Camp Vicars - 1902 (continued)

    General Davis, in consultation with General Chaffee, assigned two troops of the 15th Cavalry, four companies of the 27th Infantry, the 25th Field Artillery Battery with four 75mm Vickers mountain guns and one 3.6 inch field mortar, a surgeon and small detachment of the Hospital Corps, an officer of the Engineering Corps, and a Quartermaster. Not quite one-thousand officers and men, the Vicars command was unique in the history of the Army in the Philippines; effectively a small, and potent, self-contained army. Pershing, a Captain, had ten other Captains reporting to him. In his assignments, Davis made certain that none had higher seniority than Pershing.

    For its first two years, Vicars was a tent city. More permanent structures would not be built until later. At 2,500 feet (765m) above sea level it had a more temperate climate than the hot, steamy coast, the year-round temperature ranging averaging between 55-75 degrees Fahrenheit. But it had a significant rainy season from May through September, with near constant downpours. The first year was eventful, with a major earthquake, a plague of locust on nearby Moro croplands that supplied the camp, a livestock disease that spread devastated the cavalry horses, and a horrific cholera outbreak that killed thousands of Maranaos around the lake and caused the strict quarantine of the soldiers to the camp. Pershing, having experienced the effects of corrosive boredom stationed at remote posts in the American West, kept the men constantly busy at drilling, rifle practice, parades, improving the camp facilities, and vigorous intramural sports. But he enforced a rigid ban on alcohol, it was a thoroughly "dry" encampment, and there were no towns nearby nor almost any outside recreation or social opportunities. From the letters home from the troops, Vicars was a very busy not necessarily a happy camp. (Photographs below from the Library of Congress).

Camp headquarters

Large six-eight men tents housing the cavalry and artillery

Two-men pup tents of the 27th Infantry

Returning to the tents at night after stacking arms at the ready

27th Infantry lined up for pay

Chief Surgeon Richards (second from left) and the doctors and corpsmen of the Hospital Corps

Captain Pershing inspecting men of the Hospital Corps

Captain Pershing inspecting a company of the 27th Infantry

A parade of a troop of the 15th Cavalry