HISTORICAL EPHEMERA AND PHOTOGRAPHIC IMAGES OF
PUERTO RICO FROM THE RODRIGUEZ ARCHIVES COLLECTION
William Brokaw Bamford, ingeniero civil y arquitecto, oriundo de New Jersey donde también fué alcalde de Balmar, N.J, estaba por cumplir 20 años cuando dejó sus estudios en Princeton University para unirse al ejército americano en la guerra Hispano-Americana. Unas de las cosas que tomó consigo al enlistarse en el ejército fué una cámara Kodak para captar imágenes de su experiencia.
En mi colección tengo un álbum de fotos que él produjo desde que arribó a Peeskill, N.Y. en Julio del 1898, al salir para Puerto Rico a principios de Agosto abordo del Vapor Chester desde el puerto de Nueva York y llegando a Ponce, Luego al trasladarse a Yauco y Guánica, hasta su partida hacia los Estados Unidos en Octubre 1898 y su regreso a Princeton para terminar sus estudios. El álbum mide 6 1/2" x 8 1/2" y cada página tiene cuatro fotografías de aproximadamente 2 1/4" x 3 1/4". Las fotos son en color sepia y la mayoría están un poco claras u opacadas. He editado las fotos utilizando el programa de Picnik.com para mejorarlas. Mejor es dejar que él nos diga en sus propias palabras su experiencia durante esa época.
En el libro Princeton In the Spanish-American War 1898, por William Libbey, (The Princeton Press 1899) hay relatos de aquellos estudiantes y graduados de Princeton que participaron en la guerra en los campos de batalla en Cuba, Puerto Rico y las Filipinas. En ese libro aparece el relato de nuestro personaje:
William Brokaw Bamford, an engineer and architect from New Jersey, who became a prominent citizen and at one time was the mayor of Balmar, N.J., was a young man just about to turn 20 when in July 1898 he decided to leave Princeton University after completing his first two years there, and join the Army to fight in the Spanish-American War. One of the things that he took with him was a Kodak so that he could memorialize his experiences that he was about to have.
In my collection I have an album of photographs taken by Bamford which begin with photos in Peekskill, N.Y. where troops were gathering to receive orders for the front. It then covers the trip to Puerto Rico via New York City on board the Steamship Chester, his arrival in Ponce in mid August and his later move with the Third Battalion, Company L of the First U.S.V. Engineers to Guánica via Yauco. His last photos were taken on board the Minnewaska on his return trip to the States.. The photos are light, somewhat faded, and some are overexposed. I have used the program Picnik.com to enhance and improve the photos for better viewing and study.
In the book, Princeton in the Spanish-American War 1898 by William Libbey, (The Princeton Press 1899) there are many statements made by Princeton men about their experiences in Cuba, the Phillipines and Puerto Rico. We find Bamford's recollection of his experiences here, so let him tell us in his own words:
"W. Brokaw Bamford, '00, Sergt. 1st U. S. Vol. Enj.
On July 11th I enlisted in Philadelphia in the First U. S. V. Engineers, reaching Peekskill, the point of mobilization of the regiment, the same day, and was assigned to Company M temporarily. On July 26th I was mustered in as a second-class private in Company L. On July 29th I was appointed a Corporal, to date from the 25th. August 5th we received the long looked for orders to break camp and immediately board the transport "Chester " for Porto Rico, which we did the following day. Owing to defective machinery we did not get out of New York harbor until 1:30 a. m. August 10th, and reached Ponce, Porto Rico, August 15th.
I may say that the transport service of the United States and the Miles beef served to the soldiers have become too well known for me to make any mention of them further than to say that we received our share of them. One of our "well informed upon every subject men " stated that the reason that the 600 mules on board were put as second-class passengers and the 1,500 men as steerage, was because the Government paid $25 each for the mules, while they got the men for the asking. It is presumed that this information was not obtained from the War Department.
We landed the next day after our arrival at Ponce, and pitched our camp near the Playa, but soon changed for a higher and better one near the city. While here we did various work, such as surveying for sewers, water works, fixing ice plant, &c. On August 23rd I was appointed Company Clerk, which position I held, in addition to my other duties, until discharged.
The Third Battalion received orders on August 31st to move to Guanica to build a fort and road to it. When the battalion left for the States on November 11th, the fort had been finished, and a road up the hill 455 feet high had been built to it, as well as many minor things accomplished. In September I was appointed acting Sergeant, and on October 10th I received my discharge from the Secretary of War in order that I might re-enter the University, which I did the day after I landed, October 16th.
