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Chapter 10

This webpage reproduces a chapter of
Yarns of a Kentucky Admiral

by
Admiral
Hugh Rodman, USN


published by
The Bobbs-Merrill Company
Indianapolis
1928

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!

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Chapter 12
This site is not affiliated with the US Naval Academy.

 p192  Chapter XI
Gunboating in Asiatic Waters

Twenty‑odd years ago, gunboating in China was never lacking in interest. Of the responsibility of taking action, sometimes very drastic at that, fell to the lot of comparatively young officers. Not that there are not still many situations which require tact and diplomacy to handle, but they are more likely to be entrusted to older and more experienced officers in command of the larger ships, or flag officers themselves.

My principal duties while in command of the Yangtze River district were to protect the lives and property of Americans and citizens of friendly nations, and most of my work related to missionaries directly or indirectly.

There has always been a question in my mind as to the advisability of the policy of sending missionaries to the so‑called heathen nations, if the primary and principal reason be solely to convert them to Christianity; for, frankly, doubt will persist in my mind as to the divinity of the Christ, and the inspiration of the Bible.

The educational and medical missionary promotes the spread of useful knowledge, and the latter do a world of good in healing the sick and teaching sanitation and kindred subjects. Of course missionaries organize and support orphanages and do much charitable and other commendable work, but I am not  p193 an advocate of their religious efforts. I honestly believe that the imposition of religion on others has been one of the basic causes of war since the world began, which, in turn, has led to more misery, suffering and mental anguish than anything else, and far overbalances any good that may have been accomplished by religion.

This opinion, concerning the inadvisability of sending missionaries abroad solely to convert the heathen, is shared by many naval officers who have been thrown in contact with them. My opinion has been formed after a two‑year tour of duty on the Yangtze River in China, where much of my work was devoted to their protection, and my contact with them elsewhere.

Naval Officer and Missionary Through the agency of one missionary in particular, our ships were kept at one time for many months on the inhospitable coast of Asia Minor. While the ship was lying at Mersina,a a couple of us bicycled up to Tarsus. Tarsus, like most Turkish cities in that part of the country, reeked with filth, was vile smelling, unsanitary and most uninviting from every standpoint. Having read something of its history, we were trying to locate the site where Antony and Cleopatra formerly celebrated and held high carnival,b when whom should we happen to meet but the Buck Missionary himself, who persisted in his efforts to keep us on the coast.

He dismissed our inquiries about the orgies of the ancient monarch as a matter of not the slightest moment or interest, and at once, in a clerical tone and manner, turned to the subject of American missionaries, praised their efforts, and stated that he was aware of the fact that naval officers in general would like to see them abolished.

p194 "Not at all," I replied.

"I am glad to hear you say that," said he. "Would you mind telling me why?"

"Because," I said, "if it were not for the fact that the missionaries continually rub the natives the wrong way and stir up strife, the navy would have very little reason for existing in these piping times of peace."

"Do you realize," he replied, "that it was from this very city of Tarsus that Saul, called Paul of Tarsus, went forth to spread the doctrines of Christ and thus became the first Christian missionary?"

"Well, sir," I said, "that raises Paul in my estimation a hundredfold. Since I have seen and smelled Tarsus, I can readily understand why Paul, or any one else who lived here, would resort to any subterfuge or excuse to get out of Tarsus. He would even ride the blind-baggage, sneak out through a sewer, if there were one, ship as a deck-hand on a pirate galley, to say nothing of sliding down the wall after dark — any excuse to get out of Tarsus, and you can't blame him — even if he had to sell peanuts, peddle the daily papers, or black shoes, once he made good his escape."

Converting the Heathen As a matter of fact, a great many of the missionaries I have met abroad would hardly have been a success in any walk of life and were people of narrow minds and small caliber. On the other hand, I have met many cultured and charming men and women who have devoted their life's work to efforts to the conversion of the so‑called heathen, to the education of some and improving the conditions of others, and have admirably succeeded in their efforts.

Here in our country there is an enmity between the Protestants and Catholics, both of whom disparage the Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists, Christian  p195 Scientists, Holy Rollers, Unitarians, and so on. Each sect, of which there is an endless number, disparages all others that differ with it in belief.

