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An auxiliary brigade, consisting of one regiment and one battalion of infantry and a mountain battery of artillery, was formed at Calumpit, on the Island of Luzon, to ascend the left bank of the Rio Grande, and to form a junction with Lawton some distance above. This expedition was accompanied by two gunboats belonging to the “mosquito fleet,” and one launch used to tow the cascoes, or native freight barges, bearing an extra supply of rations and ammunition. This was in May, 1899.

I was provost-marshal of this expedition. When we first entered a town or city, after capturing it, it was my duty to find out what buildings contained valuable property, and immediately place a guard over them, in order to prevent the place from being looted. Large warehouses containing immense quantities of rice, sugar, silks, piña cloth, and other things equally as precious, were frequent finds. They had to be guarded.

We met with but little resistance on this expedition till we reached the town of San Luis, about twelve miles up the river from Calumpit.

The heavy fire of our infantry and artillery, ably assisted by the little “pepper-boxes” afloat, soon put our dusky enemies to flight; and we marched straight into town, with colors flying, over trenches, barricades, and other obstructions hastily thrown in our way.

Among the largest stone buildings of San Luis was the “tribunal,” or public house, something after the style of our town halls, with the difference that it is always open for strangers, who cook, eat, and sleep in it. Among other useful apartments, it had a cell, probably used as a “jug” into which the native policemen ran the over-exuberant youth who was guilty of imbibing too freely of his cherished “vino,” or the head of the family for the non-payment of taxes, or allowing his water buffalo to play in his neighbor’s yard.

Previous to the occupation of the town by the Americans, this dungeon-like cell had been occupied by Spanish prisoners, who were held by Aguinaldo’s army. When I first saw the room, not more than ten minutes after our arrival, I saw one of as sickening sights as any person ever beheld.

This dungeon, or cell, was about ten feet high, the same in width, and about fifteen feet in length. Through one small grated window passed all the light that ever cheered this ante-chamber of hell. The door leading into it was in a dark corner, and when one was on the inside, he scarcely noticed whether it was open or closed.

By the aid of a lighted candle I saw the rock floor scantily covered with coarse rice straw, flatly mashed by the emaciated bodies of the Spaniards who had slept upon it. A few articles of Spanish uniforms, tattered and torn, were strewn about. In the cracks of the walls were hordes of vermin. Filth was present everywhere in its most germ-bearing form. In the center of the room were a few live coals and over them a quart cup about one-third full of boiling rice probably the entire meal for the six doomed prisoners whose home had been for weeks that abode of lurking death.

At the end of the room and opposite the window was a raised platform, eighteen inches high, made of rough boards. This was covered with dry blood, and in the center was a large, quivering pool of clotted gore, which had not more than an hour since coursed through the veins of its owner.

Above this platform, a little higher than the height of the average native, was the dangling end of a rope, freshly besmeared with the life-blood of a recent victim.

On the plain white wall was the newly made print of the murderer’s hand, who had wiped the warm crimson fluid of the sufferer from the blood-stained hand which held the throat, while the other, with the deadly bolo, severed the head from the trembling body.

Everywhere were evidences of a recent, horrible murder. A trailing streak of blood led from the platform toward the door and faded when the street was reached.

I diligently looked for some last message from the victim or victims. The walls showed nothing but spots of blood thrown there by the struggles of the dying, and armies of pests traveling aimlessly over the cold, bare surface. The plain, rough boards told nothing but that the life had passed from many a defenseless soul while hanging over them. But these boards were not nailed down, I turned one over and looked beneath, but all was darkness. The candle was lowered to the bottom. Nothing was to be seen but great dried pools of blood that had leaked through the cracks above. One stone looked as though it had been recently disturbed. I tried it, it was loose. When raised from its resting-place, I saw a small roll of paper lying beneath. There was nothing more.

A further search revealed nothing. The gory board was replaced and I gladly walked out of this chamber of horrors, bearing with me the piece of paper.

Reaching the light, I unrolled it. It was dimly written. Evidently a bullet had been pointed and used as a pencil. The greasy sheet had been torn from a prayer-book. Just above a chapter of prayers for Easter Sunday was written in Spanish:

“To the Americanos:

“If my body is here when you make your entrance into the city, give me a Christian burial. I am to die because I refuse to fight you. My five companions have taken arms against you in order that they may not die by the hands of the Tagalos. I prefer death to fighting in the Filipino Army.

“Francisco Delgado.”

The trail of blood showed me that his body had been carried out and probably thrown into the river.

We could not perform his last request.