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Harper's Weekly 08/20/1898


[Special Correspondence of “Harper's Weekly.”]

U. S. Transport “Australia,” rn route to Manila.
At Sea,June 14.

If any venturesome individual contemplates a voyage
on a troop-ship which he can just as well avoid, there is
one word which covers the whole situation—don't! The
prospect has allurements for any possessor of a roving
foot. But if he is also the possessor of an appreciation of
personal cleanliness and comfort, he will let his restless
foot ache unsatisfied.

Life “runs large” on a troop-ship—or rather it runs at
large—at least on this trooper. Some of it, in fact, does
not run; it crawls. Mattresses go overboard, blankets are
dragged in the sea for hours at a time, bichloride of mer-
cury in strong solution adds to the repulsing influences of
carbolic acid, the steam-boilers boil and boil, and blue
shirts and soldier trousers go into them in an endless
stream, and are fished out again, and yet that crawling life
keeps on crawling. It advances with irresistible tenacity.
It has crawled out of the steerage, up the after-companion-
way, up over the superstructure to the hurricane-deck,
and is just aft of the main companionway. The fo'c's'le
has surrendered to it; and in their little restricted space
just forward of amidships the officers are making their
last stand—and Manila is still two weeks away.

Life begins early in the day on this troop-ship. Four
o'clock starts the sailor-men to washing down the decks.
God knows the decks need it—they need it every hour!
The soldiers follow the sailore, a few accompanying them,
for there is a shower from the hose to be had that way.
Then, no sooner is the hurricane-deck scrubbed down than
the morning dancing class meets, directly over the heads of
the officers. Why that is endured is one of the “things
no feller can find out” which abound on this ship. After
the dance, the hurricane-deck is settled at once for the
next twenty-four hours. Breakfast is served there to the
lucky fellows who have captured places. What they don't
want of the breakfast—potato skins, and hardtack, and a
few grease spots by way of decoration, with perhaps a bit
of bacon—they throw on the deck. The magazines they
read they use on one another's heads when they grow
weary of reading. This is rough on the bindings, but it
adds to the litter and increases the picturesque effect. As
the day progresses cigars and cigarettes, half smoked or
more, with a liberal amount of tobacco juice, are added to
the mess. An occasional fight stirs things up for a few
minutes, but the excitement dies out when the combatants
are haled to the guard-house.

The galley of this ship, and the steam-room, where the
“grub” of the soldiers is cooked, would make the fortune
of any man who had it in New York. It's the finest thing
in the Turkish-bath line ever produced, and it reeks with
more odors than ever arose from an August meeting of
sweat-shop strikers. Its energy is something tremendous.
It pervades the ship, and in the quiet northeast trades,
which blow just as fast as we go, so that we have no
breeze whatever, the ramifications of that galley possess
our little world—and Manila is two weeks away.

It is hot, and that's not in the least surprising. In lati-
tude 15°, north or south, one expects to find high temper-
ature, and he is not disappointed. Also it is humid. That
too is to be expected at sea. A large fortune awaits the
man who will discover an expedient for making it other-
wise. Why should one complain, if it is hot, when there is
ice? It is easy to make ice. All one needs is a machine.
The most beautiful ice-machine mortal ingenuity ever
contrived is a part of the fitting of this ship. With per-
fect simplicity, infallible regularity, and absolute incor-
ruptibility it jams the temperature down to 38 degrees, and
there it sticks. The warm salt seas that swash over the
forecastle-when she rools—and she's a beauty at rolling, the
finest in the Pacific—trickle down the fore-hatch into the
commissary's improvised cold-storage room, and those sev-
enty tons of ice he put in at Honolulu, at $15 a ton, ooze
out in little streams. O glorious ice-machine! Some day
some philanthropist will buy that machine and take it
over to the Sahara. He will set it up beside an oasis, and
make the desert so cold that the sand-fleas will evolute
into polar bears. But there is even a hope that we shall
be in Manila before that.

More men live in smaller space aboard our war-ships
than there are, in proportion, on this ship, and the gleam-
ing sides of the ships of the “White Squadron” were not
more immaculately clean than their interiors. It is not
the crowd, but the crowd's habits. And such habits can
be stopped if there are officers who care or can command.
If an officer happens, however, to think that letting his
men wallow in filth is looking out for their comfort, so
that the only way to make his men take proper care of
themselves is for the general to see to it himself, it com-
plicates matters, for the general is the last person on the
ship to hear of such things. They do not happen on the
ship where the regulars are. Last Sunday the chaplain
preached to the men that “cleanliness is next to godli-
ness,” and the men whom he most wanted to reach sat on
the outskirts of the crowd and played cards.

