National Geographic : 1899 Feb
MANILA AND THE PHILIPPINES worse ; the low ground has prevented the making of deep ditches, as water appears at a depth of from two to three feet, and so it was found necessary to bring out sand-bags and by other arti ficial means get the necessary height for the covering breast work. Careless of the danger from whistling bullets are the Spanish soldiers lying in those miserable intrenchments; apa thetic everywhere; no activity, not even the wish or the will to improve the very imperfect shelter; such was the general impres sion upon a military expert; and the tropical sun sends down its fiery arrows to the marshy land, with its numberless small creeks and water ditches, and brews there the worst enemy of the soldier-sickness. A marshy ground, tropical vegetation, jungles of bamboo, and swampy rice fields are the condition of the land that the Span ish military leaders had to deal with. Thus modern long-range firearms can be used to their full effect only under very rare circumstances. The view is nearly always limited to a hundred yards or less, and is never so extended as to make the full use of such arms possible. The artillery is, practically speaking, absolutely dependent upon the very bad roads; driving across the fields, as in European or American battlefields, is almost impossible. For the same reasons which do not allow the use of the higher sights of the rifles, the artillery fire can never de velop that overpowering strength which we attribute to it in modern warfare. The batteries must therefore unlimber within the best range of the rifle shots, so that casualties in the artil lery may be considered as disproportioned to its real effect. That cavalry in such a country had to remain nearly always in the rear, and that even reconnaissances are in most cases better performed by infantry, is easily to be understood. In brief, the character of the country seems to be almost ideal for the kind of warfare which military men call " guerrilla fighting." Only a very methodical and slow warfare gives reliable and enduring results. Block-houses must be built from one line to the next, fortified points must be constructed on all river passages and strategical points, if the inhabitants of a large country make a serious and continued resistance. Spain had never taken such absolutely necessary military measures, and only in view of this can it be understood that with every Tagal insurrection the whole interior of the country was in the hands of the insurgents and Spanish rule was reduced to the maintenance of the seaports round the islands.