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September 28, 1899

Up at 4, breakfast and started about 5. The big square at Santa Rita gradually filled with troops and bull carts. Eight companies of the 9th. One 3.2-inch gun from the 3d Artillery. A little mountain gun and two troops of Cavalry with our detachment made up our column. The 36th (Bell’s) one gun, a troop and our other detail the column which started from San Antonio. Gen. Wheeler was in the square quietly directing things when we got there. The troops were very quiet, being sleepy. An occasional jest. The favorite one seemed to be, “It’s either Hell or Porac to-night.” It was very picturesque with the last quarter of the moon and the old cathedral. Promptly at 5:5 A.M., the time set the night before, the column started. A battalion of the 9th, then us, then the guns, then the other battalion of the 9th and the Cavalry escorting the train. Gen. Wheeler and his staff leading. Our bridge held all right. Gradually we left the houses filled with cheerful natives. Then came scowling ones, then the houses all had white flags. The sun was up then and it was getting hot. The road though was good. Now the houses by the road were deserted. A man dropped out from the company in front and lay panting by the roadside. It was 8:30 now and suddenly four shots came from the fields to the right. The other column had struck the outposts. “Quicker now, men,” and for thirty minutes the pace was killing. Then came a halt. The road bent away to the left by a large tree. At the tree was Gen. Wheeler surrounded by his staff all dismounted. Gen. Wheeler was directing the deployment of the Infantry. The leading battalion deployed as skirmishers to the left, the other to the right. The guns and fifteen Engineers, myself included, went down the road. Each battalion kept one company as support. There was no reserve. It really reminded me of maneuvers. There was a little shouting at first as the alignment was corrected and then the lines moved forward with the precision of a review. Down the road was a rifle pit about 1,200 yards away. At this rifle pit the guns were told to fire. Now the firing commenced everywhere and the bullets commenced to hum overhead. Leaves and twigs began to fall in the road. Gen. Wheeler directed the guns to open. A wounded man came by on a stretcher. I thought the guns would never open, which I suppose was due to excitement. “You need not hit any particular picket in the fence, any picket will do,” I heard the battery officer say and then the guns spoke. “Engineers at the guns,” and Sergt. O’Donnell and ten of us raced forward. “Sling your rifles and help us get these guns forward,” and grabbing hold of trail and wheels we shoved the big gun forward about one hundred yards, when they fired again. Twice we did this and then little circles of dust began rising from the ground in front of the gun. “Run forward a few of you and see where those are coming from.” Sergt. O’Donnell, myself and two others ran forward. “Look out,” and we flung ourselves into the bushes and the guns fired over us. Forward again, we were now about two hundred yards in front of the gun and then it was easy to see where they were coming from. Little puffs of smoke came from the trench and you caught momentary flashes from the trees at each side of the road. Did I duck? Of course I did, though I had intended not to, and the Mausers and Remingtons whistled overhead. We were firing now at the trees where the sharpshooters’ platform could be plainly seen. We kept moving forward, occasionally lying flat as the guns fired. I saw a shrapnel shell from the mountain gun burst in the tree about six feet under the sharpshooters. Wounded or not I don’t know, but I never saw people get out of a tree sooner. They seemed to fall from branch to branch. Now a shrapnel burst over the trench and we all ran forward, only to be stopped about one hundred feet from it by a bamboo entanglement. Here we fired two volleys and then tore it down and rushed to the trench. Except for a dead Filipino it was empty. A good deal of blood and empty cartridges, mostly Remingtons. When I saw the trench I wondered why the Filipinos had ever left it. It was on top of a ravine and was six feet deep. Cheering now on right and left, where the firing was incessant. The stretchers were running back loaded. The Sergeant sent me up the tree to the sharpshooters’ platform. I could see the lines moving steadily forward, firing as they went, and Gen. Wheeler and staff back on the road we had just come down. When I came down the line had gone forward and I had to run to catch up. That run took about all the strength I had left. Found the guns halted on the ravine to the right, they could not get down. Moved to the left at a trot and finally got down. Still volleys and cheering, but few shots humming overhead. I heard the boom of what the Artillery officer said was a smooth bore, but the shot did not come anywhere near us. My tongue was hanging out now and I could not have doubled to save my life. It was ten o’clock. Suddenly we turned a corner and thank goodness there was a clear mountain stream. The guns plunged through. It was waist deep. I stopped and drank about a quart, nor did I see anybody cross without doing likewise. A few volleys away to the right. Up the opposite bank, round a corner, and we were in Porac. Laid down in the shade. Troops came pouring in. Then the gun that was with the other column. We had got there first. Gens. McArthur and Wheeler with their staffs. A troop of Cavalry and a pack train of ammunition. The firing stopped. Men began to come by with captured guns and men. Remingtons, Mausers and even old guns with one-half inch bore. They had also found the instruments of the Filipino band. Evidently they left in a hurry. I had fired five shots and had not used my magazine. So I was pleased to find I had not lost my head. Our loss was five men wounded and five or eight overcome with the heat. Filipino loss, forty or fifty killed besides those they carried away. Dinner at one, a bath in the stream and then we went out and built a road up both sides of the stream and cleared a ford. Supper and bed, quite tired.