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Archive for the 'Philippine American War' Category

This category is for literature and historical stories about the events of the Philippine American War or as it is called in The United States The Philippine Insurrection.


Posted by Editor on 15th July 2007

During the Spanish-American War, Filipino rebels led by Emilio
Aguinaldo proclaim the independence of the Philippines after 300 years
of Spanish rule. By mid-August, Filipino rebels and U.S. troops had
ousted the Spanish, but Aguinaldo’s hopes for independence were dashed
when the United States formally annexed the Philippines as part of its
peace treaty with Spain.

The Philippines, a large island archipelago situated off Southeast
Asia, was colonized by the Spanish in the latter part of the 16th
century. Opposition to Spanish rule began among Filipino priests, who
resented Spanish domination of the Roman Catholic churches in the
islands. In the late 19th century, Filipino intellectuals and the
middle class began calling for independence. In 1892, the Katipunan, a
secret revolutionary society, was formed in Manila, the Philippine
capital on the island of Luzon. Membership grew dramatically, and in
August 1896 the Spanish uncovered the Katipunan’s plans for rebellion,
forcing premature action from the rebels. Revolts broke out across
Luzon, and in March 1897, 28-year-old Emilio Aguinaldo became leader
of the rebellion.

By late 1897, the revolutionaries had been driven into the hills
southeast of Manila, and Aguinaldo negotiated an agreement with the
Spanish. In exchange for financial compensation and a promise of
reform in the Philippines, Aguinaldo and his generals would accept
exile in Hong Kong. The rebel leaders departed, and the Philippine
Revolution temporarily was at an end.

In April 1898, the Spanish-American War broke out over Spain’s brutal
suppression of a rebellion in Cuba. The first in a series of decisive
U.S. victories occurred on May 1, 1898, when the U.S. Asiatic Squadron
under Commodore George Dewey annihilated the Spanish Pacific fleet at
the Battle of Manila Bay in the Philippines. From his exile, Aguinaldo
made arrangements with U.S. authorities to return to the Philippines
and assist the United States in the war against Spain. He landed on
May 19, rallied his revolutionaries, and began liberating towns south
of Manila. On June 12, he proclaimed Philippine independence and
established a provincial government, of which he subsequently became

His rebels, meanwhile, had encircled the Spanish in Manila and, with
the support of Dewey’s squadron in Manila Bay, would surely have
conquered the Spanish. Dewey, however, was waiting for U.S. ground
troops, which began landing in July and took over the Filipino
positions surrounding Manila. On August 8, the Spanish commander
informed the United States that he would surrender the city under two
conditions: The United States was to make the advance into the capital
look like a battle, and under no conditions were the Filipino rebels
to be allowed into the city. On August 13, the mock Battle of Manila
was staged, and the Americans kept their promise to keep the Filipinos
out after the city passed into their hands.

While the Americans occupied Manila and planned peace negotiations
with Spain, Aguinaldo convened a revolutionary assembly, the Malolos,
in September. They drew up a democratic constitution, the first ever
in Asia, and a government was formed with Aguinaldo as president in
January 1899. On February 4, what became known as the Philippine
Insurrection began when Filipino rebels and U.S. troops skirmished
inside American lines in Manila. Two days later, the U.S. Senate voted
by one vote to ratify the Treaty of Paris with Spain. The Philippines
were now a U.S. territory, acquired in exchange for $20 million in
compensation to the Spanish.

In response, Aguinaldo formally launched a new revolt–this time
against the United States. The rebels, consistently defeated in the
open field, turned to guerrilla warfare, and the U.S. Congress
authorized the deployment of 60,000 troops to subdue them. By the end
of 1899, there were 65,000 U.S. troops in the Philippines, but the war
dragged on. Many anti-imperialists in the United States, such as
Democratic presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan, opposed U.S.
annexation of the Philippines, but in November 1900 Republican
incumbent William McKinley was reelected, and the war continued.

