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two paymasters in the department constantly, but hereafter one active. man will be able to attend to all the work.
The troops have been promptly paid by the paymasters in person, save in a few instances where payments have been made by check sent by messenger or by express.
The Treasury Department has very recently appointed and constituted one of the local banks a depositary. This fact will greatly facilitate the safe keeping of public moneys.
This branch of the service has been a very important one during nearly the whole year. In August the engineer officer was made president of the board of public works, a civil office, and in that capacity he was the principal executive agent of the department commander in carrying forward the road work to which had been allotted some $581,000 for all purposes connected with roads, public buildings, lighthouse engineering, and harbor works; and special allotments by the Secretary of War of $950,000 additional for roads from funds which Congress had placed at the disposal of the President. As there was no organized plan for handling so vast a sum, nor sufficient organized personnel, all had to be created or procured and in preparation alone a great work was necessary.
On the 1st of May the engineer officer was relieved from so much of this burden as related to the work which was being paid for from civil revenues, but he was not relieved from responsibility connected with the work accomplished with funds allotted by the Secretary of War. This work still continues under the military supervision of the department commander and existing contracts can not be completed until about March 1 proximo.
Some progress has been made in collecting data for topographical maps of the country, but no such progress as was hoped for. The reason for this is that the officers and noncommissioned officers with the troops, who should make the reconnoissance and surveys for a progress map, have been almost unremittingly employed in connection with relief work and then elections and usual indispensable duty with troops.
The need is very great for a complete survey of the island. There has never been a survey made that responds to the requirements, and the best existing maps are known to contain certain very gross errors. The Coast and Geodetic Survey has been at work in Porto Rico for a part of the winter, but so far none of their results have been published save two or three harbor charts.
Capt. William V. Judson has been the department engineer for just about a year. He has shown marked ability as an organizer, administrator, and as an engineer.
ARMS AND EQUIPMENT.
There is little of importance to note respecting ordnance service and operations. The depot here has been of considerable use and has adequate storage and office accommodations.
The principal functions of the employees consist in cleaning, repairing, and packing ordnance stores and property. The climate is severe on all machines, tools, and apparatus, and the rifles, carbines, pistols,
and sabers suffer much from rust. All posts save two are directly on the seacoast, so there is the added detriment of the salt air to increase tendency to oxidation of iron and steel. The constant rubbing by the soldiers removes the bluing and bronzing of rifle barrels, etc., and the rifling of small arms is to some degree injured by the constant cleaning necessary to prevent rusting.
During the year a mounted battalion of Porto Rican troops was armed and equipped from the depot.
The body of local troops known as the insular police of Porto Rico is equipped with arms belonging to the United States. The principal articles in the possession of this organization are 509 Springfield rifles and 455 Colt revolvers. A full list of the arms and equipments in possession of this local police has been forwarded with a statement of all the facts and circumstances connected with the issue of these articles. I have recommended that these arms and equipments be turned over to the government of the island and the value charged against the appropriation for arming and equipping the militia.
A report has recently been forwarded on the quantity, kind, quality, and stability of the powder that is on hand in the magazines.
In case the force of troops in the department should be largely decreased, the ordnance depot would probably be discontinued, as the necessity for it would no longer exist.
All the guns of position and their mounts are in good condition.
The work of the signal service has been confined almost exclusively to the repair, maintenance, and operation of the military telegraph. The duty has been well done and messages have been promptly forwarded at all times save during the period following the August hurrican when every wire and about half the poles on the island were down.
The number of towns in which telegraph stations exist is 20 and there are 6 telephone stations in addition, while Vieques Island is reached by heliograph. During the year 11 telegraph offices were closed as a measure of economy.
The number of offices maintained by Spain was 33, and there has been constant complaint on the part of the people in unconnected towns because the United States has not done as well for them as Spain did.