While in Porto Rico I had a very fair opportunity to see a little of the country, and also of the people, and I was very favorably impressed with what I saw. We must not forget that for 400 years the island has been under Spanish rule, and that the chance for internal improvement has been very small. The people are very intelligent, and seem very ready and willing to learn. We had working under us some 150 natives, and I was surprised at the amount of work one would do and at the spirit with which he would do it. Another thing which surprised me very much was the cleanliness of the people. I had been lead to believe that the reverse was true. It was the rule and not the exception for our natives to come to work every morning in clean white shirts and clean blue overalls. I may say that I never had such washing done as I had down there. Chemicals are un-
known, and the dirt is removed in the primitive way — beating with a paddle.
The natives I have been talking of are those of the rural districts and small towns, with the nearest town of any size, Ponce, twenty miles away. I am not prepared to make such broad assertions for the townspeople.
I feel that we will have in Porto Rico a worthy colony, and am highly satisfied with my impressions of the country."
IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT BASED ON THE INFORMATION GIVEN BY SGT. BAMFORD, WE CAN SAY THAT THE ROCK IN GUANICA BAY CONMEMORATING THE LANDING OF THE U.S. FORCES IN GUANICA ON JULY 25, 1898 WAS CARVED/ETCHED BY THE ENGINEERS THAT ARRIVED IN GUANCIA IN SEPT. 1898 AND NOT BY THE LANDING FORCES. THE ROCK IS CLEARLY ETCHED "3RD BAT. U.S. VOL. ENGINEERS SEPT 1898". IN ADDITION, WE KNOW NOW THAT THE ROAD UP THE HILL THAT GOES TO JABONCILLO AND TO THE ENTRANCE TO FORT CAPRON WAS FINISHED BEING BUILT BY THEM. THAT ROCK IS NOW AT THE END OF THE 25 DE JULIO STREET ON THE BAY COMMEMORATING THE LANDING, HOWEVER THE ACTUAL LANDING WAS TO THE EAST OF THAT, NEAR WHERE THE 1938 MOMUMENT COMMEMORATING THE VETERANS OF THAT WAR ON THE 40TH ANNIVERASARY IS LOCATED.
This album is of historic importance to my town of Guánica, P.R. and it is probably the only existing photographs of the Third Batallion of the First U.S.V. Engineers while in Puerto Rico. Publishing this to the web has enriched the history of the town and the history of the Spanish-American War.
ES IMPORTANTE NOTAR QUE BASADO EN LA INFORMACION DADA POR EL SARGENTO BAMFORD, PODEMOS AHORA ESTAR SEGUROS QUE FUE ESTE BATALLON Y NO LAS TROPAS QUE LLEGARON A GUANICA EL 25 DE JULIO DEL 1898, QUE DEJO LA ROCA EN GUANICA QUE AHORA ESTA A LA ENTRADA A LA BAHIA AL FINAL DE LA CALLE 25 DE JULIO. LA ROCA CLARAMENTE INDICA QUE EL TERCER BATALLON DE LOS PRIMEROS INGENIEROS VOLUNTARIOS DE ESTADOS UNIDOS LA HICIERON ACABANDO DE LLEGAR A GUANICA A PRINCIPIOS DE SEPTIEMBRE. ADEMAS, AHORA SABEMOS QUE LA CARRETERA HACIA JABONCILLO Y EL FUERTE CAPRON LA TERMINARON DE CONSTRUIR ELLOS. LA ROCA QUE HOY ESTA PUESTA EN LA BAHIA NO ES DONDE TOCARON TIERRA LAS TROPAS, SINO AL ESTE DE ELLA EN EL AREA DEL CARENERO DONDE ESTA EL MONUMENTO DEL 1938 A LOS VETERANOS DE ESA GUERRA.
Este álbum y este relato son de importancia histórica para Guánica. Son, posiblemente, las únicas fotografías existente del Tercer Batallón de los Primeros Voluntarios Americanos Ingenieros. Estoy contento que he podido proveer este pedazo de historia através del Internet ya que suple nueva información en torno a la historia de Guánica y de la Guerra Hispano-Americana.
THE FIRST PHOTO BELOW OF WILLIAM B. BAMFORD WAS PROVIDED BY MS. NOEMI REISSNER OF THE BELMAR HISTORICAL PRESERVATION COUNCIL. THE PHOTO COMES FROM A 1921 EDITION OF THE COAST ADVERTISER, A LOCAL NEWSPAPER FROM BELMAR, N.J. We thank her and Ms. Pat O'Keefe of the same organization for their help and assistance.
ALGUNOS ENLACES Y OTRAS REFERENCIAS APLICABLES.
SOME LINKS AND OTHER PERTINENT REFERENCES:
The Spanish-American War Centennial Website: http://www.spanamwar.com/PR.htm
Guanica: El Orígen de Su Memoria (1996) por Arleen Pabón Charneco y Eduardo A. Regis
De la pagina web Guanica Turismo tomamos esta informacion sobre La Piedra de Guanica. Vease el enlace abajo:
From the Webpage Guanica Turismo we take information about the Guanica Rock in the link that follows: