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Spanish American War (1898)
A Long Way from Home — A Story of the Spanish American War, Part 3



A Long Way from Home — A Story of the Spanish American War, Part 3
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   high interest, readability grades 4 to 5
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   2.98

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    antsy, assault, formation, regiment, slinging, tactics, reserve, commander, journal, ragged, crow, griddle, long-tailed, nothings, running, saying
     content words:    Lawson Parker, Montana Volunteers, First Montana, La Loma Hill, General Otis, Colonel Kessler, Promised Land


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A Long Way from Home — A Story of the Spanish American War, Part 3
By Toni Lee Robinson
  

1     Journal of Lawson Parker, 1st Montana Volunteers
 
2     December 28, 1898—The Philippines
 
3     I thought some of the folks at home were bad off. The native Filipinos have had so little for so long that they don't know there is anything else. I've seen what it means to really be "dirt poor." It's hard to see kids going hungry.
 
4     Even so, they don't seem to lack gumption. They don't like the deal cooked up twixt the U.S. and Spain over their country. They're mad enough to fight about it, too. The head of their ragged little army is a man named Aguinaldo. He's had years of experience using "hit and run" tactics against the Spanish.
 
5     A few weeks ago, our troops and theirs were fighting side by side. Then the Spanish were beaten. Aguinaldo thought it was time for the U.S. to go home and leave his country to take care of itself. Just in case we didn't get the hint, he set up a government in a city just north of here.
 
6     Uncle Sam begged to differ. After all, $20 million is $20 million. Of course, it went to Spain and not to the Filipinos. Still, the U.S. figures it bought and paid for the place. They moved us in to show some muscle. Now, it seems this keg of dynamite could be set off by the teeniest spark. We and the natives could soon be slinging lead at each other.
 
7     January 15, 1899
 
8     Well, this is quite a war. Instead of shooting, we're hollering. So far all we've been hit with are Filipino cuss words. Every day we man our trenches. Every day they yell at us from their side. I can't understand what they're saying, but I don't imagine it's sweet nothings. The whole routine is getting old. We're all getting antsy as spit on a griddle.
 
9     February 6, 1899
 
10     The powder keg has erupted. On the night before last, the 1st Montana was on guard duty. We heard a ruckus—sounded like shots. Then we heard their bugles. They were attacking. We returned fire, and so it went, off and on for the rest of the night.
 
11     The next morning, we got the go-ahead to move. First Montana was sent out ahead. We were tired of getting shot at and were ready to come down on them like bees on a honey tree. A long fire fight began. The enemy was firing down on us from La Loma Hill.
 
12     We pushed ahead against the line of fire. Some of their bullets hit home. We lost some good soldiers that day. It didn't stop us, though. We took the hill. The regular army guys whooped and hollered. I guess we proved that volunteers could do the job.
 
13     General Otis, head of the whole outfit, told us he wired Washington later. He bragged on us. He told the big bugs we were "driving the enemy back and pushing on fearlessly." He also said he'd take guys from out West as soldiers any day. We could all hit what we were shooting at. I guess it's all the plinking we do to keep the varmints out of the chickens. Some of these city guys couldn't hit a bull in the backside with a bass fiddle.

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