At the beginning of the fiscal year the length of wires in use was 1,240 kilometers, while now this length has been reduced to 772 kilometers, and there are of telephone wires 178 kilometers.
Telephones are unsatisfactory because the sender of the message usually speaks no other language than Spanish while the receiver usually speaks no other than English.
During the year the number of Signal Corps soldiers has been reduced from 67 to about 40. The only officer of the corps now in the department is Major Glassford.
The enlisted men of the corps are so scattered that it has been found impracticable to subsist them in messes. Each man now receives 75 cents per day in lieu of rations, and quarters are hired for them.
After the line was destroyed in 1898 it was reconstructed by the army at military expense, and during the year the United States has expended on the installation for poles and other material over $10,500,
and for services other than the hire of signal soldiers the sum of $7,300. A large part of the aggregate of these two sums, which exceed $17,800, may be considered as the investment in this Insular Telegraph by the United States during this year.
The line receipts were $18,348. Previous to the establishment of the civil government these current receipts could be used and were used in defraying operating expenses, but upon termination of the military rule over civil affairs these current receipts were no longer available and now must be covered into the Treasury.
The signal officer states that the net cost to the United States Treasury for operating the lines for the current year was $46,712.74, but in computing the cost he makes no allowance for cost of clothing and medicines for signal soldiers, nor has he made any allowance for forage and shoeing of animals, repairs of means of transportation, etc. If expenditures under these and other incidental heads of outlay had been included, the cost of the service would probably not fall below $60,000 for the year. For the current year this expense will probably not exceed, say, $40,000, unless there should be a repetition of the havoc caused last August by the tornado. I think it may be said that for the fiscal year ending last June the cost of the military telegraph service was $6,000 per month, the tolls reimbursing the United States to the extent of about $1,500. Army appropriation for the current year will probably be drawn on for $40,000, and the United States Treasury (but not the army appropriation) may recoup to the extent of $18,000 in other words, the net cost to the United States for the service in Porto Rico will be in the neighborhood of $2,000 per month.
At the present time the wires are used without payment of tolls on messages sent on urgent official business by military commanders and staff officers, and by postal, quarantine, customs, light-house, and other United States officials, the governor of Porto Rico, and the heads of the civil departments; also the insular police have free use of the lines for transmittal of messages on official business.
I repeat former recommendations to the effect that the whole telegraph service be turned over to the civil government of the island. The original cost of the plant was paid for by the taxpayers of Porto Rico, and the Spanish representatives on the evacuation commission are recorded as having said that the telegraph belonged to the island. The civil government could either sell or lease the franchise and property upon terms that would save the Government from any outlay, and the bills for military telegraphing should not exceed $250
per month. In my opinion the United States would not be warranted in the retention of the line unless it should be found impossible to operate it otherwise.
The West India and Panama Cable Company have communication with Ponce on south and San Juan on north coast. Self-interest would justify and require this company to connect Ponce and San Juan by a land line were the existing service withdrawn. The French railroad is compelled by its charter to maintain telegraphic service along its lines. This company will be compelled by self-interest to close two existing gaps in the line of its rails which extends from Carolina via San Juan to Mayaguez and Ponce. This will insure the maintenance of another telegraph line traversing nearly the whole of the north, west, and southwest shores. It matters not at all to the military if any other lines are maintained. Those I have named must be mainWAR 1900-VOL 1, PT III
tained without any intervention by the army and would supply all military needs. If the civil government extended lines to other towns, that would not be a concern of the army.
The reports of Maj. S. A. Day, Fifth Artillery, artillery inspector, and First Lieut. F. Le J. Parker, Fifth Cavalry, aid-de-camp, inspector of small-arms practice, supply information respecting the instruction of troops in the use of their weapons.
The only armament available for defense of the harbors is that found in position at the date of transfer of sovereignty, and is of Spanish fabrication. The explosives available are those which have been accumulated by Spain, and some of the powder has been reported by a board of experienced artillery officers as unserviceable.
