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Guy Marshall, April 15, 1900

A Soldier’s Letter

How Time is Passed at Manila. Characteristics of the Natives.

                                                            Co. B, 1st Battalion,
                                                            Naval Station,
                                                            Cavite, P.I., April 15 [1900]

I have read every book or paper that I could lay my hands on and lounged around until I feel as if another hour’s and nap will give me the headache, so there is nothing else to do but write you another letter. The mail closed for the States, this a.m. and by this time ought to be on board the Thomas, so this will be at least 15 or 20 days behind the last letter I wrote. The mails have been very slow heretofore, but now the Government has established a regular mail line of steamers, which will run on something like schedule time, after the 1st of May. This will enable us to get at least two mails a month. A great improvement on the old way I assure you, as a fellow nearly gets the blues, waiting for an answer to his letter.

This past week has been Holy week, and was observed very precisely by the natives, who are Catholics. All of the stores except the Chinese closed, and business was almost at a stand still. We, out of respect to them, suspended drill, but then no one kicked on that as an hours drill out here is not, as the little fellow said, “Wot its cracked up to be!” They had a parade that was very imposing, but looked a little heathenish to us. There were two floats, one representing the tomb of Christ, made of tin or some equally bright material, all gilt and bronze, with the Angels guarding it and illuminated by candles, placed in ground glass globes. On the inside of the tomb was a wax figure representing Christ, lying in state, following this were some men dressed to represent Herod and Pilate, behind them came the men bearing the cross and others with the crown of thorns, the sponge, hammer, and in fact all articles supposed to have been used in the crucifixion. After this came the priest and two boys burning incense, followed by a crowd of native girls dressed in black, each with a candle. Then came the second float, this was something like a pedestal on the summit of which was a figure of the Virgin Mary, with the same illumination. The band brought up the rear. It was a novel sight to the Americans and they were out on the street in full force. This is one of their greatest holidays, and I understand through an old Philippino that when the Spaniards were here, and at war with the natives, during this holy week all hostilities were suspended and they would all assemble in Cavite, and unite in the parades, worships, etc., living at peace during the entire week.

The plague has about died out, and they have moved the pest house from this post.

We had quite a hard shower last night a forerunner of the rainy season. It will not surprise us and we will keep on the lookout.

The boys have gone over to Manila today, to play the 26th Regiment’s ball team. I wanted to go but neglected to ask for a pass in time.

Henry White is in our company and bunks next to me. We have tried to keep together and succeeded so far. I mention this, thinking you may see his mother and she will be glad to know he is well. Write soon to yours truly.

                                                            GUY MARSHALL.

[New Bern Daily Journal, May 29, 1900, page 4, col. 4]


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