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Hang The Dogs

The True Tragic History

of the Balangiga Massacre

Bob Couttie
1st Kindle Edition
Copyright © 2014 by Bob Couttie
Cover and Book Design by Michael Sellers
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any
electronic or mechanical means including information storage and
retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the author.
The only exception is by a reviewer, who may quote short excerpts
in a review.
Printed in the United States of America
First Printing: February 2014
ISBN- 978-0-9914029-0-8
Publishing History
First Print Edition, New Day, 2004
First Kindle Edition, Universal Media, 2014
So many have played a role in making this book possible that the danger of forgetting
someone is ever present. My apologies in advance to anyone who may not have been given
their due. My thanks to:
First and foremost, the people of Balangiga, in particular my gracious hosts for so many
years Aurelia Amano, the Elaba family, and Catalina M. Camenforte and Maximo Gamalo -
true, great hearted Warays all. With them, my friends with the 9th US Infantry, Second
Infantry Division in Korea – Keep up the fire!
Film producer, Michael D. Sellers, who funded much of the early research and has
enabled publication of this eBook edition; Former Secretary of Tourism Richard J. Gordon
and his team, as well as Tourism Director, Tacloban, Norma Morante, whose help made it
possible to finish this book; Ambeth Ocampo, August DeViana and Oggie Encomienda of the
National Historical Institute; The Philippine National Library, Elen Alfonso of the Rare
Books Division and the folk at the Multimedia Division, not to forget the Philippine National
Archives; Adam Gratice 'our man in Washington' who did such excellent research work;
Bruce Gordon – whose typing fingers I hope have regrown, Photographer Kevin Hamdorf;
Captain Robert Rayner and his IDESS team; Bruce Curran; Professor Bernadita Churchill of
the Philippine National Historical Society; Former US Ambassador to the Philippines
Francis Riccardione, Commander Brian Rinaldi and Tony Perez of the US Embassy; the
members of the Balangiga Mailing List and the H-War mailing list whose learned comments
and assistance have been invaluable; Addi Batica; Greg Makabenta; Loida Nicholas Lewis;
and, especially, all those descendants of Company C. and Balangiganon participants who
shared documents and family traditions; and 'Valdy' Valdenor who started it all off.

And, of course, to the veterans of Wyoming, Rep. Barbara Cubin and Senator Craig
Thomas, without whom the Bells of Balangiga would have been long forgotten.

Bob Couttie, Kampot, Cambodia,

5 January2014

Table of Contents
Every point in time is preceded by a skein of threads – threads of incidence - that fan
out to the past yet define the incident of the moment. Another skein of possibilities fans out
to the future from each point in time. We cannot change the threads that come from the
past, but we can choose which threads pull us into the future.
This book is about the threads and connections of the past that met at a moment of time
on the morning of September 28, 1901, and which stretched forward from it.
Some call it the Balangiga 'Massacre', others the 'Balangiga Encounter'. The American
generals who first heard about it called it the 'Balangiga Affair'. In this book it's referred to
as the 'Balangiga Incident'.
Like the warp and weft of a cloth, the threads toward Balangiga weave back and forth
across the loom of history in a far more complex pattern than simplistic analyses suggest. It
was not an attack by ignorant, violent savages in the thrall of a charismatic leader, Trilbys
to the Svengali of General Vicente Lukban. It was not an act of the patriotic masses rising in
their newfound sense of nationhood against an oppressive foreign invader. Nor can it be
understood in terms only of the 1896-1902 Philippine War of Independence and the
Pulahanes Period that followed.
Nor, it must be emphasised, was it an act of terrorism .
It is not a linear story. Many of the threads run parallel to each other, hence the need to
present it in a non-linear rather than chronological fashion.
Investigating the Balangiga Incident is especially challenging. There are no
comprehensive official reports on either side of the conflict. There was no official inquiry
into the Balangiga Incident and records of a debriefing of Balangiganon participants known
to have been carried out in April-May 1902 remain a tantalizing treasure yet to be found.
Official message traffic on both sides of the Philippine-American War period on Samar
is incomplete with regard to the data and it is necessary to read between the lines in a
coherent fashion or, as the late William Henry Scott would say, 'confront' them. What isn't
said is as important as what is said – the almost total absence of any mention of the fiesta of
September 27th being just one example.
Accounts by participants may be unreliable in whole or in part for a number of reasons.
Some known documents, such as the personal memoranda of Eugenio Daza and Pedro
Duran and notes based on first hand interviews with Valeriano Abanador have, at least for
the moment vanished, in one case into the hands of a historian who never returned them
and are presumably sold to a private collector. There are intriguing hints of contemporary,
or almost contemporary accounts by Filipino participants however.
On the American side, the George Crago letters to and from American participants hint
at yet another 'Yamashita Gold' horde for anyone lucky enough to find them.
Media interviews with participants are often highly coloured and sprinkled with tall
tales, which the writers themselves may have invented, and even contemporary journalists'
reports can be seen to be heavily influenced by US commanders.
Interviewing descendants also requires delicacy. Their memories may be overlaid with
later events or contaminated by works already known to be unreliable, such as Joseph
Schott's Ordeal Of Samar, as has happened in the case of the script for the annual Balangiga
re-enactment, which now includes material not derived from local knowledge.
In at least one case a 'dumb blonde' style risqué joke told by an elderly man was
solemnly recorded as a factual account of the gang rape of fictional and stupid
washerwomen beside the Balangiga River.
Less than careful interviews have lead to reports of a black soldier with Company C.
fathering children in Balangiga, of the American soldiers giving out chocolate on their
arrival, chocolate that was beyond its expiry date, and Company C. men being served at
breakfast by men dressed as women.
There were no black soldiers in white American units at the time, it was World War 2
when American soldiers handed out candy – and even in that war chocolate did not carry
an expiry date, and the serving women come not from the Balangiga incident but the
capture of Pulahanes Andres Fabillar many years later.
The iconic image of men in woman's clothes bursting from the church into the plaza
presents a myth that almost denies the fine strategic planning that went into the attack..
Academics may not necessarily prove more accurate. Less than careful historians have
created the myth of the water cure being carried out in Balangiga prior to the incident,
using their source data in a way that, to paraphrase William Gibbs, seems strange. Others,
through a non-familiarity with the Waray language, invented a cockfight to explain the
smuggling-in of Filipino forces.
Others have uncritically an estimate of the death toll during the Samar campaign that is
entirely fictional yet still published in a book by an eminent historian.
And both American and Filipino writers and historians have proved markedly
resistance to data that shows that the Balangiganons suffered at worst only moderate
losses in the attack on the garrison.
To ignore community or folk history, however, is to throw the baby out with the
bathwater. In fact, for the most part, the accounts by American and Filipino participants,
local tradition and actual descendants of participants show a high degree of congruence,
certainly far more than others who have written about the incident.
One enduring myth is that of the Samareno 'savage', the violent and unreasoning
Waray, created by American writers and reporters. It is well alive in the attitudes and
prejudices of many Filipinos and Americans today.
The days are largely past when racial stereotypes, positive or negative, white or brown,
validated historical analysis. John RM Taylor's gossipy and vicious meanderings, of a kind
known in Tagalog as 'tsismis', only survive on a very few, tiny, floating islands of
irrationality and, although the views of some of his more modern but equally racist Filipino
equivalents are more widespread, hopefully they too will fade into deserved oblivion as
better research and more objectivity take root.
Such stereotyping introduces dangerous errors. One US Infantry unit history describes
the people of Samar as 'moros' - Muslims. No Islamic forces fought the US on Samar. In a
television interview a historian made the astonishing assumption that the Philippines at
the time was 95 per cent Muslim, yet the Muslim involvement in the Philippine-American
War was virtually zero. Needless to say, any conclusions drawn from such assumptions are
To understand conflict, one must also understand the cultural environment in which it
takes place, despite the obvious difficulties and complexities. Failure to do so not only veils
from us the nature of conflicts of the past, it denies us a tool for understanding conflicts of
today and, even more importantly, silences the lessons we need to learn in order to deal
with conflicts of the future.
War is a social human activity, if an unsociable inhumane one. Traditionally it is an
organised contention of force carried on between sovereign and organised states in
dispute, everything else is diplomacy. It is traditionally decisive; once the mixture of men,
materials, wisdom, fate and just plain luck have selected the victor the war is finished. After
the fat lady sings her dying aria, the band packs up and goes home.
Like the beasts from John Carpenter's 'Alien' and 'The Thing', war has proved
irrepressible. Threatened by nuclear weapons and the equally awesome power of
technology available to the modern state, it adapted, transformed and mutated. During the
latter half of the 20th century traditional warfare has increasingly ended in stalemate.
Korea and the Iran-Iraq war being just two examples. Such wars are likely to become
increasingly indecisive and, in the 21st century, indecisiveness itself may become a
Its new home is in a greater diversity of social and cultural constructs and belief
systems where its prosecution is far less decisive, if, indeed, it is decisive at all any longer.
The traditional concept of sovereign states in contention is past its use-by date.
From that perspective, the conflict in Vietnam, which is often compared o the
Philippine-American War, was no more a 'modern war' than the Boer War of the late 19th
Century. Both involved states, or 'virtual' states, which utilised guerrilla/irregular warfare
for the purposes of contending with another state, for example the United States (As well as
France) and Britain respectively, and were decisive.
A recently coined politically correct term 'regime change' is dangerously deceptive. It is
presented as a 'new doctrine, but wars have always been about regime change – changing
governments, rulers or political systems of those who are aggressors. What it did do was to
change the rationale for going to war – it is no longer a matter of defence of the state, it is
only sufficient to wish to change a regime, a concept which permits pre-emptive action.
Regardless of the ethics or justness of this departure it will require even more attention
to the society and culture of the contending parties. Winning wars in the 21st century with
anything approaching decisiveness will depend upon giving adequate attention to social
and cultural factors because they are the battleground. Victory will depend upon causing
change in the opposition's society and culture.
An example of the conceptual difference is the Al-Queda attack on the New York Twin
Towers and responses to it. Traditional warfare would regard the attack itself, costing
thousands of innocent lives, to be a victory. The real victory was to persuade the US
Congress and Senate to pass the Patriot Act. Destroying and taking lives in New York left
America's core way of life unchanged. Passing the Patriot Act fundamentally changed
America's way of life with regard to the defence of individual freedoms from one based on
principle to one based on pragmatism. Recently, the Patriot Act has been used to prosecute
strip club owners. The terrorists caused social change contrary to America's cultural
values. In other words, they won the exchange.
Terrorism was a feature of the Samar Campaign on both sides. Usama Bin Laden's
doctrine today differs little from General Jacob Smith's in 1901 to: "create in all the minds
of all the peoples a burning desire for the war to cease; a desire or longing so intense, so
personal, especially to every individual of the class mentioned, and so real that it will impel
them to devote themselves to join hands with the Americans."
Execution of American collaborators by Lukban's forces was not of itself terrorism –
collaborators are combatants. The crucifixion of Chinese traders to win support from a
population that resented them certainly was.
The use of terror against non-combatants in order to change the behaviour of
combatants is terrorism, whether the perpetrator is a revolutionary, a criminal or a state.
Only by taking a long, hard look at our own acts of terrorism, and Waller's and Glenn's
activities on Samar were considered as such and unacceptable to many of their peers, can
we earn the wisdom to tame it.
Society and culture are responses to the needs, experience, and internal and external
pressures upon human communities. Making war decisive, and avoiding the temptation to
descend into savagery, will even place even more pressure on the personal qualities of
courage, nobility, intelligence and integrity, of military personnel in coping with societies
and culture.
Every war is different but the lessons of the 1899-1902 Philippine-American War may
have more application to the conflicts of this new century than they did to those of the 20th
century. They may illuminate not only the international situations of tomorrow but,
modern insurgency in states such as the Philippines and elsewhere.
The Philippine-American War was not only America's first war of the 20th century, and
the first for the Philippines as a state, but bears a remarkable closeness to America's first
wars of the 21st Century. Like Afghanistan and Iraq it began with a brief period of
conventional war which initially appeared decisive, followed by a far longer period of
irregular warfare. America won the war on Luzon almost accidentally, not because of
atrocities and severities but because many of the changes it instituted matched the reforms
that many Filipinos had been demanding of the Spanish, making war unnecessary.
The Samar Campaign was less decisive. Irregular warfare lasted longer, up to World
War 2 in one form or another. The devastation of the island denied, or at least delayed,
access to the very material, abaca hemp, that made military intervention desirable in the
first place. At best, it was a pyrrhic victory that served no useful function, yet such
'solutions' to irregular warfare may still appear to some to still be a rational response.
Further, the response created the conditions that lead to the rise of the Pulahanes that
cost hundreds of Filipino lives and whose doctrine was indistinguishable from General
Smith's. Only the objectives differed.
For three centuries, Spanish commentators remarked upon the peacefulness of the
Samareno. Foreign traders who lived among them for half a century before American
incursions agreed. They were among the least warlike people of the Philippine archipelago.
That was their culture.
Yet something happened, in the space of a few short years to unleash the turbulence
that led to the island gaining its reputation as 'Bloody Samar', resulting in violent conflict
that endured up to World War 2.
Part of that 'something' was the Balangiga Incident of September 28, 1901.

Samar Dawn
For Company C., 9th US Infantry, the dawn of September 28 th, 1901, began much as the
other forty-five sunrises they’d seen since arriving at the town of Balangiga on the southern
coast of Samar in the Philippines. As the officers – a Captain, a First Lieutenant and a Major
- slept soundly or read letters from home in the stone convento beside the church, six
sergeants, eight corporals, two musicians, an artificer, 54 privates and a hospital corpsman
rose, washed in night-chilled water and carbolic, relieved themselves of night waste at the
latrines to the east of the kitchen and assembled in ranks in the town plaza.
Their every movement was watched from the tall grass and the underbrush around the
town. Within the greenery some one hundred men waited for a signal, as did around three
hundred others.
Heavy cloud made it too dark for Acting First Sergeant James Randles to read the
Company role without the help of a bull's-eye lamp: “Allen. Armani J, Armani L, Aydelotte…”
Some of the men seemed unsteady on their feet, a few had participated in a fiesta the
previous day and were still under the weather thanks to the local brew, tuba.
Morning is a busy time for an infantry company and few of them gave much notice to
what else was going on around them. Or, rather, what wasn’t going on around them. Other
than some local townsmen in the Plaza apparently sleeping off the heavy tuba session of
the night before, and the detritus of a fiesta to celebrate the founding of the Parish of
Balangiga the previous day, there was little happening.
There was none of the growing bustle of a town of 2,000 people coming to life. No
cooking fire smoke filtered through the surrounding coconut palms. No fishermen mended
their nets on the beach, or repaired or prepared their boats for the day’s catch. No children
cried or played. No lolas or lolos grumbled about their aching aged bones or reminisced
about the past. No vendors chattered as they set up their stalls in the market. No women
laughed, giggled or swapped tsimis at the town wells.
No fresh eggs had been delivered, as they usually were, to the officer's kitchen in the
Beneath the bustle of an infantry company getting its act together, the bark and snuffle
of a couple of Company's adopted dogs sniffing appreciatively at the corned beef hash
breakfast stirred by Cook Melvin Walls, lay a literally deadly silence.
In the church waited a little more than a hundred men, a third of them in the women’s
clothes they’d used as a disguise the previous night. As the sun moved resolutely above the
trees, they checked the leather thongs, kulili, that bound sharp machete-like weapons,
bolos, and knives to their wrists.
Some prayed quietly and perhaps kissed the paper triangles tied around their necks,
anting-anting – makeshift equivalents of a St Christopher medal, a talisman for protection.
Someone drew a rudimentary image of St. Michael in charcoal on the church wall and
scrawled 'Salve mi' beneath it, others prayed the rosary.
For a moment, suppressed laughter broke the tension as the Samarenos embarrassed
their lone Tagalog companion as he struggled to fit inside his wife's dress.
Tall, gaunt and dour-faced Balangiga police chief Valeriano Abanador and his sixteen-
man police unit marshalled the able-bodied men of the town towards Company C.'s mess
tent, blocking the road just behind the municipal hall. There, silently, they would stand in
line beside a pile of round-ended work bolos. Usually they grumbled about the working day
to come, working through the heat of the mid-day sun, working under the baleful gaze of
Company C’s Krag-Jorgensen rifles. This morning they did not grumble.
As Company C made its way to the mess tents and squeezed themselves into the
uncomfortable trestle benches and tables, a group of women moved across the plaza
carrying palm-wrapped handfuls of rice, fish and sticky-sweet rice tubes called suman. Over
some of their shoulders were tall bamboo tubes that normally carried water. This morning
the tubes were a little heavier, even though they contained no water.
The women moved toward two conical Sibley tents outside the municipal hall. Inside
the tents, quietly murmuring, were some eighty-four Filipino men in a space for less then
half that number. The men no longer complained about not being able to lay down to sleep
in these canvas cells. Nor did they complain about the lack of matting or bedding to protect
them from the damp earth.
They no longer asked when they would be released, for this morning they knew the
Meanwhile, outside the town, in Barrio Amenlara, mothers, daughters, children and the
old folk waited tensely. Each wondered whether they would see their husbands, sons,
grandsons, lovers, alive again.
At the Company C. mess tent the soldiers swapped tales from the letters they’d finally
received the night before, letters that had taken months to reach them. They talked about
the death of President William McKinley, finally proven true after days of rumour. They
talked about going home, about the women who waited for them.
A message reached the men in the church – get ready. Those dressed as women
gathered up bamboo water tubes and bundles of coconuts and moved to the door between
the church and the second storey of the convent, the officers’ quarters, as women had done
each morning for the past six weeks.
At the Municipal Hall, Private Adolph Gamlin grabbed his rifle and dutifully began
another two hours-on-two-hours-off duty, walking a line from beside the mess tent in the
road east of the municipal hall, past the sergeants’ mess on the north of the plaza, to the
convento and back again.
Gamlin’s comrades took little notice of him, but eyes around the plaza watched his
every step, and every move of Police Chief Valeriano Abanador who now lounged against a
tent post, exchanging pleasantries in a mixture of Spanish, the local Binisaya and newly
minted English, with the sergeants at their mess tent.
Smoothly, as Gamlin passed him, Abanador excused himself from the sergeants, took a
couple of steps, grabbed the barrel of Gamlin’s rifle and brought the rifle butt hard down on
the private’s head.
And hell came to Balangiga.
Chapter One

The Making Of Samar

Little about May 30, 1901 can ever be known for sure except that a 30 year old-former
teacher cum Filipino army administrator, Major Eugenio Daza, left the town of Balangiga on
the island of Samar with a letter in his pocket.
Did it mean what it said – that an American garrison would be deliberately fooled into
complacency by the townsfolk and slaughtered in cold blood? Or was it a strategic missive to
avoid punishment and harassment by Vicente Lukban, the ruthless Filipino general fighting
for his country’s independence on this island of Samar?
Behind the carefully penned Spanish words of the letter lay the history of a three and a
half century era that came to an end just two years earlier. It was a history that defined the
Waray, the people of the town and was, a few months hence, to lead to America’s worst
military defeat in its first war of the 20 th century and leave a scar for more than a century

"Samar was 'populated by an extremely violent, primitive society", wrote Captain Paul
Melshen, USMC in 19791. Half a century earlier Marquis James said of the Samareno: "For
centuries their only trade had been that of arms, practiced in the perpetual wars with the
neighbouring Moros and Sulu."2 Written fifty years apart, such statements not only reflect a
view that was current in the late 19th century but which still holds sway not only among
American writers but many Filipinos, too.

Melshen, Paul, Hero or Butcher of Samar? Proceedings, U. S. Naval Institute, November 1979, p. 42-8.
2 James, Marquis, Balangiga, The American Legion Monthly, November 1929
As we shall see, Samar was not only a generally peaceful island prior to the Philippine-
American War, its trade was far less sanguinary – providing the cordage needed for
America's new blue water navy to stay afloat.
Samar is one the islands of the Visayas region in the central conglomeration of more
than 7,000 islands that comprise the Philippine Archipelago. It was to these islands that
Spanish explorers came in the 16 th century, seeking an alternative trade route for the
valuable spices and treasures of the Orient. Indeed, the original Spanish term ‘Las Islas
Felipinas’ applied only to the islands of Mazzawa, today’s Limasawa, Abuyo (Leyte) and
Tandaya (Samar)3 – “Villalobos…to obtain enough food supplies from Abuyo (Now known
as Leyte), Tandaya (Samar) and Mazaua (Limasawa), to increase the provisions for the
flagship, so that it could start on the return voyage to Mexico. He gave this order in writing
wherein he named those islands (Abuyo, Tandaya, Mazaua) for the first time Filipinas." 4
The people of these islands were the first Filipinos, a term used as early as 1604 for
natives of the islands to distinguish them from the indios of the American continent and, of
course, the Indians of India. The term continued to be used to designate natives of Filipino
descent, as opposed to those born in the islands of Spanish descent, who were called
Espanoles Filipinos. In 1955 Agnes Newton Keith invented an imaginary edict that limited
the term Filipino to those of Spanish descent, others to be known as indios, a myth that is
still in current circulation5.
An island of moderate mountains and lush rainforest sliced through by rivers
connecting the interior and the coast, Samar was blessed with abundant, and beautiful
natural resources but could support only a limited population with food. It wasn't good
food growing country.
Long before the Spanish arrived, these islands were part of a sophisticated trade
throughout the South China Sea that exchanged ceramics and iron in return for tripang
(sea-slug), mother of pearl and honey from the mountain rainforests and worked gold,
which seems to have been in plentiful evidence for centuries. Muslim traders brought
Islam, firepower in the form of small cannons known as lantaka, and slaves.
In the 1540s the Portuguese governor of the Moluccas, Antonio Galvano, talks of an
Abuyo-China traffic using wide twenty metre long boats with a five metre beam called
Daya, remains of which have been found in Butuan, a journey that took up to seven days 6.