Practice was had during the year with the guns of all types and some very fair results secured, considering that the artillerists lacked some necessary appliances and were unfamiliar with the guns. Reports of this practice have been forwarded.
Efforts to carry out small-arms practice in a methodical manner have been made at all posts, but so many have been the difficulties and so constant the interruptions that, save with a few organizations, the practice has not been carried through the regular course.
The barracks occupied by the United States troops have been such as Spain provided for her army. The Spanish officers evidently considered range firing as unnecessary, as there was not a single place provided in the department where Spanish soldiers had fired at distances greater than 400 yards. At no post save San Juan was there a reservation having an area very much greater than was covered by the barracks proper. The country is densely populated, and it is difficult to secure by lease proper ranges. Target practice in Porto Rico will never be what it should be until the Government secures by purchase the needed ground for ranges.
The important service rendered by the Army in Porto Rico was brought to a close on May 1, 1900, when, in obedience to orders and the will of Congress, the executive government of the island was delivered into the charge of the Hon. Charles H. Allen, who had been commissioned as governor of Porto Rico by the President of the United States.
The term of military occupation of the island by the United States Army may be divided into four periods, each characterized by some special feature or condition.
The first was the period of active military operations of the American Army against that of Spain. It commenced with the landing at Guanica on July 25, 1898, and ended when a knowledge of the existence of a peace protocol had been communicated to the contending armies on August 13, 1898.
The second period may be described as the time elapsed between the cessation of hostilities between the two armies, and the evacuation of the island by Spain on October 18, 1900, a period when assassination, arson, and all kinds of personal violence by natives against Spaniards
were common in many localities; when the old régime had not entirely passed nor the new been fully installed; when hostile operations continued by both the American and Spanish troops against these moving banditti, each force operating within the territory controlled by itin fact, a period of evacuation, occupation, and transition.
The third period began on October 18, when the government of the islands and of its inhabitants was strictly military; a period when, in a technical sense, a state of war still continued, yet no opposing armies contended for mastery. This period ended on April 11, 1899, when the treaty of peace was ratified and proclaimed by the President, a date which marks the conclusion of the state of war and the resumption of peaceable relations by the United States and Spain. During this and the preceding periods the laws of the United States recog nized and authorized the use of the military commission for enforcement of martial law among the civil populace as well as in the army. The fourth period extended from the date of signing of the treaty of peace to the 1st day of May of the current year, after which date only the laws of the land could be enforced and those through civil instrumentality only.
The commander of the troops in Porto Rico was assigned to his trust by the President of the United States, and by virtue of his assignment the local commander became the personal representative of the Chief Executive, who was the Commander in Chief of the Army; and as Congress had taken no action respecting the government of Porto Rico, the supreme government of the country was lodged in the commanding general.
His duties, responsibilities, and powers were specified and limited in a very general manner in certain orders of the President, which had been communicated to the army; but those orders left to the military commander a very wide discretion, an almost complete power over executive administration and legislative matters.
The use which has been made of these powers by the army commander is now a matter of history, and the country and the world will judge whether or not military rule over this conquered territory has been wise and prudent and conducive to the best interests of the people, or the opposite.
On April 30, the machinery of civil government was in the charge of experienced public officers, and the organization, with departments, bureaus, and other branches, both insular and municipal, was such that the new government ordered by Congress to be instituted could the following day be launched and carried forward in an efficient and economic manner.
The courts of the island were all in the discharge of their proper functions. The dockets were not crowded as they were a year before. The prisons and jails were well kept and were not overflowing. The public highways were in fine condition and were being rapidly extended. The amount that could be spared from the treasury for education was being applied in such a manner as to give instruction according to modern methods to over 30,000 children. The laws of taxation had been so changed that very heavy and onerous burdens had been removed from the poor.
In office in every municipality were officers who in every instance were the choice of the electors, thus granting to municipalities almost complete autonomy.