The Soldiers Speak

A Young Soldier seeks an opportunity to prove himself

M. W. Saddler, Twenty-fifth Infantry, Manila, Philippine Islands, ca. September 1899; from The Freeman (Indianapolis), November 18, 1899. Troubled by the prospect of fighting men of his "own hue and color," Saddler provides a rationale for the Negro soldier in the Philip­pines by insisting that his primary aim is to augment his "standing among American soldiers and add another star to the already brilliant crown of the Afro-American soldier."

[Sir:]

Nothing of a historical nature has been experienced since my last letter. Everything is hustle and bustle; great preparations are being made, and everything indicates a hard campaign in the near future. Officers and enlisted men of my regiment are undergoing rigid training, mentally and physically. Our greatest aim is to maintain our standing among American soldiers and add another star to the already brilliant crown of the Afro­ American soldier, I am not a correspondent by profession but am willing to keep my people informed in regards to our arduous Orient duties. We are now arrayed to meet what we consider a common foe, men of our own hue and color. Whether it is right to reduce these people to submission is not a question for the soldier to decide, Our oath of a11egiance knows neither race, color nor nation, and if such a question should arise, it would be disposed of as one of a political nature by a soldier, There is one great desire among the colored soldiers now-a-days that did not exist probably a decade ago. That is to be represented in the file as well as the ranks. As the situation now stands, we moisten the soil with our precious blood, stain the colors with our oozing brains, only to make an already popular race more famous, Many of the intelligent heroes of the ranks would probably give their undivided attention to military training if there was an open avenue to a commission from the ranks and many inspired youths would cast their lot with us and display courage on the fields of battle, The Afro­ Americans are represented in these islands by two thousand sable sons, as a Manila paper puts it "Greek against Greek" and in the usual old way we are here as an experiment. But experimenting with the colored soldiers has always added another laurel to support my assertion. I point with pride to the 54th Massachusetts, the regular army in the Indian campaigns, the 9th and 10th Cavalry and 24th Infantry at San Juan Hill, the 25th Infantry at EI Caney and before Santiago. The latter regiment in which the writer had the honor to exercise military skill and face cannon balls. The honors of the campaign in the Philippines are to come. Military maneuvering and fighting between civilized colored men is not recorded in history. The results of black regiments against black regiments are not known. The coming campaign is indeed one of an experimental nature. The Filipinos, in my estimation, are far superior to the Cubans in every degree, though Spanish rule has made them treacherous, but they are trying to carry on a civilized warfare, and for an American to fall a captive to them does not mean present death as the case of the Spanish prisoners in the hands of the Cubans. I am thoroughly convinced that if these people are given home rule under American protection it will finally result in absolute independence.

M. W. Saddler
Serg't. Co. K, 25th Inf.

  View List of Excerpts Next >>

Letters:

A Young Soldier seeks an opportunity to prove himself

Black Americans and native Filipinos discover "an affinity of complexion"

On the battlefield

Rape of a Filipino woman

Disillusionment in the ranks

A black soldier decries expansionism

ORDER ONLINE: