Philippine-American War, 1899-1902

by Arnaldo Dumindin

War Escalates: Battles in Manila and Suburbs, Feb. 5-6, 1899

1899: US troops battling Filipinos. Location not specified.

At daybreak of February 5, the reinforced Americans counterattacked and retook their original positions. Soon after, firing broke out across the 16-mile Filipino and American lines involving 15,000 Filipinos and 14,000 Americans (3,000 of whom were assigned to provost or police duty in Manila). Admiral George Dewey's navy artillery pounded the Filipino positions.

General Hughes sent his Provost Guard out in the streets, blocking off thoroughfares, dispersing crowds, and keeping a close watch on suspected neighborhoods.

Feb. 5, 1899:  A view of the church at San Miguel district, Manila, and a group of Filipino POWs.

Large numbers of suspected "insurgents" were arrested; Hughes grimly noted that "when the police company got through with them the undertaker had enough business for the day."

Aguinaldo tried to stop the war by sending  Gen. Carlos Mario de la Torres to Maj. Gen Elwell S. Otis, commander of the US Eight Army Corps, to propose peace talks and a demilitarized zone. But Otis responded, "fighting, having begun, must go on to the grim end."

The church at La Loma ("The Hill") in 1899 

Brig. Gen. Arthur C. MacArthur, Jr., commander of the 2nd Division, Eight Corps,  attacked the Filipinos in the north and captured La Loma, on the Santa Mesa Ridge overlooking Manila, on February 5. [Santa Mesa Ridge is now known as Santa Mesa Heights in Quezon City]. After capturing the blockhouses, he seized their fortified strongpoints at the Chinese hospital and cemetery and La Loma Church. (La Loma is now a part of Quezon City).

Major Jose Torres Bugallon (RIGHT, image) defended La Loma. He was born on Aug. 28, 1873, in Salasa (now Bugallon), Pangasinan Province. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at the Colegio de San Juan de Letran in 1889 with high scholastic ratings. In 1892, he went abroad as a pensionado of the Spanish government to the world-famed Academia Militar de Toledo in Spain. He graduated in 1896 and commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 70th Infantry Regiment of the Spanish Army. He fought several battles against Filipino revolutionaries and after the Battle of Talisay on May 30, 1897, he was promoted to Captain. He was also awarded the coveted Cross of Maria Cristina and the Red Cross for Military Honor (Cruz Roja del Merito Militar). After the Treaty of Paris on Dec.10, 1898 ended the Spanish American war, Bugallon joined Gen. Antonio Luna's staff as aide-de-camp and recruitment officer for Spanish war veterans. At that time, General Luna urgently needed instructors for the training of officers at the Academia Militar in Malolos, Bulacan.

A gun of Battery A, Utah Volunteer Light Artillery, is sighted before the advance on La Loma.   Cpl. Noble McDonnel, Utah Battery A:  "The enemy numbered thousands and had courage, but could not shoot straight... If these natives could shoot as accurately as the Spanish, they would have exterminated us."

 

US artillery in action at Battle of La Loma

Capt. Frank A. Grant's battery shelling Filipino trenches at or near the Chinese hospital at La Loma.

Filipino soldiers killed on La Loma Hill by the 10th Pennsylvania Volunteers. The Filipinos fought from behind earthworks, barbed wire, and cemetery headstones.

10th Pennsylvania Volunteers ambulance at La Loma

Retouched photo of 10th Pennsylvania Volunteers conveying their wounded at La Loma

10th Pennsylvania Volunteers headquarters at La Loma, February 1899

Upon learning from Lt. Colonel Queri, that Bugallon was wounded, General Luna ordered: "He must be saved at all costs. Bugallon is worth 500 Filipino soldiers. He is one of my hopes for future victory." Too weak to keep his strength any longer due to profuse bleeding, he died on the breast of Gen. Antonio Luna, a few hours after he was withdrawn from the battlefield. General Luna wept unashamedly before the lifeless body of his aide-de-camp. To perpetuate his memory, a law sponsored in 1921 by Congressman Mauro Navarro of Pangasinan changed the name of Salasa to Bugallon. His remains now lie inside the Sampaloc Church in Manila.