Abroad in the missionary field, this fact is even more pronounced, and as a sporting proposition it must test the intellect of the native to pick the winner, provided he has had an opportunity to make a choice before giving up his own belief and trusting his future life to one of the numerous ones offered. Unless conclusive proof can be given that the results, without any doubt whatever, will be those promised and set forth the said native had better go a bit slow and not be too hasty in making a decision. Even after he has decided, I wonder if all doubt will be removed. It certainly seems to be in evidence here at home.

Suppressing an Uprising Missionaries, like other foreigners, had certain vested rights in China, in the exercise of which they were not infrequently a thorn in the flesh of the Chinese. This caused so much irritation that violence to life or property, or both, sometimes resulted. When such conditions arose, unless matters were promptly adjusted, the local disaffection was apt to spread into a general conflagration. It was our policy to take very active measures to rectify matters promptly, often on our responsibility, since communications were poor and a delay might be fatal. One instance may suffice, for they were all more or less similar.

Six French priests and three British missionaries were murdered in Nanchang, the capital city of Kiangsi Province, at the southern end of Poyang Lake, some four hundred miles up the Yangtze; the former through disputes which arose concerning the transfer of certain land titles, and the latter from the resultant antipathy to foreigners.

p196 As soon as the news reached me we started for Kiukiang, the nearest river port, and directed all gunboats to join us there. On arrival, I called upon the tautai, or governor, informed him of conditions and requested his aid and influence to help suppress the dangerous anti-foreign feeling which was rapidly gaining headway. He informed me that he had no jurisdiction, that it was outside his province and hence he would not interfere.

I then directed his attention to the fact that this matter was not only local, but concerned the Chinese Government as well; and added that he was the highest government official in my vicinity and hence the government's representative, just as I was the representative of the United States. He was still obdurate, declined to take action and continued to plead no authority in the matter.

In the meantime one of the smaller gunboats, in command of a lieutenant, had been directed to enter Poyang Lake, though that had been forbidden by the Chinese authorities. The lieutenant was cautioned that the forts guarding the entrance might possibly fire upon him, but he was instructed to proceed, nevertheless, and to get in touch with the foreigners in Nanchang, and take over the situation in that section.

As he passed the fort, a signal was made to him to stop, but he ignored it and proceeded as ordered. In the meantime a British gunboat arrived at Kiukiang and after discussing the situation with her commanding officer, I again called on the tautai, stating that I had learned that he had a thousand or fifteen hundred native troops in the city. I told him there was reason to believe that the antipathy to foreigners had spread to them and that they would be a menace to the foreign  p197 population, that the foreigners had already been warned to be prepared to evacuate the city and go on board vessels under our protection, and if that became necessary and the troops joined with the populace of Nanchang and threatened to do violence, there would be no other course left for us but to open fire.

As it is customary in the Chinese language to speak idiomatically, I informed him that inasmuch as the barracks were beyond his yamen, or residence, and as some of our powder might be none too strong, a few shots might possibly fall in his compound while we were getting the range of the barracks, thus endangering his life and property. I concluded by saying we would immediately take position to carry the plan into effect.

It was then that he asked me to explain again just what was expected of him. He was informed that we were soliciting his aid and influence to impress the Nanchang authorities with the seriousness of the situation and the dire international complications that would surely arise if the pending uprising were not nipped in the bud. I told him that if he would use his influence, it would be immediately reported to our minister at Peking and he would be given the proper credit for suppressing the uprising; but that if he declined to acquiesce, this fact would also be reported. After a little further discussion, he stated that he would give us every aid and assistance, and asked that we take no drastic steps until he could communicate with Nanchang. Since he had telegraphic communication, he was allowed a specified time, but with the understanding that if any further overt act came to my attention, I would take such action as the occasion required, even to opening fire, if it seemed necessary.

p198 It is a pleasure to state that no further trouble occurred. In discussing the affair with the tautai later, I showed him my report in which he was given the proper credit. He expressed his appreciation and stated that he would be pleased to make me a present, and intimated that it might be a pair of handsome Chinese vases from the Imperial pottery, which was in his district. Since there was also an intimation that I might have some choice in the selection, I stated that his very generous offer would not be accepted. I told him, however, that which would please me and my government over and above all else would be his pledge of hearty cooperation in preventing any like occurrence, and his valued assistance in suppressing it, should one unfortunately arise. This he willingly gave.

This incident was instrumental in my renewing an old friendship. Some forty‑odd years ago, the Chinese Government sent a number of young students to this country to be educated with the view of appointing them, on their return, to government positions. Most of them were graduates of our universities and well qualified for the service for which they had been prepared.

For centuries past it had been the custom in China to hold annual competitive examinations for thousands of applicants and to appoint to government office those who attained the highest multiple. But these examinations were based solely on the Chinese classics and were purely literary; hence the experiment of sending these young men abroad to obtain an Occidental education. Unfortunately, on their return, instead of being placed where their services might have been of real value, most of them were assigned to subordinate positions in the post and telegraph service, while the  p199 literary graduates continued to secure the most important billets.

It was in Shanghai, some twenty‑odd years before the Kiukiang incident, that I met some of those who had been educated in America — in fact we used to play baseball with them and fraternized in many other ways, and learned to know them very well indeed.

The Tautai of Tientsin Since there were claims for indemnity submitted for the French and British nationals who had been murdered at Nanchang, the tautai of Tientsin, a treaty port near Peking, was sent to Kiukiang to investigate the facts. This officer happened to be Liang, one of these students whom I had formerly known at Shanghai. He spent several days with me on board ship while on this duty, and we took advantage of the opportunity to renew our former friendship.

After his duties connected with his mission had been completed, there was ample time for us to discuss matters in general pertaining to China and its foreign relations, which to me were intensely interesting, for I got a first-hand Chinese point of view from one very well qualified. As such acquaintances are of short duration with naval officers, who are continually wandering about the face of the earth, I gave but little thought to the probability of ever meeting him again, in spite of a cordial invitation to visit him, should my duties or pleasure ever carry me to Tientsin.

Some years later, when in command of a cruiser in Chinese waters, our admiral assembled the fleet off Chinwangtao, in northern China, and directed all commanding officers to accompany him to Peking to be presented to the regent, who was acting for his nephew, the boy emperor.

No nation is more punctilious than the Chinese in  p200 the observance of the etiquette and conventions which obtain in all ceremonials. So the admiral and his party were thoroughly instructed in the forms to be observed. We were first to be presented to the Cabinet, who, when we were formed in line, would pass before us and bow. We were to return the bow in like manner, but to use no spoken word. The admiral alone would address the regent and confine his remarks to weather conditions and best wishes for the health of the regent.

As we formed our line in the antechamber to meet the Cabinet, I was deeply impressed with the gorgeous costumes of the mandarins, their very intelligent faces, and the novelty of our thoroughly Oriental surroundings.

We bowed automatically as the Cabinet passed us. As the fourth Cabinet officer stood in front of me we bowed, then in a subdued whisper that was as startling as it was sudden, came the words in pure English. "Hello, Rodman." As I quickly looked up and recognized Liang, his signal to disregard his salutation and keep quiet stopped the reply on my lips.

He had risen to be the president of the Waiwupu, or minister of foreign affairs. After the ceremonial function had been concluded, we foregathered and celebrated for old time's sake, and he was instrumental in making my visit noteworthy by obtaining permission for me to visit many places of interest, which would otherwise have been forbidden.

On a later occasion, when one of the uprisings had gathered greater headway than usual and had spread to several of the river cities, my ship was stationed at Chinkiang, where the Grand Canal crosses the Yangtze, for the purpose of protecting foreign lives and property. For a while things looked ominous,  p201 but later cleared up without any hostile action on the part of the disaffected rioters.

This is mentioned to illustrate how one's feelings may be harrowed by circumstances which he is helpless to remedy. While it was incumbent on me to remain in Chinkiang, I was fully cognizant of the fact that an even worse and more dangerous condition existed in Shanghai, where advices informed us there had been severe street rioting, resulting in loss of life. Landing parties from the German and Japanese ships were guarding part of the American concession where my wife was stopping at one of the hotels. In fact, some of the heaviest fighting, which resulted in loss of life, had taken place in the street in front of her windows. Knowing this, it was still incumbent on me to remain at Chinkiang, much as I naturally desired to be near her in Shanghai.

Different Conditions Now How different are the conditions in China to‑day from what they were twenty years ago! Then the mere presence of a gunboat off a river city was sufficient to prevent an uprising, and a show of force would put an end to it almost at once. To‑day, as the result of the chaotic condition of the whole of China, warring factions have driven nearly all of the foreigners out of central and southern China, the Yangtze River treaty ports included. They have confiscated alien property, paralyzed commerce, and compelled frontier foreign residents to take refuge in Shanghai, Canton and elsewhere. The presence of the whole of our Asiatic naval force is required in these waters, augmented by additional cruisers and marines, to safeguard the lives of these refugees.

In addition to this other nations have been compelled to follow the same course and send not only  p202 their vessels for the same purpose, but in some cases large land forces as well.

Personally I am not sorry to see the missionaries expelled, who were there solely for the purpose of converting the heathen, as the Chinese were usually called, for I can't see that they accomplished much.

Inasmuch as the Chinese have resented the missionaries' efforts to get them to accept Christianity, even to the extent of showing their antipathy by open revolt, my sympathy is with the Chinaman, so long as he refrains from violence. He has a perfect right to his own religion in his own country, just as religious liberty is guaranteed to us by our Constitution.

It is not my belief that all of the millions who have lived since the advent of Christ, but have never heard of Him, have been or will be condemned to everlasting punishment, if there is going to be any such thing.

Philanthropic work and the alleviation of suffering, want and ignorance, are highly commendable and receive my hearty support. But I do not believe they should be dependent upon religion or belief, nor that they should of necessity be administered by religious orders. In my two years of intimate intercourse with the Chinese in the Yangtze Valley I found the masses to be gentle, kindly and inoffensive, unless aroused by cause. They were ignorant and illiterate, and their knowledge of the world was largely bounded by their visible horizon.

Whether they were citizens of an empire, kingdom, republic or any other form of government seemed to be of no concern to them. That which was of far more importance was the chance to make a living sufficient to have something left after the tax‑collector and higher officials had had their "squeeze" or graft.

 p203  Antagonism If naval officers in general do not hold missionaries and their efforts in high esteem, the feeling is sometimes reciprocated. Not infrequently missionaries would request permission to hold religious services on board ship, with the desire to save some of us from perdition. When the request was made, it was left to the men themselves to decide; for since a gunboat is a small affair, during service everything else in the ship had to be subordinated to that. It was like an invasion of one's home. It was only on rare occasions that any number of the officers and men desired it, but whatever the decision might be, the missionaries would be informed.

Once, in Nanking, I suggested to the missionaries that since the crew did not desire a service on board, they might give me a list of their church hours on shore, and the men who so desired would be allowed to attend. To my surprise and disgust I was informed that such a rough class of men would not be welcome visitors in their midst, the implication being that their presence might contaminate the congregation. Now, this is mentioned for two reasons: first, to show the point of view of people whose very lives we were protecting; and, second, to state emphatically that it would be hard to find a more self-respecting and well-behaved lot of men than those in our naval service.

Again, when our ship was stationed off Canton, during a threatened uprising where conditions were such that we actually had landing parties on shore under arms to protect foreign residents, including missionaries of course, permission was refused us to send two of our men, who were desperately ill, to a missionary hospital, even though we offered logical solutions to their objections.

 p204  I have met some very fine, cultivated and charming people among the missionaries all over the heathen world, but the general run of those in the Chinese work, with whom I have been thrown in contact were a narrow-minded, bigoted lot. I have sometimes thought that some of them have not always made true representations of actual facts and conditions in their fields of endeavor, when soliciting subscriptions at home to be used to convert the heathen.

No Objection Whatever Rather an amusing incident happened at Nanking when a new viceroy was due to arrive. The then incumbent was decidedly pro‑American, and it was a question as to whether his successor would be pro‑American or pro‑German. The gunboats of four or five nationalities had gathered at Nanking to honor the coming of the viceroy, who was to arrive on a Chinese cruiser from up‑river at eight o'clock on a certain morning. As is customary, official visits were exchanged between commanding officers of the vessels of the several nationalities. The captain of a small German cruiser, who was my senior in rank, asked if I had any objection to his firing the first salute on the viceroy's arrival, to be followed by other nations in accordance with the rank of their commanding officers. As a matter of fact, the proper thing to do for all concerned was to fire a simultaneous salute on the arrival of the viceroy regardless of rank or nationality. However, since he had asked a direct question, I replied that I hadn't the slightest objection. In expressing his appreciation he showed that he was surprised to have apparently accomplished his purpose so easily.

The evening before the date set, I confidentially informed each American commanding officer to start fires late at night, to have steam and be ready to get  p205 under way next morning at six thirty. So, at that time we got under way, steamed up the river to meet the cruiser bearing the viceroy, and as soon as we were near enough, without waiting for eight o'clock, we cut loose and fired a salute, joined the cruiser and proceeded to escort her to her anchorage.

After the viceroy had landed (we arranged to send him ashore in one of our boats, with a guard of honor to accompany him to his yamen), the German skipper came aboard much incensed and implied that I had not stuck to my agreement. Furthermore he had reported to his superiors the day before that he would fire the first salute on the morrow and my action had put him in a bad light.

I emphatically informed him that I had not only not broken my word in any way, but had kept it to the letter. He had simply asked if I had any objections to his firing the first salute at Nanking and, knowing that I would not be there, I had no interest in the matter nor any right to object. It was none of my concern. I told him, furthermore, that I was in nowise responsible for the interpretation he may have put upon my answer; he had a perfect right to think as he pleased. But I would not stand for the slightest criticism on his part of the movements of American vessels under my command, nor my official actions; they were of no concern to him, and I would not discuss them.

This was just another example of a thick-headed German trying to promote his country's interests at the expense of others, even to violating well-known customs and conventions which are observed the world over. He deserved just what he got.

In those days the Yangtze Valley was a hunter's paradise. Both aquatic and land game-birds were  p206 found in the greatest abundance and diversity, as well as small river deer and hare. I have already referred to the surprising number of deer that two of us killed there in one afternoon.

For years I had carried my bird-dogs to sea with me, and on this cruise I had an excellent pair, which were most useful and added much to my pleasure. My duties carried me to some of the out-of‑the‑way places back from the river, and sometimes necessitated long tramps. No matter whether the district was thickly populated or otherwise, the shooting was excellent, because the Chinese rarely killed any game, and when they did they generally obtained it by trapping and sent it to the foreigners' market.

During one of the famines, when we were assisting in the distribution of food, the question arose as to why the natives did not use game for food when they had such an abundance of it. The answer was somewhat startling. They said that if they ate wild birds and animals, they would become as barbarous as we were!

Catching Ducks The Chinese methods of taking geese and ducks were different from any that had ever come under my observation. In the case of the former, they would construct cylindrical traps, about twelve feet long and five feet in diameter, built of bamboo-like reeds that grew all over the Yangtze basin. They were fitted at the ends with barbed, funnel-shaped entrances, like the old‑fashioned rat traps. These were baited and lines of food were laid leading up to them, and the geese in feeding would enter and be impounded.

There were two methods of catching ducks. The first was by stretching between upright posts in the marsh, ropes from which fish-hooks were pendent, and in misty, foggy or thick weather, or during darkness,  p207 the ducks would become impaled while flying low across the marsh. As a matter of fact, a close watch had to be kept when tramping ashore, particularly after dark, for one might receive a painful, if not a severe injury, should he foul one of these devices.

The second method consisted in bating a pond, the depth of which would almost reach a man's shoulders. A number of reed baskets, inverted, open end down, would be permanently secured on the feeding ground, that the ducks might become accustomed to them. The hunter would then fit a similar basket over his head, enter the water through the growing reeds, wade quietly about and, as a duck came in reach, grab it by the legs, draw it quickly under water, kill it and fasten it to his belt.

To one who has hunted all his life, it would be hard to believe that jacksnipe (Wilson) could be seined, but I have seen it done repeatedly. The Yangtze has an annual rise and fall, and reaches its maximum height in midsummer and its lowest in winter. In places the valley is an alluvial plain, covered with grass and other vegetation, without any obstruction that would foul a net dragged over it. In the spring migration, snipe come there in countless thousands, and as the water rises they keep working back to the land which has not been inundated, and may be found there in myriads.

A couple of men with a seventy-foot seine, five feet deep, made of small hard twine, would incline the net forward and, walking rapidly, advance a few yards and spread or cast it flat on the ground. Of course the jacksnipe is a close-lying bird; you can all but step on him at times before he will take flight, particularly when the cover is as good as it was there.  p208 When he had been covered by the net, he would invariably try to force his way up through it, never attempting to run under the edge. It was then a simple matter to reach under the net and capture the birds.

Hundreds took wing before the net reached them, and in following it with two guns, and my dogs to retrieve, I could shoot a hundred shells in an hour or so.