3 Noone, Martin J, SSC, The Discovery and Conquest of the Philippines (1521-1581), Manila: Historical
Conservation Society (Publication No. 63), 1986.
4 Schreurs, Peter, MSC, Caraga Antigua (1521-1910), Cebu City: University of San Carlos, 1989. pp. 56-57
5 Scott, William Hentry, Barangay, Ateneo de Manila Press, Quezon City 1994, p5
6 Scott, William Henry, Cracks in the Parchment Curtain, New Day Publishers, Quezon City, Philippines 1982,
St. Francis Xavier, when travelling to China from the Moluccas, stopped at Seilani (Abuyo),
which later writers took for Ceylon.
Samar was also called Kandaya allegedly after the name of its chief “Big Boat”.
"All the natives who inhabit them, both men and women, are good-looking and of good
disposition, living in better conditions and having nobler manners than those in the island
of Luzon and surrounding ones" wrote Antonio De Morga in 16097.
Spain was at the height of its power in the 16 th century yet its great ships were no
match for the dangerous waters of Las Islas Filipinas. The Spanish Conquistadors sent a
force toward the great northern island of Luzon but to reach it meant braving the
treacherous eastern seaboard of Samar, exposed to the typhoons that rolled in out of the
Pacific, unpredictable storms and rocks.
One other route was available – the narrow north-south passage between the islands of
Leyte and Samar, sometimes less than a hundred yards wide in places, tipped at each end
by sand banks and islets, the San Juanico Strait. Only the most knowledgeable of pilots
could guide the galleons through the rocks and whirlpools awaiting the unwary and many
did not make it. The seas around Samar and Leyte became a graveyard for Spanish ships for
centuries and remain a rich ground for treasure hunters.
Not only did Spanish cargoes litter the seabed, but stranded Spaniards became part of
the Visayan bloodline over the decades that followed. By 1847, Jean Mallat could write:
“This province is principally inhabited by mestizos”8, people of mixed local and European
While the British traders did not establish a trading base in the Visayas until the 19th
century, trading posts were set up in Jolo and the Sulu archipelago to the South in the 18 th
century to challenge the Spanish. The demands of trade resulted in an increased demand
for manpower in Sulu which led to lively slave trading as the datus led raids further and
further north, as far as modern day Taiwan and the Chinese mainland. 9
The southern coast of Samar became a raiding ground for Muslim, or Moorish, slavers of
the southern islands until the middle of the 19 th century. The eastern coast of Samar is
protected by dangerous waters, so the southern coast on which Balangiga stands, and the
Western coast and the San Juanico and San Bernardino Straits, took the brunt of slaver
Fearsome climate, vicious seas and slave raids instilled in the Waray a warrior spirit
and they displayed their battle honours in the form of tattoos that, in the most experienced,

7 De Morga, Dr. Antonio, Rizal, Jose (trs) Historical events of the Philippine Islands, National Historical
Institute, Manila, Philippines, Third Printing, 1997
8 Mallat, Jean, The Philippines, Third Printing, 1998, Manila.
9 Warren, James Francis, The Sulu Zone 1768-1898, New Day Publishers, Quezon City, Philippines, 1985
could cover virtually their entire bodies. They are variously described as intelligent, proud,
independent and tough. Although politely hospitable, their history taught them to distrust
outsiders and rely on themselves. Outsiders only brought trouble. Then, as now, the Waray
were fiercely protective of their community, culture and family.
The Visayans were not averse to a little raiding on their own account. Chinese writers in
the 13th century describe Visayan raids as far North as Fukien and even centuries later a
Jesuit, Father Francis Alcina was gathering tales of Visayan raids into Luzon10. Such raiding
was an acceptable, even honourable pursuit at the time, as it has been at different times
throughout the world. There was, however, a certain underlying sense of fairness – one
could only raid someone who had already raided you11.
Spanish authority acquired only a tenuous hold in Samar; indeed its military and civil
administration penetrated little further than the coast 12.
The Catholic Church was another matter. Franciscan missionaries and priests who
occupied the island were guaranteed freedom from boredom:
“I went quickly to the parish house, put a cannon by the door (and) filled it with
grapeshot, intending to rake all standing in the door” reported one priest. “I came running
out with a sabre in hand and the bully ran off cowardly like a deer”, said another. Why
Visayans should occasionally be less than good hosts is perhaps suggested by a third
report: “I sent datus to whip him for not wanting to hear mass and he drew his knife to kill
This was not especially unique to Visayans, however. In 1835 the townsfolk of Tagudin,
Ilocos Sur on the island of Luzon became tired of excessive floggings by their local friar and,
with extreme politeness, wrote “In similar cases of severity so harsh, it may please you to call
in mind what is wont to happen with carabao, that, however tame they may be, they attack
their own masters when these maltreat them and apply whip and rod too often”.
Equally, Mario Puzo’s Don Corleone would have had little to teach the people of Silang,
Cavite in the ways of polite persuasion. In 1745 the town leaders wrote to the owner of the
Hacienda Binan: “We have no other intention in writing to you except to wish you good day
and express our hope that you will enjoy good health. In addition we must tell you that
tomorrow, if God be pleased, all of us of Silang are coming to our lands which you have
usurped without justice but because of the power of your money. We intend to destroy the

10 Scott, William Henry, Cracks in the Parchment Curtain, New Day Publishers, Quezon City, Philippines 1982,
11 Ibid, page 91
12 Statement of Brig. Gen. Robert P. Hughes, Affairs in the Philippine Islands, page 562
13 Ibid, page 20
14 Cruickshank, Bruce, Samar: 1768-1898, Historical Conservation Society, Manila: (Publication No. 61), 1985.
p. 37.
house which you are building…and also the dams which are being constructed next to our
The Samar priests earlier cited had come across a significant cultural characteristic of
the Samareno, the principle of awod.
Awod is a Waray word meaning, loosely, shame or loss of face created by public
belittlement or abuse15. It can only be removed by the victim taking revenge equally
publicly. For ancient Visayans not taking revenge only invited further abuse and could also
invite retribution by supernatural forces16. Thus taking revenge was not merely a matter of
saving face, it was a punitive measure intended to discourage further infractions. It was to
play an important role in the events of late 1901.
Earlier uprisings against friars can be traced to awod. One Franciscan wrote that these
events were due to “reprimands (by friars) of drunkenness, laziness, non-compliance with
ecclesiastical customs and evil customs”. These, in fact, are precisely the conditions that
existed prior to the attack on Company C. in Balangiga.
On April 10, 1745, a priest on Samar was killed because he’d publicly censured one of
his flock for allowing his mother to die without the sacraments 17.
It was not only a slighted individual who could exact revenge, so could a community, as
the Spanish discovered when they faced the first serious threat to their authority in the
Philippines, which began in Samar, although it rarely rates a mention in most Filipino
history text books.
The Spanish galleon trade between the Philippines and Mexico made fortunes many
times over. The sturdy ships that braved the hazardous journey eastwards across the
Pacific were first built in Biliran, Leyte, from the late 1580s to the early 1600s then at
shipyards at Cavite, Luzon, and Puerto Galera. In later years they were also predominantly
manned by Filipinos.18
Samarenos were highly prized for their skills and often 'impressed', or forced, to work
in the shipyards, leaving their homelands untilled, with resultant starvation. In 1649, the
townspeople of Palapag, Northern Samar, finally reached the end of their tether, rose in
protest against the demands of the Spanish shipbuilders and the abuse of local Franciscan
Friars. Lead by Juan Ponce Sumoroy, the parish priest was killed and the town sacked. The
revolt took off like wildfire, spreading across Samar itself, northwards to Bicol in Southern
Luzon and south as far as Mindanao.

15 Duran, Nemesio, Masters Thesis,

16 Scott, William Henry, Barangay, Ateneo University Press, manila, Philippines, 1997, page 153
17 San Antonio’s Chronica, 1738, cited in Blair and Robertson.
18 Chirino, Fr. Pedro, Relacion de las Islas Filipinas (The Philippines in 1600),.Rome, 1604. Translated by
Ramon Echvarria). Manila: Historical Conservation, Society Publication No. 15, 1969. pp. 459-462.
This may be the incident that Balangiganons retailed to American soldiers in their town
two hundred and fifty years later, possibly as a polite, circumlocutory warning19.
Despite those revolts, Samar’s history has in fact been among the most peaceful in the
islands of the Philippines, a reputation known even in Manila at the end of the 16th
century. In three centuries only three periods of revolt are known and petty violence was
There were, however, several uprisings between 1884 and 1886 that are particularly
noteworthy. The first was the rise of a millennial-style movement in the wake of a cholera
epidemic. Its leaders predicted the arrival in Catbalogan of a foreign steamship carrying a
king who would say that the Visayas did not belong to Spain, an intriguing foreshadowing
of Kobbe’s arrival in the next decade. Spanish authorities suppressed the movement 21.
Known as the Dios-Dios, several members of the movement were captured in October
1886 and told interrogators that a new king would arrive in the middle of that month
aboard a ship manned by Germans. The curious link with Germany was to be recycled
during the Philippine American War almost exactly five year later: “…the local chief of La
Granja, Victor Reyes, says that German steamers are sailing our seas, and on one occasion…
a large white German steamer with three masts fired twelve rounds against an American
Another factor to play a role in the Balangiga incident, if a modest one, was alcohol. The
arrival of the first westerners in the islands, that of the doomed Magellan in March 1521 on
Homohon, was almost immediately followed by a jar of alak – distilled liquor. The Visayans
impressed the Spaniards with their ability to take their booze. In 1601 Father Chirino
wrote: “It is proverbial among us that none of them who leaves a party completely drunk in
the middle of the night fails to find his way home: and if they happen to be buying or selling
something, not only do they not become confused in the business but when they have to weigh
out gold or silver for the price… they do it with such delicate touch that neither does their
hand tremble nor do they err in accuracy”.
Alcina commented with some insight: “When practical matters come up, whether for
public projects, orders from the king or his officials, or any other work, and they discuss
among themselves the best, quickest and most equitable way to carry it out, if they meet
dry and without a little wine first to enliven their interest, they talk little, discourse poorly
and slowly, and decide worse: but after drinking something, he who proposes does it with

19 Taylor, James O. (ed), The Massacre at Balangiga, McCorn Publishing, Joplin, Missouri, 1931, p22.
20 Cruickshank, Samar : 1768-1898, Historical Conservation Society, Manila, 1985 p187
21 Cruickshank, Samar : 1768-1898, Historical Conservation Society, Manila, 1985 p191 et seq.
22 RM Taylor, The Philippine Insurrection, Lopez Foundation, 1973, page 706.
eloquence, those who respond, with discretion, those who decide; with attention, and all
with fairness”23.
One can only agree with Loarca: “It is good that they rarely get angry when drunk”24.
The main tipple of choice is tuba, the sap of the coconut palm, which is collected early in
the morning and left to ferment. In a couple of hours it becomes a sweetish, yeasty brew
later becoming bitter and acidic.
Western reactions to tuba vary. First Lieutenant Edward Avery Bumpus of the ill-fated
Company C. United States 9th Infantry wrote: “one man deserted while crazed with tuba,
the native drink, and has probably died in the woods. Tuba comes from the juice of the
blossom of the cocoanut (sic) tree, and when fresh tastes like cider, and is hell on fire when
On the other hand, William Gibbs, a private in the same company who may have had
rather more experience with tuba says of the same man: “He drank this stuff called tuba. It is
made from cocoanut water (sic), and a man has to drink and awful lot of that before he
becomes intoxicated”26.
By the late 19th century, Samar had a thriving economy based on the export of hemp
and coconut oil, such that, like modern day Singapore, it didn't need to be self-sufficient in
food production, especially rice. When war came to Samar at the opening of the 20th
century, this was to prove a critical weakness.
Samarenos were farmers, fishermen and traders. By the end of the 19 th century at least
two British trading houses had been established on Samar and its sister island of Leyte. The
expatriates who managed the businesses seem to have given little cause for conflict with
the people of the island and worked peacefully with them. Perhaps for this reason, when
America formally and forcibly annexed the Philippines in 1899 and sought intelligence
about the island from foreigners living there, Interviewed in 1902 Brigadier General Robert
Hughes, who commanded US forces in the Visayas said:
“I expected to find… the Visayans somewhat friendly to us. I had tried to inform myself
in Manila of the disposition, of the character, of the general situation of those people, and
the general impression I got was that the Visayans did not want any war… that they were a
very gentle, docile, polite sort of people” 27. The same was said of those who had left the

23 Scott, William Henry, Barangay, Ateneo University Press, manila, Philippines, 1997, page 53
24 Ibid, page 50
25 Bumpus, EC, In Memoriam, Norwood Press, Norwood, Mass., USA, 1902, letter September 6, 1901
26 Gibbs, William, Affairs in the Philippine Islands, page 2296
27 Statement of Brig. Gen. Robert P. Hughes, Affairs in the Philippine Islands, page 562
main urban centres to avoid Spanish control: “They are generally docile and listen to and
respect the priests,” said the Franciscan Provincial in 185328.
Even Filipino commanders shared Hughes's view. Emilio Aguinaldo, the Filipino
commander in chief, said: "the Visayans… are not given to revolution." 29. General Vicente
Lukban, who commanded Filipino forces on Samar, told his superior officers "These people
have never known a war".
This view was not new. When Raja Sulayman gave a frosty welcome to Martin de Goiti
on the beach in front of Manila in 1570 he warned the Spaniard that his people were not
subservient, unlike the pintados of the Visayas30.
Hughes was to learn a vivid lesson, for a people as docile and long suffering as a carabao
can, indeed, “however tame they may be, … attack their own masters when these maltreat
them and apply whip and rod too often”.

28 Cruickshank, page 130

29 RM Taylor, The Philippine Insurrection Against the United States, Vol V, page 395-398
30 Filipino In History, National Historical Institute, Vol II, Manila, 1990 p220
Chapter Two

The Making of Balangiga

Almost the last thing Balangiga Mayor Pedro Abayan needed in May 1901 was more
trouble. As a newly minted and once thriving municipality, the town had much to lose and
little to gain by entangling itself in the war between the remains of the Filipino government
forces on Samar and the newly arrived American forces. Certainly the town paid its taxes to
the Filipino government in food and money, for which receipts were issued 31, but there is
otherwise little to indicate that Abayan or his townsfolk desired to become part of the
frontline in the conflict. After all, for a Samareno there was little to choose between the
Spanish, the Americans and the equally alien Tagalogs of Luzon.
Was there a countrywide sense of national consciousness throughout the Filipino masa
of the time? There is little evidence that such an idea extended much beyond the educated
elite. The truth is, we don't know how the common tao felt in the 19th century; its voice is
silent. We can induct and deduct much from songs, poems, hymns and other indirect
sources, as Rey Ileto demonstrates in Pasyon And Revolution, but we are of the 21st century,
of a very different culture, experience, society and environment.
If we try and hear their voices, we will certainly hear something but, like those who
claim to hear the voices of the dead in random radio static, the voices we hear may be our
A pamphlet by Andres Bonifacio, a revolutionary, explains that the aim of the Katipunan
was to 'unite the hearts and minds of all Tagalogs'? A footnote adds that 'Tagalog' means:
"anyone born and raised in the archipelago such that even if you are a Visayan, Ilocano, or
Kapampangan, you are also a Tagalog"32. Bonifacio's meaning is clear, but what would it
mean to a Visayan, Ilocano or Kapampangan of the time? Might it not have sounded
patronising and irritating in the extreme, like the apartheid-era South African designation
of 'honorary white' Or McKinley's reference to Filipinos as 'Little Brown Brothers' ?


Duran, Nemesio, Master’s Thesis, Centro Escolar University Graduate School, unpublished, 1997
32 Ocampo, Ambeth, Bonifcio's Bolo, Anvil Publishing, Manila, 1995, p11
Bonifacio had a concept of an all-embracing nationhood, certainly, but was the word he
used perceived the same way by his readers and listeners? Does not the fact that the
meaning had to be explained, indicate the absence of a vocabulary to describe the
nationality of the Filipino people, the core concept that transcends regional identity? And
can such a concept exist and be communicated in a commonly understood way in the
absence of a commonly understood word to describe it?
Kalayaan, a semi-mystical state of grace beyond mere freedom or independence, the
'land where there are no slaves' may certainly have given a common conceptual focus for
the ordinary Filipino to revolt. It imbued movements as far apart as the Samareno 'Dios-
Dios' of the 19th century and the Santa Iglesias on Mount Arayat ten years later on the
island of Luzon, to today's El Shaddai Catholic Charismatic movement.
Samar played no direct role in the 1896 revolution. The Spanish were confident enough
of conditions on the island to withdraw its forces to Manila to deal with the outbreaks
there. Its people would certainly have been aware of the Spanish-American War and the
collapse of Spanish control in the arichipelago. When Lukban arrived, he did so as the
authorized representative of a legitimate government, from the Filipino perspective, and
his forces were government forces, not insurgents or forces fighting a revolution. He was
treated as such; people paid taxes and complaints about him went to Aguinaldo, not the
It is possible that he, or Aguinaldo, was perceived by the Dios-Dios as the 'king' who
would say that the Visayas were no longer Spanish. The king's ship would be manned by
'Germans', which could be interpreted as 'white caucasians', much in the same way many
Filipinos refer to white caucasians today as 'American (Kano)'. Aguinaldo's arrival from
Hong Kong aboard the McCullough would match the expectations of the Dios-Dios, as,
indeed, would Lukban's own arrival.
Even more confusing, the arrival of the Americans would also have fitted those same
That the Dios-Dios later turned against both Lukban and the Americans may be due to
them feeling that both were 'impostors'. One of the challenges facing anyone reviewing the
Samar situation at this time is that, to the American commanders, all attackers looked much
the same and all attacks were credited to Lukban and Lukban himself was probably happy
to take credit for Dios-Dios actions in his propaganda.
It may well be that a good number of the atrocities committed against Americans, and
Samarenos, were carried out by the Dios-Dios rather than Lukban's forces, who were under
instructions as strict, if not stricter, than those applying to the Americans.
At this moment, nobody really knows.
As for the attitude of the ordinary Samareno, the truth is probably, as Glen May suggests
in his analysis of the Philippine-American war in Batangas33 that the ordinary Filipino’s
attitude towards the war was mixed. Some certainly bought into the idea of a Filipino
nation, probably a greater number fought the Americans because they were ‘conscripted’
by local economic elites, the majority simply wanted to be left alone to live their lives. No-
one in Balangiga appears to have felt strongly enough about the conflict to join General
Lukban in any numbers at his Sotohon base camp a few miles west of the town.
Besides, the Moro raids of little more than a century before were still relatively fresh in
the community memory. Local lore tells of three raids, one of which took place in 1847 and
cost 11 Balangiganons killed and wounded34.
Even more recent were the activities of the Dios-Dios movement, which took to the
mountains in 1884 and began terrorizing the towns of the islands in 1894 35. A little peace
would have been a change.
Balangiga had another reason for wanting some peace. Like most towns on the
southern coast it depended upon coconut for its economic wealth. Exporting coconut oil
was good business. In mid October 1897 however, a powerful typhoon whirled in from the
Pacific, tearing the trees, and this sector of the Samar economy, apart. Guiuan was severely
damaged and its coconut-based economy vanished36, Basey lost 1,000 people and most of
its buildings in what was described as its worst typhoon in its history 37. Early the next year,
Giporlos, Guiuan and Salcedo and other villages and towns were abandoned for higher
ground at Casingool to survive, suggesting floods38.
Similar devastating typhoons hit the area in 1912 and, more recently 2013. The latter,
Typhoon Haiyan aka Yolanda, demonstrates the severity of the destruction that hit Samar
and Leyte in 1897.
Such a natural disaster would have an obvious impact on estimates of Samar losses
during the Philippine American War, based as they are on extremely dubious population
figures, yet it remains resolutely ignored.
Coconut trees take about five years to mature and become productive, abaca would
have started to recover in 1900-1901 and 1902 would bring the first full crops of both.
Then the economy could begin to recover. If Typhoon Haiyan can be regarded as
comparable, it would take ten years for full recovery. Balangiga had every reason to want

33 May, Glenn Anthony, A Past Recovered, New Day, Quezon City, Manila, 1987.
34 Cruickshank, page 242.
35 Arenas, Fr. Richard, The Journal of History, Vol. VII, No. 4, 1959, pp303-370
36 Llorente, Julio, Census Supervisor's Report, Samar Province, 1903, Paper No. 120, Otley Beyer Collection,
Philippine National Library.
37 Basey, Historical Data Sheets, The National Library.
38 Giporlos, Historical Data Sheets, The National Library.
So why did Abayan write39 a letter of apparent support to the Filipino commander of
Samar, General Vicente Lukban? Almost certainly because Lukban’s representative, Daza,
asked him to write it, and it would have been difficult to say ‘no’. Lukban, Daza’s superior,
had a fearsome reputation, deserved or otherwise. Anyone who betrayed the fight for the
country’s independence was likely to receive extremely rough treatment. But fear alone
would not have been enough for Abayan to swear his allegiance, and that of his
townspeople, to Lukban’s cause.
Daza was not a combat officer. He was responsible for collecting food, money and other
supplies for the cause40. Unlike Abayan and Abanador, whose positions made them
responsible for duties such as hunting down the occasional bandit, giving them some form
of experience in small scale combat, Daza was a bright school teacher.
On the other end of the scale were the propaganda letters from Lukban telling of
American atrocities – rape, theft and anti-Catholicism that Abayan could not judge at that
time. Were the Americans as bad as painted? Certainly they were powerful and occupied
the former Spanish garrisons in the north of the island at Catbalogan and Calbayog and,
even more worrying, the two major towns of Basey and Guiuan, roughly equidistant north-
west and south-east of Balangiga, as well as Tacloban on the sister island of Leyte, but
Lukban seemed, to the Americans at least, to control most of the island.
Already the decision by the American commanders to crush the fight for independence
on Samar was being felt41.
Sooner or later the Americans would come and Balangiga would be caught between two
powerful forces over which it had no control, and Abayan’s responsibility was to the town,
not to the bigger picture of Philippine independence and certainly not to America’s desires
for an empire. He had no way of telling who was going to win and if he, and the town,
backed the wrong side they’d be hung out to dry.
This town of just 200 nipa huts housing up to 2,000 people simply did not have the
wherewithal to fight off an assault from either side.
In addition to the simple practical challenges of acceding to Daza’s request was
something potentially far more important. Daza, through his mother, a Salazar, was family -
related to the most influential families in the town, if not most of the townspeople, in this
closely knit community. Regardless of Daza’s acquired authority as a Major in the Filipino
armed forces, this family relationship carried a responsibility and a requirement. Abayan
could not send Daza away empty handed. Abayan’s decision would not be his alone; it

