Magazine; Sunday, December 10, 1967
(Metro-East Journal, East. St. Louis, Illinois)
Treaty settled his war 69 years ago today
Note- "Remember the Maine,"they cried
after the U.S. battleship was sunk Feb. 15, 1898.
War was declared in April and an armistice was
signed in August. And 69 years ago today, in
Paris, the governments of Spain and the United
States agreed to the terms of the settlement and
signed the treaty ending the brief war. Chances
are you don't remember the Maine. This is the
story of one Metro-East resident who does. Here
he relates his memories of that long-ago
An 89-year-old Metro-East
resident has something in common with the young
men fighting in Vietnam today: he too, fought in
a land war against Asians.
Barrett, then 21, of 3203 Amherst St.,
Collinsville, fought in the Philippines against
the forces of President Emilio Aguinaldo from
1900 to 1902.
Vietnam war is just like the Philippines. I see
soldiers wading in swamp and water, just like I
did in the Philippines," said Barrett, who
though a little hard of hearing still is quick to
we waded through a rice field to a grass hut and
found sacks of rice and water buffaloes. We
burned the hut and the rice and killed the water
buffaloes," he said, peering over his
glasses and wrinkling his brow.
water buffalo was good meat," he said.
was a private with D Company, 1st Infantry,
Kentucky Volunteers (he was born and reared in
Princeton, Ky.), and his discharge papers state
he participated in operations against insurgents
in Marinduque and Samar, Philippine Islands.
chased them all over. We never stayed in one
place for too long."
had a Horse
chasing was done on foot, he says, and even the
officers did not have horses. Each soldier had to
carry a tent to sleep in, two blankets, pillow,
food ("hard-tack, bacon, coffee-enough grub
to do you a week"), pots and pans, rifle and
these to carry in that hot weather. But it didn't
bother me though. I like being there. I even
liked the rice the Filipinos cooked. You could
eat it without any sweetening."
ended up in the Philippines with the help of his
friend's horse and without telling his parents.
working on his father's farm then when on a
Sunday night he met five of his friends at
church. They all decided to get into the
had no money so we sold my friend's horse for $20
and took a train to Paducah, Ky., to
October, 1899. His mother, Barrett says, had to
write to Washington, D.C., to find out where he
was in the Philippines by then. My captain told
me to write home, and I did, on the beach and
under palm trees," he remembers.
I never did get an answer from my folks."
duty as a soldier in the Philippines, Barrett
said, was the unpleasant task of burying American
soldiers killed in an ambush.
dug a ditch six feet deep and just covered them
up," he said.
lucky he never suffered a wound or even got sick.
("No malaria or anything." ) Even his
company, he says was almost as lucky as he was.
No one got killed and only one man was wounded in
were going through a rice field up to a hill when
a buddy of mine, a Mexican, shouted "I'm
shot." He got hit in the leg."
has a difficult time remembering names of persons
and places associated with his experiences in the
can't think like you used to, you know," he
said with a smile.
remember any longer, for example, the names of
towns where he fought or the names of some of his
officers. He does remember the name of the leader
of his former enemy - Aguinaldo - and the name of
his captain, Jarvis.
was in Manila for a week but forgot how it looks
now. I bet it's a little different today, but I
can still say some of that Philippine talk,"
he said, pausing deeply as he looked at his belt.
that's chicken," he said, his face lighting
up. " And "kumusta ka," that means
how are you. I used to know a lot of it."
hoarsely then giggled as he repeated the words
to Barrett, he learned his Tagalong from
Filipinos who joined the Americans to fight other
were rough on them," he said.
Filipinos who did not join the fighting would
come down from the hills and tell his outfit
where the enemy was hiding.
were very friendly to us," Barrett
service in the Philippines his father offered him
his old job back - working on the farm for 50
cents a day.
refused. That's why I enlisted and got out of the
farm in the first place. I got $15 a month the
first year in the army, $16 the next, and $17 the
third year. That's as high as it got,
in Saw Mill
He went to Arkansas to work
in a saw mill, eventually working himself up from
75 cents a day to $4 a day. He never had much
education, he says, so that was good money as far
as he was concerned.
in East St. Louis in 1917 and worked for the old
P.J. Moss Co. In East St. Louis, until 1961 when
he retired. He is married to his third wife,
Nancy, and has no children.
day he was discharged, Barrett says he has never
heard from his old buddies.
like to hear from some of the boys,"he said
there aren't too many of us Spanish-American War
veterans left," he said as he picked up the
Nov. 23, 1967, copy of the "Stars and
are 8, 721 survivors listed in this copy. There
are were 8, 846 in the Oct. 5, 1967, copy."
a member of the Nelson A. Miles Camp 61, East St.
Louis, United Spanish War Veterans. There are
only four living members left in the camp.
says he won no medals and had no souvenirs to
show his service in the Philippines.
have a rifle exactly like the one I used
though," he said as he got up, walked to
another room and pulled a rifle from behind a
don't have the bayonet for it," he said,
holding the rifle at his side in parade rest.
Then he pulled the bolt back for a closer look.
put six shells in the rifle. It weighs nine
pounds, but was a good rifle.
give any trouble. I was a pretty good shot with
one of these," he said, pulling the sight
has some advice for young men of today headed for
Vietnam: watch out for the booby traps and be
careful when on night duty.
I was in the Philippines, there were ditches with
sharpened bamboo poles in them covered with
grass. We were told about these traps as soon as
we got out of the boat. We'd have men stick
bayonets on the ground to watch out for those
booby traps," he said.
guard duty at night, we'd never stay at one spot.
We had to move around or else those Filipinos
would creep up on you with bolos (machetes).
Barrett says the war was a long time ago and he
has not developed any bitterness against
I now go to a Filipino doctor right in
Collinsville," he laughed.
contributed by Beverly McDonald