About the discomforts legitimately incident to the sort
of trip we're making there is not the least complaint, but
there is scarcely one of the things that are making life
aboard this transport a little hell that could not have been
prevented, that cannot be remedied, or for which there is
the least excuse.

Monday, June 27.

To-day's observation showed us to be in latitude 17°
9' north, longitude 126° 26' east. Three days more, per-
haps only two, and we shall see the flags waving over
Dewey's ships in Manila Bay. It has been a long, hard
trip, broken only twice—at Honolulu and at San Luis
d'Apra—but each was a memorable occasion. It was the
day after we left Honolulu that we first heard of Guam.
That day Captain Glass of the Charleston, which has con-
voyed the troop-ships from the Hawaiian Islands, opened
the sealed orders which he had been instructed to read
when out of sight of land after leaving Honolulu. These
orders directed him to call at Guam, one of the Mariana,
or Ladrone, Islands, capture the governor and all officials
and soldiers, and destroy any fortifications at Agaña, the
capital, or in the harbor of San Luis d'Apra, the port of

The message from Captain Glass wigwagged to the
transports, making public these orders, stirred up a lot of
enthusiasm among the soldiers. Straightway charts and
Pacific directories were hauled out and studied for infor-
mation about the Ladrones and Guam. But it quickly
became apparent that most of our information would be
obtained by personal contact, for the directories knew
precious little. The ships held a steady and uninterrupt-
ed course toward the little island, unbroken by the sight
of a single sail, and varied only by the occasional target
practice of the Charleston, until the afternoon of June
15, when there was a time. The practice of the cruiser
had been particularly interesting, as it indicated—or we
thought it did, and that served as well—that Captain
Glass expected to have to use his guns in capturing Guam.
But this afternoon it was not subcalibre at boxes toss-
ed over from the Peking and floating by, but regular prac-
tice with the big guns and service charges, at a regular
pyramidal cloth target set adrift from the cruiser herself.
This surely was preliminary to for-destruction. Besides
this practice, there was a conference of all the captains
and General Anderson on the Australia, and arrangements
for the attack on Guam were completed.

Considering the fact that the Charleston's crew is com-
posed largely of green men, the shooting was very good.
The range was about two miles, and every shot would
have struck a ship, except possibly the first. Two rounds
were fired from each of the 6-inch guns in the port and
starboard broadside batteries, and from the bow and stern
8-inch rifles. Captain Glass was greatly pleased with the

Early on the morning of Monday, June 20, land was
seen. The convoy had come to the westward of the isl-
and of Guam, thereby avoiding the signal station at Point
Ritidian, and caught sight first of the rocky shore north of
Agaña Bay. The Charleston cleared for action, and with
the men at general quarters went into Agaña Bay to look
around. The morning was thick with frequent rain
squalls, which blotted out everything even at a short dis-
tance from the ship. The Charleston went boldly into
the harbor, and as close to the shore line as the dangerous
coral reefs would allow, but the bay was empty. Then
down past Devil's Point and Apepas Island she steamed,
with the transports trailing behind and half a mile or more
further out to sea.

As the cruiser passed Apepas Island her officers made
out, over the low-lying rock, the spars of a vessel at anchor
in the bay of San Luis d'Apra. Apepas Island cleared,
the vessel showed full and white, and Captain Glass
thought he had a Spanish gunboat, but she set the Jap-
anese flag as soon as she made out the war-ship, and
proved to be the copra-trading brigantine Minatogawa, of
Tokio. The cruiser went on past Luminan Reefs, and
turned in by Point Orote, along the north shore of the
little peninsula. The cliffs rise sharp out of the water,
like the Palisades of the Hudson, and against them the
Charleston, in war-paint, was hardly visible. Old Fort
S. Iago, on the point, dismantled long ago, made no op-
position to the cruiser's advance, but as she rounded the
next point, and saw Fort Santa Cruz ahead, hope revived
in the hearts of the silent men at the guns. Then Captain
Glass gave the order to try out the old fort with the 3
pounders, and the men were happy. The firing began at
3000 yards, and for four minutes the little shells burst in
and around Fort Santa Cruz in a fashion which made the
solitary Chamorro setting his fish-traps behind the fort
row for his life to get out of range. Thirteen shells were
fired, the last at 2600 yards, and there being no response,
the action of Guam ended. The troop-ships could see but
not hear the shooting, and every shell got a round of wild