39 Several writers have followed Schott’s lead in assuming that the letter must have actually been written by Fr.
Donato Guimbaiolibot (p26) on the grounds that Abayan could not read or write adequate Spanish. However,
Abayan simply would not have been eligible for election as mayor unless he could read and write Spanish (See
Taylor, The Philippine Insurrection, Vol. 1, page 129).
40 Daza, Eugenio, affidavit, December 23, 1935, BRG Collection.
41 Hughes, Robert, Affairs in the Philippine Islands.
would be a community decision, or at least the decision of local landowners such as the
Salazars and Belaezs, the principalia.
Relevant to any assessment of Abayan's mindset is a report by Brigadier-General J.M
Smith, latter to become Governor-General of the Philippines from 1906-1909. No relative of
the ill-famed Jacob Smith, this Smith was overseeing civilian elections on Negros, an island
that submitted to American sovereignty in 1899, and, while resistance was still underway,
brought together his commanding officer, General Miller, as well as the brother of General
Mapa of the Filipino forces.
Says Smith: "The citizens of Negros are disposed to believe - they want to believe – that
the United States will do that which is for their best happiness, but way down deep in their
hearts lies a lurking fear that all that has so far been conceded… may be taken from them…
A slight change of policy, an arbitrary act, an unwitting exercise by the military of powers
given to the civil authorities, and from the vapor of suspicion is evolved the certainty of
intended wrong… They won't battle for their homes against the tulisanes 42 and the thief
because the tulisan and the thief of today may really be the 'revolutionario' of tomorrow.
They won't speak out in the highways and in the byways, they won't burn their bridges
behind them neither will they leave their futures wholly to the touchstone of faith, nor…
wholly to the fortune of the die, because they don't know what their next door neighbour
really thinks… and, frankly, I don't blame them, feeling as they do that their lives and all
they have might pay the penalty…"43
True, the Balangiganons were not Negrenses. True, the Americans had not yet arrived
in Balangiga. True also, that Abayan's letter represents a logical and coherent response to
demands for loyalty to a powerful 'foreigner' such as Lukban against another, also powerful
foreign force, the Americans,without burning bridges.
Perhaps as he mulled over his options, Abayan looked out from the second storey
window of the municipal building, the only stone building other than the church, and
thought about how far his town had come in just a handful of decades, for it was growing
and vibrant, although presently in the economic hiatus caused by the 1897 typhoon. It was
making a name for itself, had been recognized by the King of Spain less than half a century
before, on April 3, 185444.
He might have sniffed at the sharp, acrid smoke of smouldering coconut husk on the
wind. The town was surrounded by coconut groves producing oil for lighting and cooking
to be sold in the markets of Basey and Tacloban as they had for decades. This tree of life,

42 Tulisane = 'bandit'. While genuine Filipino forces units committed to independence, were often dismissed as
merely 'bandits', particularly after Aguinaldo's arrest and the issuance of his already-invalidated, surrender
orders, it is also true that bandit gangs did take advantage of the chaotic conditions of war to pursue their
profession. Some also cloaked themselves in the authority of the Filipino government to legitimise their
activities, to the detriment of support for the independence forces.
43 Gleek, Lewis, The American Governors-General and High Commissioners of the Philippines, New Day, 1986,
Quezon City, pp72-73, (citing Annual Report of General McArthur, 1901, Vol II, p.338)
44 Huerta, Felix, Histografia de las Islas Filipinas, Manila 1865 cited in Duran.
giving food, water, lumber for construction, palm for roofing, was a critical component of
the town’s economy.
From south of the municipal building came the fresh-salt smell of fish, that day’s catch,
drying on bamboo slats on the beach. Then there would be tuna, to be carried by barroto
outriggers up the coast for sale. And once in a while he’d catch a glimpse of maybe three or
four men carrying a beast of the sea, a blue marlin or a sailfin, taking advantage of the just-
started season for the great fish. These were men who, each day, took hook and line to do
battle with sea and sailfin, alone in tiny boats.
The municipal building faced westwards onto the plaza 45. From immediately in front of
the building, and a little to the north, would have come the sounds of splashing and
women’s chatter, exchanging the latest gossip as they drew drinking water from the town
wells. To the south men could snooze in the shade of trees in the plaza in front of the
building, or swap their own tales as they watched the women work.
Maybe too, the wind brought the sounds of men at the small riverside wharf to the west
as bales of abaca, a type of plantain that is the raw material of Manila hemp rope, were
unloaded from flat bottomed narrow boats, carved out of solid lawaan trees, from upriver.
The bales would be loaded onto larger double-outrigger barrottos for transport to British
trading houses in Tacloban or the then much larger Tanauan on Leyte.
These boats, too, brought goods to sell and trade at the town market conveniently set
beside the wharf. It was coconut and the river trade that brought life to Balangiga and gave
it its simple no-nonsense name – Port Town.
Facing Abayan’s office, from the other end of the plaza was the symbol of a force that
had dominated the country far more thoroughly than Spain itself – the Catholic church of
San Lorenzo Martyr, who’s own history suggests Balangiga’s ancient past.

45 The description of the town is based on four extant maps – three of them American the Bookmiller map from
the Bookmiller report on Balangiga, the De Graffenreid map copied from Foreign Service magazine in the late
1920s, a map annotated by Clifford M. Mumby, and a Filipino map drawn from interviews with Filipino
survivors by Richard Arens.
Chapter Three

Under The Bells

Local folklore tells of a Muslim sultan, Mangingsilao, chased out of Mindanao by his
brother in a family feud over the heir to his father's throne in the mid-17th century. With
him, says the legend, he brought Christian slaves and settled at the mouth of the river,
naming his new domain Balanguigui after his home village in Mindanao 46.
A problem with the story is that by the time given for Magingsilao's arrival, a church
had already been established but the same tale also says that the sultan got on well with his
Christian neighbours, who must, therefore have already been there. The tale suggests
nothing more than that people in Balangiga at some stage learned of the similar-sounding
Balangingi (Also Ballongningkin and Balanguingui) in Sulu and created a story to fit it.
It should be noted that the people of Balangingi in Mindanao did raid Samar regularly
for slaves, capturing or killing around one hundred people a year between 1768 and 1858,
and there is a distinct similarity between 'Ballongningkin' and 'Balangigan'.
Early Spanish documents call the town Balanguiguan (Colin, 1656), Balanguigan
(Chrinca, 1758) then Balangigan and finally Balangiga, dropping the final 'n'. Since the
Spanish commonly used 'gu' for the sound represented by the English 'w', it is possible that
the original name was pronounced by the Spanish something like 'balang-wee-wan' or
By the time the first Spanish priest came to the town, it was almost certainly a trading
settlement consisting of a few nipa thatched huts with woven sawali walls mounted on
sturdy stilts, with up to twenty tree trunks, depending on the owner’s wealth and status,


Balangiga Historical Data Sheet, National Library.

supporting a slatted bamboo floor a couple of metres from the ground. Similar structures
were hidden in the forests as hideaways when attacks came from the coast.47
Covered with the tattoos that gave them their Spanish nickname ‘pintados’, and betel-
stained black teeth inlaid with gold studs, these were among the first to see the galleons of
the early Spanish explorers. Indeed those who ventured with their goods to Basey may
even have met some of them.
With the coming of the Spanish came missionaries and in the late 16 th or early 17th
century a church was built in Balangiga, served by a visiting priest.
In 1653 a Jesuit missionary, Fr. Cristobal Miralles rebuilt the church as a fortified
structure with four watch towers inside a quadrangle48. This church may have been the key
to Balangiga’s permanence and may have been much like Buscada Church in Basey, also
built by the Jesuits.
Colin's Labor Evangelica notes Balangiga (Balanguigguan) among the 10 villages, all
with churches, served by six Religious out of Dagami, Leyte 49. There were two Jesuit houses
on Samar itself, with four priests covering the west coast and six covering the east. Dagami
covered some 2,000, or about 10,000 to 12,000 people50. Tributes were paid in kind with
wax, rice and abaca, plus coco-oil in Guiuan.
Early Jesuit churches included a cemetery within the bounds of their property 51. Town
worthies were interred within the buttressed walls of the churches themselves.52 In later
years, particularly in the 1960s and 1990s the discovery of human remains around the
church at Balangiga led to the widespread erroneous believe that the bodies of Company C,
had been discovered. They may have been from the 1897 or 1912 typhoons but no
investigation was carried out.
If slave-raiding patterns along the southern Samar coast were similar to those
elsewhere in the Philippines53, and there’s every reason to suppose they were, then
Balangiga would have suffered several destructions and abandonments prior to the
establishment of Fr. Miralles’s church in response to raiding. Among other things, this may
explain the relatively slow growth of Balangiga.

47 Scott, William Henry, Barangay, Ateneo de Manila University Press, Manila , 1994, p57.
48 Duran, Nemesio,
49 Colin, Labor Evangelica, Madrid, 1663, cited in Blair and Robertson.
50 Under Spain, population was calculated by multiplying the number of tributes paid by a factor of five or six,
depending upon time and place.
51 There is no known documentary evidence of a cemetery so close to the church but church rebuilding in the
1960s and the 1990s produced remains in numbers and condition that no other explanation is available.
52 Buscada Church in Basey, Samar, also passed from Jesuit to Franciscan hands and may give an idea of what
Balangiga’s original church looked like.
53 See: Warren, James Francis, The Sulu Zone 1768-1898, p177, for analysis of the impact on slave raiding on
It may have been in the Miralles restoration or the earlier pre-existing church that it
acquired one of the least known and most mysterious artefacts of the Balangiga canon – an
English cannon54 from halfway around the other side of the world55.
How did a seven-foot long, 2.5 inch calibre iron Falcon cannon weighing several tonnes,
produced in Houndsditch in London’s East End, 56 end up in an almost unknown village half
a world away? It bears the characteristic emblem ‘MR’ in raised relief, of Queen Mary 1,
dated 1557. The only other known example is in the Tower of London.
While several commentators have suggested that the cannon came from a shipwreck, or
acquired during one of Britain’s regular conflicts with the Spanish, the truth maybe both
simpler, and more romantic.
Queen Mary of England was a Catholic, closely allied with the Vatican, who married
King Philip of Spain and died in 1558. In 1557 she allied Britain with Spain in a war against
France, a war that beggared King Philip’s coffers. It seems reasonable that a wife would
want to give a hand to her husband by loaning, selling or giving weaponry to her husband,
particularly since she committed her nation’s armed forces to her husband’s cause.
Ultimately, Mary managed to lose a piece of England’s prime European properties,
Calais, and became an unpopular queen. She died in 1558 with ‘Calais written on her heart’,
to be replaced by her half sister, Elizabeth, who became, at worst, the second greatest
queen Britain ever knew.
In 1569, Spanish Catholic missionaries set off for South America and 23 years later set
off for the Philippines, in fact to Samar.
Magnificent though it was, such a beast of a cannon was probably only of decorative
value. Its size and weight limited its mobility such that it would be little value against the
fast-moving raiders. Iron ball and shot would have been difficult and expensive to obtain
and even allowing that one could replace these with stones there probably wasn’t enough
gunpowder in the whole of Samar to keep the beast firing until the 1900s when, ironically,
Lukban was producing his own.

54 The Queen Mary cannon was among several war trophies abandoned at Fort Warren, Cheyenne, Wyoming by
the 11th US Infantry in 1904. The trophies include two of the three Balangiga Bells, which were displayed at the
fort together with the cannon around May 1905. Initially, the author and Professor Rolando Borrinaga
questioned the provenance of the bells and cannon at Fort Warren. Subsequent investigation, detailed in later
chapters, proved positively that one of the Cheyenne bells came from Balangiga and that the second bell was
congruent with a Balangiga origin. In the light of those findings the author accepts that the cannon came from
Balangiga. Professor Borrinaga, however, believes it may have come from a Spanish fort in Guiuan where it
may have provided defence during the 16th Dutch-Spanish War. At this time both positions are tenable.
55 The cannon is on display at Trophy Park, Warren Airforce Base, Cheyenne Wyoming, together with two bells
allegedly looted by Company G, 9th Infantry, in October 1901. Initially, the author, and other members of the
Balangiga Research Group, doubted the provenance of the bells in part because of the lack of evidence that the
cannon came from Balangiga. In July 2001, the BRG was able to prove that the bells from Wyoming came from
Balangiga and feel it is therefore reasonable to assume that the cannon also came from Balangiga, despite lack
of firm documentary evidence in Filipino or American accounts.
56 Adams, Gerald M., The Bells of Balangiga, Lagumo Corp., Cheyenne, Wyoming, 1998, p13.
One can imagine a 16th century Jesuit priest looking at this lump of useless iron sent to
him by someone who probably thought they were being helpful, scratching his head and
saying “What in the name of the Grand Artificer do they expect me to do with this?”
It seems reasonable to link the cannon with another feature of Balangiga, long lost in
the surrounding undergrowth until its discovery by members of the Balangiga Historical
and Cultural Foundation – a fort, known properly as a baluarte, some three kilometres east
of the town.
Possibly built with the help of Fr. Miralles, the two storey coral block structure provided
good coverage of Balangiga itself and the rest of San Pedro Bay to the east. Immediately in
front of the structure irregular coral rock leads into shallow waters providing natural ‘tank
traps’ over which raiders would be forced to abandon their vessels and resort to running
across difficult, ankle-breaking terrain.
The baluarte and the fortified armed church57 provided an excellent defence system.
Moro raids were frequently accompanied by long sieges. Such a siege would be almost
impossible with Balangiga covered by the baluarte and the baluarte covered by Balangiga
In the 18th century the Jesuits were removed from the Philippines under an edict issued
by Charles III. From 1768 to 1796 the church was abandoned 58 except for the brief
appearance of an Augustinian priest in 177059, until the arrival of Franciscans. At the end of
those 32 years tropical wildlife had overtaken the cemetery around the church, rotting
away the wooden markers laid down by generations of Balangiganons.
In the interim, Balangiga became a mere visita of Guiuan, without a permanent priest. It
may not have had a priest but by 1815 it was big enough to have its own mayor, or
gobernacedillo and Abayan, the man required to write the letter for Daza, was his political
Gobernacedillos were elected by a strict ritual imposed by Spain. Much as American
would-be presidents are today elected by an electoral college, so Spanish era mayors and
vice mayors were elected by a principalia consisting of the town’s worthies60.
In 1850 a Father Manuel Valverde rebuilt the church again and added a convento, a
priest’s house of stone61. A new cemetery was established on the other side of town.
By 1864, the new town boasted a population of 3,609, of whom some 603 paid taxes 62.
The overall population figure would included villages within the municipality such as

57 Balangiga church is described as ‘well-armed’ in an 1804 inventory held in the Archivo de los Agustinos
Filipinos, Valladolid, Spain, legajo 156, cited in Cruikshank.
58 Duran, Nemesio
59 Cruickshank, Bruce, 1768-1898, Historical Conservation Society, Manila: (Publication No. 61), 1985.
60 May, Glenn Anthony, A Past Recovered, New Day, Quezon City, Manila, 1987, p30 et seq.
61 ibid, Duran, Nemesio, p5
62 Cruickshank
Quinapundan, Giporlos and Lawaan but would still have been unreliable. These are church
figures and would not include those who either did not have the money, or the inclination,
to pay the local priest for baptism. Similarly, the number of taxpayers is not a guide to those
with enough income to pay taxes, which would be rather lower. That said, the fact that
around 20 per cent of the population were financially capable of paying taxes, or were
willing to do so, itself suggests a growing and vigorous economy.
Even so, by 1901, the municipality allegedly boasted a population of about 5,00063, an
increase of 1,400 in 32 years, an increase of little more than 1 per cent a year, possibly due
to the toll taken by smallpox and the 1897 typhoon.
One date in particular would stand out for a culture deeply held by the Roman Catholic
Church – September 27th 1859. On that day Balangiga acquired its own resident priest and
elevated itself into a full-blown parish. It was a date to become significantly forgotten
exactly 40 years and one day later.

63 Taylor, J.R.H, The Philippine Insurgent Against the United States, Eugenio Lopez Foundation, Pasay City,
1971, Vol. 5, page 5.
Chapter Four

The Bells Ring Out

Having come of age, Balangiga had just one more thing to do, or rather, three – to
ensure that it could announce its newfound status to the world. Sure enough, in 1863 the
first of three bells was placed in a wooden bell tower64 next to the church, and separated
from it, as was normal practice to prevent the church being damaged by the bell tower if it
fell during an earthquake.
This bell bears no inscription of the priest at the time it was installed. It belongs to a
style common in Samar churches and another, with a full inscription, almost identical is
today in Palapag, Northern Samar, dated 1793. It may be that Balangiga’s bell was an ‘off-
the-shelf’ affair. Its inscription reads simply: “R San Francisco ano 1863"65.
Such a bell would clearly not be enough for a growing town and, in 1889, a specially
made bell was cast, with the Franciscan emblem and the words " Sagrado Corazon De Jesus
... Se Refundio Siendo Cura Parroco El M.R.P.F. Agustin Delcad ano 1889."
Today, just above the top line is scratched '1900' for unknown reasons.
Father Agustin Delcado was responsible for Balangiga parish at the time66. Later he
moved to Guiuan, on a peninsula to the east of Balangiga. He did not, however, forget the
town. At least once he was to play chess with officers of the ill-fated Company C, 9th
Infantry Regiment and carry the men's mail to Tacloban.
Finally, a third, smaller, bell was cast in 1896 for the parish of Father Bernardo
Aparecio, who was then responsible for Balangiga's spiritual needs67. Father Bernardo also


Brown, Frederick, The History of the 9th Infantry

65 Tarbell, Edward, personal communication. Mr. Tarbell, a Wyoming resident, kindly provided the
measurements and inscriptions of the bells in 1998. There were confirmed by a member of the American Legion
in Wyoming in 2001.
66 Balangiga parish records
67 Balangiga parish records
administered two schools, one for boys, the other for girls, which were built between 1892
and 189468.
Father Aparecio could hardly have imagined the journey his bell would take, or that its
voice would be heard 8,000 miles away in an alien country.
Similar inscriptions on the Aparecio and Delcado bells – ‘refundio’ – indicate that the
bells were made of recycled bronze rather than virgin metal. It may be that they were
recast from earlier bells, or from old bronze cannon once used for defence. The gap
between years suggests that perhaps the priests or the town principalia collected pieces of
bronze and cash over time to provide the raw material and pay the bell founder.
These bells carried out more than merely religious duties. They tolled the passing of
time, gave the alarm for fires, rang out warnings of approaching vessels and signalled each
event in the town’s everyday life. In these bells was invested the soul of Balangiga.

68 Duran, Nemesio,
Chapter Five

Tightening the Skein

One can imagine Pedro Abayan gazing across the plaza to the church, grabbing his
symbols of office - his top hat and gold-topped, tasselled cane – and setting off to meet with
the town’s incumbent priest, Father Donato Guimbaiolibot. Perhaps at the same time he
sent word to the town’s Chief of Police, Valeriano Abanador, and the principalia, the twelve
town elders, including two current or former vice-mayors, who had voted for him under
the cumbersome Spanish system.
Father Donato Guimbaiolibot took charge of Balangiga Parish on March 2, 190069. It was
only his second assignment, having been ordained in Cebu six years earlier, one of only
thirteen priests covering 32 parishes. He was not only the town’s first Filipino priest; he
was almost a local boy, having been born in Guiuan a few miles down the coast.
Before Guimbaiolibot was assigned to Samar, thirteen priests left the island in protest at
Vicente Lukban’s interference in Church matters70 but most eventually returned71. It was a
tactic that effectively crippled municipalities across the island and threatened to weaken


Borrinaga, Rolando, and Rosaldo, Tax, Hometown, Tacloban City, September 28, 2000.
70 Schumacher, John N., Revolutionary Clergy, Ateneo de Manila University Press, Quezon City, 1981.
71 In Ordeal of Samar (Bobs-Merrill, Indianapolis, 1964, P15 ) Joseph Schott claims Lukban “… executed all the
Spanish priests left on the island and replaced them with priests of his own choosing”. No priests were killed,
none were appointed by Lukban. It is one of many examples of poor scholarship, error, selectivity and
misleading statements in what is widely regarded as the ‘bible’ of the Balangiga Massacre. Another example is
the claim that Lukban’s men wrapped an American flag around the head of a collaborator, poured gasoline over
him and set him on fire (p15), an incident apparently ‘borrowed’ from James H. Blount’s American Occupation
of the Philippines (Knickerbocker Press, New York, 1913, pp456-457). Unfortunately the incident occurs in
1904, two years after Lukban had been captured, incarcerated and had returned to Bicol.
Another anachronistic atrocity appears in Gleek's The American Half Century (New Day, Quezon City, 1998,
p43). As an example of atrocities by Filipinos in the 1899-1901 period he cites the kidnap and maltreatment of
the wife and children of Mariano Trias which actually occurred in 1905 at the hands of Cornelio Felizardo. (See
Ochosa, Orlino A., Bandoleros, New Day, Quezon City, 1995, p66). The efforts of another 'bandolero', Julian
Montalan, to secure the release of Mrs. Trias led to Montalan being granted clemency in 1907 following a
sentence of death by hanging after his surrender and trial.
Samareno support for Lukban. It was a tactic that the good father of Balangiga was to apply
again, but with tragic results.
Now nearly 35, there is little to suggest that his attitude towards Lukban was anything
stronger than ambiguous. Lukban was anti-clerical and the Americans were almost as bad –
Protestants72. On the other hand, Guimbaiolibot was a Filipino, not a Spaniard. And more
than a Filipino, he was a Waray. As yet he had not suffered the trauma that was to haunt the
rest of his life through World War 2, when he certainly displayed anti-American feelings
and it would be unwise to assert, as various American and Filipino writers have done, that
he played a leading role in the events of September 1901 or had any particular attitudes
one or the other prior to his incarceration and torture in October that year.
As a priest Guimbaiolibot’s opinions carried weight. Not only that, since Abayan had
acted in his earlier years as a priest’s scribe, filling in details of baptisms and burials in the
parish books73, the priest would be a natural councillor for the mayor.
Another necessary advisor was Valeriano Abanador, of morose mien and large ears. He
was the head of the town’s police force of 16 men 74. An acknowledged expert in Arnis or
Eskrima, Filipino stick-fighting, and a chess player, he was single, despite being 31. He
studied briefly in the college of San Juan Letran in Manila but apparently dropped out,
possibly due to the school's closure during a cholera epidemic, and returned to Balangiga75.
His house, now sadly crumbling on a street corner north of the church, indicates that he
was a man of some financial substance. That he, his brother and other members of his
family became mayors of Balangiga before and after the Balangiga incident confirms their
social status.
Abanador could not, with such a small force armed only with sticks, enforce the law by
strength alone – he must also have been something of a natural diplomat.
Abanador did not trust in skill and experience alone. Around his neck he hung an
‘anting-anting’, a charm, in the form of a small black book of unknown content.
Together, Abayan, Guimbaiolibot, Abanador and others of the principalia must have
discussed the letter and their options in depth. To attack the Americans if and when they
appeared invited the eradication of Balangiga from the face of the map by cannon and Krag;
certainly the town could not protect itself against them. To do or say nothing would invite

72 Prejudice against protestants was so strong that an early 20th century Protestant missionary, with great effort
tracked down a group of supposed 'protestants' to discover they were merely men who had provoked the local
Catholic priest's ire by drinking and gambling rather than attending mass.. The worst epithet the priest could
come up with was 'Protestant'.(See Kwanted, Anne C. Presbyterian Missionaries in the Philippines, New Day,
Quezon City, Philippines, p29)
73 Balangiga Parish Records. Contrary to some accounts Abayan was literate in Spanish.
74 Loyola, Valentin, Abletez, Jose, Historical Notes, The Balangiga ‘Massacre’, This Week, September 13, 1959
75 Abanador’s background is based on interviews taken in 1997, 1998 and 2001 with the Amano and Abanador
the suspicion, and wrath, of Lukban, who was in no position to defend the town against the
Americans either.
If the Americans occupied the town without a fight, then Balangiga, in particular the
principalia could be at the mercy of Lukban’s forces.
The wisest policy was to wait and see what happened. In the meantime, Lukban would
be told there was a plan and that the plan required Balangiga to appear to be friendly to the
Americans. Fine and good, but guerrilla warfare allows fairly junior officers to take
command decisions to attack targets in their own territory, how could they stop a junior
officer, like Daza, from taking it into his mind to attack Balangiga? The solution was to ask
Lukban to make sure that other officers were aware of the plan.
Thus Abayan took his pen in hand, dipped its nib in the inkwell and began to write:
“As representative of this town I have the honour to inform you that, after having
conferred with the principals of this town about the policy to be pursued with the enemy in
case they appear here, we have agreed to observe a deceptive policy with them doing
whatever they may like and when a favourable opportunity arrives, the people will
strategically rise up against them.
I communicate this to you for your superior information, begging of you to make known
to the entire army of this province your approval of the same, if you think it advisable.
God preserve you many years – P. Abayan, Local Presidente”
The letter nicely protects the backs of all the principals and, if taken seriously, should
have kept Lukban and his army at bay.
But did Lukban take the letter seriously? An enthusiastic writer, Lukban seems to have
spent much of his day writing orders, proclamations, denials and advice, yet there is no
evidence he advised anyone else of the Balangiga ‘plan’. He doesn’t even refer to it in his
post-attack letter to the towns of Samar76.
It is even possible, although unproven, that Daza was unaware of the contents of the
letter. Neither the plan, nor the letter is mentioned in his post-attack briefings77 78 or his
1930s affidavit79.
Moreover, neither letter nor plan is referred to in any known interviews with direct
Filipino participants80.
There is no evidence that Lukban ever gave the requested approval for the proposal,
before or after, in documents or recollections of those involved.

76 Lukban to Local Chief of Natividad, October 6, 1901, PIR/PRR Exhibit 1359

77 Daza to Guevara, October 6, 1901, PRR/PIR Exhibit 1360
78 Guevara to local chiefs, January 8, 1902, PRR/PIR Exhibit 1364
79 Daza, Eugenio, Affidavit, December 23, 1935
80 Arens, Richard, The Early Pulahanes Movement in Samar, Journal of History, Vol VII, No. 4., 1959, pp303-
370;Arens, Richard, Valentin and Loyola.
All that remains of the infamous/famous letter are translator's copies in English and
No preparations were made to satisfy the logistical needs of the plan. The
Balangiganons did not request men or material from Lukban, surely necessary when facing
such a well-armed enemy.
There is no evidence either, that Balangiga formed a town militia, or sandatahan,
prepared weapons for an attack, or even specially grew food as continually ordered by
The letter was, it appears, filed and forgotten by all concerned, only to appear in
retrospect long after the event and in garbled form by George Meyers82.
But while the letter was filed and forgotten, one thing could not be forgotten: There was
a war on.
As Abayan hurried about his business hoping for a quiet life, a young First Lieutenant,
Edward Avery Bumpus of Company C. of the 9 th US Infantry Regiment, was travelling from
China to Manila via Nagasaki aboard the luxuriously appointed US Army Transport Sumner.
After more than a year fighting in the Boxer Rebellion, he, too, sought peace. Sitting in his
upperdeck stateroom was a letter to his father written the day before: “We do not expect
any harder work, for in fact it could not be much more disagreeable than the work we have
had for thirteen months (In China) or more. I trust we can get some quiet station in or near
Just how 'disagreeable' the situation in China became is indicated in the records of court
martial of Major Littleton Waller. "The fanatics would rise from the ground from behind
grave mounds and other obstacles and even while the line was advancing in a triumphant
charge, kill and mutilate the wounded and mutilate the dead… Whenever a 'boxer' or
fanatic was captured either in the European concessions or outside he was brought in and
executed without referring the matter to the commander in chief."84
Two men with letters on their minds, whom fate was bringing together in bloody

81 Rolly Borrinaga, in The Balangiga Conflict Revisited, puts forward a theory that the town's people were
growing food for Lukban and later orders to destroy it by an American commander put the town between a rock
and a hardplace.
82 Meyers, George, Taylor, RO (ed), The Massacre at Balangiga, McCorn Publishing, Joplin, Missouri, 1931, p1.
Meyers writes “The Presidente (of Balangiga) has sent a request to headquarters at Manila for military aid”.
Several historians have accepted this statement uncritically despite the fact that not a single contemporary
American military record refers to it and both Colonel Robert Hughes and First Lieutenant Bumpus make it
clear that Co. C’s presence in Balangiga was for a mission unrelated to any request and make no mention of any
such request.
83 EA Bumpus letter to EC Bumpus, May 29, 1901, In Memoriam, Norwood Press, Massachusetts, 1902.
84 Waller court martial records.
Chapter Six

The Thread
In the convento men and women waited to pay for special masses under eyes of armed
soldiers who seemed not to notice the extra large number of requests for magpapamisa. In
the church next door, more ‘women’ carried strangely silent babies as High Mass came to
an end. At the back of the church spit-and-polished soldiers in smartly pressed uniforms
and bright brass buckles prepared for the final sequence of the rites. Prayerfully they knelt
as the first chime of Sanctus bell sounded.
The next sounds may well have been the words of soldiers uttering something
inappropriate for the house of God. In an instant, knives and bolos appeared from beneath
skirts, from bundles of candles, from the nipa-palm sections disguised as babies and very
male Filipino rebels held sharp blades at the soldiers’ throats.
Simultaneously, the ‘women’ and men in the convento pounced on the guards, taking
them prisoner.
It was a bad day for the commander of the Spanish garrison in Paombong in mid-1897
as his men were rounded up, but a good one for General Gregorio ‘Goyo’ Del Pilar 85 the 22-
year old commander of the Filipino forces in the area.
The parallels between Del Pilar’s action and the events four years later in Balangiga are
inevitable, although this early ‘rehearsal’ was apparently far less bloody. While separated
in time, and involving different enemies, the two events are connected by what, for
Filipinos, was substantially the same struggle – a war of independence that began the year
before Del Pilar’s victory.


Ocampo, Ambeth R., Bilib Sa Pinoy!, Looking Back, Anvil Publishing, 1990, page 140. Ocampo’s well-
researched and delightful compilations and regular history column in the Philippine Inquirer have probably
done more to make history accessible, readable and entertaining to non-historians than any other writer in recent
In 1896 two threads of incidence towards the Balangiga event were created. One
stretched out from the province of Cavite in the Philippines, the other emerged from
Coaster’s Harbor Island, Newport, Rhode Island, on the other side of the world.
By the end of the 19th century the once-great Spanish empire was crumbling and it was
only a matter of time until it lost its territories to another empire, like Britain or France, or
those newly emergent colonial wannabees, the US, Japan or Germany.
While individual Spaniards and the religious orders that ruled most of the Philippines
made great fortunes, possession of the islands appears to have been of minimal benefit to
the Spanish state or Spain overall other than the invention of a rather tasty chocolate
biscuit 86.
An even marginally honest administration might have earned enough through taxes and
duties to pay for its upkeep, but such was not the case with the Spanish governance of the
resource-rich archipelago. A succession of governors-general and sticky-fingered
functionaries came and went according to the dictates of political favouritism.
For much of its history the Philippines was administered through the jewel in the crown
of the Spanish empire, Mexico, and the cost of maintaining the Philippines was buffered by
a sort of grant, the Mexico Subsidy. In 1821, Mexico became independent and the Spanish
empire began an eight-decade slide into oblivion.
With the weight of supporting its Pacific colony now thrown firmly onto Madrid, a
series of reforms came into being, although they had actually begun the previous century.
The Philippines was opened to the world for business and the seeds of revolt were planted.
Colonial revenues grew from 2.6m pesos in 1809 to 10m pesos in fifty years. In 1894
revenues reached 13.6m pesos, just a feather ahead of expenses.
Two more threads of incidence were woven under the impact of this new economic
structure. By the middle of the 1800s two British companies established trading posts in
Samar and Leyte – Smith, Bell and Co. and Warner, Barnes, in Catbalogan and Calbayog in
Northern Samar and Tacloban on Leyte. They traded mainly in abaca fibre, a precursor to
Manila hemp.
A widened economic base created new agricultural, land-owning economic elite – a new
bourgeoisie - which was able to send its children overseas to Madrid, London, Heidelberg
and Paris for higher education. Another influence was the new style of education
introduced by the Jesuits in Manila which encouraged critical thinking.

86 Filipinos. Cocoa production was started in the Philippines by Jesuits and, in due course, to Spanish consumers,
the term ‘Filipino’ implied high quality chocolate. A Spanish company with an eye on heritage and history
adopted the name ‘Filipinos’ for a chocolate covered biscuit. In recent years, some commentators with no sense
of heritage or history, or common sense, have decided that Filipinos biscuits are a deliberate insult to Filipinos
and that, contrary to any known commercial logic, Spanish consumers would buy the biscuits not because they
were covered with quality chocolate but because they are a racist insult. Some intellectuals clearly have too
much time on their hands.
What the new economy needed, however, was not more ophthalmologists like Jose
Rizal or pharmacists like Antonio Luna, it needed a managerial underclass, a petit
bourgeoisie - literate bean-counters. It needed clerks and warehousemen to keep the
wheels of commerce turning. It was a paradigm not allowed for in the medieval master-
church-peon structure of the past.
This new class would certainly not come from the newly empowered, foreign-educated
elite; such things were below their station. Somehow it had to be created from the upper
end of the masa. Thus it was that in 1863 a royal decree mandated primary schools for boys
and girls in every Philippine town87, followed by further reforms in secondary and tertiary
education during the rest of the decade. Small though the immediate impact of these
reforms were, it was one which placed Spanish literacy in new hands, people who could
now read the books and tracts being produced by the new intellectuals promoting and
demanding reforms in the Spain-Philippines relationship.
Of those writings it was two books by Jose Rizal – a polymath genius who practiced
medicine - Noli me Tangere and El Filibisterismo, which pushed buttons in the common
consciousness. Although written in Spanish, because there was no Filipino lingua franca,
they described life as the ordinary Filipino knew it, with the abuses of the friars, corrupt
officialdom, the enervated Filipino psyche, wrapped within what were entertaining stories,
a dangerous mix. The books were printed in Ghent, Belgium, and smuggled into the
Philippines, where they were banned, by one of Rizal's friends, Jose M. Basa in Hong
Among those who read and absorbed the books was Pedro Duran, a young student at a
school in Catbalogan89. His hometown was Balangiga and what happened later to Rizal was
to influence his decision to take up arms.
Rizal was a founder of La Liga Filipinas, a group of intellectuals and other bourgeoisie,
that promoted the parity of the Philippines with other Spanish provinces although its
commitment to independence remains under discussion to this day. Its aim was certainly
emancipation but its political agenda was vague.
While the movement adopted the anti-clericalism of European coffee shops, it does not
appear to have been directly influenced by the newly emerging idea of Socialism, born with
the publication of Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto in 1848 and the first volume of Das
Kapital in 1867. There may, however, have been some cross-fertilization: Revolutionary
socialism, Communism, was not the only flavour of left wing political thought.
In the 1880s a different approach took root in London – Fabianism90. Rather than
empower the masses through the violent overthrow of existing political and economic

87 May, Glenn, Battle for Batangas, New Day Publisher, Quezon City, 1993
88 Alejandrino, Jose, The Price of Freedom, Colocol & Co., Manila, 1949, page 3
89 Loyola, Valentin, Abletez, Jose P,, The Balangiga Massacre, Historical Notes, This Week Magazine,
September 13, 1959
structures Fabianism sought to do so by educating the working classes and utilizing the
existing system to its advantage. While revolutionary socialism was rooted in the bi-polar
class system of Czarist Russia, Fabianism emerged within a multi-class society managed by
an emergent middle class.
Rizal's philosophy, in particular of empowerment though education bears a familial
relationship with Fabianism and, if not directly related, at least came from the same
intellectual breed stock.
While the Spanish clergy in the Philippines believed the Philippine rebellion to be
promoted by a mythical international Masonic conspiracy against the Catholic church, and
the civil administrators like General Camilo de Polavieja 91 claimed it was inspired by the
success of Japan, socialism was seen as a threat, too.
Florentino Torres, a wealthy American collaborator who had been a judge under the
Spanish administration, condemned every leading member of the Philippine revolutionary
government as a socialist and the Philippine revolution as a classic class-war socialist
Rizal rather despaired of his countrymen. While he frequently cited the Larousse
dictionary in his work he refused to have a copy in his own library because of its
description of Filipinos as “…an effeminate race without virility or energy, which has
permitted without any struggle the uprooting of its nationality, usages, customs, beliefs and
even its language”. He confided to Jose Alejandrino “Unfortunately, this is true… look how
we take shame even in using our own dialects… for us a type is only beautiful when it more
or less approximates that of the Caucasian.” 93
Rizal set about attempting to influence the mindset of the ordinary Filipino through his
writings. This earned him arrest and deportation to Dapitan in the early 1890s.
Another member of the Liga was Andres Bonifacio. He came from modest beginnings,
was largely self-taught, and was respectable enough to land plum jobs with two British
trading companies who could pick and choose from the cream of the crop.
A Guardia Civil report of October 28, 189694, describes him as displaying “an extra-
ordinary energy and audacity, which together with a clear head, made him stand out from
his companions… (he) is not an ordinary man; he has an energetic disposition, strenuous
and audacious; with an ease of expression in his own language which appeals to his

90 Encarta® 98 Desk Encyclopedia © & 1996-97 Microsoft Corporation.

91 Turot, Henri, Castro, Pacifico a. (tr.), Emilio Aguinaldo, Foreign Service Institute, Manila, 1981 (Solar
Publishing reprint, 1990) page 35.
92 Ibid, page pp189-192
93 Alejandrino, page 5.
94 Diaz, Olegario, Report Upon the Insurrection Against Spain, October 28, 1896 (reprinted in translation in
Taylor, RM, The Philippine Insurrection against the United States, Vol 1, Page 198-199, Eugenio Lopez
Foundation, Manila, 1973)
countrymen; of a judgment clear, but badly influenced by reading literature of an exciting
and dangerous character; and of unlimited ambition.”
High praise, indeed, from an enemy. Strong-willed, charismatic, Bonifacio was clearly
the sort of man that any modern corporation would walk barefoot across broken glass to
hire. He certainly had a dark and less admirable side. Together with Emilio Jacinto he
forged the signatures of those who declined to finance the revolution on documents he
knew would be found by the Spanish95. It has even been suggested that the famous cedula, a
tax receipt required in dealings with national and local government, he destroyed in public
as a symbol of resistance to the Spanish, was also a forgery. The point he made has, in any
case, long been lost – Bonifacio is no longer with us but the cedula lives on in the Philippine
bureaucracy. Plus ça change.
His Achilles heel was a bad temper and an over-developed sense of amor propio. He was
not the only leading light of the Philippine war of independence to be doomed by such
personality traits.
With Rizal in exile and the Liga effectively defunct, Bonifacio and others established the
Katipunan out of its ashes. A secret society, with a system of rituals and passwords based
on Freemasonry, it was dedicated to the overthrow of the Spanish regime.
Into the Katipunan was to come another thread of incidence tied to Balangiga, Emilio
Aguinaldo, a wealthy landowner from Cavite. First Lieutenant Bumpus, who was to die in
Balangiga, was to write “… I have met Aggie and talked with him for a short time. He is not a
remarkably brilliant-looking man, but has a certain amount of magnetism… and is about
five feet, four inches tall.”96
Another member of the Katipunan was to have an even greater influence on the events
Samar, a firmer thread of incidence. He was a 46 year-old businessmen and widower from
Labo, Camarines Norte in Bicol called Vicente Lukban y Rilles 97.

95 Ocampo, Ambeth, Looking Back, Anvil Publishing, Manila 1990, pp 86-87

96 Bumpus to his father, July 25, 1901. In Memoriam.
97 Except where otherwise noted, information about Lukban is drawn from the author's interviews with the
Lukban family in Quezon City in 1997.
Chapter Seven

Seemed Like
A Good Idea
By 1896, the Philippine archipelago was a pressure cooker waiting to blow. Several
thousand miles away a rebellion was boiling in Cuba and, a little further around the globe,
an American naval lieutenant, William W Kimball 98 was chewing the end of his pencil at the
12-year old US Naval War College at Newport, Rhode Island and wondering how to bring to
an end one of Europe’s oldest empires.
The theoretical prospect of war with Spain had been studied in war games as early as
1894. Under Kimball’s plan, America’s shiny new blue-water navy would blockade Cuba
and establish a coaling station which would give it the critical advantage over the
exhausted, low-fuelled Spanish navy coming all the way from Cadiz. Cuban rebels would
fight the land war.
Manila was a new addition to the war plan. It would be seized and held as a bargaining
chip in subsequent peace negotiations. Little thought was given to what might be done
with the Philippines other than possibly establishing a coaling station for US navy ships in
the Western Pacific.
The plan did not include Filipino rebel forces because there were none, at least not
actively engaged in hostilities.
Cuba began to occupy more space in the American consciousness as the Spanish
authorities under General Valeriano Weyler introduced concentration camps to isolate the
Cuban population from the island’s rebels. The American public became increasingly
disturbed at reports of inhuman treatment under the reconcentrado policy and
relationships between the two countries began to nose-dive as US pressure on Spain to
institute reforms grew.
Meanwhile, the Spanish administration in Manila took ever-greater steps to stamp out
any brewing rebellion. Bonifacio decided that an immediate armed uprising was necessary
and, through an intermediary sought the support of the only figure with enough national
influence and respect to guarantee public support – Jose Rizal.

O’Toole, GJA, The Spanish War, WW Norton, USA 1986, pp 97-99
Rizal counselled against such an uprising, advice that Bonifacio decided to ignore. The
question became moot in August 1896 when, following a tip-off, Spanish authorities
discovered the existence of the Katipunan and began arresting and questioning actual,
fictional and suspected members.
In late August the revolt began with an attack on a Spanish powder magazine in San
Juan Del Monte lead by Bonifacio in Manila and in September Aguinaldo in Cavite, to the
south of the city, together with eight Tagalog provinces. The Manila uprisings were quickly
crushed but Aguinaldo’s forces took the initiative, captured Spanish garrisons, occupied
territory, and generally made a good fist of getting the rebellion underway.
Spanish authorities began a series of executions of actual and suspected Katipuneros in
September, culminating in that of Jose Rizal on December 30. When arrested Rizal had been
on his way to provide medical services to the Spanish forces fighting Cuban rebels 99.
If ever a revolution had all the elements for a successful prosecution, this was it. A
hated, abusive and weak colonial power facing uprisings on two sides of the world; the
execution of a popular figure, Rizal, an ilustrado, whose writings had limned the native
Filipino experience and whose death caused widespread shock; Bonifacio, with the
trappings of the common man, with charisma and a gift of the gab with the masa;
Aguinaldo, plugged into the network of the elite who, through patronage could supply
influence and manpower, at least in the Tagalog provinces. Plus, the Spanish military
strength was fairly weak.
General Ramon Blanco, the Spanish Governor-General declared a military emergency
but his ability to respond was limited. Most of the Spanish forces, about 20,000 strong,
were fighting in Mindanao. Of those only some 3,000 were Spanish and the rest Filipino.
Manila itself had only 300 Spanish artillerymen and 400 men who could be landed by ship,
and 2,000 native Filipino troops100. By September, the number of troops had increased to
6,000, largely concentrated in Manila and Cavite.
October 6 saw the arrival of 1,051 Spanish infantrymen aboard the transport Monserrat.
As they marched beneath triumphal arches of coconuts the Spaniards of Manila cheered
and cried ‘Viva’ but, reported the French Consul Berard: “ In contrast, the sparse crowd of
natives was silent and glacial, a reception colder than that of 01 October. Some incidents
were observed: Spaniard forced the natives and mestizos to respect the flag of the battalion
of soldiers and volunteers, and arrests were made. The behaviour of the crowd gives one an
idea of the sentiments of the majority of Manila’s inhabitants who more or less favoured
the insurrection.”101

99 Constantino, Renato, The Philippines, A Past Revisited, Vol 1, p177, Ninth printing, Quezon City, 1986,
100 Taylor, RM, The Philippine Insurrection Against the United States, Vol 1, p63 et seq, Eugenio Lopez
Foundation, Pasay City, 1971
101 Camagay,. Ma. Luisa T. (trs), French Consular Dispatches on the Philippine Revolution, University of the
Philippines Press, Quezon City,1997, page 2.
In November, Blanco attempted to take the offensive but his forces were badly beaten.
Demands grew for his replacement and General Camilo de Polavieja was dispatched to
Manila to pursue a more vigorous campaign with more troops from Spain supported by
local volunteers. He took up his appointment on December 13.
Already, cracks appeared among the revolutionaries. Two provincial councils of the
Katipunan were established. One, known as the Madiwang council was headed by
Bonifacio’s father-in-law, Mariano Alvarez, and the other, based in Cavite, called the
Magdalo council and headed by Emilio Aguinaldo’s cousin, Baldomero Aguinaldo.
For the revolt to succeed, it would require a single core of authority. In other words
men, mostly of the provincial elite, who were used to having total authority in their own
areas would have to submit to an overriding authority from elsewhere. Who should lead
the revolution?
At the end of 1896 the two councils met in Imus, Cavite, and failed to come to a firm
resolution, except possibly to ask Bonifacio, the Supremo of the Katipunan, to create a
legislative body to oversee a reorganisation, and to meet again.
Had Bonifacio and Aguinaldo found a means to overcome their personal differences,
this phase of the Philippine revolution may have had a very different ending. While it is
unlikely that outright victory was possible, given the shortage of armaments, money and
external support, even if clandestine, from a foreign power, it could have lead at least to a
settlement with Spain on much more advantageous terms.
The rift was to continue to sap energies that should have been applied to defeating
Spaniards rather than each other.
In an effort to attract American support a group Filipino businessmen living in Hong
Kong, led by the man who had smuggled Rizal's books into the Philippines and who had
loaned him $3,000, Jose M. Basa, wrote to the US consul-general to: “…beg to implore the
government of your nation to extend its protection over the Filipinos….”102
As reinforcements arrived from Madrid and took their toll on the insurgents in January
and February the next year, the issue of leadership of the revolution grew like a cancer. It
was to be resolved with extreme prejudice at a second convention at Tejeros in the town of
St Francis Malabon in March.
On March 22, 1897, the two councils met again and a revolutionary government was
created to replace the Supreme Council of the Katipunan. Aguinaldo, then elsewhere
fighting the Spaniards, was elected president. Bonifacio was elected to the post of Director
of the Interior. All might have passed but another delegate, Daniel Tirona questioned
Bonifacio's education and recommended a Cavite lawyer for the position instead. Bonifacio
lost his temper, pulled a gun on Tirona, declared the elections invalid and stormed out. The
Cavite elite now controlled the revolution and the Katipunan was on the back burner.

