Joe Brock 3 Mar 1900

New Bern-Craven County
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Joe Brock, March 3, 1900

Hot Campaigning

Joe Brock “of Ours” Writes Home from the Philippines.

                                                            Manila, P.I., March 3rd [1900]

This is Sunday night and I have just come in from a fine swim about half an hour ago, at twilight. We have two rows of barracks facing each other, and in the middle is the parade ground.

Well I have seen active service. We came in ten days ago from an expedition to the Southern part of the Island that lasted 40 days. The command had five engagements during the trip. All of the men of a troop do not go in the firing line at one time. When you saddle up in the moving you count 4’s and in case of action every 4th man has to hold the horses of the other three and his own, but that man is in almost as much danger as if he was in front, as the horses are often killed, and once when I was the 4th man I heard the bullets whizzing past, entirely too close for comfort. One afternoon about three o’clock the 11th Cavalry was in the lead, four troops of them. In front of them was what is called the point, 6 men, who lead the whole command. The 4th Cavalry followed the 11th, with five troops. We were all riding along laughing and talking, when, without the slightest warning, the insurgents opened fire on us from three trenches, a trench on each side of the road and one across the dry river bed. They all opened up at once, and one man on the point was killed instantly, two were mortally wounded and three others wounded, one through the calf of the leg, and one through the right side of the head. I saw him lying in the road, and the doctors dressing his wound. The bullet hole was through his hat, and on the hat was blood and part of his brains. He is still living but paralyzed in the right side.

The point at the time was 200 yards ahead of the rest of the scouts, and as soon as the main body could dismount and advance, they did so, taking as much advantage of cover as possible, but that was not much, with true American Grit, it was a case of every man for himself. The fire on each side was continuous, and for half an hour the Insurgents held their own, but they can’t stand. I don’t know whether it is a lack of sand in the officers or not, but they will run. Soon we heard a yell and the trenches were charged. We could not locate them well at first as all of the Mauser rifles use smokeless powder and the Remingtens [Remingtons] use the old fashioned powder. A scout and sharp-shooter who belongs to my troop, and is now sitting on the other side of the table, writing to his girl, took a position behind the rock, you will see in a sketch I’ll enclose, and he told me he had emptied his magazine three times, making 15 shots, then stepped back to refill it and he felt a little stinging sensation on the side of his forehead, and took off his hat to see what it was, when he saw in the brim of his hat a cut, over two inches long. The bullet had gone between the inner hat band and his head, after going through the brim. There was a small mark raised on his forehead, like a whip would make, and no worse. He said cold chills went up and down his back, and he must have been as white as a ghost, but he went on into the fight, and soon it was all over.

There were eight or ten of the Insurgents killed. Two of our horses were killed and two more wounded so badly that they had to be shot. I saw one of them walking along limping; he was shot through the knee, but made not a sound. If the American troops had been in the trenches they could have held off a thousand men.

After the fight was over we went on to the town, about four miles further and I’ll tell you about that when I write again.

Send me some Journals so I can see if old New Berne is booming and oblige.

                                                            Joe W. Brock,
                                                            Troop B, 4th Cavalry.

[New Bern Daily Journal, April 28, 1900, page 4, col. 4]

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