The shelling of Santa Cruz brought a fairly prompt
response in the persons of Lieutenant Garcia Gutierrez, of
the Spanish navy, captain of the port of San Luis d'Apra,
and Dr. Romero of the Spanish army, health officer, who
rowed out in their boats, flying the Spanish flag, to see if
the health of the Charleston were good, and to promise to
return Captain Glass's salute as soon as they could borrow
some powder for a couple of old guns they had ashore.
They were thunderstruck at being informed of the real
situation, and when told that Manila was in Dewey's
hands, practically, the Spanish fleet destroyed, and that
they were prisoners of war, they were most unhappy.
Francis Portusac, a native of Guam and an Agaña mer-
chant, who was naturalized in Chicago in 1888, was with
the officials to act as interpreter, but Captain Glass used
him more as a bureau of information about the island.
Finally the captain paroled the Spaniards for the day,
and sent them away in their boats with a verbal message
to the governor, Lieutenant-Colonel Don José Marina y
Vega, to hurry up and pay his official call. That evening
Governor Marina sent Captain Glass a message to the ef-
fect that the military regulations of Spain forbade him to
set foot on a foreign vessel, but he would be pleased to
see the captain at his office in the morning. Captain
Glass replied that he would see the governor himself, or
send an officer to represent him.

The next morning Lieutenant William Braunersreuther,
the navigator of the Charleston, with Ensign Waldo Evans
and five men, went ashore. Lieutenant Braunersreuther
carried a formal note to the governor from Captain Glass,
which gave him thirty minutes in which to surrender un-
conditionally. The guns of the Charleston were ready to
enforce the demands. Lieutenant Braunersreuther met
the governor at the landing-place at the native village of
Piti. With the governor were Captain Duarte of the
Spanish army, his secretary, the port captain,
Lieutenant Gutierrez, and Dr. Romero. In pre-
senting the note from Captain Glass, Lieutenant
Braunersreuther said, in Spanish:

“I have the honor to present a communica-
tion from my commandant. I am authorized to
wait one half-hour for your reply. In present-
ing this communication I call your attention to
the fact that we have, as you see, three large
ships in the harbor, and a fourth [the Sydney
had remained outside] outside ready to come in.
One of these ships is a modern war-vessel of
high power, with large guns. The others are
transports full of soldiers. We have a large
force here. I call your attention to these facts
in order that you may not make any hasty or
ill-considered reply to the note of my comman-

Governor Marina bowed and thanked Lieuten-
ant Braunersreuther, took the note, and retired
with his staff into his office. From its window,
if he chanced to look out, he could see the steam-launch
of the Charleston towing a string of boats full of men up
toward the landing-place. In the boats were Lieutenant
Myers, U. S. M. C., of the Charleston, with forty marines
from the ship, and part of Company A, Second Oregon,
Captain H. L. Heath, from the Australia. This was the
first detachment of the landing force General Anderson
and Captain Glass had agreed on the night before. The
rest of Company A, and Company D, Captain A. T. Pres-
cott, were waiting on the Australia for the launch to re-
turn and tow them to land. To their intense disgust, not
a man of them set foot on land. The first detachment
tied up to the Japanese brigantine while the launch went
back for the rest, and before it came back the work had
all been done.

For twenty-nine minutes Lieutenant Braunersreuther
waited, watch in hand, for the reply. Then Governor
Marina came out of his office with a sealed letter addressed
to Captain Glass. “It is for your commandant,” he said,
as Lieutenant Braunersreuther broke it open. “I repre-
sent my commandant here,” was the reply. Governor
Marina had written:

Sir,—In the absence of any notification from my government con-
cerning the relations of war between the United States and Spain, and
without any means of defence, or the possibility of defence in the
face of such a large opposing force, I feel compelled, in the interests
of humanity and to save life, to make a complete surrender of all un-
der my jurisdiction. Trusting to your mercy and justice,

I have the honor to be, etc., etc.

So Guam was surrendered, with all the Mariana Islands.
The unhappy governor had no notion that the force which
had threatened him was intended really for Manila, and
thought that it had been sent out solely against the Mari-
ana group. He had but fifty-four Spanish regulars and
a company of Chamorros, and was, as he said, quite with-
out means of making a defence. Lieutenant Brauners-
reuther required him to write an order to Lieutenant
Ramos, in command of the troops at Agaña, to have them
on the pier at Piti, with all arms, accoutrements, and am-
munition, and the four Spanish flags in the island, at four
o'clock that afternoon. That done, the governor wrote a
long farewell to his wife, telling her to send his clothing
and personal effects to Piti at once. He offered the letter
to Lieutenant Braunersreuther to read, as he had done the
order to Lieutenant Ramos. The Charleston's officer
waved the letter away, and said,

“No, no; that-is not for me.”