Incidentally game taken along the Yangtze is most varied. It was not unusual in a day's shooting to get geese, ducks of several kinds, pheasants, woodcock, quail, dove, deer and hare.

The little river deer dress about twenty-five pounds. They lie close until you are within a few yards of them, then run comparatively straight, so that an ordinary shotgun charge is deadly. I have killed no end of them with No. 8 birdshot. All of this was years ago, but from recent reports the game is rapidly disappearing, due almost entirely to the activities of agencies which have been established for collecting it and shipping it abroad in cold storage.

Super­stitious Moros Gunboating in the Philippines, shortly after the Spanish-American War, was never devoid of interest and pleasure. Much of our work was in cooperation with the army in the southern islands, in suppressing insurrections, rounding up malcontents and ladrones (highwaymen or robbers), or in subduing the Moros, who always seemed to be in a combative mood. Most of the hardest work fell to the army, who, after getting them on the run, would depend upon the navy to head them off when escape was attempted by water.

The worst customers, by far, were the Moros, who were Mohammedan fatalists. They not infrequently fought to the death.

 p209  In addition to wearing etang-etang, or a charm to ward off bodily injury, they were exceptionally ignorant and superstitious, and had been taught to believe that they gained a higher place in Heaven by causing the death of a Christian.

I can recall only one instance when they surrendered in force, and that was due solely to superstition. The army had corralled two hundred and fifty of them more or less, in an old crater near the coast, and requested the navy's assistance to prevent an escape by water. On arrival, the destroyer's searchlights were at once turned on the crater and kept playing on it all night. Several times during the night a white flag was apparently waved by the Moros, but, knowing their usual treachery and being uncertain as to their meaning, we paid no attention to the signal. At daylight next morning, sure enough there was a white flag, and three of them advanced for a parley. They offered to surrender to the navy but not to the army. We still doubted their sincerity, and pressed them for a reason for their statement. They admitted that they, too, were warriors like the army, and hence would not surrender to them. But we had the evil eye, could work magic, and it would be useless to resist us!

Not infrequently a Moro, through misguided religious fervor would go juramentado or, in other words, run amuck. After bathing, shaving his head, and donning white clothes, with his bolo or kris concealed, he would watch his opportunity and ruthlessly murder a Christian, often with perfect disregard to any bodily injury, or even death, to himself. This custom in Sulu was fairly well checked by the army which, when it had succeeded in killing one of these fanatics, would dig a trench, place the body in it with  p210 a couple of dead pigs, and cover the whole with stones and dirt. To a Mohammedan pigs are unclean. There could be no greater degradation heaped upon one than to bury him in this manner, and this policy had much to do with putting an end to their malicious custom.

The impression prevailed that permission to go juramentado was obtained from either the sultan or the high priest. The gunboats were painted white, the color the fanatics wore, so these dignitaries were informed that the disease was contagious and the gunboats were infected. Furthermore, they were told that if any more such cases occurred, a gunboat would also go on the rampage and would most likely vent its spleen on the sultan or priest, or their respective palaces or residences, if they could be reached by our guns. This, too, had its effect.

Strange as it may seem, I never blamed the poor deluded men who did the killing half as much as I did the instigators. They, too, should have been made to suffer.

My thoughts would revert to the times of the Inquisition, when the Church held that a dead heretic was much better than a live one, especially after he had been tortured on the rack, his property confiscated and every indignity heaped upon him, and he had finally been boiled in oil or burned at the stake. This is cited to show that even Christians were not adverse to taking human life when others disagreed with their beliefs or theories. Have not witches been put to death in America? Could there possibly have been a more marked example of superstition, crass ignorance or fanatical zeal?

Don't think for a moment that I would condone  p211 the crimes of the Moro. I am only contrasting the religious zeal of an ignorant aborigine with the zeal of what was then the highest type of educated Christian, permitted and encouraged under the sanction of the highest church dignitaries.

It was after this occurrence, while commandant at Isabella,º in the Island of Basilan, that I learned to know the Moro at first hand. He believes in force and respects it, but he is amenable to kindness and responds to it. This was demonstrated when our young doctor started a clinic in an abandoned Spanish hospital and not only helped the Moros physically, but was largely instrumental in establishing a very friendly feeling which was respected by both sides.

In fact, in one of my reports to the admiral, I suggested that if we had a few more doctors to take care of all those who applied for treatment, not only from the immediate vicinity but from the near‑by islands, the effect would be such that we could greatly reduce our forces, military and naval, in the southern waters.

