Philippine-American War, 1899-1902

by Arnaldo Dumindin

Combats between Manila and Lake Laguna de Bay

1899 US Army map of the district between Manila and Lake Laguna de Bay (lower right corner)

With fresh troops from the U.S. mainland, Maj. Gen. Elwell S. Otis ordered the clearing of  the country between Manila and Lake Laguna de Bay, and a push to the north and capture Aguinaldo.

He believed that this move will stretch a line of American troops across Luzon island, thus cutting all communication between the northern and southern wings of Aguinaldo's army.

1899: Review of Company I, 12th US Infantry Regiment, at the Luneta, Manila

U.S. troop strength was 20,851 at the start of hostilities on Feb. 4, 1899; the average strength was 40,000 during the 40-month war (peaking in 1900 to 2,367 officers and 71,727 enlisted men). By war's end, a total of 126,468 American soldiers had served in the Philippines. Also, beginning in September 1899 Macabebe Filipinos --- and in the next two years --- Ilocanos, Cagayanos, Boholanos, Cebuanos, Negrenses and Ilonggos were recruited and served as scouts for the US Army. These regional Filipino scout units were integrated and organized as the Philippine Scouts on Feb. 2, 1901. The Philippine Constabulary was inaugurated on Aug. 8, 1901.

The 3 rifles used in the Philippine-American War by US services---Above, the Winchester Lee, used by the Navy and Marine Corps; in the Center, Springfield, used by most of the Volunteers; Below, the Krag Jorgensen, the weapon of the Regulars. PHOTO taken in 1899.

Twenty-six of the 30 American generals who served in the Philippines from 1898 to 1902 had fought in the Indian Wars. Sixteen graduates of the United States Military Academy at West Point died in combat against the Filipinos. Eighty Americans were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Filipino strength at the start of the war was about 20,000 soldiers with 15,000 rifles. In succeeding months, it ranged between 20,000 - 30,000. The number of rifles dwindled as the war dragged on, as many malfunctioned, or were captured by American troops. Ammunition ran low; the Filipinos were forced to manufacture their own cartridges and powder. The makeshift gunpowder lacked power and released thick black smoke that revealed their positions.

The Filipino infantry was tough and hardy, requiring few supplies, and had demonstrated its competence by easily overrunning Spanish garrisons. However, it was relatively poorly trained and the officer corps was weak.

Worst, among the Filipino military and political leaders, disunity caused divisions, usually along regional lines. Although they faced a common enemy who enjoyed vastly superior military training and resources, they still found time to engage in personal, and often bitter quarrels, with disastrous and tragic consequences to the First Philippine Republic.

This color-tinted photo of US soldiers was taken in 1899, somewhere in Luzon Island.

Original caption: "There goes the American soldier and all Hell can't stop him, P.I."

Two members of a US cavalry unit

 Americans bury their dead at a graveyard near Fort San Antonio de Abad, Malate district, Manila

The Virginian-Pilot, Norfolk, Virginia, issue of March 17, 1899, Page 1

Battle of Guadalupe Church, March 13, 1899

The Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe church and convent before destruction

Brig. Gen. Loyd Wheaton (LEFT)  led five American regiments against Filipino forces entrenched in the area surrounding the church at Guadalupe, San Pedro de Macati (now Makati City).

The official US report listed 3 Americans killed and 25 wounded; it estimated Filipino losses at 200 dead and wounded.

 

 

1st California Volunteers positioned near the Guadalupe Convent

US gunboat Laguna de Bay bombards Guadalupe Convent. The side-wheeled steamer used to be a passenger boat that plied the Manila - Lake Laguna de Bay route; Maj. Gen. Elwell S. Otis purchased her from a Spanish firm. Capt. Frank A. Grant of the Utah Volunteer Light Artillery armored the boat and mounted eight guns upon her. The gunboat was about 125 feet long and 37 1/2 feet wide.

Filipinos killed at Guadalupe

The Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe in Makati City has been renamed as Nuestra Señora de Gracia. The church was completed in 1629. The masonry roof of the church collapsed in the earthquakes of 1880 and the structure was rebuilt in 1882.

Battle of Pateros, March 14, 1899

A battalion of the 1st Washington Volunteer Infantry Regiment under Maj. John J. Weisenburger attacked Pateros on March 14, 1899.

From Taguig, the Americans crossed a channel in cascos and by swimming and stormed the Filipino entrenchments at Pateros. The town took fire and burned. The Filipinos withdrew.

The Americans suffered 1 killed and 5 wounded. Filipino casualties were undetermined.

2nd Oregon Volunteers at lunch near General Wheaton's headquarters, near Pateros, March 17, 1899

Battle of Pasig, March 15, 1899

Pasig:  Battery A, Utah Volunteer Light Artillery, commanded by Capt. Richard W. Young, West Point Class of 1882.  Brig. Gen. Loyd Wheaton, sitting among the bananas, and Captain Young, at his back, are watching the progress of the advancing American troops.