Feb. 5, 1899: Battery A of the Utah Volunteer Light Artillery on McCloud Hill, Santa Mesa district, Manila, shelling Filipino positions in the San Juan Bridge area (Santa Mesa and San Juan del Monte). A soldier was killed near this gun a few minutes after the photo was taken.

Feb. 5, 1899: 1st Nebraska Volunteers battling the Filipinos in the San Juan del Monte-Santa Mesa area.  Sgt. Arthur H. Vickers, 1st Nebraska Regiment:  "I am not afraid, and am always ready to do my duty, but I would like some one to tell me what we are fighting for."

Feb. 5, 1899: 1st Nebraska Volunteers firing on Filipinos in the San Juan del Monte-Santa Mesa area. 

The San Juan Bridge. Photo taken on Feb. 5, 1899.

The San Juan Bridge and Company F of the 1st Nebraska Volunteers that took it.

The 1st Nebraska Volunteers captured the San Juan Bridge, powder magazine, waterworks, and San Juan del Monte church and convent; the Utah Volunteer Light Artillery occupied Santa Mesa.

Feb. 5, 1899:  Ruins of war at San Juan del Monte

Filipino dead at Singalong, Manila. The American who took this photo noted:  "After the battle of February 5th raged around Manila in every direction, every one with a camera took snapshots of the more impressive scenes."

Filipino dead at Singalong, Manila.

Feb. 5, 1899:  Filipino dead in a trench near Santa Ana. The trench was circular.   After the Battle of Manila, the members of the U.S. Army hospital corps were startled to discover several women, in male dress and with hair cropped, among the Filipino dead.

 

        1st California and 1st Wyoming Volunteers view Filpino dead at Santa Ana

Brig. Gen. Thomas M. Anderson, commander of the 1st Division, Eight Corps, routed  the Filipinos at Santa Ana, San Pedro de Macati, Guadalupe and the village of Pasay and captured Filipino supplies stored there.

Dead Filipinos in a trench before Santa Ana.  Charles L. French of the 13th Minnesota Volunteers wrote: "...at some trench ...most of them were shot through the head, some of them had the tops of their heads blown off, others parts of the face, in fact, the bullets seemed to reach all parts of the body. It must have simply rained lead."

 

Filipino dead at Santa Ana

Capt. Albert Otis describes his exploits at Santa Ana in a letter home:    

"I have six horses and three carriages in my yard, and enough small plunder for a family of six. The house I had at Santa Ana had five pianos. I couldn't take them, so I put a big grand piano out of a second-story window. You can guess its finish. Everything is pretty quiet about here now. I expect we will not be kept here very long now. Give my love to all."

Pvt. Edward D. Furnam, 1st Washington Volunteers, on the battles of February 4th and 5th:

"We burned hundreds of houses and looted hundreds more. Some of the boys made good hauls of jewelry and clothing. Nearly every man has at least two suits of clothing, and our quarters are furnished in style; fine beds with silken drapery, mirrors, chairs, rockers, cushions, pianos, hanging-lamps, rugs, pictures, etc. We have horses and carriages, and bull-carts galore, and enough furniture and other plunder to load a steamer."

The 1st Idaho and 1st Washington Volunteers massacred hundreds of Filipinos who  tried to cross the Pasig River. An American officer estimated that about 700 Filipinos who attempted to cross in boats and by swimming were killed, drowned, wounded or captured. Not a man was seen to have gained the opposite bank. One American soldier explained, "picking off niggers in the water" was "more fun than a turkey shoot."

Gun and crew of the USS Olympia, 1899

The coastlines were pounded continuously by Admiral George Dewey’s naval guns. An English resident commented about Dewey’s role: “This is not war; it is simple massacre and murderous butchery. How can these men resist your ships?”  “The Filipinos have swollen heads,” was Dewey’s reply. “They only need one licking and they will go crying to their homes, or we shall drive them into the sea, within the next three days.”

