Read MY FIRST FOURTH IN THE PHILIPPINES of An Ohio Woman in the Philippines, free online book, by Emily Bronson Conger, on ReadCentral.com.

I can not tell what joy it was to me to see my son and the members of the troop come riding into town alive and well after a hard campaign. They looked as if they had seen service, and what huge appetites they brought with them. On the third of July, 1900, I heard that the boys were coming back on the Fourth. Learning that there was nothing for their next day’s rations I decided to prepare a good old-fashioned dinner myself. All night long I baked and boiled and prepared that meal; eighty-three pumpkin pies, fifty-two chickens, three hams, forty cakes, ginger-bread, ’lasses candy, pickles, cheese, coffee, and cigars. Having purchased from a Chinese some fire crackers as soon as there was a streak of dawn I went to my window and lighted those crackers. It was such a surprise to the entire town; they came to see what could be the matter, as no firing was permitted in the city. We began our first Fourth in true American style, as the “Old Glory” was being raised we sang “Star Spangled Banner.” Many joined in the chorus and in the Hip! Hip! Hurrah! I keep in a small frame the grateful acknowledgment of the entire Company that was given to me from the Gordon Scouts:

Jaro, Panay, P. I., July 4th, 1900.
To Mrs. A. L. Conger:

We, the undersigned, members of Gordon’s Detachment, of Mounted Eighteenth Infantry Scouts, desire, in behalf of the entire troop, to express our thanks for and appreciation of the excellent dinner prepared and furnished us by Mrs. A. L. Conger, July 4th, 1900. It was especially acceptable coming as it did immediately after return from arduous field service against Filipino insurrectos and, being prepared and tendered us by one of our own brave and kind American women, it was doubly so.

It is the earnest wish of the detachment that Mrs. Conger may never know less pleasure than was afforded us by such a noble example of patriotic American womanhood.

Respectfully,

[Signed]

I prepared other dinners at various times, but this first spread was to them and to myself a very great pleasure.

Letters from home were full of surprise that we still stayed though the war was over the newspapers said it was. For us the anxiety and struggle still went on. To be sure there were no pitched battles but the skirmishing was constant; new outbreaks of violence and cruelty were daily occurring, entailing upon our men harassing watch and chase. The insurrectos were butchers to their own people. Captain N. told me that he hired seven native men to do some work around the barracks up in the country and paid them in American money, good generous wages. They carried the money to their leader who was so indignant that they had worked for the Americans that he ordered them to dig their graves and, with his own hands, cut, mutilated, and killed six of them. The seventh survived. Bleeding and almost lifeless, he crawled back to the American quarters and told his story. The captain took a guide and a detail, found the place described, exhumed the bodies and verified every detail of the inhuman deed.

They committed many bloody deeds, then swiftly drew back to the swamps and thickets impenetrable to our men. The very day, the hour, that the Peace Commissioner, Governor Taft, Judge Wright and others to the number of thirty were enjoying an elegantly prepared repast at Jaro there was, within six miles, a spirited conflict going on, our boys trying to capture the most blood-thirsty villains of the islands. This gang had hitherto escaped by keeping near the shore and the impenetrable swamps of the manglares. No foot but a Filipino’s can tread these jungles. When driven into the very closest quarters, they take to their boats, and slip away to some nearby island.

I hope that my son and his men will pardon me for telling that they rushed into some fortifications that they saw on one of their perilous marches and with a sudden fusillade captured the stronghold. The Filipinos had a company of cavalry, one of infantry, one of bolo men, and reserves. The insurrecto captain told me himself that he never was so surprised, mortified, and grieved that such a thing could have been done. They thought there was a large army back of this handful of men, eleven in all. General R. P. Hughes sent the following telegram to my son, and his brave scouts: “To Lieutenant Conger, June 14, 1900, Iloilo. I congratulate you and your scouts on your great success. No action of equal dash and gallantry has come under my notice in the Philippines.” (Signed) R. P. Hughes.

All this time there were negotiations going on to secure surrender and the oath of allegiance. Those who vowed submission did not consider it at all binding.

General Del Gardo surrendered with protestations of loyalty and has honored his word ever since; he is now Governor of the Island of Panay (pan-i). He is very gentlemanly in appearance and bearing and has assumed the duties of his new office with much dignity. Just recently I learn, to my surprise, that he does not recognize the authority of the “Presidente” of the town of Oton, who was appointed before the surrender of General Del Gardo, and that therefore the very fine flag raising we had on the Fourth of July, 1900, is not considered legal. We had a famous day of it at the time. All the soldiers who could be spared marched to Oton. There was a company of artillery, some cavalry, and the scouts. From other islands, Americans and our sick soldiers were brought by steamer as near as possible and then landed in small boats. We were somewhat delayed in arriving but were greeted in a most friendly manner by the whole town. We were escorted up to the house of the Presidente and were immediately served with refreshments that were most lavish in quantity, color, shape and kind; too numerous in variety to taste, and too impossible of taste to partake. After the parade, came the running up of the flag, made by the women of the town. The shouting and the cheering vied with the band playing “America,” “Hail Columbia,” and the “Star Spangled Banner.” It was indeed an American day celebrated in loyal fashion certainly by the Americans. It was the very first flag raising in the Islands by the Filipinos themselves. It is with regret that I hear that General Del Gardo has refused officially to recognize this historic occasion. After these ceremonies we had the banquet. I do not recall any dish that was at all like our food except small quail, the size of our robins. Where and how they captured all the birds that were served to that immense crowd and how they ever prepared the innumerable kinds of refreshments no one will ever know but themselves. We were all objects of curiosity. The natives for miles around flocked in to gaze upon the Americans. At this place there is one of the finest cathedrals on the Island of Panay, large enough for a whole regiment of soldiers to quarter in, as once happened during a very severe storm. The reredos was especially fine. It was in the center of the cathedral and was almost wholly constructed of hammered silver of very intricate pattern and design. Nave, choir, and transepts were ornamented with exquisite carving in stone and wood.