In cooperating with the army, our men had been exercised at marching ashore, camping and woodcraft, and were encouraged to take an interest in hunting, natural history and botany.

Natural-acting Monkeys The Philippines abound in bird life, and in tramping through the woods we constantly encountered many new and novel specimens. Every one who was hunting, fishing or tramping, was asked to make note of anything that might be worthy of recording, and to bring back to the ship for classification and record any birds or game that might be killed.

One day my clerk, a yeoman, had been observing a troop of monkeys. After following them, watching  p212 them, and finally scaring them, he made this note in his record:

"Really, the whole troop acted just as natural as if they had been in a cage."

I remember a place where hundreds of monkeys crossed a deep sluggish stream. On one side a large tree slanted well out toward the middle of the stream and fairly overtopped a grove of bamboo on the other side. The monkeys in crossing would jump from the tree, clutch the bamboo and slide to the ground.

One day, to see what might happen, when crossing time came, we exposed ourselves on the bamboo side just enough to excite suspicion, until the woods on the opposite side were full of monkeys. In the meantime we had put a rope around the bamboos nearest the water and hauled them back twenty or thirty feet, to increase the interval. Then another party of men who had been concealed behind the monkeys, let loose a war‑whoop and the monkeys promptly stampeded. Up the slanting tree they went, out on the limb, and made the usual pier-head leap for the bamboo, making allowance, I presume, for the usual distance. Be that as it may, they missed it by quite a distance, and a perfect Niagara of them splashed down into the water. Shrieking, sprawling, fighting, swimming, completely dismayed they made for the shore, where they disappeared in the woods at top speed. And even though we loosened the bamboo, permitting it to resume its original position, the monkeys never used it again.

His First Command It was customary to run into Zamboanga, or some other port, at the week's end for food and supplies and recreation for the officers and men. Since there were a number of boats working together, constantly  p213 coming and going, we had reduced to a minimum the signaling and the red‑tape when falling in with each other. At Zamboanga the water shoals quickly from over one hundred fathoms to four or five fathoms on the anchorage ground. Each of the boats on coming in would usually choose her previous anchorage, using ranges, and let go the anchor on a white sandy bottom in preference to anchoring in the dark coral. The water was very clear and the bottom in plain sight.

A young ensign was ordered to command one of the smallest gunboats, sixty-five feet long, drawing five feet of water, with a crew of fifteen men. This was his first command, and he had never served before in southern waters.

As I was sitting on the quarterdeck one Saturday afternoon, with several other boats at anchor near us, off Zamboanga, the quartermaster on watch reported to me that the P––––– was in sight, coming in from the northward and making her signal number.

He was directed to answer it. Next he reported that the P––––– signaled, "Request permission to proceed on duty assigned." He was directed to answer in the affirmative. Then the P––––– sounded "Attention" on her bugle, causing all officers and men on our own boat to respond by standing at attention until the P––––– had passed us. Her captain saluted us very formally on passing.

At the same time I heard the droning call of the leadsman in the chains, and wondered how on earth they ever expected to get bottom with a hand lead in over one hundred fathoms. Our attention by this time was very much riveted on the P–––––.

Then the captain, raising his speaking trumpet and issuing his order at the top of his voice as though he  p214 were going to make a flying moor in an old‑fashioned sailing frigate, yelled, "All hands bring ship to anchor!" At this order the boatswain's mate on the little forecastle, within ten feet of the captain, got busy with the anchor, for he was an old hand there and had often been in Zamboanga.

"Stand clear of the starboard chain!" yelled the captain. "Let go the starboard anchor!" These last two orders were given at the top of his voice though intense quiet reigned on his own ship and the other ships present.

Then the boatswain's mate, anchor in hand, said quietly and unconcernedly, "Captain, which side do you want me to throw it on?"


Thayer's Note:

a The Turkish port of Mersin is meant; the printed text has Messina, which is only partly a typographical error: the Italian name of the place is Mersina. Until recently, many places in Croatia, Albania, Greece and even Turkey were commonly called by Italian names.

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b Antony and Cleopatra first met at Tarsus. Our young naval officer was probably looking for the so‑called "Cleopatra's Gate": good information, a photograph, and a map are provided by this page at Turkish Archaeological News.


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Page updated: 11 Sep 17