Abraham Smith Sees
Enlisted in the Spanish-American War Aug. 25, 1899, and served as a private in Co. L, 28th Regt U. S. V. Infantry, until May 1, 1901. Participated in the engagements at Puent Julian, Pasmarinos, Headwaters of Zapote River, Binan, Santa Rosa, San Antonia, and San Pedro Tunasan. The nearest he came to being harmed was to have two bullets pass through his hat, which he thought close enough, but was sick and confined to the hospital several times with malarial fever. In a letter he wrote home while at Binan he thus gives his impression of the Philippine warriors:
Abes impressions were formed under conditions
that brought to his view the worst side of the Philippino character. The
same things may be as truly said of all savage or half-savage people,
who know little or nothing of civilized warfare. Even here in civilized
America people have been quite as barbarous. Think of the thousands who
were spitefully starved to death in the wretched pen at Andersonville!
Think of the terrible massacre at Fort Pillow, where neither sick, nor
age, nor sex, nor color was spared, but with the heartless cry of No
quarter, all were hacked to death and coolly shot down in the most
barbarous mannerand of the atrocious slaughter at Lawrence, Kansas,
by the infamous rebel, Quantrell, and his band of murderers. Think how
the Southern troops at Manassasmany of whom were poor whites hardly
half civilized, and almost as void of honor and humane feelings as savagesinhumanly
treated and buried our dead, and took their skulls and bones and made
them into cups and trinkets for souvenirs. There was more of the savage
element even in the Union army than we like to admit, but it was kept
under greater restraint. The rank and file of the Union army was made
up of a more intelligent class, less vindictive, more scrupulous as to
the modern rules of war, who went forth to fight for Freedom and not for
Slavery. It is agreeable to be told by soldiers descended from Heinrich
Gernhardt that it is false that the Americans were guilty of killing the
Philippinos in cold blood. There seems to have been a persistent effort
to falsify and exaggerate the conduct of our troops in the Philippines.
It does indeed seem hard that good men must give their lives for the heathen.
But the result will be to make the heathen race better. The uplifting
effect is already manifest. It seemed very hard that so many good men
had to die for the Union. And have the worlds martyrs, soldiers
and missionaries, in all the ages died in vain? Even Christ died for sinful
man. And it was He who said, Greater love hath no man than this,
that a man lay down his life for his friends (from Heinrich
Gernhardt and His Descendants, pp. 273-274).