On March 23, 1901, in a daring operation, U.S. General Frederick
Funston and a group of officers, pretending to be prisoners, surprised
Aguinaldo in his stronghold in the Luzon village of Palanan and
captured the rebel leader. Aguinaldo took an oath of allegiance to the
United States and called for an end to the rebellion, but many of his
followers fought on. During the next year, U.S. forces gradually
pacified the Philippines. In an infamous episode, U.S. forces on the
island of Samar retaliated against the massacre of a U.S. garrison by
killing all men on the island above the age of 10. Many women and
young children were also butchered. General Jacob Smith, who directed
the atrocities, was court-martialed and forced to retire for turning
Samar, in his words, into a “howling wilderness.”

In 1902, an American civil government took over administration of the
Philippines, and the three-year Philippine insurrection was declared
to be at an end. Scattered resistance, however, persisted for several

More than 4,000 Americans perished suppressing the Philippines--more
than 10 times the number killed in the Spanish-American War. More than
20,000 Filipino insurgents were killed, and an unknown number of
civilians perished.

In 1935, the Commonwealth of the Philippines was established with U.S.
approval, and Manuel Quezon was elected the country’s first president.
On July 4, 1946, full independence was granted to the Republic of the
Philippines by the United States.

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Posted by Editor on 15th July 2007

At Manila Bay in the Philippines, the U.S. Asiatic Squadron destroys
the Spanish Pacific fleet in the first battle of the Spanish-American
War. Nearly 400 Spanish sailors were killed and 10 Spanish warships
wrecked or captured at the cost of only six Americans wounded.

The Spanish-American War had its origins in the rebellion against
Spanish rule that began in Cuba in 1895. The repressive measures that
Spain took to suppress the guerrilla war, such as herding Cuba’s rural
population into disease-ridden garrison towns, were graphically
portrayed in U.S. newspapers and enflamed public opinion. In January
1898, violence in Havana led U.S. authorities to order the battleship
USS Maine to the city’s port to protect American citizens. On February
15, a massive explosion of unknown origin sank the Maine in the Havana
harbor, killing 260 of the 400 American crewmembers aboard. An
official U.S. Naval Court of Inquiry ruled in March, without much
evidence, that the ship was blown up by a mine but did not directly
place the blame on Spain. Much of Congress and a majority of the
American public expressed little doubt that Spain was responsible,
however, and called for a declaration of war.

In April, the U.S. Congress prepared for war, adopting joint
congressional resolutions demanding a Spanish withdrawal from Cuba and
authorizing President William McKinley to use force. On April 23,
President McKinley asked for 125,000 volunteers to fight against
Spain. The next day, Spain issued a declaration of war. The United
States declared war on April 25. U.S. Commodore George Dewey, in
command of the seven-warship U.S. Asiatic Squadron anchored north of
Hong Kong, was ordered to “capture or destroy” the Spanish Pacific
fleet, which was known to be in the coastal waters of the
Spanish-controlled Philippines.

On April 30, Dewey’s lookouts caught sight of Luzon, the main
Philippine island. That night, under cover of darkness and with the
lights aboard the U.S. warships extinguished, the squadron slipped by
the defensive guns of Corregidor Island and into Manila Bay. After
dawn rose, the Americans located the Spanish fleet: 10 out-of-date
warships anchored off the Cavite naval station. The U.S. fleet, in
comparison, was well armed and well staffed, largely due to the
efforts of the energetic assistant secretary of the navy, Theodore
Roosevelt, who had also selected Dewey for the command of the Asiatic

At 5:41 a.m., at a range of 5,400 yards from the enemy, Commodore
Dewey turned to the captain of his flagship, the Olympia, and said,
“You may fire when ready, Gridley.” Two hours later, the Spanish fleet
was decimated, and Dewey ordered a pause in the fighting. He met with
his captains and ordered the crews a second breakfast. The four
surviving Spanish vessels, trapped in the little harbor at Cavite,
refused to surrender, and at 11:15 a.m. fighting resumed. At 12:30
p.m., a signal was sent from the gunboat USS Petrel to Dewey’s
flagship: “The enemy has surrendered.

