FUSSELL, MARCH 16, 1899
FUSSELL, MARCH 17, 1899
FROM THE PHILIPPINES.
Our Soldier Correspondent Writes
Entertainingly of the Country and the
Insurgents, Their Manner of Fighting, Our Fighting Methods and the Spaniards'
Way of Fighting.
Correspondence of the Progressive Farmer.
JARO Panay Island, P. I,
March 16, 1899.
Since my last letter there has been only desultory firing between our boys
and the insurgents, until this morning, when the enemy moved around to our
left flank, and about one company of them fired on our outpost. No one on
our side was killed. Our boys returned the fire, killing one Filipino soldier,
and wounding several others. We received the orders to be ready to "fall
in" at a moment's notice, but waited in vain, as the outpost succeeded in driving
the enemy back. Whenever the enemy hears a shot from our rifles, they think there is a whole company firing, as the sound made by the ball going through the bamboo, is very rattling. When they fire "Mausers" at us they sound as if they were fired just where we are standing, as the sound of the rifle goes with the bullet. It they were within one hundred yards of us, the sound of the ball would be the same as if it came from a mile away. The Remington ball makes a different sound as it passes over our heardsósounds very much like a mad honey bee when he tries to sting you. If a Remington ball is nearly "spent" when it passes over us, the ball wabbles more than it would if it were going at a greater velocity.
Several of my comrades and myself went beyond our outpost, a few days ago, and we saw many insurgents picking beans, having their rifles close to them. We heard that they are short of provisions, and would soon become starved into submission, but, judging from the amount of tropical fruits here, I think they can subsist quite a white on them alone.
The cool nights are telling on the insurgents, as they were never used to
sleeping outdoors; and they are very thinly clad. They expected us to remain
in Iloilo, while they occupied this town. They were in the habit of
fighting the Spaniards for two or three hours, then retiring to camp, where
they would smoke and have a fine time.
Insurgents say "Americans mucho combata; no eat, no sleep, but fight all
the time; Espanal mucho smoke, mucho chow chow" (cooked food), meaning
the Spaniards took plenty of time to smoke and eat. Our style of advancing
by rushes is something they don't "savey" (understand).
When Spaniards fought these people, they would send out a few men, while the officers remained in quarters; after the Spaniards retreated, they counted the cartridges they had shot, and for every one shot, they counted one killed insurgent, so as they shot many times they counted many killed, when, perhaps, they killed none. They sent such reports to Madrid, Spain, and when a regiment which had served here four years returned to Spain, and only 400 out of 1200 were left, there was much weeping by the relatives of the ones who died here. I trust such will never be the fate of any of our boys.
At last accounts there was some fighting at Manila; as Manila is 48 hours by dispatch boat, from here, we don't know what is occurring there.
An interruption was made in my writing, yesterday, by the call to arms. From the tower could be seen large numbers of the enemy moving toward our left, our weakest point. The artillery and seven companies of my regiment were soon on the move toward the enemy. We soon learned that they made a "bluff" to draw our forces is that direction, while the main body of them moved around to our right. We soon saw into their little game, and moved around to the right, and soon had them engaged.
The artillery remained in the rear, while the infantry moved to witnin
300 yards of the enemy. Shell after shell went screaming over our heads, on their way to deal out death to the insurgents. As the artillery scattered and put them on the run, the infantry picked them off like rabbits. The fighting began at 3:30 p.m. and lasted until 7 p. m. Our losses were 19 wounded, and one killed. Most of the wounded will survive.
One fellow was shot through the lungs, the ball entering the left shoulder,
coming out on the other side. At first, he thought he was only slightly
hurt, and begged to be allowed to fire "a few more rounds at them." It was
a Mauser ball which hit him, and they make a small neat hole, and seldom
kill. There is a fellow in the hospital who was hit by a Mauser, sometime
ago; the ball passed through one lung, but he is doing well.
We saw many Spaniards among the insurgentsódeserters from the Spanish army. They are well-drilled and
are nearly all officers. They made a
much better stand than I thought they would, but we finally drove them from
their position in the trenches.