Brig. Gen. Loyd Wheaton attacked the town of Pasig with a Provisional Brigade consisting of:  a gunboat, 20th Infantry; 22nd Infantry; two battalions 1st Washington Volunteer Infantry; seven companies 2nd Oregon Volunteer Infantry; one platoon 6th Artillery, and three troops 4th Cavalry.   

The Pasig expedition was the first organized campaign against the Filipinos. General Wheaton's instructions were to "drive the enemy beyond Pasig, striking him wherever found".

American losses were 1 killed and 3 wounded. The New York Times reported that the Americans found 106 dead Filipinos and 100 new graves near Pasig, and that the 20th Infantry took 175 prisoners. [A separate American report estimated Filipino dead at 400].

Reserves of the 22nd Infantry Regiment awaiting their call to the firing line. They are taking their rest just before the general advance on Pasig.

The 22nd US Infantry awaiting orders for the general advance upon Pasig. The original black and white photo was color tinted in 1902, but the artist incorrectly gave the soldiers blue uniforms; in fact, they were khaki. 

Original caption:  "The wall of fire. Part of the firing line near Pasig, March 15, 1899. It represents volley-firing in clock-like order at the insurgent intrenchments. The picture was taken just before the general advance."  Colorized photo shows 2nd Oregon Volunteers --- armed with 45-70 caliber Springfield "trapdoor" rifles --- correctly portrayed in their blue uniforms.

Skirmish line of 2nd Oregon Volunteers at Pasig

2nd Oregon Volunteers at Battle of Pasig

Original caption:  "This shows effect of first smokeless powder used by Americans in the Philippines. The guns are the old Springfield model. Photograph taken during heat of the action at Pasig. In this instance it is long distance firing."   This is a colorized version of preceding photo of 2nd Oregon Volunteers.

Skirmish line of 1st Washington Volunteers at Pasig

Skirmish line of 1st Washington Volunteers at Pasig

Original caption: "Taking of Pasig --- In the distance to the left the city is seen, and in front the puffs of smoke from the insurgents' rifles, while half way down the open field the American line is returning the fire, being reenforced by others who are hurrying from the boat on the other side of the river. In the background are the reserve troops who have been protecting the advance."

Original caption:  "Driving the insurgents through the jungle near Pasig." 

 

Original caption:  "Driving the insurgents through the jungle near Pasig." 

Dead Filipino soldiers at Pasig

St. Paul Daily Globe, St. Paul, Minnesota, issue of March 16, 1899, Page 1

US troops in front of church at Pasig

Another view of the church at Pasig.  American soldiers, barely visible in the photograph, are seen in the lower left and right corners.

The Pasig Catholic church in 2006. Photo by Elmer I. Nocheseda

Original caption:  "The Church Saint Sat On By A Washington 'Johnnie', Pasig, P.I."

American bivouac at Pasig, March 1899.

Two Americans guard a bridge on the main highway at Pasig

US troops returning to Manila after the battle of Pasig

Original caption: "The Washington Boys repulsing an attack of Insurrectos on March 26, 1899, at Pasig, P.I."

Following their defeat in the main battle, the Filipinos occasionally harassed the American garrison at Pasig.

Original caption:  "Expecting a Filipino Attack behind the Cemetery Wall, Pasig, Phil. Islds."

Company G of the 1st Washington Volunteers in action at Pasig

Company G of the 1st Washington Volunteers in action at Pasig

Cainta, March 16, 1899

20th US Infantry men returning with their dead; 1899 photo, unspecified location

On March 16, 1899, Maj. William P. Rogers, CO of the 3rd Battalion, 20th US Infantry Regiment, came upon the Filipinos in Cainta, about 1,000 strong, and forced them to retreat. He burned the town. Two Americans were killed and 14 wounded, while the Filipinos suffered about 100 killed and wounded.

The 3rd Battalion, 20th US Infantry Regiment, is drawn up in the main street of Pasig after the fight at nearby Cainta.

Upon the approach of the Americans, Exequiel Ampil, the Presidente Municipal of Cainta and a former agente especial of the Katipunan who had become a pronounced Americanista, strongly advised the Filipino soldiers to surrender. Instead, they shot him. Although wounded, Ampil managed to escape. 

Issue of March 3, 1902, Page 1

On March 3, 1902, major American newspapers, including the New York Times reported: “…Felizardo, at the head of  twenty-five men armed with rifles, entered the town of Cainta…and captured the Presidente of Cainta, Señor Ampil, and a majority of the police of the town. Señor Ampil has long been known as an enthusiastic American symphatizer, and it is feared that he may be killed by the enraged ladrones. A strong force of constabulary has been sent to try to effect his release.” [Timoteo Pasay was the actual leader of the guerilla band that kidnapped Ampil on Feb. 28, 1902].

A village in the town of Morong, Morong Province. PHOTO was taken during the period 1899-1901.

On March 4, 1902, near the hills of Morong town, Ampil found an opportunity to escape. A detachment of constabulary  was taken from the garrison at Pasig and stationed at Cainta for his protection. He survived the war.

[ A considerable number of the population of Cainta are descended from Indian soldiers who deserted the British Army when the British briefly occupied the Philippines in 1762 to 1764. These Indian soldiers, called Sepoys, were recruited from among the subjects of the Nawab of Arcot in Madras, India. They settled in Cainta and intermarried or cohabited with the native women. The Sepoy ancestry of Cainta is very visible in contemporary times, particularly in Barrio Dayap near Barangay Sto Nino. Their distinct physical characteristics --- darker skin tone and taller stature --- set them apart from the average Filipino who is primarily of Malay ethnicity, with admixtures of Chinese and Spanish blood. ]

Battle of Taguig, March 18-19, 1899

The 22nd US Regular Infantry Regiment, 1st Washington Volunteers and 2nd Oregon Volunteers, all under the overall command of Brig. Gen. Loyd Wheaton, engaged Filipino troops led by General Pio del Pilar in the town of Taguig. The Americans suffered 3 dead and 17 wounded; Filipino losses were 75 killed in action.

March 19, 1899: Companies D and H, 1st Washington Volunteer Infantry Regiment, firing at Filipinos from behind the stone wall of the church at Taguig

Some US troops form a skirmish line just outside the church compound

Moments later, the rest of the Americans break out from the church compound to  advance across an open field -- Filipinos 800 yards in front.

Original caption:  "The Open Field Over Which The Washington Boys Charged The Filipinos From The Church Tower. Taquig, P.I."

March 1899:  Company D, 1st Washington Volunteers, at Taguig church.

March 19, 1899:  Company H, 1st Washington Volunteers, at Taguig church.

The church at Taguig; US soldiers are positioned behind the stone wall, with lookouts on the roof and bell tower. Photo taken in November 1899.

Colonel John H. Wholley, Commanding Officer, 1st Washington Volunteer Infantry Regiment; he graduated from the US Military Academy at West Point in 1890.

Gen. Del Pilar distinugished himself in the revolution against Spain. But like most Filipino generals, he fared badly against the better-trained and well-equipped Americans. During the battle of Manila on Feb. 5, 1899, General del Pilar's troops in Pandacan were dislodged and pushed back to the Pasig River where they were shot down "like fish in a barrel" by young American marksmen who learned their skills in the backwoods and prairies of America.

Pio Del Pilar was born "Pio Castañeda" on July 11, 1865 in Culi-culi, San Pedro de Macati (now Makati City). In May, 1896, he joined the Katipunan and formed a Katipunan chapter called Matagumpay (Triumphant) and he took the symbolic name Pang-una (Leader). He changed his last name to "Del Pilar" to safeguard his family and prevent them from harassment by Spanish authorities.

He, General Mariano Noriel and several others persuaded Emilio Aguinaldo to withdraw his order commuting the death sentence on Andres Bonfacio and his brother Procopio to banishment under heavy guard to Mt. Pico de Loro, Maragondon, Cavite.

In his memoirs, Aguinaldo wrote: ""Upon learning of my wish, Generals Pio del Pilar and Mariano Noriel rushed back to me. "Our dear general,' General Pio del Pilar began, 'the crimes committed by the two brothers, Andres and Procopio, are of common knowledge. If you want to live a little longer and continue the task that you have so nobly begun, and if you wnat peace and order in our Revolutionary Government, do not show them any mercy."

The Bonifacio brothers were executed on May 10, 1897.

In January 1899, Del Pilar was appointed chief of the "Second Zone of Manila" by Gen. Antonio Luna. The second zone comprised Pasig and other areas south and southeast of Manila, including the Morong District.

On June 9, 1900 he was captured in San Miguel de Mayumo, Bulacan Province but was set free on June 21. On that day, Maj. Gen. Arthur C. MacArthur, Jr., now military governor, issued an amnesty, as a result of which some prominent Filipino prisoners, Del Pilar among them, took an oath of allegiance to the United States.

However, he continued to work for the guerilla underground and was rearrested. On Jan. 16, 1901 he was deported to Guam along with Apolinario Mabini, Gen. Maximo Hizon, Gen. Artemio Ricarte and Pablo Ocampo. They left on the US transport Rosecrans.

He return to the Philippines in February 1903 after agreeing to re-take the oath of allegiance to the United States.

He died on June 21, 1931. He is the acknowledged official hero of Makati City. Today, the monument in his honor stands at the intersection of Paseo de Roxas and Makati Avenue.

Massacre at Taytay, March 19, 1899

Taytay Church in ruins. It survived the American rampage on March 19, 1899, but succombed to more fighting a few months later. On June 3, 1899, US gunboats shelled  Filipino positions in the town. The US Army claimed that the Filipinos, upon leaving the following day, had fired the church. 

On March 20, 1899, A.A. Barnes of Battery G, 3rd Artillery,  wrote to his brother in Indiana that they had burned the town of Taytay the night before in retaliation for the murder of  an American soldier: "Last night one of our boys was found shot and his stomach cut open. Immediately orders were received from General [Loyd] Wheaton to burn the town and kill every native in sight, which was done...About one thousand men, women and children were reported killed. I am probably growing hard-hearted for I am in my glory when I can sight my gun on some dark skin and pull the trigger."