchments the Americans had jumped them and advanced up a straight narrow road, led by the Astor Battery… The first line of Spanish trenches were about two hundred yards distant, where one of the shells from the Astor Battery had fired a block house. They had crossed the trenches and driven the enemy back into the woods towards Manilla. Just as we got to these trenches we could see the rear of the line crossing after the Astor Battery and we proceeded in single file up the road about half way, and lay in a ditch beside the road waiting for orders. Word was brought that the Astor Battery was all cut to pieces, and we were ordered to advance in a very hail of bullets. We had to jump a ditch and were halted again along side the road.
About this time the natives began to rush back in droves one carrying a native officer shot thro the jaw, and we saw some of the Astor Battery coming in our direction and we thought they were retreating. We then had orders to retreat, and the most of us were mighty glad to do so. As we went over the first embankment, I turned just in time to see one of our men stagger and fall (thro) shot ( ) the leg. I believe this was F.E. Berg of Company A., as he was the only man wounded in the North Dakota ragiment in the taking of Manilla. He was just behind me and the Spaniards were sending volleys down the road, and the bullets would whistle around our heads in a way that was very uncomfortable.
We retreated to the first line of American trenches and waited for orders. While retreating we saw men shot and others drop from exhaustion all along the road. One bugler was shot thro the breast and they brought him back, but he soon died. We heard that the Astor Battery boys charged the Spaniards that had captured their guns, and with their pistols drove the Spaniards away. They came back after shells that were in an old house that was behind the trenches we were in. They were a determined looking lot of men. They told us their 1st and 2nd Sergeants had been killed in a pistol charge.
The firing finally became more and more distant and we received word that the Brigade General had been expecting us at the front for half an hour, and we advanced again, passed the breastworks, which if they had been held by Americans I do not believe could have been taken so easily. One blockhouse called Blockhouse 13 was barricaded upstairs and down. We reached forward right thro the streets of the city and down a very fine street and a way off we saw an American flag waving over a large building. When we reached this building we were given orders to go up the street about four blocks and not to let any insurgents go thro with arms. We remained there till dark. Several companies of armed insurgents tried to get into the city, but were stopped by our guards. They became very indignant at this. As we understood they expected to get into the city and loot and pillage, and the understanding was with the Spaniards that the armed insurgents would be kept out, when the surrender took place.
While lying in the street with a manhole for a cover, several of us were discussing how soon we would be home. I made the statement that I thought we would celebrate Christmas at home, but did not have many supporters. At one o’clock we got a fine dwelling house to sleep in for the night, having nothing to eat since the morning before.