Apparently that courtesy was more than the governor
had expected. He put his head down on his desk and
fairly broke down and cried. When he regained his com-
posure, he and his staff took places in the Charleston's
boat, and were taken aboard the cruiser. On the way the
boat passed the two detachments of the landing-party,
and ordered them back to the Australia.

Soon after the arrival of the prisoners on the Charles-
, Captain Glass took a large United States flag and
went in his barge to Fort Santa Cruz, where he hoisted
the stars and stripes on the old Spanish staff. As the
first broad red stripe rose over the ruined battlements, the
six-inch rifles of the Charleston roared out the national
salute. Formal possession had been taken of Guam. At
the same time the bands on the Australia and Peking
played the “Star-spangled Banner,” and the soldiers and
sailors on the troop-ships and cruiser gave three times
three for Uncle Sam's new island.

The Sydney had been ordered to come in from outside
the reef, and as soon as Captain Glass got back from rais-
ing the flag over Santa Cruz, he made arrangements with
Captain Pillsbury, with General Anderson's permission,
to quarter his prisoners on the transport. Lieutenant
Braunersreuther then took the Charleston's marines, under
Lieutenant Myers, and with Ensign Evans and Dr. Faren-
holt went into Piti to receive the surrender of the Span-


ish soldiers. The troops were waiting for him in the
boat-house at the landing-place. With Lieutenant Ramos
in command was Lieutenant Berruezo, both of the Spanish
naval infantry. The company of regulars was drawn up
in line on one side of the boat-house, and on the other
side, facing them, were the fifty-four Chamorros. The
regulars were armed with '96 model Mausers, and had two
great boxes of ammunition. The natives carried Reming-
ton 45-90's, and had about two bushels of cartridges loose
in a big box.

Lieutenant Myers took his marines through the boat-
house, and formed them in line facing the water. The
left of the line moved forward left oblique, turning the
flank of the boat-house, and the Spaniards were helpless
in a trap, if they had cherished any notion of making a
last stand. But they had not. At Lieutenant Brauners-
reuther's command the regulars stepped forward, man by
man, to Ensign Evans, who stood near the landing-stage,
broke open their rifles, and showed them to be not loaded,
then handed them to him. As Ensign Evans passed the
guns on to bluejackets, who stowed them in one of the
Charleston's boats, the soldiers passed over their belts,
bayonets, and other accoutrements. When the regulars
had been thus disarmed and had re-formed in line, the
natives went through the same form.

Then Lieutenant Braunersreuther stepped out in front
of the marines, followed by the two Spanish officers. The
marines presented arms, and the Spaniards gave their
swords and their revolvers to Lieutenant Braunersreuther.

Then the Spanish regulars learned for the first time
that they were to be held as prisoners. Lieutenant Brau-
nersreuther told them that they might say good-by to
the Chamorros. There was a great outcry and much em-
bracing. The natives could hardly repress the evidences
of their satisfaction, and as soon as they were sure that
they were to be set free from the Spanish yoke, they be-
gan ripping the Spanish buttons off their uniforms and
the little insignia of their service from their collars. But
tons and collar marks they threw away by handfuls, and
the Charleston's marines and bluejackets picked them up
as souvenirs. The Chamorros took the farewell messages
of their old comrades and scattered. Then the Spaniards
were put in a big barge and taken out to the Charleston.
The two officers and the four Spanish flags went in Lieu-
tenant Braunersreuther's boat. The Sydney had anchored
near the Charleston by this time, and all the prisoners
were put aboard her at once. The officers were put two
in a state-room, and the men were sent below. Armed
guards watched them while the ships was in the harbor,
but they all had plenty of freedom to move about. The
officers' baggage came out to the ship the next morning,
and some of the clothing of the men. The captured am-
munition consisted of fifty-four Mauser and fifty-four
Remington rifles, with belts, cartridge-boxes, and bayonets,
7500 rounds of Mauser ammunition, and about as much
for the Remingtons.

