Eve of the Attack

September 27th was not an ordinary day – it was the 52nd anniversary of the founding of the parish and a cause for a fiesta.  Abayan and Abanador had previously advised the Americans of this fact, so there was no surprise as Samarenos from nearby towns trickled into the town throughout the morning.  In comparison to previous parish anniversaries, the celebration was muted. The enforced labor continued, and seized food stocks left little for cooking or celebration.  Outsiders, forewarned, brought in food and a karabao was slaughtered at dawn and cooked in a corner of the square throughout the day, sending the maddening aroma of roasting meat wafting through the air to the hungry men and townsfolk.

As darkness fell, a procession of as many as fifty people, many of them women, approached and entered the church.  Six men bore a wooden box which, on examination by American guards, contained a statue of the interred Christ .

The muted fiesta posed a problem for Connell,  but he decided to let it pass, including the availability of tuba and food brought in from outside the town.  As long as the food was eaten in full view of the Americans and not spirited in the mountains to Lukban and his men, Connell would allow it.

Meanwhile, as darkness fell Bumpus returned from Tacloban with the first mail that the men had received in fourth months, and confirmation of the news that President McKinley had been shot by an assassin on September 6, and had died on September 14.  Theodore Roosevelt, whom many of the men in Company C had ridden with in Cuba, was now the President of the United States.   There had been rumors prior to this, but Bumpus brought the first official confirmation.

At about midnight, unable to sleep, Arnold Irish went out into the plaza.  He felt that something was not entirely right, but after walking briefly around the plaza was unable to pinpoint anything that should cause suspicion, and went back to bed.

Adolf Gamlin was on guard in the Plaza via a two hours on, two hours off regime  that would  continue through until the morning.  His route took him from the Belaez house on the north perimeter, east to the northeast corner where the Salazar house was located, then a 90 degree turn and another fifty paces to the south where the mess tent was located — then turn around and repeat the route. When making the turn at the northeast corner of the plaza he had a clear view to the church, and at various times he heard praying coming from their.  There was bright moonlight, and he saw a number of women and children leaving town, which he thought strange and alarming enough to report it to Sergeant Henry Scharer, who was in charge of the guard.    

Scharer took no action.

After midnight the natives were still inside the Church, and occasionally the sounds of praying could be heard faintly across the plaza.

Otherwise all was quiet in the final hours before dawn.

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