Philippine-American War, 1899-1902

by Arnaldo Dumindin

Americans capture Malolos, March 30-31, 1899

Malolos: A portion of the US firing line; Filipinos are among the trees in front

March 30, 1899: The American photographer's caption: "A battle is in progress at this point, but a white flag is seen approaching from the position of the native army, and the order to cease firing is given, while the men anxiously await the result." Photo depicts men of the 20th Kansas Volunteer Infantry Regiment near Malolos

On March 30, the Americans reached the outskirts of Malolos. At the sight of a white signal of surrender, the Americans broke into cheers but the bearers suddenly broke and ran back into the town. An instant pursuit was begun and the US troops were received with heavy volleys. The Americans camped all night outside Malolos. The battle opened at daybreak.

Americans advancing on Malolos

1st Nebraskans under fire near Malolos, March 31, 1899.

1st Nebraskans on the firing line near Malolos, March 31, 1899.

March 31, 1899: 20th Kansas Volunteers cautiously entering Malolos. Colonel (later General) Frederick Funston, Kansas Volunteers: "The boys go for the enemy as if they were chasing jackrabbits........I, for one, hope that Uncle Sam will apply the chastening rod, good, hard, and plenty, and lay it on until they come into the reservation and promise to be good 'Injuns'."

At the end of the main street of the town, they were met by a barricade of stones from which a hot fire was poured by a few Filipino soldiers. Col. Frederick Funston leaped from his horse and swinging his hat, led the 20th Kansas Volunteers over the barricade and down the streets with terrific yells, firing as they ran.

The Associated Press cabled: "Colonel Funston, always at the front, was the first man in Malolos, followed by a group of dashing Kansans." But the town was deserted.

President Emilio Aguinaldo had moved his government 30 miles (50 km) farther to San Isidro, Nueva Ecija Province.

American losses were 8 killed and 105 wounded. Filipino casualties were unknown.

Filipino soldiers at Malolos

Original caption: "The desperate character of the insurgents is shown in this wanton destruction of Malolos church. It was fired by them as they fled before the Americans just entering the town. It was done partly in revenge against the religious orders." Malolos Cathedral, also known as the Basilica Menor dela Nuestra Señora de Immaculada Concepcion, was used by Aguinaldo as the Presidential Palace and seat of power of the First Philippine Republic. His soldiers left delayed-fused explosives which detonated and set the building on fire.

Malolos Cathedral today

Original caption: "The Insurgent House of Congress on Fire, Malolos, P.I."

Malolos: The church and smoking ruins of Aguinaldo's headquarters

President Emilio Aguinaldo's ruined headquarters

Original caption: "Distribution of troops in various portions of the town for preservation of lives and property of loyal natives, and to fortify against attacks of insurgents, as well as to insure the general safety." Malolos, March 31, 1899.

Original caption: "Public square in Malolos after troops entered city, March 31, 1899"

US soldiers at Malolos public square

US soldiers inspect the Casa Tribunal de Malolos, the jail where 5 Americans and several Spanish friars were kept as prisoners by the Filipinos

The Casa Tribunal de Malolos in 2010. Photo by Marcjeff03.

U.S. troops resting near the public square at Malolos. Photo was taken on March 31, 1899. Source: Jonathan Best Collection.

US troops at Malolos, March 31, 1899.

An American soldier inspects a captured Filipino improvised iron pipe cannon.

Filipino improvised cannon captured at Malolos

Battery B of the Utah Volunteer Light Artillery at Malolos

22nd U.S. Infantry on review at Malolos, March 31, 1899

Original caption: "Chinese flags are everywhere flying for the protection of lives and property of Chinese residents and merchants. These flags were always respected as covering neutrals and non-combatants." PHOTO was taken at Malolos, March 31, 1899.

Malolos: Chinese men smoking cigarettes. Photo taken shortly after the Americans had captured the town..

The American photographer's caption: "Wretched inhabitants and principal Street of Aguinaldo's abandoned Capital, Manolos, Philippines. Photographer: Underwood & Underwood Publisher: New York. Date of Publication: c1899."

Original caption: " The last word that he uttered was 'Mother,' an affecting scene after the Battle of Malolos, P.I."

General Loyd Wheaton on horseback at Malolos.

Original caption: "The proclamation of General Luna is posted upon the wall near the door. The officers are Generals Otis, McArthur and Hale. Photograph was taken within half hour following evacuation of insurgents." PHOTO was taken at Barrio Barasoain, Malolos, March 31, 1899.

Original caption: "Congressional hall and executive building occupied by Aguinaldo and his aids. Here Aguinaldo took the oath of office. After the Filipinos were driven away, Gen. McArthur made it his headquarters. Photograph taken on first day of occupation." Malolos, March 31, 1899.

Original caption: "Burying Filipinos after the battle of Malolos, P.I."

Wounded members of the 20th Kansas Regimental band grieve at the grave of a fellow bandsman killed on March 29, 1899.

April 4, 1899: Official Proclamation of American intentions by the U.S. First Philippine Commission

The First Philippine Commission, Left to Right: Jacob Gould Schurman, Admiral George Dewey, Charles Denby and Dean C. Worcester. The fifth member was Maj. Gen. Elwell Otis (absent from the photo). Both Dewey and Otis regarded the body as useless and seldom attended meetings.

On Jan. 20, 1899, Pres. William McKinley appointed the First Philippine Commission (the Schurman Commission) to investigate conditions in the Philippines and make recommendations. The Commission was presided over by Jacob Gould Schurman, president of Cornell University and a professor of Christian ethics and moral philosophy.

Members of the First Philippine Commission in complete attendance. LEFT to RIGHT: Dean C. Worcester, Charles Denby, Jacob Gould Schurman, John MacArthur (secretary), Admiral George Dewey, and Maj. Gen. Elwell Otis.

The members of the Commission were Dean C. Worcester (Professor at University of Michigan), Charles Denby (Ambassador to China), Admiral George Dewey (Head of the American Asiatic Squadron), and Maj. Gen. Elwell Otis (Military Governor of the Philippines).

It arrived in Manila on March 4, 1899, a month after the outbreak of the Filipino-American War.

The Schurman Commission interviewed Filipino landlords, money-lenders, and businessmen in Manila without trying to learn the views of the Filipinos who were resisting the Americans.

The Commission deemed that the Americans' victory at Malolos on March 31, 1899 was more or less decisive; the time was opportune to issue a proclamation to the Filipino people. It would explain the true objectives of the United States in acquiring the Philippines.

On April 4, 1899, the proclamation was posted in the streets of Manila, printed in English, Spanish and Tagalog. It was also distributed in the outlying towns as far as Malolos.

The proclamation read in part:

"The commission desires to assure the people of the Philippine islands of the cordial good will and fraternal feeling which is entertained for them by the President of the United States and by the American people. The aim and object of the American government...is the well-being, prosperity, and happiness of the Philippine people and their elevation and advancement to a position among the most civilized peoples of the world...this felicity and perfection...is to be brought about by the assurance of peace and order...guarantee of civil and religious liberty...establishment of justice...cultivation of letters, science and the liberal and practical arts...development...with the aid of modern mechanical inventions, of the great natural resources of the archipelago...Unfortunately these pure aims and purposes of the American government and people have been misinterpreted to some of the inhabitants...as a consequence the friendly American forces have without provocation or cause been openly attacked...the supremacy of the United States must and will be enforced...those who resist it can accomplish no end other than their own ruin."

On April 29, 1899 Apolinario Mabini, the head of President Emilio Aguinaldo's cabinet, sent a message to the Commission asking for a three-month cease-fire in order to learn Filipino public opinion, but the Americans rejected his offer.