102 Taylor, RM, The Philippine Insurrection Against the United States, page 289
Bonifacio set up an alternative revolutionary government and, in a firefight between the
Aguinaldo and Bonifacio forces, Bonifacio was captured, put on trial for sedition and
treason, found guilty and executed.
Polavieja was replaced by General Primo de Rivera and by the end of the year Spanish
forces regained ground lost to the revolutionaries and took the initiative. Having failed to
get arms and ammunition from Hong Kong and Japan, and with the US administration
disinclined to be involved, the revolution was dying.
With forces committed to Cuba, Spain could not provide the sort of massive manpower
needed to fully crush the revolution, and the revolutionaries could no longer win outright
but could continue fighting for a very long time. It was a standoff.
A year of war took its toll on agriculture. Farms went untended as men left the field to
join the revolution or volunteer to fight it, others simply moved away to keep out of the line
of fire. Food shortages were being felt. The two sides began to talk through intermediaries.
Meanwhile, the revolutionaries sought foreign support. On January 29 an appeal was
made to Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany asking for support and offering the country as a
protectorate under Germany, but the appeal seems not to have prospered.
The US Consul in Hong Kong, Rounseville Wildman, had for years shown an interest in
the Philippines independence movement. He had even published interviews with Jose
Rizal's widow, Josephine Bracken, and was apparently sympathetic to Filipino
As peace talks continued in the Philippines, a last ditch appeal was made by Felipe
Agoncillo to Wildman for arms, to be paid when the US recognized the Philippine
government104. The US State Department told Wildman to tell the Filipinos to go away 105.
Legally, the United States could not be seen to intervene and, as recently as 1873, had
almost been drawn into a war with Spain over the execution of Americans illicitly running
guns to Cuban revolutionaries.
Negotiations settled on the cessation of hostilities, exile to Hong Kong of the leaders of
the rebellion, a payment to them of 800,000 Mexican pesos, the surrender of arms,
amnesties and recompense for those who had been involved in the rebellion. De Rivera
recommended its acceptance by the Spanish government – it would save Spanish lives and
gold, and the payment and exile would discredit the revolutionary leaders 106. It may also be
that De Rivera was gambling that the large sum of money involved would cause rifts among

103 Ofilada, Macario, Errante Golodrina, The Life and Times of Josephine Bracken, New Day Publishers, Quezon
City, 2003, p76
104 Wildman, Rounseville, November 3, 1897, in Taylor, RM, The Philippine Insurrection Against the United
States, page 472.
105 Wildman, Rounseville, July 18, 1898, in Taylor, RM, The Philippine Insurrection Against the United States,
page 474..
106 De Rivera, Primo, address to Council of Ministers, August, 1898, in Taylor, RM, The Philippine Insurrection
Against the United States, page 338.
the revolutionaries, hoping that greed would overcome their concern for independence. De
Rivera was correct on both counts. Even today, the Pact of Biak Na Bato is widely perceived
as betrayal of the revolution by writers such as Constantino 107.
A very similar agreement, under much the same circumstances, had been reached
between Spanish authorites and Cuban revolutionaries in 1878 and brought the Ten Years
War to a fitful and brief end. So such an agreement had a precedent.
The agreement was, however, a rigodon. Aguinaldo had no intention of giving up the
fight for independence. At the end of December he arrived in Hong Kong aboard the
Maritime Company of the Philippines ship Uranus, with 50 young leaders and a scattering
of older men who feared persecution by the Spanish, among them was Vicente Lukban.
Aguinaldo cannot have believed that the revolt would be renewed any time soon.
Handed the 400,000 Mexican pesos promised on arrival in Hong Kong, half the full
payment, he locked it up in a time deposit account for a year, taking only a modest 50,000
pesos a month of interest for he and his followers to live on. The rest was never to be fully
paid. It must have seemed like a good way to preserve revolutionary funds at the time, but
a few months later he was probably wishing he’d kept it under his mattress instead.

107 Constantino, Renato, The Philippines, A Past Revisited, Vol 1, p198, Ninth printing, Quezon City, 1986, “The
Pact of Biak Na Bato was a shameful repudiation of all the Revolution had stood for.”
Chapter Eight

Enter Cuba
“There is no such organization, strength, leadership, and equipment among the
insurgents (in the Philippines) as in Cuba, and it would appear to be only a question of a
few months before the flame of revolution is reduced to a spark,” wrote John Barrett, US
Ambassador to Siam, now Thailand, in 1897108.
Why did the Cuban revolution prosper and attract the attention of the US rather than
getting the finger from the State Department, widely regarded as an unnecessary
extravagance109, as did the Philippines?
It was certainly not a matter of race. The Cuban rebels were the descendants of African
slaves imported by the Spaniards, of the same race as the American blacks being lynched in
the southern US States with alarming alacrity and little notice.
Cuba was important to America. Then-President Grover Cleveland wrote “The spectacle
of the utter ruin of an adjoining country (Cuba), by nature one of the most fertile and
charming on the globe, would engage the serious attention of the government and people of
the United States in any circumstances. In point of fact, they have a concern with it which is
by no means of a wholly sentimental or philanthropic character. It lies so near to us as to be
hardly separated from our territory. Our actual pecuniary interest in it is second only to
that of the people and government of Spain. It is reasonably estimated that at least from
$30 million to $50 million of American capital are invested in plantations and in railroad,
mining, and other business enterprises on the island. The volume of trade between the
United States and Cuba, which in 1889 amounted to about $64 million, rose in 1893 to
about $103 million, and in 1894, the year before the present insurrection broke out,
amounted to nearly $96 million.
“Besides this large pecuniary stake in the fortunes of Cuba, the United States finds itself
inextricably involved in the present contest in other ways, both vexatious and costly. Many
Cubans reside in this country and indirectly promote the insurrection through the press, by
public meetings, by the purchase and shipment of arms, by the raising of funds, and by
other means, which the spirit of our institutions and the tenor of our laws do not permit to
be made the subject of criminal prosecutions. Some of them, though Cubans at heart and in
all their feelings and interests, have taken out papers as naturalized citizens of the United


Barrett, John, The Cuba of the Far East, North American Review, January 1897, p180.
109 Stephanson, Anders, Manifest Destiny, Hill & Wang, New York, 1995,p70
States, a proceeding resorted to with a view to possible protection by this government and
not unnaturally regarded with much indignation by the country of their origin.
“The insurgents are undoubtedly encouraged and supported by the widespread
sympathy the people of this country always and instinctively feel for every struggle for
better and freer government and which, in the case of the more adventurous and restless
elements of our population, leads in only too many instances to active and personal
participation in the contest.110”
America had significant commercial interests in Cuba. Turmoil in Cuba threatened the
US mainland – if Spain fell, could a new independent Cuba resist, say, a German or French
takeover that would provide a jumping off point for governments who may be inimical to
US interests? The latter certainly proved true when Cuba, as a client state of the Soviet
Union was perceived as a threat in the 1960s (And still is, post-Soviet era).
Harsh suppression of the rebellion and the creation of concentration camps in which
conditions were deadly, appalled the American people and pushed the buttons of their
inbuilt sense of moral indignation. Thus, America had not only commercial and economic
interest in Cuba; there was also a moral dimension.
Cuban rebels were supplied with arms, money and food from sympathizers in the US.
Filipinos had no such support.
Just as importantly, Cuban rebels were not weighed down by the baggage of provincial
loyalties that infected the Filipino leadership and had contributed to the death of Bonifacio.
Spain’s economic weakness became a weapon in Cuba. The rebels attacked the vitally
important industries of sugar and tobacco, the very reason why Spain wanted the island in
the first place and without which it could get no benefit. Aguinaldo’s rebels largely left the
fields alone, and with them Spain’s economic basis for holding the Philippines.
America and Spain lumbered reluctantly and inevitably towards war. The US demanded
reforms in Cuba that to the Spanish politicians, embedded in domestic turmoil, could not
accept without committing political suicide and which were, in any case, seen by Spaniards
as an interference in Spanish internal affairs. Ultimately, however, the Spanish agreed to
almost every reform except one – independence for Cuba.
As tensions grew between the soon-to-be combatants it became clear that hopes for
peace in the Philippines was illusory. Attacks on Spanish garrisons and the like continued
Trouble followed Governor Ramon Blanco, formerly governor general of the
Philippines, all the way to Cuba. On February 15, 1898, the USS Maine exploded in Havana
harbour. The American public, egged on by a belligerent press, increasingly called for war
and, on April 19, they got it. Congress approved a motion recognizing Cuban independence

110 Cleveland, Grover, American Interests in the Cuban Revolution, U.S., Department of State, Papers Relating to
Foreign Affairs, 1896, pp. xxvii-lxii.
and disclaimed any US intent to annex the island, the latter being proposed by Colorado
senator Henry Teller.
By excluding the Philippines from the Teller Amendment, the United States legislature
started the clock ticking towards Balangiga.
Indeed, one end of a ‘thread of incidence’ had already been tied. Immediately after the
sinking of the Maine, Assistant US Secretary of Defense Theodore Roosevelt had ordered
Commodore George Dewey to Hong Kong, 600 miles from Manila. Aboard the flagship
Olympia was a young marine, Christian S. Williams, who would one day change his uniform
to that of a private of Company C. of the 9 th US Infantry. He was to see America’s greatest
victory and worst defeat in the Philippines. The latter he would not survive.
Chapter Nine

Dewey and The Independence

Dewey’s fleet set sail from Mirs Bay to Manila on April 25. He was so ill prepared that
maps of Manila had to be bought from commercial sources in Hong Kong. Other than a
handful of marines onboard, he had no means of putting troops on the ground. For a
mission that is often alleged by nationalist Filipino historians to be the product of a
conspiracy to expand America’s global control into the Pacific, it was woefully inadequate.
Common sense suggests that Dewey was merely carrying out the strategy planned in 1896
– to hold Manila as a bargaining chip. What he was actually expected to do once he reached
Manila is unclear.
Dewey was expected to attack the antiquated Spanish fleet, so much is certain, which he
did, with spectacular success on May 1, 1898. Other than threaten to blow the city to
smithereens if the shore batteries didn’t stop taking pot-shots, which they did, Dewey
couldn’t do much more, certainly not occupy the city or hold siege to it. He might be able to
blockade the port but he didn’t have the wherewithal to seal the city from the landside,
which could be serviced by innumerable bays he could not control.
To seal Manila, Dewey, and America, needed a friend. That friend was Emilio Aguinaldo.
Primo de Rivera correctly judged some of Aguinaldo’s countrymen, in particular Isabelo
Artacho who attempted to sue Aguinaldo for a slice of the Spanish loot. On April 31, the
Supreme Court of Hong Kong issued a summons for Aguinaldo to appear in court, but he
had already skipped town to Singapore. It was there that one of the most controversial
elements of the Philippine-American relationship was to be born, one that still affects
Filipino attitudes towards America today.
The timing of the suit, which began on April 13, may not be entirely coincidental. The
war between Spain and the United States was by now a certainty without a miraculous
intervention, and no miracles were forthcoming. Artacho’s suit could have crippled any
chance of the Filipino rebels coming to America’s aid by tying up their funds in a legal black
Aguinaldo’s escape interrupted preliminary talks arranged between US Consul
Rounseville Wildman in Hong Kong between the revolutionaries and Edward P. Wood, the
Commander of the USS Petrel. After Aguinaldo’s departure, other members of the Hong
Kong exiles took up the negotiations directly with Admiral Dewey.
According to Jose Alejandrino, Dewey said, in French, through an interpreter, Mr.
Brumby of the Signal Corps, that “The American people… will undertake this war with the
humanitarian purpose of liberating from the Spanish yoke the people which are under it
and to give them independence and liberty”. After the issue surfaced of whether or not
Independence was promised Wildman denied the claim ‘in its totality’111.
Wildman was especially obtuse. Although the revolutionaries had made it very clear
that independence was their aim, Wildman insisted, “In spite of all statements to the
contrary, I know that they are fighting for annexation to the United States first, and for
independence second”. He went on “The insurgents are fighting for freedom from Spanish
rule, and rely upon the well-known sense of justice that controls all the actions of our
Government as to their future”. This was written on July 18, 1898, yet Aguinaldo had
proclaimed independence on June 13, set up a revolutionary government on June 23 and
named cabinet secretaries on July 15.
Enter Howard Bray, Aguinaldo's Englishman.


Alejandrino, Jose, The Price of Freedom, M. Colcol & Company, Manila 1949, pp88-89, (Solar Publishing
reprint, 1987)
Chapter Ten

Aguinaldo's Englishman.
Howard Bray's exact role may one day be uncovered by some judicious digging in the
British Public Records Office. He had, according to US records, owned land in the
Philippines for 15 years, was a former British Colonial Officer who gave information to the
American Embassy in Singapore112 about Manila’s defences and was carrying on a long
dispute with the Spanish authorities in the Philippines.
The Americans dubbed him 'Aguinaldo's Englishman'.
A letter by Bray to the American Review of Reviews says that as a friend of his father he
had known Aguinaldo since 1883 when he was 13 years old.
Bray was one of the few third parties to be privy to discussions between Aguinaldo and
the US authorities regarding independence for the Philippines and was willing to attest to
an agreement under oath113. If as-yet unproven allegations that the US and British
governments had discussed an Anglo-American administration of the islands, then Bray’s
knowledge could have been very embarrassing indeed.
This ‘English gentleman of high standing’114, was introduced to Edward Spenser Pratt,
US Consul in Singapore, by a mutual friend, WG Sinclair, editor of the Singapore Free Press.
Bray heard on the grapevine that Aguinaldo was in Singapore and, on April 23, set up a
meeting between Pratt and Aguinaldo for the next day – the very day that Spain declared
war on the United States. Pratt reported to the State Department that he had merely
pointed out that he had no authority to speak on behalf of the American government and
urged Aguinaldo to co-operate with Dewey. A second dispatch on the State Department on


Pratt No. 212, April 28, 1898, printed in Taylor, RM, The Philippine Insurrection Against the United States,
page 475
113 Bray to Senator Hoar, January 12, 1899, printed in Taylor, RM, The Philippine Insurrection Against the United
States, page 488
114 Pratt No. 212
April 30, says: “The general… hoped the United States would assume protection of the
Philippines for at least long enough to allow the inhabitants to establish a government of
their own, in the organization of which he would desire American advice and assistance…
These questions I told him I had no authority to discuss”. That, however, is not how others
recalled the meeting.
On Wednesday, May 4, 1898, the Singapore Free Press published an account of events
that was probably sourced from Bray himself. The report claimed that Aguinaldo discussed
the possibility of war between Spain and the United States and whether the US would
recognize Philippine independence. With Bray acting as interpreter, Aguinaldo made it
clear that his assistance to the Americans was on the basis of recognition of independence.
The story says: “(Aguinaldo) declared his ability to establish a proper and responsible
government on liberal principles, and would be willing to accept the same terms for the
country as the United States intend giving to Cuba.” Pratt told State Department officials
“The facts, in the main, are correctly given”. In other words, he was fully aware of the
conditions under which Aguinaldo was willing to help fight America’s war in Manila.
On August 26, Bray wrote to Aguinaldo urging him to maintain good relationships with
the Americans: “They have their noxious qualities, but I am convinced that in time the
Philippines will secure their complete independence”, advice which Aguinaldo followed.
When Wesley Merritt arrived in Singapore before going to Manila his contacts were
carefully screened. “Consul Pratt… told me (Merritt) showed himself decidedly in favour of
the Philippines and disposed to grant them independence… a great impression was made
upon the General, as Mr Pratt said later, by all advocating the independence of the
Philippines under an American protectorate.”115
Early the following year, in a letter to Aguinaldo, Bray was to make a rather intriguing
comment: “Did you not say that the basis of any negotiation in Singapore was the
independence of the Philippines under an American protectorate? This is what Consul Pratt
telegraphed and to which Dewey and Washington agreed; as I figured up the “price” of the
telegram, I know very well what occurred, and I am ready to state it and to swear to it
when the proper time comes. There are five of us against one in the event of Consul Pratt
receiving instructions to deny it. Furthermore, Mr. St. Clair knows what happened and I am
certain that he would also testify. St. Clair still has the rough draft as an historical relic, and
St. Clair is a true and loyal friend of yours”116.
St. Clair was, however, a far more loyal friend of Pratt. “I felt it to be my duty to let Pratt
know that you still hold that you and Santos have evidence to controvert his. He was, of
course, quite disappointed, because he was quite unaware of what took place in Spanish,

115 Bray to Aguinaldo, September 14, 1898, printed in Taylor, RM, The Philippine Insurrection Against the United
States, Vol V, Addendum page 10.
116 Bray to Aguinaldo, January 12, 1899, printed in Taylor, RM, The Philippine Insurrection Against the United
States, Vol V, Addendum page 36
and as to turning his conversation into a pretense of an agreement he knows nothing… he
has no surety of what you might have said, naturally.” The draft of what was clearly a
telegram to Dewey and the State Department indicating that Philippine independence was
a condition of Aguinaldo providing assistance to the American forces mysteriously
vanished. The man who had it, St. Clair, was a close friend of the man who stood to lose
most by its appearance, Pratt. The only other copies were with Dewey and the State
Department, both of which stood to lose much in terms of embarrassment if the telegram
was to surface.
The third act in this ‘independence quadrille’ took place on Dewey’s flagship, Olympia
on May 19. After sinking the Spanish fleet and knowing that he had insufficient forces to
take the city or lay effective siege to it, Dewey asked Pratt to send Aguinaldo to Manila
aboard the McCullough. Not surprisingly, both men’s accounts disagree markedly.
Dewey later claimed that he’d told Aguinaldo that they were not allies, that they merely
had a common enemy and the Aguinaldo should simply go ashore and start his revolution.
In Dewey’s version not only did Dewey not give a guarantee of independence, Aguinaldo
didn’t even ask for one.
Aguinaldo claims that Dewey said: “the United States will undoubtedly recognize the
independence of the people of the Philippines… “ 117 And confirmed receipt of the telegram
sent by Pratt advising Dewey that Aguinaldo's assistance was on condition of recognition of
In the absence of the elusive telegram, it may be that neither Wood nor Dewey nor Pratt
directly promised independence but expressed American tradition and United States
government policy up to that time. On the other hand there is a third party, the German
Admiral Otto Von Deidrichs who commanded the German cruiser squadron in the Far East.
He made several calls upon Dewey on the Olympia while anchored in Manila Bay as an
observer and to protect German interests.
Says Deidrichs "Either at our first meeting or at my return visit, Admiral Dewey, on his
own initiative, stated that the United States had no wish to retain possession of the
Philippines. I looked upon this as merely an expression of his personal views, although it
might well be a deliberate statement of what the world was then meant to believe… the
admiral had no absolute knowledge at that time of the intentions of his government." 118
Grover Cleveland, President immediately before McKinley wrote of America: ”Its own
ample and diversified domains satisfy all possible longings for territory, preclude all
dreams of conquest, and prevent any casting of covetous eyes upon neighboring regions,
however attractive. That our conduct toward Spain and her dominions has constituted no
117 Turot, Henri, Castro A,., Pacifico (trs), Emilio Aguinaldo, Foreign Service Institute, second edition, Manila,
1981, page 87
118 Wionzek, Karl-Heinz (ed), Clark, Thomas (trs), Germany, the Philippines and the Spanish-American War,
National Historical Institute, Manila, 2000, p10. Deidrichs was commenting upon Dewey's autobiography
published in 1914.
exception to this national disposition is made manifest by the course of our government…”

Indeed, McKinley himself had stated, talking of Cuba, that “forcible annexation…by our
(American) code of morality… would be criminal aggression”120.
In those pre-Vietnam days it must have seemed unthinkable to the average American
that a president and Congress would ride a coach and horses through the fundamental
principles on which the nation had been founded and abandon the American ‘code of
morality’ entirely within a matter of weeks. But ride McKinley did, with full force.
None of those Aguinaldo spoke with had any reason to believe that America would act
contrary to those long-held principles. Dewey’s later denials must be measured against the
possibility that an admission that he had spoken about Philippine independence with
Aguinaldo might influence his future career. Certainly it affected the career of Pratt, he was
fired, and Dewey would have been only too aware of this. While Dewey may have
dissembled to protect his burgeoning political career, that career vanished in almost
karmic fashion when he chose to marry a Catholic and alienated mainstream Protestant
Brigadier-General Thomas Anderson, commander of the first American expeditionary
force to land in Manila says: "Whether Admiral Dewey and Consuls Pratt, Wildman and
Williams did or did not give Aguinaldo assurances that a Filipino government would be
recognized, the Filipinos certainly thought so, probably inferring this from their acts rather
than from their statements. If an incipient rebellion was already in progress, what could be
inferred from the fact that Aguinaldo and thirteen other banished Tagals were brought
down on a naval vessel and landed in Cavite? … I was the first to tell Admiral Dewey that
there was any disposition on the part of the American people to hold the Philippines, if they
were captured. The current of opinion was getting that way when the first expeditionary
force left San Francisco, but this the Admiral had had no reason to surmise.” 121
Anderson himself appears to have given assurances to the Filipinos, too. After a meeting
with him, Felipe Buencamino informed Aguinaldo “I have a grateful impression; and that is
that the Americans are not trying to possess our islands as a colony, the General
(Anderson) informed me of this repeatedly”122.
Edward Pratt was eventually fired, or 'recalled' for his role in getting Aguinaldo and
Dewey together. Interestingly, on May 26, 1898, a week after the meeting with Aguinaldo, a
cable from Navy Secretary John D. Long to Dewey, out of the blue, warned him against
"entering into any engagement with the insurgents which would render this government

119 Cleveland, Grover, American Interests in the Cuban Revolution, U.S., Department of State, Papers Relating to
Foreign Affairs, 1896, pp. xxvii-lxii.
120 House Document 1, 55th Congress, pp xxi-xv.
121 Anderson, Thomas, The North American review. / Volume 170, Issue 519, February 1900, page 275
122 Buencamino, Felipe, to Aguinaldo, July 25,, 1898, printed in Taylor, page 298.
liable to further their cause." This was followed up on June 11th by demands for full
reports on all of Dewey's dealing with Aguinaldo 123.
If Long believed that Aguinaldo's cause was just to defeat the Spanish, why should he
prohibit support of that cause? And if he believed that Aguinaldo's cause was to hand the
Philippines to American control, it is a very weird cable indeed. Long's cable only makes
sense if Washington was fully aware of the discussions with Pratt and that Aguinaldo
wanted independence, from newswire, consular reports – or that disappearing telegram.
A conspiracy theorist might suggest that Long had discovered that the islands would be
annexed, wanted to cover himself from any unfortunate fallout and warn Dewey that
trouble lay ahead and forgetfulness about what passed between him and Aguinaldo might
be the better part of valour.
Taken all together, the man on the Clapham omnibus124 might conclude that Aguinaldo
had every right to believe that independence, if not actually expressed, was implied, as
Anderson suggests, and had every reason subsequently to feel betrayed. Anderson’s tone
suggests that he also felted betrayed, exposed and hung out to dry.
Many of the players of the period seem unaware that 1898 had seen the rise of a new
notion. The president of the American Bankers' Association told the National Association of
Manufacturers: "We hold now three of the winning cards in the game for commercial
greatness, to wit—iron, steel and coal. We have long been the granary of the world, we now
aspire to be its workshop, then we want to be its clearing house." 125
Senator Albert J. Beveridge of Indiana was blunter: "The trade of the world must and
shall be ours." This new notion was good old-fashioned colonialism. In just a few short
months, the McKinley administration freed the country from the inconvenient ethical
restrictions placed upon it by its own Declaration of Independence and the niggling rules of
the Constitution. The nation that emerged in 1898 was an America lead by an
administration no longer bound by the principles of its founding fathers.
The debacle over independence, the breaching of undertakings made to Filipinos
fighting as part of US forces in World War 2 by the 1946 Recission Act, the denial by the
United States Congress that they were even part of US forces when they patently were, the
two decades protection of a murderous, kleptocratic dictatorship while claiming to support
democratic freedoms, all led to today’s curiously ambivalent attitude by Filipinos towards
the US that, to the uninitiated sometimes appears to be ‘anti-Americanism’.