Dewey’s decisive victory cleared the way for the U.S. occupation of
Manila in August and the eventual transfer of the Philippines from
Spanish to American control. In Cuba, Spanish forces likewise crumbled
in the face of superior U.S. forces, and on August 12 an armistice was
signed between Spain and the United States. In December, the Treaty of
Paris officially ended the brief Spanish-American War. The once-proud
Spanish empire was virtually dissolved, and the United States gained
its first overseas empire. Puerto Rico and Guam were ceded to the
United States, the Philippines were bought for $20 million, and Cuba
became a U.S. protectorate. Philippine insurgents who fought against
Spanish rule during the war immediately turned their guns against the
new occupiers, and 10 times more U.S. troops died suppressing the
Philippines than in defeating Spain.

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94th anniversary today to end of Philippine–American war at Bud Bagsak

Posted by Editor on 14th June 2007


The Philippine-American War was a conflict between the United States of America (126,000 occupation troops) and the First Philippine Republic (80,000 troops) from February 4, 1899, when American soldier William W. Grayson shot a Filipino soldier who was crossing a bridge into Filipino-occupied territory in San Juan del Monte, Manila through at least 1902, when General Malvar surrendered.

The Muslim people in Mindanao were never part of Aguinaldo’s movement but independently fought the Americans, which lasted up to 1913. This is referred by historians as the second phase of the war.

During this conflict, the Americans realized a need to be able to stop a charging tribesman with a single shot. To fill this need, the
M1911 pistol was later developed using larger caliber ammunition (.45 ACP), resulting in additional stopping power.

Road to Bud Bagsak:

The battle of Bagsak had its beginnings several months before the actual assault of the crater. The mountain peak had been for some time the rendezvous of the outlaw element of all of the southern islands, and the big problem the Americans faced was that of getting the women and children off the hill before the final clean-up was made.

So long as the Moros saw that the American troops were inactive and in barracks many of the women and children would be sent down to work in the fields, but at the first suggestion of an American expedition all of the non-combatants would be recalled to the mountain. As General Pershing had stated, when the Moro makes his last stand, he wishes his women and children with him. The Moros kept a very close check on General Pershing, for every visit of the General to Jolo was the signal for a stampede to Bagsak.

Pershing soon discovered that the taking of Bagsak without the slaughter of women and children would have to be an undertaking planned with the greatest secrecy. In planning the campaign, Pershing exercised rare judgment.

To begin with, he kept his plans absolutely to himself, not even confiding in his closest officers. On June 5 he sent a telegram to the commanding officer at Jolo calling off all field operations and ordering the troops into barracks. Four days later he announced publicly that he would visit his family at Camp Kiethley in Mindanao and with that apparent plan in mind he sailed from Zamboanga on the evening of June 9.

When the transport Wright was well out of sight of Zamboanga the course was changed and the ship picked up the 51st Company of Scouts at Basilan, proceeding on to Siasi to load the 52nd Scout Company.

With lights out and the smokestack muffled, the Wright then crept into Jolo harbor late on the night of June 10. The maneuver was wholly unexpected and the General found the American soldiers at a moving picture show. The call to arms was sounded and in an incredibly short time the troops were en route to Bagsak.

The mountain crest was defended by formidable cottas crowned by the stone fortress of Bagsak at the summit. Supporting the main cotta were five subsidiary forts admirably located for defensive purposes.
These five cottas, namely, Pujacabao, Bunga, Matunkup, Languasan and Pujagan, were grouped about the huge stone fort of Bagsak in such a manner that a simultaneous assault of all of the cottas was necessary in order to prevent a great loss of life on the part of the attackers.