1Lt. Henry Page, Asst. Surgeon, of the Regular Army:

"The recent battle of February 5th was somewhat of a revelation to Americans. They expected the motley horde to run at the firing of the first gun. It was my good fortune to be placed—about ten hours afterward—near the spot where this first gun was fired. I found the Americans still held in check. Our artillery then began to assail the enemy’s position, and it was only by the stoutest kind of fighting that the Tennessee and Nebraska Regiments were able to drive him out... A frequent exclamation along our lines was: 'Haven’t these little fellows got grit?'"

 

Americans in Manila street fighting

The Puente Colgante, or suspension bridge, spanning the Pasig River. PHOTO was taken in 1899.

From Manila, wrote Pvt. Fred B. Hinchman, Company A, United States Engineers:

"At 1:30 o’clock, the general gave me a memorandum with regard to sending out a Tennessee battalion to the line. He tersely put it that  'they were looking for a fight.' At Puente Colgante (ABOVE), I met one of our company, who told me that the Fourteenth and Washingtons were driving all before them, and taking no prisoners. This is now our rule of procedure for cause."

White American troops referred to Filipinos as “niggers,” “Black devils,” and “gugus.”  They told friends and relatives that they had come "to blow every nigger to nigger heaven" and vowed to fight "until the niggers are killed off like Indians."

Feb. 5, 1899: Americans fire on Filipino forces from Blockhouse No. 13 in Manila while a Filipino boy --seemingly oblivious to the fighting behind him-- ponders the camera  

One white soldier wrote:  “Our fighting blood was up, and we all wanted to kill  niggers. This shooting human beings beats rabbit hunting all to pieces."

Two wounded Filipino POWs inside the Americans' First Reserve Hospital grounds in Manila

February 1899: Old woman shot through the leg by US troops while carrying ammunition to the Filipinos. She is shown here being treated by American medics in Manila.

Filipinos captured by the 1st Nebraskans at Santa Mesa district, Manila, on Feb. 5-6, 1899.

A wounded Filipino POW at Santa Mesa district

US troops carrying their wounded at Santa Mesa district

Wounded American soldiers at Santa Mesa district

US battery at San Pedro de Macati

US battery near San Pedro de Macati

Feb. 5, 1899: The Filipinos tried to hold the church but the 1st Wyoming Volunteers forced them to break and withdraw 

The San Pedro de Macati Church in contemporary times. Photo by Joel C. Yuvienco.

Another view of the church at San Pedro de Macati. Photo was taken on Feb. 5, 1899.

San Pedro de Macati:  The view from the church tower

Wounded US soldiers utilizing church at San Pedro de Macati as a hospital

1st California Volunteers at camp near the church at San Pedro de Macati. Photo was taken after the Battle of Manila.

1st Idaho Volunteers at San Pedro de Macati

Former headquarters of General Pio del Pilar in San Pedro de Macati taken over by Brig. Gen. Charles King, commander of the 1st Brigade, 1st Division, 8th Corps

Philippine army officers at Paco district, Manila. PHOTO was taken shortly before the war broke out.

Feb. 5, 1899, Battle at Paco Church.  The Filipinos were positioned in the upper story of the church; Col. Victor D. Duboce and his men of the 1st California Volunteers dashed inside under heavy fire, scattered coal oil, set fire to the oil and escaped.  Capt. Alexander B. Dyer's Sixth Artillery then bombarded the church, dropping a dozen shells into the tower and roof. A company each of  the 1st Idaho and 1st Washington Infantries, stationed on either side of the building, picked off the Filipinos as they were smoked out. Twenty Filipinos were killed and 53 captured.

Paco Church ruins, 1899.

US troops removing Filipino dead from Paco church, Feb. 5, 1899.

Feb. 5, 1899:  A US Volunteer Signal Corps field telegraph office near Paco bridge.

Feb. 5, 1899:  Americans pose with a captured Filipino flag at Blockhouse No. 11, Paco district, Manila.