123 Sheridan, Richard Brinsley, The Filipino Martyrs, The Bodley Head, London 1900, reprinted: Solar Publishing,
124 “The man on the Clapham omnibus” is an invention of the British judicial system which is based on
accumulated case law rather than a written constitution. It implies the question of ‘what would an ordinary
person of ordinary intelligence consider to be the most reasonable truth?”.
125 Mowbry, George E., The Era of Theodore Roosevelt 1900-1912. 1958. New York: Harper & Brothers, page
By and large, Filipinos do respect and admire America and Americans; America is the
new ‘kalayaan’. While European children at bedtime are told to 'go up the wooden
mountain to dreamland', a Filipino child may be told to go up the same mountain, but to
America instead. But few Filipinos trust American governments and many believe that
whatever an American government promises to do, it will actually do the opposite.
The wonder isn't that Filipino students occasionally demonstrate outside the US
Embassy on Roxas Boulevard, but that it is so few and so infrequently.
A Philippines colonised by America did not appeal to Aguinaldo's Englishman, Howard
Bray. In May 1899, with war underway, he approached the British North Borneo Company
and told them that he and a number of Filipinos would “clear out” of the country if the US
took the Philippines. He wanted permission to colonise the island of Banggi in much the
same way as Rizal had wanted to colonise Sandakan but the deal fell through126.

126 Tarling, Nicholas, Rizal Aguinaldo and North Borneo, New Zealand Journal of History, 1975 Volume 09, p179-
Chapter Eleven

Playing With Fire

Commodore Dewey asked Aguinaldo to go to the Philippines to relaunch his revolution.
A former US president, Woodrow Wilson commented: "To make such an arrangement was
to play with fire. It was not clear, it could not be clear, what was to be done with the
insurgent army thus set afoot again by American aid when the troops of the United States
should arrive and the conquest of the islands be finally made. Moreover, judicious lookers
on wondered not a little to see the plans of the war so widened. Commodore Dewey had
been commanded to destroy the Spanish fleet in the East; but he had not, so far as any one
had heard, been told to take Manila and set an insurrection afoot in Luzon. It was
significant that troops were at once hurried aboard the transports at San Francisco, —
significant of the broadened scope and purpose of the war as viewed from Washington. It
was not to stop with the relief of the Cubans. Troops were to be sent to the Philippines to
take military possession of them, General Miles had been ordered from Cuba to Porto Rico.
The power of the United States, once afield, was sweeping the island possessions." 127
Within three weeks of landing in Cavite, courtesy of the US Navy, Aguinaldo’s forces had
destroyed Spanish power throughout the archipelago and held siege to Manila on the
landward side. It was not, in Western terms, a particularly good siege. As Anderson
observed, a certain amount of food was allowed through, which Anderson ascribed to mere
bribery. It may be true, and almost certainly was in numerous cases, but also to a Filipino,
to deprive someone of food, to ‘break the rice bowl’, is virtually unthinkable, something
almost beyond the pale even for an enemy, especially if members of one’s own vastly
extended family happen to be within the enemy’s stronghold. Filipino cultural attitudes
towards food would play a role three years later in Balangiga.
It has been argued that Aguinaldo should have taken Manila immediately instead of
following Dewey’s instructions to merely hold it to siege. Dewey’s threat to bombard


Wilson, Woodrow, A History of the American People, Vol V, 1902, Harper & Brothers,
page 293
Filipino forces if they entered the city was little more than a bluff in practical terms. So why
didn’t he?
Aguinaldo agreed to follow Dewey’s commands in the ill-fated negotiations with
American consuls and Dewey himself. He also sought to show that the Filipinos were a
civilized people capable of self-government and to breach the agreement with the
Americans would have been regarded by the Western powers as a sign of savagery,
regardless of how the Filipinos actually behaved. In fact, Filipino forces ultimately acted no
worse than their American counterparts.
A greater threat lay out in the bay as Dewey blockaded Manila. Germany sent a naval
force big enough to blow the American Asiatic fleet out of the water, had it so chosen, to
protect German interests. The Kaiser had plans for the Philippines, given half a chance but
wasn’t willing to risk war with America.
The British came in force, too, also to protect its citizens, of which many lived in the city
working in the 15 trading houses established there. At its height, as many as eight British
warships bobbed in Manila Bay. Formally, Britain was a neutral power in the Spanish-
American War and Britain and America had themselves come close to war over Venezuela
in 1895. However, faced with the threat of an emergent Germany, and the possibility of
picking up the pieces of the Spanish empire, the two nations had become so close that, two
weeks after the naval battle of Manila Bay, the British Colonial Secretary, Joseph
Chamberlain could proclaim “terrible as war may be, even war itself would be cheaply
purchased if, in a great and noble cause, the Stars and Stripes and the Union Jack should
wave together over an Anglo-Saxon Alliance”128.
A phrase coined then by a Royal Navy surgeon at the birthday celebrations for Queen
Victoria lives on today in the age of the tee-shirt – toasting the two nations’ flags, he raised
his glass and said “Our colours don’t run’129.
There were rumours that the Americans and the British would forge their newfound
solidarity by sharing out the Philippines between themselves. Such an arrangement made
sense. Britain could provide a colonial administration experience that America did not
The Japanese, whom then-deputy secretary of the US Navy Theodore Roosevelt feared
almost as much as he did the Germans, also sent warships to observe events in Manila, as
did the French.
Had Aguinaldo attempted to take Manila, each of these ‘observer’ nations could, and
would, have intervened under the guise of protecting their own citizens and interests and
the Filipinos would have found themselves fighting every superpower and industrialized

128 O’Toole, page 191

129 Ibid
nation on the planet. Just such a situation led to the international alliance in the Boxer
Rebellion in China in 1900.
So, Aguinaldo had few worthwhile cards in his hands, and no aces. If he took Manila, he
would lose the country to an irresistible force of a half-dozen nations. His only option was
to deal with America in the hope that America would do the decent thing. This was rather
like setting a fox to guard a chicken house and Aguinaldo could only keep his fingers
crossed that the fox didn’t eat too many of the chickens.
With the arrival of thousands of American troops under Anderson and Merritt from
June onwards, the threat from the traditional colonial powers diminished, and the
opportunity to take Manila had passed.
Spain finally sued for peace and hostilities ceased on August 12. Dewey, however, had
earlier cut the telegraph cable to Hong Kong and didn’t have confirmation for several days
afterwards. Madrid ordered Manila to surrender to the Americans and a mock battle was
arranged to salve Spain’s pride and justify American occupation of the city.
The surrender posed an interesting problem in international law, one that was of vital
concern to the Filipinos. Territories occupied by the combatants should have been frozen
as they were on August 12. The Spanish could, and subsequently did, claim that Manila was
still its territory under law because it was occupied after the agreement to end hostilities.
Spain could not hope to keep Cuba, but it could, using this technicality, retain Manila or
use it as a bargaining chip.
Filipinos were faced with the awful spectre of being handed back to Spain. It had
happened before. In the 18th century Britain had gone to war with Spain and occupied
Manila for eighteen months. After that war, Manila was given back to Spain. The threat,
therefore, was very real.
Repeatedly, Aguinaldo asked for assurances that the islands would not be returned to
Spanish control. He went unanswered. Emissaries were dispatched to Europe and the
United States to plead for a place in the negotiations between Spain and America. They
were ignored.
Meanwhile, thousands of American troops were on their way to Manila. Some only
learned of the fall of the city when they made landfall. Disappointed though they were,
there might still be an opportunity for action: "we hope we have a chance at the insurgents
yet" wrote Howard Middleton of the California Regulars130.
Aguinaldo had established a government and proclaimed independence on June 12, and
then sought its recognition by the American government as a protectorate. It was ignored.
Foreign governments were approached to recognize the Philippine government and
independence but none was forthcoming. Any government recognizing Aguinaldo would

130 Middleton, Howard, California Regulars in the Philippines, Bulletin of the American Historical Collection
Foundation, Vol. XXVI No.1 (102), January-March 1998, p48
necessarily be drawn into any hostilities between the Americans and the Filipinos, and no-
one wanted to pick a fight with the US at that time and so they were ignored.
Frustrated, some of Aguinaldo’s generals urged him to attack the Americans. They had
observed the battle of Manila, without knowing it was a moro-moro131, and were
unimpressed by American fighting ability. Getting rid of the Americans might guarantee a
Spain-free Philippines. Going to war with America might be a great Latinate gesture, but it
would not give the Philippines the place at the table of ‘civilised’ nations that Aguinaldo
sought. Even if the Americans were defeated, who would then protect the country against
any foreign power that fancied its chances?
Filipino forces began to stockpile arms and ammunition for what they expected to be
yet another war against Spain.
It is to Aguinaldo’s credit that, by and large, he kept the lid on this tinderbox.
The American troops did not endear themselves to the European community. The
French Consul complained: "Ever since they took control of Manila, the Americans have
been conducting themselves with a brutality that will certainly not be approved by their
superiors.132 Two weeks later he added: "Acts of brutality and arbitrariness by Americans
are common occurrences"133.
In the few parts of Manila occupied by Filipino forces some looting was reported,
foreign houses and businesses were left alone despite predictions to the contrary. Their
main sin, from the American point of view was to think that they owned the place.
Elsewhere in the archipelago where Aguinaldo and General Antonio Luna could not
exert direct authority, there was a stream of reports of misuse and abuse by local Filipino
commanders, including theft, rape and murder. Given peaceful conditions, these problems
may have been brought under control, Had an explicit guarantee of independence, or future
independence, whole or partial been made, again, Aguinaldo may have been able to commit
forces to provide the safety and security people demanded.
As it was, Aguinaldo had to deal with the ogre of the possible return of the Spaniards
and, later, the potential war with the Americans. His apparently inability to rein in those
supposedly under his control and acting on his behalf not only gave McKinley and others
the excuse to say that Filipino were incapable of self-government but also alienated a
significant part of the population and robbed him of support that could have been brought
to bear against the Americans.
American troops set up perimeter trenches around Manila facing the Filipino trenches
that had previously sealed Manila from the landward side. Several times, Anderson, Merritt

131 A Moro-moro is a pretend battle, named after a type of sword dance supposedly originating among the moors,
Muslims, of Mindanao.
132 Camagay, Maria Luis T. (trs), French Consular Dispatches on the Philippine Revolution, University of the
Philippines Press, Diliman, Quezon City,1997, p65
133 Philippines Press, Diliman, Quezon City,1997, p68
and General Elwell Stephen Otis, an insomniac and an obsessive and inefficient
papershuffler who had been placed in command of Manila, demanded that Filipinos
surrender their trenches and move back so that American forces could occupy them.
Reluctantly, the Filipinos complied and moved back to new trenches.
When hostilities did finally break out, these Filipinos, occupying positions agreed upon
with the American military authorities were to be called ‘infiltrators’ 134.
Perhaps one of the reasons why Otis understood far less of what was going on around
him was that he was an early example of a kind of generalship that came to the fore in
World War 1: "Managing directors, sitting in dug-outs, in chateaux and in offices." 135
His job was not to fight a war, or find out what the Filipinos wanted, or seek their
acceptance of American sovereignty but to administer the city of Manila. And administer he
did, furiously. Not a single misplaced comma or colon missed his eagle eye. Nary a cent of
income or expenditure went unquestioned.
His only Filipino contacts there those who had done nicely under the Spanish and
thought that, if they were to go on doing very nicely, American colonization would work in
their favour. It was the opinion of these people that coloured his judgment and seems to
make it unnecessary to inquire more deeply. He ritually passed on the desire of this small
group to Washington as gospel truth and got back to micro-managing.
A series of conferences took place between Filipino and American negotiating teams.
While the Filipino team made clear their aim was some sort of independence, Otis seems to
have developed a curious blindspot. Otis's reports to Washington did not show much
concern for Philippine independence and only vaguely asked for guidance on the subject 136.
One possible explanation is that, after being briefed by McKinley, Otis already knew
before stepping aboard ship to sail to Manila that independence was not on the cards.
Despite the conferences, Otis was to say that says he did not know what the Filipinos were
General Otis's only known message regarding Philippine independence ran:
"Undersigned commissioners commander in chief of revolutionary army in these islands
state the commissioners of General Otis that aspiration Filipino people is independence
with restrictions resulting from conditions which its government agree with American
when latter agree to officially recognize the former. No conclusion reached. Another

134 Kolb, Richard (ed), Combat – America at War in the 20th Century, VFW Magazine, 2001, p5: “40,000 Filipino
soldiers infiltrate the city’s (Manila) suburbs…”. From February 1998 to 2002 VFW magazine published an
excellent series of relatively-well balanced articles on the Philippine-American War. While heavily relying on
official US reports, as in the quote cited here, they are a good source for American perceptions of the conflict.
135 Fuller, Major-General J.F.C, Generalship, its diseases and their cure, Military Service Publishing, Harrisburg,
Pa. USA, 1937. Reprinted by the Combined Services Library, Combat Studies Institute, Command and General
Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, USA. 2004.
136 Affairs in the Philippine Islands, p747
137 Affairs in the Philippine Islands, p803
conference to-morrow evening. I understand insurgents wish qualified independence
under United States protection."138 There was no reply from Washington.
Otis was well aware of provisions in the Paris treaty with Spain. There was a protocol
with Spain, which gave US authority in Manila and in Manila Bay, but the rest of the
Philippines was supposedly still under Spanish control until the treaty was ratified by the
US Senate of Feb 6th, 1899.
Tensions grew and several violent incidents took place between American and Filipino
forces. A commission was established to settle practical and logistical issues between the
two sides. A member of that commission was then-Colonel Robert P. Hughes, the man who
would later order that Balangiga be turned into a desert. On the other side of the table were
Florentino Torres and other members of Aguinaldo's team.
Aguinaldo was willing for the Philippines to be an American protectorate. He was even
willing to accept some form of annexation providing independence was mentioned
somewhere along the line. In September 1898, Filipinos gave Aguinaldo an even greater
mandate in a meeting in Malolos in which he was elected president in a passably
democratic fashion, replacing the dictatorial form of government he had been operating
No-one in the US administration chose to talk or listen to Aguinaldo or his emissaries,
or even to a credible alternative, and no-one appears to have thought that Filipinos should
have any say their own country’s future. From Washington came only an ominous silence.
By November, the shine was rubbing off the new masters of Manila and at least
Filipinos were wondering whether an accommodation could be reached with Spain after
all: "Many of the natives are starting to wonder if their new masters may not be even more
severe than the Spaniards, in case of need. There is no doubt hat the consensus against the
Spaniards which existed three months ago, no longer exists," wrote de Berard139.
On December 10, US and Spanish negotiators signed the Treaty of Paris. Cuba was to get
its independence, the Philippines was ceded to the US in its entirety. The latter was by no
means a foregone conclusion; there was considerable discussion as to whether only Manila,
or some other suitable piece of territory should be acquired merely as a coaling station,
with the rest returning to Spanish rule or up for grabs by Germany, Japan or Britain.
Even before the ink was try on the Paris Treaty, the US administration set about
claiming the Philippines, but, as former US President Woodrow Wilson noted: "What they
claimed was not, indeed, yet theirs in fact. A sullen dismay and discontent had come upon
the men who served with Aguinaldo outside the American lines at Manila, and who did not
clearly know whether they were allies or subjects. They had not taken up arms, they said,

138 Affairs in the Philippine Islands, p822

139 Camagay, Maria Luis T. (trs), French Consular Dispatches on the Philippine Revolution, University of the
Philippines Press, Diliman, Quezon City,1997, p78
merely to make the Americans their masters instead of the Spaniards, but to make
themselves free, and had deemed the Americans their allies in that undertaking140.
The issue of Manila’s occupation by the US after hostilities had ceased was settled by
the payment of $20,000,000. It was certainly a better deal than they’d have got by
surrendering to Aguinaldo.
A deal with Britain might have made practical sense and it may be that the rumours of
an Anglo-British alliance to occupy the islands originated from McKinley himself, who was
in the habit of ‘thinking aloud’ to see which way the political wind blew. However, despite
the new and growing warmth between the two countries, allowing Britain, the former
colonial master of America, to collaborate in the acquisition of a new colony for Queen
Victoria may have been a difficult sell. At the time, Britain was building up its troops in
South Africa in a campaign of conquest that would, in 1899, lead to the Boer War and may
simply not have had the manpower to occupy the Philippines as well.
The treaty required one more step, ratification by the US Congress and the Spanish
Cortes. In the US it met opposition from the Anti-Imperialist League. Nationalist American
historian Louis Gleek dismisses the league as intentionally “malevolent and even, at times,
treasonable” 141, yet it included such eminent men as Andrew Carnegie, Mark Twain and
Senator George F. Hoar. The Anti-Imperialist league felt that American principles and
tradition made it wrong for America to colonize another people. How many of the reports
of American atrocities that were later published by the league were true is unknown, they
certainly deserve a more critical, sceptical eye than they have generally been given.
The Anti-Imperialist League was far from the ancestor of the anti-Vietnam War
movement of the 1960s. They were not political radicals, a good number were of the
Conservative taint, while others feared Asian immigration. It had little effect on the conduct
of the war142. A handful of officers were court-martialled due its activities and those not as
severely punished as their own superiors believed they should be. The Affairs in the
Philippine Islands hearings of early 1902, mounted at the urging of George Hoar, were
ultimately to prove of no consequence.
The League in terms of anti-war movements or opposition to the atrocities of war
established no great tradition; that had to be re-created from the ground up some 60 years
Senator Hoar does provide another thread to the Balangiga incident. He was a friend of
the Bumpus family and had correspondence with Edward Bumpus while he was in the

140 Wilson, Woodrow, A History of the American People, Vol V, 1902, Harper & Brothers, page 296-297
141 Gleek, Lewis, The American Half Century, New Day Publishers, Quezon City, 1998, p viii. Gleek also
dismisses critics of America’s colonization of the Philippines as “1) Marxists 2) Anti-American liberals and 3)
Superheated Nationalists.
142 Gates, John M., The US Army and Irregular Warfare, book in progress, http://www.wooster.edu/history/jgates/
Howard Bray warned Aguinaldo that the US administration would probably act on the
treaty before its ratification by Congress and he was right. Almost as soon as the treaty was
signed, McKinley issued his infamous ‘Benevolent Assimilation’ proclamation ordering all
Filipinos to submit to American rule and American commanders to begin the process of
occupying Filipino-held territory, by force if necessary.
Chapter Twelve

America Becomes
a Banana
America and its role in the world changed almost overnight. Says former President
Woodrow Wilson: "Of a sudden, as it seemed, and without premeditation, the United States
had turned away from their long-time, deliberate absorption in their own domestic
development, from the policy professed by every generation of their statesmen from the
first, of separation from the embarrassing entanglements of foreign affairs; had given
themselves a colonial empire, and taken their place of power in the field of international
The change in America was even more fundamental. As George Mowbry observed:
"…the old, cherished concept of a republic equal in all of its parts was gone. There were to
be gradations now in the status of territories and even in the legal status of men…" 144
The US Supreme Court confirmed the special status of the Philippines in Dorr v The
United States. Contrary to the belief many modern Americans, the Philippines and its
inhabitants were denied the protection of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights "laws of
the United States do not apply to the Philippine islands".
There are a number of common sayings in the Philippines that seem to apply to the
situation. In the Visayas it is said 'No matter how much you wash a black chicken, it's still a
black chicken". Whatever verbal veneer was put upon McKinley's orders to make
colonization palatable to the American public, it was still colonization. A more modern


Wilson, Woodrow, A History of the American People, Vol V, 1902, Harper & Brothers, page 294-295
144 Mowbry, George E., The Era of Theodore Roosevelt 1900-1912. 1958. New York: Harper & Brothers, page
saying is "Same banana, different name". With regard to imperial ambitions, McKinley had
become a David Copperfield and turned America into a banana.
After the magician came the comedy act, starring General Elwell S. Otis and it brought
the house down. In fact, it was to bring a great number of houses down. It was the familiar
story of a man trying to cover up one error with another and creating escalating chaos.
The pressure level increased dramatically. On December 16, American soldiers were
ordered to stay in their quarters and their officers required to sleep in their offices. Next
day, US forces went on high alert, with every man under arms with 150 rounds issued.
December 20 saw the soldiers confined to quarters in expectation of combat 145.
In early December, McKinley had been urged to issue some sort of proclamation to
create a sense of certainty for the Filipinos that would reassure them. Dewey wrote to

"It is strongly urged that the President issue a proclamation defining the position of the
United States Government in the Philippine Islands and showing the inhabitants that it is
our intention to interfere in the internal affairs of the Philippines as little as possible; that
as they develop their capabilities of government their powers and privileges will be
increased. That will allay the spirit of unrest. The Spanish soldiers should be expatriated
as soon as possible; they are a source of discord and danger." 146

Since taking command of the Philippines, from his paper fortress in Manila Otis fed
McKinley what he wanted hear. Whether it's Manila in 1901 or Iraq in 2003, when a leader
makes decisions based on what he wants to hear rather than an honest and realistic
assessment, matters are only going to get worse. Faced with hopelessly optimistic
messages that the Filipinos only wanted America to replace Spain as their colonial master,
McKinley gave them what he thought they wanted, the notorious Benevolent Assimilation
McKinley had taken Otis at his word and announced that Spain had ceded the territory,
that the United States was acquiring sovereignty, and that US forces were to occupy all
territories now in the hands of Aguinaldo's government.
Caught flat-footed, Otis quickly edited the Proclamation, excising the references to the
ceding of the territory by the Spanish, the mention of US sovereignty and the order for
American troops to occupy the rest of the islands. He had the proclamation posted around
Manila. He knew what the effect of the unedited proclamation would be.