The American force was divided into two wings and very explicit attacking directions were issued. The right wing, consisting of the 8th Infantry and the 40th Company of mountain guns, was under the command of Major Shaw, and its objective was the cottas of Languasan and Matunkup. The left wing, composed of the 51ist and 52nd Companies of Scouts and a mountain gun detachment, was under command of Van Natta, and were ordered to attack the cottas of Pujacabao and Bunga.
Pujagan and Bagsak were to be taken after these assaults had been successfully executed.


All of the forces were concentrated at Bun Bun on the beach and by five o’clock in the morning the advance on Bagsak had begun.

After a heavy preliminary shelling by the mountain guns, the columns moved to attack. While the attack was in progress, Captain Moylan was ordered with the 24th and 31st Companies of Scouts, to take a position on the south slope of Bagsak to cut off the retreat of the Moros, Captain Nicholls led his company against Matunkup, which fell at noon of the first day’s fighting. In taking Matunkup, the attacking force was compelled to climb a sheer cliff one hundred feet high, pulling themselves up the precipice by clinging to vines, while in the face of a heavy fire. There were eight casualties in the American force before the summit was finally gained.

Captain Nicholls then led his company on to the cotta of Pujacabao, the men opening up on the Moros at close range and then dropping within the cotta walls to battle hand to hand.

The terrific shelling Pujacabao had received from the mountain battery had eliminated many of the Moro defenders. Amil, the Moro leader, was severely wounded by a shell fragment, whereupon he retreated to Pujagan, where he was killed the following day.

The cotta of Languasan was captured without difficulty with a loss of one man, but the American forces had eight casualties during the period of Moro counter-attacks made in an effort to recover the fortress.

With three of the cottas in American hands, the surviving Moros retreated to Bagsak, Pujagan and Bunga and the first day’s operations came to an end.

On Thursday, June 12, the American forces poured a continuous fire from rifles and mountain artillery upon the cottas of Bunga and Pujagan, and there was a great deal of skirmishing. The Moros began a series of rushes upon the American troops holding Languasan.

The Mohammedans would rush out in groups of ten to twenty, charging madly across 300 yards of open country in an effort to come hand to hand with the Americans. Amil, his son, and the Data Jami led three of the attacks; in each instance, the charging Moros were accounted for long before they reached the American trenches. It was during one of these charges that Captain Nicholls was killed by a bullet through the heart from a high-powered rifle.

The American forces holding Languasan were subjected all day long to a merciless fire from the cotta of Bunga. Notwithstanding the aid of the mountain artillery, the American forces were unable to capture any of the Moro positions during the fighting of the second day.

On the morning of the third day Captain Moylan was ordered to take the cotta of Bunga. The capture of this fortress was absolutely necessary in order to secure a position from which the tremendous stone cotta of Bagsak could be shelled. Captain Moylan took Bunga after a five-hour attack, which was supported by sharpshooters and artillery. Among his casualties was one man who was cut in two by a barong. The balance of the third day was devoted to hauling the heavy guns up the steep slope of Bunga.

On Saturday morning, the fourth day of the battle, Captain Charleton and Lieutenant Collins were sent with 51st and 52nd Companies and a detachment of cavalry to reconnoiter the rim of the crater and to find a position from which the infantry could launch a final assault on Bagsak cotta. The rest of the day was devoted to digging the troops in, in a position about 600 yards from the Moro fort, while the mountain guns fired constantly into the cotta.

Sunday morning brought preparations for the final assault. The mountain guns opened up for a two-hour barrage into the Moro fort, and at nine o’clock in the morning the troops moved up the ridge for the attack. The heavy American artillery shelled the Moros out of the outer trenches supporting the cotta of Bagsak and the sharpshooters picked them off as they retreated to the fortress. After an hour’s hard fighting, the advance reached the top of the hill protected by the fire of the mountain guns, to a point within seventy-five yards of the cotta.

