Preface


It seems to be expected nowadays that every one who writes a book, unless it is a society novel, will use up a page or more of valuable space in explaining why he did it. In this particular case the publishers are largely to blame, as they had not a little to do with hatching the conspiracy. At least, they are where the public can get at them, while the writer, being on the other side of the world, assisting in a small was in bearing the white man’s burden, is safe; and before his return to within the jurisdiction of the courts of the home-land the statute of limitations will have thrown over him its protecting mantle.

If any person should start to read this book with the idea that he may find therein discussions of military strategy or tactics, or an elucidation of personal views on our recent incursion into the realm of world-politics, this would be an excellent moment for him to put on his hat and return the volume to the neighbor from whom he borrowed it. For this is nothing more than a contribution, such as it may be, to the literature of adventure. It has fallen to the writer to be brought into more or less close personal contact with some of the men who have had to do with the making of recent history in our own county, Cuba, and the Philippine Islands, and he has been a humble participant in some of the events of those few fateful years that changed us from an isolated and self-contained nation into a world-power. The last Cuban insurrection against Spain, the war between the latter country and the United States, and the subsequent insurrection of the Filipinos, are no longer matters of current interest, but have become a part of history—history, however, which does not deal with events so remote that it is devoid of all personal interest to people now living.

As certain as fate, some caustic critic, after hastily skimming through the pages of this books, will rise up, and with his typewriter smite the author for having presumed to refer to some of the military functions that he has attended as "sieges" or "battles." So let it be understood now that the writer is not altogether ignorant of history, and that he would be one of the last men in the world to compare Guiguinto with Gettysburg, or to speak of the sieges of Cascorra and Sebastopol in the same breath. The words "battle" and "siege" are terms that designate certain sorts of military operations, and they are not limited in their application by the number of men who participate in them. These words have been attached to many minor affairs in the histories of all countries, and habitually have been applied to clashes of arms that did not approach Jiguani, Las Tunas, Tuliajan River, or Calumpit.

Several of the chapters that go to make up this volume have already appeared in Scribner’s Magazine. The orginal scheme was the publication in that periodical of four articles describing in detail several of the more important incidents of the Cuban insurrection in which the writer had participated, no attempt being made to write a complete history of personal experiences in that war. After the articles referred to had been published there was planned a book which was to include them, and besides contain a complete and chronological account of what the writer saw in the Philippines. To fill out the breaks of many months that occur between incidents of the Cuban insurrection that form part of this book would necessitate rewriting everything on that subject, besides a trip to Havana to consult official records; and the whole thing when finished would in itself be a volume. It is believed, however, that these four chapters will give the reader a fair idea of the conditions under which we marched and fought in those days.

It should be understood that this book is in no sense a history of the two small wars in which the author participated, being merely an account of what he saw, with just enough on general conditions to assist the reader in following the narrative.

In writing reminiscences it is difficult to avoid overworking the personal pronoun in the first person singular, without making the style so stilted that the account might be taken for an official report; but in this case an attempt has been made not to offend too deeply against the canons of good taste in the particular respect. Acknowledgment is hereby made of the fact that in the times described the writer was by no means the only person present in either Cuba or Luzon.

The author would scarcely advise a young man to follow in his footsteps, and go into foreign lands looking for trouble merely because his own country did not furnish enough; as the chances are that he would finally rest in a forgotten grave, as was the case with not a few of our countrymen who assisted the Cubans in their struggle for independence, but whose very names are not now known by the people for whom they gave their lives.

After we have passed middle age the tendency of most of us is to live in the days that have gone by, and to give but little thought to the future. Whatever may happen to one later, if on many more than a hundred days of his life he had heard the popping of the bullets of the Mausers, he can congratulate himself on the fact that he is still alive; and can sit back in an easy chair and spend many pleasant hours thinking of things that were. It is worth while if you win, but not if you lose. It is good to have lived through it all.

--Manila, August, 1911.