As we advanced across the open field, the enemy apparently couldn't "savey"
it! We advanced 50 yards at a time, then fell down behind trenches which
were made by insurgents. We gave them a few well directed volleys, then
advanced to the next cover. As we advanced a perfect hail of bullets fell
all around us, and passed above us, and passed above us, but not one of
of my company was killed, but one corporal was hit on two of his toes.
Our marines landed on the right of us, and just slaughtered insurgents.
One of our naval boats was close in near shore,and was well "masked" with
palms, so the enemy thought it was only a merchant boat, and advanced
close to it, when it opened up its guns on them, killing 40 at one shot. That
put the tear of our country into them, so they ran right into the Tennesseans,
who poured death into them.
We destroyed one of their block houses which contained 8,000 rounds
of ammunition, and some guns. We found an insurgent officer's horse shot
by about 25 of our bullets. When night came on the enemy ceased
firing Remingtons at us and fired only Mausers. Two Tennesseeans fought
by my side, they using Springfield rifles, and I had the Krag Jorgenson
The one who was killed on our side was buried in a Spanish cemetery, in
which many insurgents are supposed to have been buried. The cemetery
was once a costly affair, and Spain taxed all who buried in it, even her
own subjects, and when the family or friends of a dead person refused to pay
the taxes, their dead's bones were taken and thrown in a heap, in the
corners of the cemetery. There are hundreds of skulls and other bones
bleaching in the sun. Similar sights may be seen at cemeteries all over the
There is an angel made of stone and placed on top of the tower at the
cemetery. He represents Gabriel blowing
the trumpet, on the resurrection morn, but it seems that Spain did some of the
resurrecting in taking up those bones.
There is a house here where images of Christ were made; we boys found
several of the images, one of which had blood smeared on the face, and large
drops of blood on the body, which is supposed to resemble the crucifixion of Christ.
A lieutenant and I went to a house where Chinamen made a cheap drink
called "beno." We found 13 China men and several barrels of the drink,
so we made them empty the stuff into the street and the lieutenant arrested
all of them, and had me put them to work building breastworks. Several
of them looked as though they never did any work and they bitterly protested
against having to work.
Several of my comrades are suffering from rheumatism, which they got
by lying in the trenches. The sick report of our forces is increasing at a
I must say something for my brave company commander. He is as fine a
man as I ever met, and when he addresses his men, he does it in a quiet
way, not as I have heard some officers address men. He never brags of what
he can and will do, but when he arrives on the battlefield, he acts like a fighter,
and not a talker. While he ordered all his men to lie down behind the
trenches, he stood straight up and gave the commands in a cool, self composed
manner, which won him the admiration of all who saw his actions.
Since the battle, we have seen the enemy hauling their dead in ox carts.
I think for every one of our men hit, there were a dozen or more of theirs
I wish to correct two mistakes which I made in my first letter to your paper;
1st, I enlisted in the third regular infantry and was transferred to 18th;
2nd, we each receive $15.60 a month, although there has been an increase in
our pay, but we haven't as yet received it.
Your papers were read by myself, and comrades, and greatly appreciated.
A young man from Missouri said he had read The Progressive Farmer before,
and thinks it a splendid paper.
The soil here is a very black rich kind and on the river bank, where it
has washed down to a depth of 10 feet, the bottom is as rich as the surface.
There are alligators in all the creeks and rivers of this island. A fellow in
my company is as good a cigar maker as I've seen, and as there is much very
fine tobacco here, he makes $6 a day making cigars, and could sell twice
that amount if he could make them.
We found two cans full of black powder, scraps of iron and lead. The
insurgents made them, and some Chinese told us that the insurgents had
a smooth bore old cannon out of which they fired them.
We expect to go into battle again this evening.
RANDALL H FUSSELL.
Co. I, 18th Infantry, U. S. Army, Iloilo, P. I.
Progressive Farmer, May 16, 1899, Page 6