To cover that last seventy-five yards required seven hours of terrific fighting. The Moros assaulted the American trenches time after time only to be mowed down by the entrenched attackers.

General Pershing came in person to the firing line early in the attack, exposing himself to the full fire of the cotta. At 4:45 in the afternoon, the American forces were within twenty-five feet of the cotta. The Moros realized that their time on earth was short.
They stood upright on the walls and hurled their barongs and krises at the troops beneath them, wounding four of the attacking force.

At five o’clock General Pershing gave the order for the final assault, and standing within twenty-five feet of the walls he watched Captain Charleton take his men over the walls and the battle of Bud Bagsak was won. Thirteen men were lost in the final assault.

About 500 Moros occupied the cottas at the beginning of the battle of Bagsak and with few exceptions they fought to the death.


With this battle, the organized resistance of the Moros was broken and the episode of “Kris versus Krag” came virtually to an end. There were a few more minor battles, but never again did the Moros place a formidable force in the field against the Americans. The Mohammedans fought a grand fight at Bagsak against superior weapons. They showed the Arnercans, as they had showed the Spaniards, that they were not afraid to die.

The Mayas, the Aztecs and the Incas fell before the Toledo steel of the Spaniards, but the Moros remain. The conquistadores came, fought vainly, and retired. The Moros successfully defended their island empire for a period of 377 years until their power was finally broken by the dismounted cavalrymen of Uncle Sam in 1913.

The Roman Catholic Church was disestablished, and a considerable amount of church land was purchased and redistributed. During the U.S. occupation (1898-1946), English was declared the official language.

In 1919, in recognition of his distinguished service during World War I, the U.S. Congress authorized President Woodrow Wilson to promote John Joseph “Black Jack” Pershing (September 13, 1860 – July 15,
1948) to General of the Armies of the United States or six-stars, the highest rank possible for any member of the United States armed forces and was created especially for him and one that only he held at the time (Lieutenant General George Washington was posthumously promoted to this rank by President Gerald Ford in 1976). Pershing was authorized to create his insignia for the new rank, and chose to wear four gold stars for the rest of his career, which separated him from the four (temporary) silver stars worn by Army Chiefs of Staff, and even the five star General of the Army insignia worn by Marshall, Eisenhower, MacArthur, Bradley, and H. ‘Hap’ Arnold in World War II (Pershing outranked them all).

Source: (1) Vic Hurley, Swish of the Kris: the Story of the Moros, 1936; (2) wikipedia.

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The War Prayer by Mark Twain

Posted by Editor on 20th May 2006

The War Prayer

March 1905

by Mark Twain

Editor’s note: Outraged by American military intervention in the Phillipines, Mark Twain wrote this and sent it to Harper’s Bazaar. This women’s magazine rejected it for being too radical, and it wasn’t published until after Mark Twain’s death, when World War I made it even more timely. It appeared in Harper’s Monthly, November 1916.

It was a time of great and exalting excitement. The country was up in arms, the war was on, in every breast burned the holy fire of patriotism; the drums were beating, the bands playing, the toy pistols popping, the bunched firecrackers hissing and spluttering; on every hand and far down the receding and fading spread of roofs and balconies a fluttering wilderness of flags flashed in the sun; daily the young volunteers marched down the wide avenue gay and fine in their new uniforms, the proud fathers and mothers and sisters and sweethearts cheering them with voices choked with happy emotion as they swung by; nightly the packed mass meetings listened, panting, to patriot oratory which stirred the deepest deeps of their hearts, and which they interrupted at briefest intervals with cyclones of applause, the tears running down their cheeks the while; in the churches the pastors preached devotion to flag and country, and invoked the God of Battles beseeching His aid in our good cause in outpourings of fervid eloquence which moved every listener. It was indeed a glad and gracious time, and the half dozen rash spirits that ventured to disapprove of the war and cast a doubt upon its righteousness straightway got such a stern and angry warning that for their personal safety’s sake they quickly shrank out of sight and offended no more in that way.

