Manila, June 8, 1899
Messers Horton, Bassett, Bell and Roberson:
Dear Friends and Comrades:
Your kind combination favor, after having been badly mutilated and miscarried, reached us late last month at San Fernando; a most welcome missive we assure you; and if we could receive more such evidences of good will and friendship from our Anthoney friends, the terrors of war would lose much of its terror.
We wish to impress upon each of you that your individual letters each conveyed to us a sentiment that can come only from Kansas and from hearts of generous impulses, not as erratic, but as free as the wind that sweeps up and down and in and out of Main street of Anthoney. In the past four months of continual service on the battle-fields, letters from home have been delivered just after a hard day's march, or in the morning following a sleepless night in the trenches, and at one time I remember having read one or two by the uncertain light of the moon; no condition ever prevented the reading of letters immediately upon delivery.
At this date both Comrade Davis and myself are enjoying a much needed rest at our battalion barracks in the city. About the middle of May we were both taken with dysentery brought by bad water and continual exposure to heat and wet weather; along with my case symptoms of malarial fever caused me to be sent to Second Brigade field hospital at San Fernando, but that was such a "crummy" joint, after three days I persuaded the physician in charge to return me to quarters. About one week later both of us were sent into Manila along with eighty other sick soldiers out of the Kansas regiment. Having a cot here to sleep on and wholesome food to eat is making us feel better, and now we are able to go about the city in the evenings and take matters easy...
My average weight is 150 but when I was weighed yesterday could not get the scale to register more than 119, but Davis lost only 14 pounds on account of our troubles. We don't want to complain or find fault with that very unpopular General, Otis, but every volunteer soldier here feels that they have been given more than their share of fighting; that they have been kept in active service day in and out while most of the regular troops have been doing garrison duty or nothing at all. And everyone with whom we have talked seems to think the general is persistent in misrepresenting matters to the department at Washington. By some means he has led the department and people at home to believe that we or the volunteer regiments are willing or want to remain here on the island until the insurrection is put down. In his reports he has said the back-bone of the insurrection is broken. The former statement is wholly untrue while we all entertain positive doubts as to latter. In my opinion we have accomplished practically nothing toward putting down the insurrection, possibly not on account of the great General's inefficiency, but because of us soldiers not being good enough foot-racers and swimmers to catch the enemy. We run and wade in pursuit of them and in efforts to surround them until the boys drop from exhaustion without ever accomplishing anything. The insurrectos always have an avenue of escape or disappear somewhere, only to bob-up serenely somewhere else. If General Otis goes down in history as an honored, brave and generous hero, it will be a most notorious miscarriage of truth by the historians.....
People in the states have a very crude idea of this war I judge from the reports furnished by associated press. The nature of the battle-fields, condition of troops, and results of battles are not truthfully published, all of which will be realized in time to come. However, no words or commendation or praise are too great for the service rendered here by the hospital corps and physicians and surgeons of the hospitals here in Manila. A very large per cent of the badly wounded and severely sick soldiers were saved, and it seems that if they are once gotten into the hospitals here surgery and medical skill has prevailed over the most desperate cases. All kinds of wounds thought to be fatal in the field have been pulled through at these hospitals. Not only cases in our own army but native soldiers all shot to pieces have been patched up so they can live with only a part of the anatomy left. The commissary department had also been without fault, and there were only one or two occasions when we went without food of some sort in the field....
Blackburn was crazy in his idea that it was a bad idea to give us Krag rifles; he rather insinuated, editorially, that we were such gross incompetents we could not pick them up and use them and use them to good advantage, and we want him to know that when they were given to us at Malalos we went right along in line of action without even a premature discharge of a rifle in the Kansas regiment. And the insurrectos soon found out that we could shoot as long range as they could, making a very perceptible change in the distances from which they would attack us. It was unreasonable and inconsistent to fit the Springfield rifle against the Mauser which latter rifle we consider the best of all.
But the guns that make music are the Colts automatic rapid fire, 1200 shots per minutes, the Maxim rapid fire and gatlin and the 3, 4 and 6 inch shrapnel guns. We have been on skirmish lines in action several times with all these instruments of death in plain hearing while some of the Utah or Sixth artillery big guns were on the right or left flank of Company M. When all turn loose, advancing on the entrenched enemy the music can be appreciated only by those who have heard it. And then at the same time we have made advances at times when neighboring cities or villages were being shelled by the Manadanock, Helena, Concord and Callas, gunboats of Dewey's fleet, and the roar of their shells added to that of our own, made the grandest music heard by man; but when we think of the awful destruction of property and human life the grandeur of the music is terrible to contemplate. Persons who have never heard a ten-inch shell pass through the air with its double report and concussion can not comprehend the sound by any efforts of pen and ink on your mind, so it will be useless for me to try. In addition to our general experiences on fields of battle we have encountered many amusing experiences and ludicrous conditions in connection with the native "amigos" and camp followers from the Empire. However it will be useless for us to commence that now. Like you old Comrades of the other nigger war, we can reserve those anecdotes for times when we shall be gathered around Bassett's stove, or meet somewhere to enjoy the generosity of some comrades with the price of cold keg of beer... If any of you fellows deem us worthy or further correspondence guess you had better direct your favors to San Francisco, because we sincerely hope to be on the ocean again privileges to none but our lady friends we are
Davis and Hutch