July 2, 1903
IN THE FAR EAST
Bert Woody, Formerly of Crittenden, Tells of Life in The Philippines.
LAGUAN, SAMAR, May 17, 1903.--To the Good People of Old Crittenden: As I am again in the East Indies, I will try this time to let the readers of the PRESS hear from me, and will try and give you some details of the situation of the Americans in the far away Philippine Islands.
I sailed from San Francisco, Cal., Feb. 28th, arrived at Laguan, Samar March 25th; was on the sea 25 days and six hours. We came by the way of Guam and the Negros Islands; we came over on the transport Kilpatrick. There were 1200 enlisted men and 18 officers on board.
We had a nice sea all the way over. This makes the third time I have crossed the Pacific, and I have had good luck every time--have never had any rough weather.
I am assigned to Co. "B", 14th U.S. Infantry. The twelve companies came over here but there is but one battalion stationed here in Laguan. The other 8 companies are at Catubig, Samar. We relieved the 1st infantry. We landed at night and received a great reception. They were all proud to be relieved, for they had been over here three years or more and have had some hard work to do, or in other words, hard fighting to do, for they were with Gen. Smith during his campaigning over here, and the people all know what Gen. Smith did--he made a wilderness of Samar, P. I.
The people here have not recovered from the shock yet, and they are dying every day from old wounds received during the campaign. Since we arrived here they have been dying at the rate of ten a day, out of a population of about 8,000. Some of the soldiers say they are dying from starvation.
The people here have not got much to live on; they have got no stock at all; it was all killed off during the campaign and all that they have is the wild fruits that grow here, such as bananas, cocoanuts, mangoes and several other kinds of fruits, which, if an American had to live on he would die in a short time.
The American Government is giving the people here a good chance, and if they don't try and do something it is their own fault. The Americans can rest at ease, for they can tell the truth that they have done more hard work and spent more money trying to teach the Philippines than any other nation has done or would do in this world.
For myself I have spent several hard days and nights marching, trying to capture some Ladrones, that were terrifying the peaceable natives of the islands, and I am not the only Crittenden county boy that has come over here to serve his country, and some of them never get back alive, and I am not the only one here now; but still I am well satisfied and having a good time at present. But I am in luck, as it happened. I am stationed on an island that there is no fighting on now.
The American school teachers have the hardest work of all to do now, trying to learn the Philippines English, and some of the small ones are learning quite fast; but nevertheless it will be 10 years befor[e] they are well under control.
The American soldiers here now in most places are having to work pretty hard, as the Government is building new quarters in some of the most popular towns and cities, and in that way they have employed quite a number of the natives, and they pay them from $1 paso [sic] to $2 paso [sic] per day, which is 45c to 96c per day, American, and they think that is big pay, for all the Spanish government ever paid was 11 1/2 to 25c American per day.
As to cholera, it has almost disappeared, and there is no sickness among the soldiers here to amount to anything.
I was very much surprised when I arrived here and found that my old company, that I was in before, had the cholera, and that nine of them had died with the disease. I came very near re-enlisting in my old outfit and am very thankful now that I did not.
A soldier here has a very poor way of passing the time away, as there is no place he can go except to a fandango, which is the same as a dance in English, and after one gets there he can not understand anything that they are talking about, for they jabber worse than a flock of wild geese, and it gives one the headache to listen to them, and we make it a point to get away as quick as possible, and count ourselves lucky if we get back to camp without being bolowed [sic].
Well, as I have written about all I know at present, I will bring my letter to a close, with best wishes and regards to all who read the PRESS.
BURT E. WOODY.
Source: Crittenden Press. (Marion, Ky.) 1879-1907, July 2, 1903, Image 2 - Chronicling America - The Library of Congress.
[My comments are in brackets.]