Sunday morning came — next day the battalions would leave for the front; the church was filled; the volunteers were there, their young faces alight with martial dreams — visions of the stern advance, the gathering momentum, the rushing charge, the flashing sabers, the flight of the foe, the tumult, the enveloping smoke, the fierce pursuit, the surrender! Then home from the war, bronzed heroes, welcomed, adored, submerged in golden seas of glory! With the volunteers sat their dear ones, proud, happy, and envied by the neighbors and friends who had no sons and brothers to send forth to the field of honor, there to win for the flag, or, failing, die the noblest of noble deaths. The service proceeded; a war chapter from the Old Testament was read; the first prayer was said; it was followed by an organ burst that shook the building, and with one impulse the house rose, with glowing eyes and beating hearts, and poured out that tremendous invocation

God the all-terrible! Thou who ordainest! Thunder thy clarion and lightning thy sword!

Then came the “long” prayer. None could remember the like of it for passionate pleading and moving and beautiful language. The burden of its supplication was, that an ever-merciful and benignant Father of us all would watch over our noble young soldiers, and aid, comfort, and encourage them in their patriotic work; bless them, shield them in the day of battle and the hour of peril, bear them in His mighty hand, make them strong and confident, invincible in the bloody onset; help them to crush the foe, grant to them and to their flag and country imperishable honor and glory —

An aged stranger entered and moved with slow and noiseless step up the main aisle, his eyes fixed upon the minister, his long body clothed in a robe that reached to his feet, his head bare, his white hair descending in a frothy cataract to his shoulders, his seamy face unnaturally pale, pale even to ghastliness. With all eyes following him and wondering, he made his silent way; without pausing, he ascended to the preacher’s side and stood there waiting. With shut lids the preacher, unconscious of his presence, continued with his moving prayer, and at last finished it with the words, uttered in fervent appeal, “Bless our arms, grant us the victory, O Lord our God, Father and Protector of our land and flag!”

The stranger touched his arm, motioned him to step aside — which the startled minister did — and took his place. During some moments he surveyed the spellbound audience with solemn eyes, in which burned an uncanny light; then in a deep voice he said:

“I come from the Throne — bearing a message from Almighty God!” The words smote the house with a shock; if the stranger perceived it he gave no attention. “He has heard the prayer of His servant your shepherd, and will grant it if such shall be your desire after I, His messenger, shall have explained to you its import — that is to say, its full import. For it is like unto many of the prayers of men, in that it asks for more than he who utters it is aware of — except he pause and think.

“God’s servant and yours has prayed his prayer. Has he paused and taken thought? Is it one prayer? No, it is two — one uttered, the other not. Both have reached the ear of Him Who heareth all supplications, the spoken and the unspoken. Ponder this — keep it in mind. If you would beseech a blessing upon yourself, beware! lest without intent you invoke a curse upon a neighbor at the same time. If you pray for the blessing of rain upon your crop which needs it, by that act you are possibly praying for a curse upon some neighbor’s crop which may not need rain and can be injured by it.

“You have heard your servant’s prayer — the uttered part of it. I am commissioned of God to put into words the other part of it — that part which the pastor — and also you in your hearts — fervently prayed silently. And ignorantly and unthinkingly? God grant that it was so! You heard these words: ‘Grant us the victory, O Lord our God!’ That is sufficient. the whole of the uttered prayer is compact into those pregnant words. Elaborations were not necessary. When you have prayed for victory you have prayed for many unmentioned results which follow victory — must follow it, cannot help but follow it. Upon the listening spirit of God fell also the unspoken part of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen!

“O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle — be Thou near them! With them — in spirit — we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it — for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.

(After a pause.) “Ye have prayed it; if ye still desire it, speak! The messenger of the Most High waits!”

It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said.

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