While this was going on, the Charleston had been taking
coal from the Peking. It was put in sacks in the Peking's
bunkers, hoisted into a boat, and towed over to the cruiser.
There the sacks were hoisted on board and dumped into the
bunkers, and then they were sent back for more. Work-
ing constantly for two days, the cruiser got 125 tons from
the troop-ship, and on the morning of Wednesday, June
22, four weeks from the day we left San Francisco, we
were ready to leave Guam on the last stretch of the road
to Manila.

The island of Guam is the largest and most populous
of the Mariana group. When the great Magellan discov-
ered the islands in the early part of the sixteenth century
he called them the Lateens, from the lateen sails of the
prahms of the thieving inhabitants. Afterward the
piratical propensities of the natives so impressed the
Spaniards that they called the islands the Ladrones, or
thieves' islands. The name Mariana was given to them
finally in honor of Maria Anna of Austria, widow of
Philip IV. of Spain. The first conquest by the Spaniards
practically destroyed all the natives, and the people who
now make their homes in the Ladrones are mostly of
Malay origin. There are between 8000 and 12,000 of them
on the island of Guam. They live mostly in small vil-
lages of from forty to sixty houses along the coast; but
Agaña is a place of perhaps 4000 inhabitants, with stone
buildings of considerable pretension. The village of
Suma, or Somayi, on the point opposite where the
Charleston lay, was the only one, besides Piti at the land-
ing-place, visited by this expedition. There was not
time, in Captain Glass's opinion, to go into Agaña.

Suma has about sixty houses, a few of them of stone,
but mostly of a heavy dark red wood that looks like
mahogany, which the natives call “iffet.” Nearly all the
men in Suma speak a little English, which they have
picked up from American whalers, which call at San Luis
d'Apra, as the port is called, for wood, water, and fruit.
The first stories of the stone houses of Suma are used
as storehouses and pig-pens. The living-rooms are on
the second floor. The wooden houses are built up on
posts, so that the floor is about four feet from the ground.
Back of each house there is a lean-to, similarly built up
from the ground, and connected with the house by a run-
ning-board at the floor-level. This lean-to has a sort of
forge-fireplace in one corner, where the cooking is done.
The village is laid off in regular squares of small blocks.
The streets are straight and fairly clean; those running
east and west are broad, but the others are narrow. The
roofs of all the houses are made of a thatch of
cocoanut-palm leaves, on bamboo rafters and
stringers. Usually there are but four houses in
a block, each with its little back yard and out-
lying kitchen, surrounded by its own picket
fences. In some blocks there is also a stone
bake-oven, shaped like a bee-hive, and protected
by a thatched roof. At the end of the main
street there is an old stone church, about forty
feet long by twenty wide, before the altar of
which there never ceases to burn a cocoanut-oil
lamp. Beside the church stands the Escuela
Publica, also built of stone, where the old Span-
ish padre, who spends half his time in Agat,
across the Orote Peninsula, teaches the Chamorro
children when he is in Suma.

The Chamorros are mostly small in stature.
They are not so flat of feature as the Hawai-
ians, and there is more red in the color of their
skins. Some of the men are exactly of the
shade of polished copper. Their hands are small
and slender; but their feet, from constantly going bare-
foot and much wading over coral reefs, are large and
thick and tough. The women, especially the younger
ones, are rather good-looking, and some of them are
strikingly handsome. The men wear thin cotton clothes,
usually just a sort of blouse-shirt and short trousers, with
hats made of cocoanut-palm leaves, more tough and dur-
able than a Panama, or even a Kona hat from Hawaii.
The little pot-bellied children wear a single coatlike gar-
ment of thin cotton, usually unbuttoned all the way to
the throat. The women wear a one-piece garment
wrapped about them, and tied in a knot over the right
hip. Their hair is long, straight, and glossy black, and
their eyes a soft, beautiful, deep brown.

The land in Guam is of a reddish clayey nature, and
very fertile. The natives grow sugar-cane, rice, corn, and
mellons. Cocoanuts, pineapples, bananas, limes, lemons,
oranges, and bread-fruit grow wild in greatest profusion.
It rains nearly all the time—half a dozen squalls of from
ten to thirty minutes every day—but no one minds that.
It keeps the temperature down and makes everything
grow. It is a fine coffee country—but there is almost no
attention paid to the industry. The principal product is
copra. The Spanish have taxed the life out of every-
thing. Every birth, death, burial, marriage, is taxed;
every sale, every killing of a hog or chicken or beef, pays
something. It costs seventy-five cents a head every six
months simply to exist. Under decent laws it will take
small energy to accumulate a fortune in Guam, and the
climate is as fair as that of Honolulu.

Oscar King Davis.

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