145 Middleton, Howard, California Regulars in he Philippines, Bulletin of the American Historical Collection
Foundation, Vol XXVI No. 1(102) January-March 1998, p76
146 Affair in the Philippines, p2745
In his haste, as in the best farces, he sent an unedited copy of the proclamation to Ilo-Ilo
where US forces under General Marcus P. Miller and, as it happens, Private Adolph Gamlin
then of the 51st Iowa, were facing Filipino forces who occupied that city as the Federal
Republic of the Visayas. Its president was a Mr. Lopez, who recognised Aguinaldo as the
national President of the Philippine government at Malolos..
Miller exercised due diligence, translated the proclamation into Spanish and sent copies
to the Filipino officials and just about everyone else. Only later did a letter from Otis tell
Miller that it was "not for publication, but for your information".
Mr. Lopez's response was measured and firm: "The supposed authority of the United
States began with the Treaty of Paris on the 10h December 1898. The authority of the
Central Government of Malolos is founded on the sacred and natural binds of blood,
language, uses, customs, ideas, sacrifices."
As inexorable as a third act climax, the uncensored announcement made its way back to
Aguinaldo at Malolos.147
The Benevolent Assimilation proclamation was, it should be noted, a declaration of
active hostilities against the Filipinos, a de facto declaration of war. McKinley scrupulously
avoided any mention of the Filipino forces in his proclamation to the people without whom
America could not have won the war in the Philippines. This, and other errors, was to cost
the American armed forces one of its highest percentage death rates in its recorded history.
Why McKinley acted so precipitately, without the consent of Congress, cannot be
known. Possibly, sensing opposition to the treaty’s annexation of the Philippines by the US,
he believed that his proclamation would have the Filipinos jumping with joy, which would
disarm those Americans who opposed annexation. Equally, for conspiracy theorists,
perhaps McKinley, or his advisors were perfectly well aware of the Filipinos’ feelings and
felt that by inciting violent armed resistance the resulting conflict would force the hand of
the anti-annexationists into supporting the treaty in its entirety.
Pelion piled upon Ossa in terms of America’s deep insults to the extremely sensitive
Filipinos. There was the Filipino sense of Amour Propio, or, loosely, self-respect – the
respect a man deserves because of who and what he is. They had treated the one man who
had overcome much of the natural Filipino tendency towards divisiveness, who personally
felt he deserved respect, and as what he, and others regarded, as the embodiment of the
Filipino people, as little more than a ‘coolie’, a term used by Consul Wildman in Hong Kong.
It was not only a personal insult to Aguinaldo as an individual, it was an insult to the
Filipino people.
Even worse, was the matter of Utang Na Loob – a debt of honour. Aguinaldo and his
followers saved American lives and won America’s war. Some 100,000 Filipinos were

147 Otis, Gen. Elwell S,, War Department Report, 1899, Vol I, part 4, p66 cited in Blount, James H., The American
Occupation of the Philippines, Solar Publishing reprint series, Manila, 1991,
servicing the US forces. Whether or not promises of independence were made, America
incurred a debt of honour - Utang Na Loob -, which, under Filipino cultural imperatives,
deserved to be repaid. By refusing even to discuss the independence that the Filipinos were
fighting for, America was ‘walang hiya’, without face, or 'makapal ang mukha', ‘thick faced’
– or, in other words, behaving shamefully.
As we shall see, Aguinaldo’s main military error was to attempt, for entirely rational
reasons, to persuade the West to see the Philippines in Western terms and to fight a war in
way that satisfied Western measures of civilized warfare.
Self-government is the capacity to establish a government, administer one's own
domestic affairs and maintain law and order without supervision by an outside agency.
Aguinaldo had a passably democratic government and neither he nor his government had
active opposition of any size that might lead to civil war.
It is true that conditions in certain provincial areas outside his immediate control were
less than good. Filipinos claiming Aguinaldo's authority certainly were abusing the people
and indulging in reprehensible behaviour. There is no valid reason to assume that would be
the normal state of affairs if Aguinaldo and his government were allowed to do their job. He
was in the position of a man fighting a fire in the parlour while a dripping tap is flooding
the bathroom, then smelling smoke from the kitchen.
Having beaten the Spanish once in the parlour, Aguinaldo had to prepare to fight them
again in the absence of American assurances that they would not return. As the threat of
Spanish re-acquisition faded, that of American occupation increased and, again, Aguinaldo
had to prepare to fight a conflagration in the kitchen rather than deal with the dipping tap
of wrongdoings in the bathroom of provinces.
Americans who faced the Filipinos or otherwise dealt with them in the field were of
sharply different opinion to those serving at the pleasure of the US President. General
Arthur McArthur, even before the war was formerly declared at an end, described Filipinos
as people of considerable intelligence, quick and apt, and generous, flexible, and peaceable.
Asked whether he believed they should have 'a large share in general government, he told
US Senators that he did and " I would be glad to give it to them now, as I have said; I have
become attached to these people and have a good deal of faith in them."148
Taft, a political appointee under Roosevelt said what the president wanted to hear: "the
outrages that were committed by (Aguinaldo's) governors in the context of government
and the collection of taxes, the corruption which existed through the territory over which
he had control, leave no doubt as to what the result would be, that a similar government
would be ... within a short period of time, and would be followed by the withdrawal of
American sovereignty… the local control which the educated people of each province has
over the ignorant people there would enable disappointed politicians in any particular

148 Affairs in the Philippines, p135

province to set up a little force by itself, and that inevitably, in the course of one or two
years, would produce the state of anarchy149… the effect of giving the people independence
now would be, in my judgment, to consign the 90 percent of uneducated people largely to
the same condition that they occupied under Spanish rule 150…were the government turned
over to those who profess to be the leaders in the insurgency to-day, among the
irreconcilables or intransigents, though not in arms, the idea of civil liberty would be the
last idea which would be practically carried into effect." 151
Inevitably, Taft studiously avoided discussing the accommodation that Aguinaldo had
actually been asking for.
Whatever the truth of McKinley’s pre-emptive strike, the Filipinos, and Americans,
prepared for war while still hoping that independence in some form would be offered by
Congress when the treaty was ratified. Remarkably, Aguinaldo still managed to stay the
hands of his more fiery officers from trying to take on the American forces single-handed.
That the Filipinos were confident is certainly true. They had been unimpressed by the
moro-moro of the 'battle' of Manila, unaware that it was pre-arranged. Bored and slovenly
volunteers didn't inspire much fear either and they'd watched the previous September as
the streets filled with drunken men after they got their first pay and alcohol since they'd lrft
San Francisco. It was a dangerous underestimate that led General Buencamino to comment:
"The Americans call us niggers, because our skins are browned; but if we niggers decide to
take Manila, all that would be necessary would be to roll into the city sufficient whiskey,
wait until the soldiers consumed it – which would not take them long – and then enter the
It was not until January 17, 1899, two weeks after Aguinaldo's very public response to
the Benevolent Assimilation Proclamation that Otis belatedly cabled Washington, with a
typically optimistic lead-in:

" Conditions improving; confidence of citizens returning; business active. Conference

held Saturday. Insurgents presented following statement, asking that it be cabled:
"Undersigned commissioners of commander in chief of the revolutionary army of these
islands to commissioners General Otis that aspiration Filipino people is independence with
restrictions resulting from conditions which its government agree with American when
latter agrees to officially recognize the former." No conclusion reached; another conference
to-morrow evening. I understand insurgents wish qualified independence under United
States protection."153

149 Affairs in the Philippines, p327

150 Affairs in the Philippines page 333
151 Affairs in the Philippines page 341
152 Sheridan, Richard Brinsley, The Filipino Martyrs, p153
153 Affairs in the Philippines, p2745
By mid-January, the scuttlebutt among American soldiers was that Aguinaldo had
agreed to let the US hold the islands for two to five years after which they would become
independent under a US protectorate154. "This was read to the insurgent soldiers by their
leaders in the trenches and with a great shout the American flag was raised by them",
wrote Middleton. It was just scuttlebutt, neither Otis nor McKinley were remotely
interested in avoiding war, but such solutions were being mooted by Aguinaldo and his
On the weekend of February 4, two days before the US Congress was to ratify the Treaty
of Paris and settle the annexation issue, most Filipino commanders had decided to go home
for the weekend. One was to be married the next day while others were at a ball.
In Manila, a large circus, Warren's Combined Shows, prepared for the evening
performance a short distance from Filipino lines. At 8.45pm Mr. Higgins, the British
manager of the northbound Manila-Dagupan railroad, Richard Sheridan, a London
barrister, Robert Wood, a partner in Smith, Bell, their wives and friends boarded three
horse-drawn carriages from the Higgins home in Caloocan to catch the show. "We heard
that the Americans had been under arms during the afternoon, and were so still. This we
could not understand, as we knew the Filipinos contemplated no action, therefore we
concluded the report was without foundation."155
Among the thousand people inside the tent, Higgins's group found up to seven hundred
American soldiers in the cheap seats. They made their way to their own box and settled
down to watch "an exceedingly good performance".
That evening, at about 9 o’clock, a three-man patrol of the Nebraska Volunteers,
including a British-born private, Willie Grayson, came suddenly face to face with a three-
man Filipino patrol. While most popular accounts place the meeting on the San Juan Bridge,
Grayson’s own version of the story suggests a geography more in keeping with the no-go-
zone between the Philippine and American trenches, at least, much closer to American lines
than official US military reports claimed. It was, at least, within sight of Blockhouse No. 7 in
San Juan Del Monte.
It was normal practice for Filipino patrols, in twos, to walk towards Blockhouse No. 6
and meet a similar patrol coming from there. This night, however, the American sentinels
on the other side of a no-go zone seemed closer than usual156.
Sighting a Filipino patrol allegedly within American lines, Grayson shouted “Halt’. The
Filipino responded “Halto” whereupon Grayson fired the first shot of the Philippine-
American War and killed the first Filipino. Later, Grayson was to say “I’m glad I done it”.

154 Middleton, Howard, California Regulars in he Philippines, Bulletin of the American Historical Collection
Foundation, Vol XXVI No. 1(102) January-March 1998, p76
155 Sheridan, Richard Brinsley, The Filipino Martyrs, p155
156 PIR/PRR Exhibit 65.4, reprinted in Taylor, Vol IV, Page 559
The Filipino version, reported the next day by the Commander of the Infantry Battalion
of Morong gives a very different account: “…while Corporal Anastacio Felix of the Fourth
Company, with two soldiers, was at the door of Blockhouse No. 7, they were fired upon by
the sentinel of the American soldiers who were passing on the road near the barrio Santol,
close to the blockhouse.”157
The Filipino patrol ran back to Blockhouse No. 7, with more shots coming from the
nearby Balsa Bridge.
Immediately, firing spread along the American lines. The Filipinos initially held their
fire – similar incidents had happened before and been resolved. This night, however, was
very different to those which had preceded it, for Grayson had that day been given orders
to shoot to kill158 and sooner or later an opportunity to begin the long-awaited war would
present itself.
At 9.30 the Warren circus show was suddenly interrupted as a soldier ran into the tent
and shouted "Prepare, the rebels are upon us!" In moments the tent emptied of soldiers.
The circus owners, George Warren came to the centre of the ring to reassure the audience
"A false alarm". The remaining audience settled back down and the performance resumed.
Wood, was curious, and excused himself to find out what was going on. Outside the tent
he discovered that his carriage had been taken by soldiers and returned to tell his
companions. Within twenty minutes, bullets tore through the tent "with unpleasant
Emerging into the darkness outside, Wood, Sheridan and Higgins found Dantean chaos:
"People were rushing wildly to and fro, unconscious of what they did or where they went.
Soldiers were ordering the natives to their homes and were shooting those who refused to
obey. The night became as light as day – illumined by burning houses. The noise of the guns
was deafening, and bullets were simply raining around us."159
Desperate to reach their two children at the family home behind Filipino lines, the
Higgins found a hand-operated railroad trolley and jumped aboard, Mr. Higgins pumping
the levers until they reached Caloocan.
In Cavite, the 51st Iowa Regiment was still disembarking from the Pennsylvania after a
93-day voyage that saw them go from the Presidio in San Francisco, to Manila, to Ilo-Ilo,
and finally Cavite. One of the regiment's privates stepped ashore without an inkling that
this road would lead him to Balangiga. His name was Adolph Gamlin.
One circus performance ended. Another, more deadly performance, began.

157 PIR/PRR Exhibit 813, reprinted in Taylor, Vol IV, page 540.
158 Middleton, Howard, California Regulars in the Philippines, Bulletin of the American Historical Collection
Foundation, Vol XXVI No. 2(103) April-June 1998, p14
159 Sheridan, Richard Brinsley, The Filipino Martyrs, p157
When firing from US positions continued, the Filipinos finally responded. Amazingly,
the next day American soldiers were still able to pass through Filipino lines in to buy food,
both sides unaware that they were at war.
Aguinaldo sought out Otis and urged a cease-fire. Otis refused. Otis later told the
Committee on Affairs it the Philippine Islands that Aguinaldo precipitated the conflict on
February 4th, hoping that the fight would cause the Senate to reject the treaty 160.
Having fought the three and a half century old dominance of Spain to a stand still and
then, after Dewey’s destruction of the Spanish fleet, destroyed Spanish power throughout
the archipelago, having ended the dominance of the friars over the Philippines, having
created, if nascently, the first independent democratic republic in Asia, on February 4,
1901, General Emilio Aguinaldo, President of the Philippines, former town mayor and
school drop-out, declared war against the United States of America with the words “Upon
their heads be all the blood which may be shed” 161.
He was 29 years old.

160 Affairs in the Philippine Islands page 775

161 Aguinaldo, Emilio, cited in Taylor, John RM, page 407.
Chapter Thirteen

Two Men’s War

With the national adrenaline still running high after the short and relatively clean
Spanish-American War, the new conflict offered adventure, regular pay and food and a shot
at glory.
“I met up with a young fellow… dressed in an American uniform,” says William Oliver
Trafton, a wandering cowboy, “He… was going to the Philippine islands and asked me to
join. He told me that there was a war going on out there, which I had not heard until then
(August 1899, auth.)… He said it was only an insurrection and that we could lick them in a
week and come back and see a lot on the trip.”162
Recruits were plentiful. Army companies were being boosted from a peacetime footing
of up 60 men to 112. “The present regular regiments are being filled to the limit to make
our standing army 65,324 men. Then there is going to be a volunteer force of 35,000 more
until 1901.” wrote Edward Bumpus from Plattsburg, New York, on March 12 1899 as he
awaited the movement of his regiment to the Philippines163.
Bumpus was then with the 21st Infantry. The 9 th Infantry had begun moving to the
Philippines on February 28th.
As he wrote, an American expeditionary force was moving outwards from Manila
engaging the Filipino army. Between March 13 and March 20, Filipinos suffered 2,500
casualties, against 36 US dead.
By then, Company C. was on its way, having left New York on March 17164. Bumpus
followed nearly a month later.
Before dawn on a cool, clear morning on April 18, Bumpus boarded the 475 foot long
USS Hancock along with 1,700 men and, an hour or so later, the ship’s big, blue-eyed
captain guided her through the Golden Gate. Over the next few years the Hancock would
come and go, but for Bumpus this was a one-way trip.
A burial at sea as the ship crossed the International Dateline gave Bumpus pause for
thought: “I suppose I shall soon become accustomed to sudden death.”


Trafton, William Oliver, We Thought We Could Whip Them in Two Weeks, Scott, William Henry (ed)., New
Day Publishers, Quezon City, 1990. See also May, Glenn, Battle for Batangas, New Day Publishers, Quezon
City, p136 et seq for further examples.
163 Bumpus, Edward, to EC Bumpus, In Memoriam
164 Co. C. souvenir, printed circa July 1901.
Late afternoon of May 9 brought the Philippines into view: “The sun set behind some of
the islands, and it seemed as though the paint pot of the gods had been upset.” Says
Bumpus as he listened to a band on deck playing “The Star Spangled Banner” and “Just As
The Sun Went Down”.
During Bumpus’s journey to the Philippines the war was carrying on without him. On
April 23 a Filipino force attacked the 2 nd Oregon Volunteers, killing five American soldiers.
Further north, on the same day, the 1st Nebraska and Utah Artillery Troop K of the 4 th
Cavalry charged Filipino positions at Quingua, losing five men and 43 wounded. Two days
later, the Filipino army charged elements of the 1 st South Dakota, 1st Nebraska, 51st Iowa
and 4th US Cavalry killing five men at the battle of Pulilan.
From April 24 to 26 the US First Brigade, consisting of the 20 th Kansas and 1st Montana
crossed the Rio Grande to capture the town of Calumpit, held by 4,000 Filipinos under the
command of Antonio Luna. The action resulted in nine American dead, 45 wounded in
action, and 3 Medals of Honor, including one for Colonel Frederick Funston.
On April 26, Company C. arrived in Manila and quickly joined the fray.
The week before the Hancock, carrying Bumpus, docked in Manila on May 4, General
Lloyd Wheaton led the 20th Kansas in a charge against Filipinos at Santo Tomas, resulting in
five American dead and 25 wounded.
Within days of Bumpus setting foot in the Philippines, scouts of the 1 st North Dakota,
the 4th Cavalry and two companies of the 2nd Oregon clashed with 300 men of the
Philippine Army at San Miguel. Thirteen of the scouts charged and forced the Filipinos to
retreat. One scout was killed, and 13 Medals of Honor were won.
Bumpus was quickly put to work and nearly a week later wrote to his stepmother:

IN CAMP, MANILA, P.1. May 16, 1899.

Buenas Dias ‘(good morning), como la va? ( how are you). My last note was written just
before I received orders to go on a scouting expedition toward the San Juan River three
miles in front of the outposts. I took two men and a corporal with only our arms (the men
all had one hundred rounds in their belts and I had my revolver) and a canteen. …
I send a newspaper and a priest’s dispensation, taken, while scouting, from a very
picturesque Spanish church near San Juan."

On that same day San Isidro, Aguinaldo’s new capital protected by 600 Filipinos, was
captured by the 1st North Dakota, 2nd Oregon and 4th Cavalry.
Antonio Luna recognized that the greatest threat to the Filipino forces was lack of
discipline. While his voracious book learning had given him a good grasp of the military
technology and tactics of the day, his people management skills were severely lacking. He
never found a safety catch for his hair-trigger temper and his arrogant, abrasive character
clashed with commanders who were accustomed to being their own masters. A severe rift
developed within the Filipino forces.
Luna was particularly angry with peace feelers being developed by Aguinaldo’s
government and there were claims that he planned a coup d’etat against Aguinaldo himself.
On June 5, Luna was assassinated. Whether it was vengeance by disgruntled officers or
done on Aguinaldo’s orders to remove a potential threat to his authority may never be
June 10, as the rainy season got underway, saw Company C. in action at Guadeloupe
Ridge and Las Pinas. Three days later they participated in the Battle of Zapote River, one of
the most significant battles in the war, in which 5,000 Filipinos faced a frontal assault by
3,000 American troops. Filipino loses are estimated at 150 dead and 373 wounded, the
Americans lost 14 dead, 61 wounded.
At Las Pinas, Company C. was reduced to just 19 men, from an initial 110, according to a
private, Walter Bertholf. Still wearing their winter clothing, the larger men in the unit were
felled by heatstroke in the tropical sun165.
Bumpus planned to spend his 26 th birthday, June 24th, having dinner with friends at the
Army & Navy Club, today a Children’s Museum near Manila’s Luneta Park. Instead, he found
himself encamped in the rain near Blockhouse Number Five close to the Baligbalig Road
four miles to the north. Among his new acquisitions was a bolo, captured at the battles of
That the American forces were still poorly informed is revealed in a letter Bumpus
wrote to his brother, Chauncey, from Caloocan railway station:
“Our troops hold (Manila), which is one of the most important points in the island of
Luzon. Last year there was heavy fighting here and all along to San Fernando166. Aguinaldo
is entrenched about San Fernando and has tried to force our lines there, but he cannot last
long and has few sympathizers in the island. There are a number of islands in the
Philippine group, but the only trouble is in and around one or two provinces of the island of
By July 3, as he waited for the results of promotion examinations, he believed the war
was almost finished: “a few of the ‘'niggers' might give us a go, but they have been
thoroughly beaten in this part of the island, and it is hardly likely that there will ever be
much more fighting so near Manila.” In a letter to his sister he opined: “The people have
good faces generally, and do not look like a down-trodden race. They are beginning to have

165 Bertholf, Walter James, Diary, Jean Wall Collection

166 The only fighting the previous year, 1898, was between Aguinaldo’s forces and the Spanish.
a wholesome respect for the American Soldado; we are ahead of them in size and energy,
but not in cunning.”
Bumpus was promoted to second lieutenant on July 9, a year before his promotion to
first lieutenant with the 9th Infantry.
On July 16 the American 1st Brigade took San Fernando, Pampanga, defended by a force
of 7,000. On July 19, some 2,500 Filipinos attacked A Battalion of the 4 th Regular Infantry at
Dasmarinas for five hours, losing 55 men against US losses of four killed and 20 wounded.
August 9 saw Company C. in action again around San Fernando, Pampanga and
established itself at Angeles, the future site of USAF Clark Air Force Base. Years later it was
to be rumoured that one of the ‘Balangiga Bells’ in Wyoming came from a church mission
near Fort Stotsenberg near the airbase and today’s Clark Special Economic Zone.
Fighting continued throughout September. In mid-1899 American volunteers began to
return to the United States but some rejoined regular units like the 36th Volunteer Infantry,
which fought in Porac throughout the month. The unit earned five Medals of Honor.
Also involved in capturing Porac, exactly two years to the day before the Balangiga
attack, was Company C. of the 9th Infantry Regiment.
Things did not go entirely America’s way. The patrol boat Urdaneta was captured on
September 17 resulting in five Americans killed and three taken prisoner. Exactly a year
later in Mabitac, Laguna, fifty men of Company L of the 15 th Infantry regiment and 40 men
of Company L of the 37th Volunteer Infantry were to charge 600 Filipinos. With 23
American dead and 24 wounded against some 10 Filipinos, it was the biggest disaster to
date; one that the US military ensured would be kept secret until long after 167. It would
only be exceeded at Balangiga, two years and 11 days later.
Balangiga was stalking Bumpus. He won promotion to First Lieutenant in September
and told his stepmother:” I have been ordered to the Ninth, which is operating to the north
of Manila. A friend of mine in the Ninth was promoted to the Nineteenth, and as he has very
good reasons for wishing to stay in his old regiment, I am going to transfer with him ; and
by the time you got this I shall be in the Nineteenth Infantry.”
He was wrong, he joined the Ninth Regiment on September 20 and would stay with
them. Already, like many soldiers, the war was taking in toll on his morale: “The rebels
seem to be fighting for time; that is, until our Congress meets. The general sentiment is one
of a kind of pity for the poorly equipped Filipinos. We do not have much heart in the
struggle and wish it would soon end.”