Filipino soldiers marching through Pasay

US Sixth Artillery Gatling gun rakes Filipino positions in Pasay

Original caption:  "Gatling gun trained on the Filipinos near Manila."   Photo taken in Pasay on Feb. 5, 1899.

Original caption:   "Sixth Artillery clearing the Woods near Pasay, Philippine Islands."   Photo taken on Feb. 5, 1899.

Troops of the 14th Infantry Regiment (Regulars) fighting from captured Filipino trenches in Pasay, Feb. 5, 1899.

Troops of the 14th Infantry Regiment (Regulars) entrenched at Pasay, Feb. 5, 1899.

Pasay:  1st South Dakota Volunteers, armed with Krag-Jorgensen carbines, await orders to fire, Feb. 5, 1899.  

Filipino dead at Pasay

Brig. Gen. Thomas M. Anderson viewing Filipino dead

Pasay:  The Americans found large quantities of ammunition, most of which the Filipinos had taken from sunken Spanish ships. Several marine guns were captured, one of them showing here. Photo was taken on Feb. 5, 1899.

Pasay:  Filipino civilians entering the line manned by Company D, 14th U.S. Infantry Regiment. Photo was taken in February 1899.

Colorized photo of Company M, 20th Kansas Volunteers, on the firing line at Manila, Feb. 5, 1899.

Feb. 6, 1899: 1st Nebraska Volunteers entrenched at the Manila Waterworks, Sitio Escombro, Barrio Santolan, Pasig (Marikina Valley portion of the town).

Feb. 6, 1899:  American rapid fire guns at the Manila Waterworks, Sitio Escombro, Barrio Santolan, Pasig (Marikina Valley portion of the town).

Feb. 6, 1899: 1st Nebraska Volunteers supervise the burial of dead Filipinos at the Manila Waterworks, Sitio Escombro, Barrio Santolan, Pasig (Marikina Valley portion of the town).  A Nebraskan said: "We came here to help, not to slaughter, these natives…I cannot see that we are fighting for any principle now."

Feb. 6, 1899:  Another view of the burial of Filipinos killed at the Manila Waterworks, Sitio Escombro, Barrio Santolan, Pasig (Marikina Valley portion of the town).

Feb. 6, 1899: Negritos in the Philippine Army captured by US troops at the Manila Waterworks, Sitio Escombro, Barrio Santolan, Pasig (Marikina Valley portion of the town).

Feb. 6, 1899: Negritos in the Philippine Army captured by US troops at the Manila Waterworks, Sitio Escombro, Barrio Santolan, Pasig (Marikina Valley portion of the town).

Issue of Monday, Feb. 6, 1899

Issues of Monday, Feb. 6, 1899

The Bulletin of San Francisco, California, reports on the Americans' Manila victory, Tuesday, Feb. 7. 1899

In the 2-day battle of Manila, Harper's Encyclopaedia of United States History, published in 1901, listed 57 US soldiers killed and 215 wounded; it estimated Filipino dead at 500, with 1,000 wounded and 500 captured. [ Most Filipino historians believe that owing to the heavy firepower unleashed by the Americans, the true number of Filipino dead ranged from 1,000 to 3,000].

The San Francisco Call, issue of Tuesday, Feb. 7, 1899. The photo of Felipe Agoncillo, Aguinaldo's chief envoy to the United States, was not a part of the original news report.

The San Francisco Call, issue of Wednesday, Feb. 8, 1899

The Bulletin of San Francisco, California, issue of Wednesday, Feb. 8, 1899

Feb. 8, 1899:  Brig. Gen. Charles King, with his staff, receiving two Filipino peace delegates. The Americans turned down Aguinaldo's proposal for a ceasefire and peace talks.  On this day, General Otis wired Washington:  "The situation is rapidly improving. The insurgent army is disintegrating, Aguinaldo's influence has been destroyed."

Americans fire volley over graves of fellow US soldiers at Paco Cemetery, Manila. Undated photo.

 

Burial of slain US soldiers at the Presidio, San Francisco, California, U.S.A. PHOTO was taken in 1899.