167 Kolb, Richard R.,Massacre at Mabiac, VFW Magazine, Sepember 2000, p44
Chapter Fourteen

The Manchus
Within 18 months of Bumpus joining Company C, Ninth US Infantry, the regiment was
to earn its modern soubriquet, The Machus, and its motto, ‘Keep up the Fire’. For now that
was in the misty future growing ever closer.
To his father, Bumpus wrote: “The company is one of the old ones… I was very glad to
get into the regiment, as it has a fine record in past fights.”
Despite its fine history, the 9th was not, as some have put it, a 'glamour' unit nor an
'elite' outfit. Elite units are usually marked by having a special mission orientation, small
unit sizes, special equipment, unorthodox training and a high degree of independence from
the normal military administration. They are manned by selected volunteers with an
especially high standard of physical and mental stamina and intelligence who are then
given special, rigorous training which is not given to the rest of the military forces. The
British commandos, Special Air Service (SAS, Actually a British Army Unit) Special Boat
Service, the US Navy SEALS, the US Army's Delta Force and the Philippine Special Action
Force are typical examples168.
Much of the foregoing also applies to 'glamour' units, though with less specialization in
training and equipment. It does not apply to the 9th Infantry.
The regiment was born as a volunteer force on January 1799, in Maryland, but
disbanded in June 1800. Twelve years later the 9 th was reformed to fight the British and,
again, was disbanded at the end of that war in 1815. In 1847 it was again brought to life
with volunteers from Rhode Island and Massachusetts to fight in Mexico and, again,
disbanded in 1848.169
Finally, in March 1855, the 9 th Infantry Regiment was created as part of the Regular US
Army and headquartered at Fort Monroe, Virginia. By the end of the year the 9 th was posted
to the Western Territory where settlers and Native Americans were in conflict. Then came
the American Civil War, after which the regiment returned to the western frontier to fight
Native American leaders such as Geronimo, Crazy Horse, and Sitting Bull. It participated in
the Little Big Horn campaign and fought in the Wyoming campaign, one of the regiment’s


For a useful discussion on elite units see Bound, LTC Gary L, Note on Military Elite Units, CSI Report No. 4,
(90-5780), Combat Studies Institute, US Army Command and General Staff College, 1984
169 The regiments history can be found at www.manchu.org
few connections to the state that would become home to church bells looted 8,000 miles
away on the other side of the world.
It was hard-bitten, experienced regiment that, in 1892, was assigned to garrison duty at
Madison Barracks, New York. The Indian wars were over, following the notorious Battle of
Wounded Knee and the death of Sitting Bull. For a few years there were no more wars to
fight or people to subdue.
Then came the brief Spanish American War. The 9 th participated in a litany of actions
against the Spanish in Cuba – Siboney, El Caney, San Juan Hill, and Santiago. It arrived back
in Madison Barracks on August 14. 1898.170
Six months later, the Philippine-American War now underway, the 9th Infantry regiment
was ordered to Manila. The first units left on February 28, 1899 aboard the USS Sheridan.
By the time Bumpus joined the Company, however: “it has changed almost entirely
since the Cuban campaign, and most of the men are new. First-sergeant Bean (sic) is a good
soldier, having seen twenty odd years of service, and the other non-commissioned officers,
what little I have seen of them (about half of them being sick), are good men, and there are
so many young officers in it.”
Fortune seemed to favour J. M. Beane. He was bumped up to Master Sergeant and
Samuel Whipps took his place in Company C. and neither man was with Company C. on
Samar. It was Beane who would have the sad duty to take one of the Balangiga Bells to New
Although a Captain Ramsey was Company Commander, he was on detached service
with General Lawton’s staff in Manila. Captain Paul Harris was quartermaster and ordnance
By November, Aguinaldo’s forces were losing the conventional war and there was less
and less excitement for Bumpus. Duties for Company C. went beyond shooting the
occasional Filipino soldier unlucky enough to get in its sights and battling increasing
boredom, it included civil functions, too, and many of the elements familiar in the Balangiga
canon appear in Bumpus’s writings.
In an occupied town the Stars and Stripes would be raised. Town officials would be
appointed and required to take the oath of allegiance. A tax, 10c, would be imposed for a
cedula. A school would be established if possible. But, most importantly, the town would be
‘policed up’, or cleaned.
Arriving in Bambam after another regiment left it in a mess Company C. set to work
cleaning the place up and cutting down undergrowth: “. This policing is something which
has to be done for the health and comfort of the men in the command. The doctor wants the

170 Record of Events, Co. C. souvenir, printed circa July 1901, publisher unknown.
weeds cut down between and around the houses, as he says that they breed malaria” Says
On November 13, from Bayambang, Aguinaldo ordered his army to adopt a different
type of warfare, to act as ‘flying columns’ or guerrillas171 172but with the military command
structure still intact. After nightfall, together with his family, officers and two battalions, he
boarded a train northwards. Hours later he disembarked at Calasiao. At midnight they
gathered at the town church and set off at 2am on a trek involving 1,200 men across much
of the island of Luzon.
Aguinaldo was on the run.
His plan to maintain the conflict as generally a conventional war, and thus demonstrate
the worthiness and ‘civilization’ of the Philippines to join the community of independent
nations, had failed. Later analysts have been unforgiving of Aguinaldo’s late conversion to
guerrilla warfare. Modern American military officers are taught: “Aguinaldo was not that
good a general. He should have resorted to guerrilla warfare long before he did” 173. Glenn
May draws similar conclusions174. However, guerrilla warfare in South Africa during the
Boer War failed and its effectiveness at the time was unproven.
In the middle of the following year, with the American presidential elections coming
into view, his command and communications infrastructure broken, Aguinaldo abandoned
centralized control of the guerrilla forces. To his commanders he wrote: “…take steps not to
let the enemy rest, endeavouring to harass him at all times…without awaiting superior
orders… In order that the guerrillas may work … give them full powers to attack the enemy
wherever they deem it convenient without awaiting orders from you.” 175
Within six weeks of Aguinaldo’s decree of November, the new warfare was having its
impact but its true import remained unappreciated. On December 28 Bumpus wrote: “The
insurgents are scattered in small bands, or have hidden their arms and are very friendly…
one cannot ride at all outside the town unless with an escort, and it would not be safe to go
at all in the outskirts of the town without arms of some sort… Most of the fighting is over
except in some small parts of the island.”
In the last four months of the first year of the war alone, official American sources
recorded 229 engagements with losses of 69 American soldiers dead and 302 wounded in
action. No comparable Filipino losses are recorded.

171 Exhibit 711, Decree of November 13, 1899, published in Taylor, Vol IV, Page 194.
172 Exhibit 962, November 13, 1899, published in Taylor, Vol IV, 735.
173 Instructor Book, The Evolution of Modern Warfare, M/S 600 SY-o2, Combat Studies Institute.
174 May, Glenn, A Past Recovered
175 Exhibit 996, June 27, 1900, published in Taylor, Vol. V., pages 102-103.
Chapter Fifteen

A New Century,
A New Mandate
Few believed the war would last much longer but the guerrillas were taking
their toll in various ways. Americans killed-in-action to wounded-in-action ratio
jumped dramatically. It reached 1 KIA: 2 WIA whereas it had been 1 KIA: 4 for 5
McKinley's election in 1900 gave McArthur a mandate for stricter measures
against the Filipino forces. He was to build up the number of Filipinos under arms in
US-led forces, with 5,400 recruits into the Philippine Scouts and another 6,000 into
a police force. At the same time the army established a Department of Military
Information to collect and disseminate data on guerrilla methods and
Bumpus told his father “The backbone of the insurrection is broken, but there are
a number of guerrilla bands, made up of ladrones or robbers in the country, and
General McArthur, who commands the Second Division, has issued strict orders that
no less than a squad shall go out scouting in the vicinity of the towns garrisoned by
the troops. One company of the Ninth had two thousand rounds of ammunition and
thirty-two rifles stolen a few weeks ago; and we got an order to be exceedingly
careful of our arms and take all care possible. The natives in this town appear to be
friendly to us, but there is no telling when they may cause trouble… Yesterday
morning one of the Forty-first patrolling up from Mabalacat was killed, and his
comrades left his body to be outraged by the ladrones... We received an order to


Millett, Alan Reed, For The Common Good, Free Press, 1984, page 294
examine all the houses in town, as it was suspected that the natives had secreted
some arms, and recruits were being secretly raised in some places.”
Thus, a year and a half before Balangiga, the United States military was well
aware of the danger of apparently friendly Filipinos and did not trust them. Indeed,
as will be seen, ‘friendly’ Filipinos were treated with distrust by the officers and men
of Company C. up to the day of the attack at Balangiga
Bumpus had naïve hopes for the almost conquered people: “ Most of the natives
touch their hats as they pass the flag, and I hope they will learn to understand more
and more what the old flag means.”
Since the November decree the old Katipunan had been reformed as a guerrilla
arm. At the same time, there was an identifiable breakdown in authority with
increasing complaints about the behaviour of local mayors and local chiefs of
Filipino forces.
Samar rumbled meanwhile. March 11 saw a clash between 11 men of the 3 rd
Battalion, 43rd Volunteer Infantry at Paranas and 150 Filipino guerrillas. Lasting 45
minutes, the Americans lost three wounded while the Filipinos suffered 150
casualties. On the neighbouring island of Leyte, 150 guerrillas ambushed Company
B of the 43rd for an hour with losses of 92 dead on the Filipino side.
The 43rd came under attack again on April 15 at Catubig when 600 Filipinos put
32 men of Company H under siege. After guerrillas set the town’s convent ablaze 15
Company H men fled to boats beside the town’s river, all were killed. The remainder
dug trenches with their bayonets. They held out for two days under the command of
Corporal Anthony Carson until reinforcements arrived aboard steamer Laoang
under a hail of fire and rescued them. It was America’s third worst defeat in the war.
During the siege of Catubig, the 43rd also came under attack on Leyte at the
Battle of Jaro where 1,000 guerrillas attacked for four hours. At the end of April,
again, Company F of the 43rd was attacked by another force of 1,000 guerrillas for
six hours.
For the first four months of 1900 engagements reached 442, almost twice the
number of the previous quarter.
For Bumpus, life was quiet. “ The days are much alike here, and nothing unusual
happens.” Relationships with the Filipinos were such that he was able to discover
the traditional, exhausting Filipino celebration: “I went to a baptismal feast given by
one of the natives. There was a place covered with matting and ornamented with
palm leaves in the front yard. Here the natives sat, and chairs were placed about on
all sides, leaving a small space for dancing in the centre. I was given some
sweetmeats and Muscatel 177 wine as I entered, and a seat near some señoritas.
“ The señoritas sat by themselves on one side and the men on the other. There
were some pretty dresses in the crowd. One cunning little girl became quite friendly
with me. She was a pretty little tot with brown shoes and blue socks. About half-past
eleven I was invited into the house and sat down at the table with eleven señoritas.
“It was a little embarrassing for the señoritas to have the honor of sitting down
with El commandante. The meal was very good, with some of the lightest cake I have
ever eaten. Then we went out and there was some more dancing. Finally I was
invited into the house once more and had the rest of the dinner. There were several
courses of meats, and a salad with good bread; in fact, it was a swell affair. I did not
dance any, but left for a siesta about one o’clock. I understand that the dancing
lasted until five in the afternoon. Then there was more dancing in the evening it one
of the houses.”
With May came the ‘Santa Cruzan” celebration of spring marked by parades of
beautifully dressed young single girls, the Flores de Mayo – flowers of May - and
their shy male escorts in tow, walking or in flower-decorated carts and arches. On
May 27, Bumpus wrote to his father: “To-day is the last day of the fiestas. Last night I
went to a fiesta and dance at a prominent citizen’s house. The man was a captain in
the guarda civil or native militia which Spain had in the islands. He owns a good deal
of land, cultivated with rice, and sugar- cane, and is named Capitan Felix.
“I got to his house about half-past six, meeting the padre on the way. As we
walked upstairs we went by a little shrine which is always in evidence at these
fiestas. The host welcomed us at the door, and took us into the big front room. I had
not been there long before we were invited to eat. During the course of the evening
we ate four times, and as I had eaten a regular supper before going, I began to think
of old Thanksgiving dinners. This is one of the good characteristics of the native; he
is extremely hospitable, and feels insulted if one does not eat something. I finally left
El Capitan and carried off a big green cocoanut (sic), which he insisted upon my
taking with me.
“To-night is the last of these fiestas, which last twenty-seven days. The town
presidente is going to give this “shin-dig,” and I suppose there will be many bonitas
señoritas and plenty of ‘‘ chow-chow.’’
“I expect that my company will be here during the coming rainy season.”
His own mortality had already become apparent:
“I am going to Manila early next month for a little change. If I am not mistaken, I
gave you my insurance policy for safe keeping before I left the States. In case

177 Bumpus may be referring to Basi, a sweet-tasting wine made from sugar cane in Luzon.
anything should happen to me the money will go to your estate. It will be a small
recompense for all you have done for me.”
In the next 12 months, official US records logged 1,026 ‘contacts’ between
American and Filipino forces.
Chapter Sixteen

The Boxer Rebellion

Bumpus saw little of the rainy season in Manila. On the other side of the China
Sea in Beijing years of resentment against foreign control of the Chinese Imperial
Court ignited into a full-blown revolution. In the Philippines there was little if any
resentment against foreigners per se, even Americans and Spaniards, but the Boxer
Rebellion targeted all non-Chinese. Christian missionaries were killed and foreign
diplomats were holed up in a special enclave. It became the inspiration for the film
55 Days In Peking. Not included in the film was the fact that, according to Bumpus
“The Japs were in advance of every one all the way, as they had the best
transportation and were the finest troops for this campaigning. They did most of the
In 1894, Japanese ships had defeated a Chinese fleet at the Battle of Yalu. Now its
ground troops showed they had the discipline, equipment and mettle to mix with
the best the West had to offer.
Britain, Germany, France, Russia and Japan committed forces, including Sikhs, to
China. America sent the Marines and the 9 th Infantry Regiment. Company C arrived
at Taku Bar on June 27, 1899. The 9 th Infantry and the US Marines shared and
bonded in the meat-grinder that was the Boxer Rebellion, an experience far different
from anything experienced by the US Military in its history to that date. More than a
year later those same marines would be ordered to take revenge in Samar for the
attack on Company C.
From Taku Bar the 9th Infantry trekked 85 miles to the Boxer stronghold at
Tsientsin. On July 13, at about 9am the Regiment’s Colour Sergeant, Edward
Gorman, was severely wounded. The Regiment’s commander, Colonel Liscum
grabbed the flag and continued directing his men, even though wounded in the
shoulder. Liscum took further hits and gave his last order before he died: “Keep up
the fire”. It remains the motto of the Regiment.
Later that day, after being pinned down by fire from the Boxers, the regiment
was ordered to retire. The next day the battle began again. Japanese forces finally
broke through and the city was taken.
Of that day, Bumpus wrote: “…we buried nearly twenty-five men. Many thoughts
of that terrible day came surging through my mind. They are pleasant things or
noble things to think about in comfortable quarters, but it was hell turned loose at
the time.”
Then came the battle of Yang-Tsun, where US forces lost eight men dead and 50
wounded, and, finally, the assault on Peking. The 9 th was the first to break into the
Forbidden City. For the next year, a 9th Infantryman stood sentry at the gate to the
Forbidden City.
Along the way, the regiment acquired silver bars from the Chinese treasury.
These were eventually fashioned into a bowl, the Liscum Bowl, from which newly
appointed NCOs are still required to drink a fiery brew called Manchu Fire as part of
their initiation.
In August, Bumpus was put on detached duty with another unit, to rejoin it in
March the next year.
Chapter Seventeen

Return to Manila
In January 1901 Bumpus’s brother, Chauncey, died, deepening the depression he
called ‘the black mantle’. He was already depressed after being hauled over the coals
for misdemeanours in China, and his guilt followed him.
The Balangiga threads of incidence entangled another, and very different, young
officer in February. Lieutenant Thomas Walter Connell was promoted to Captain. He
was educated at the De La Salle Institute, an 1894 graduate of West Point who
joined the 9th Infantry as Second Lieutenant on graduation, came from a large
family of fourth and fifth generation Irish stock in New York. He had served at
Santiago de Cuba, the Battle of San Juan Hill, brevetted captain, and was at various
times a battalion and regimental staff officer and aide de camp to Brigadier General
Henry T. Douglas of the US Volunteers and was acting regimental adjutant. His
brother, John, was Deputy Assistant District Attorney in New York.
At West Point, Connell became close friends with a classmate, Frank De W.
Ramsey, whose career mirrored his own. During the Cuba campaign the two men
had a private agreement that should either die, the survivor would send a message
to the other's family using a specially coded cable address. In Connell's case, the
address was to be 'Quoconnell'.
Bumpus’s antecedents were the Allertons who landed with the Mayflower,
which arrived in America in 1620. Connell's were Irish immigrants.
Bumpus returned to his unit in the middle of March to find himself in command:
“I am, perfectly contented and ambitious to have one of the best companies in the
regiment. I have learned a good deal since I have been in China, and I have done
nothing to be ashamed of. My old company has changed a good deal since I left it last
August. It gives me great pleasure to think that the men appreciate my good
treatment of them. I have always tried to give them their due. I am the only officer
for duty with the company. The company is pretty well scattered now, with fifty
men on detached service at Tongkin at the mouth of the Pei Ho River. There are men
absent, sick, or on other detached service, so that I have my first sergeant,
quartermaster sergeant and thirty-eight men present for drill and other duties.”
Company C. moved into a building owned by a trading company: “The most
comfortable quarters I have seen since we left the States”. With them was another
unit, Company G, headed by Captain Edwin Bookmiller.
Already, he knew he would be sent to the Philippines again: “I am afraid that it
will be many a day before ‘Johnny comes marching home again.’ As long as there is
trouble in the Philippines, that place is going to be the graveyard and bugaboo of our
army.” And predicted: “General Chaffee is going to Manila with us and he will take
command of the islands, relieving General McArthur. We are in hopes that he may
have us stationed in Manila with him as provost guard.”178
Even so, Bumpus had plans for his future, and marriage was among them: ”You
can probably guess who the dear object of my affections is. I am not worthy of her,
but I will try hard to get her if no other fellow gets ahead of me.” Later he writes:
“(Chauncey’s) picture hangs on the wall near Miss B‘s, and they are both constantly
in my thoughts. I have been keeping up a desultory correspondence with Miss B, for
I intend to win her.”
Of more immediate concern was the quality and lack of training of new recruits
then joining the regiment: “A good many of our men have gone to the bad here in
China, for we had a tough crowd of recruits from the Bowery and like places. Most of
these men have been weeded out, but some cusses still remain.”
On May 27, with the final elements of the China Relief Expedition Company C.
headed back to Manila aboard the luxuriously appointed USS Sumner.
With a sense of relief and pride Bumpus told his father: “We do not expect any
harder work, for in fact it could not be much more disagreeable than the work we
have had for thirteen months or more. I trust we can get some quiet station in or
near Manila. The Ninth has seen more hard service than any regiment, either regular
or volunteer, in the service of old “Uncle Sam.” They were in Cuba where it made a
name for itself, did good work in the Philippines under the lamented Colonel
Liscum, and has made a name for itself in China.”


Prior to the establishment of a separate Military Police command law-enforcement and protection of
facilities was carried out by a Provost Guard formed from existing units.
Chapter Eighteen

A Certain Magnetism
At 8 o’clock on the morning of June 5 the USS Sumner passed Corregidor and
three hours later weighed anchor. Company C disembarked to join 10 companies of
the 9th, and its headquarters, in a temporary encampment on the Luneta, Manila’s
beautiful park.
Company C. arrived with 95 men and was boosted up to the full complement of
103. “There is some rumor of our being sent to the southern islands, possibly Samar
or Mindoro. I have got so now that I have become sort of callous, and as long as one
can keep his health, why, duty comes easily”, says Bumpus. This was a different man
to the one who had left Manila a year earlier and his letters are increasing filled with
references to ‘duty’, a sign, perhaps, that the ‘black mantle’ still hovered.
Captain Paul Harris, then the Company Commander, was sent on detached
service to the United States where he would be present at the Buffalo Exposition in
New York when President William McKinley was shot by an anarchist and later die
of his wounds. The newly promoted Thomas Connell replaced Harris.
From his letters, it seems that Bumpus’s father offered to pull strings to get him
leave in the US. Edward turned it down; it would look bad while the regiment was
still in the Philippines.
Much had happened while Company C. was in China. The previous year the US
forces reached peak strength in the islands of nearly 70,000 soldiers in 502
At the end of March, under false colours, Brigadier-General Frederick Funston
entered Emilio Aguinaldo’s headquarters in Palanan, Northern Luzon, and captured
him. Just the day before the Philippine president had celebrated his 31 st birthday.
Company C. took on Provost Duty, the precursor to the Military Police. By and
large this meant protecting government property.
A month later Company C. was honour guard as, in the rain, General Arthur
McArthur was replaced by Adna Chaffee and William Howard Taft became the
civilian administrator in ceremonies Bumpus describes as ‘tiresome’.
Other duties were more interesting:
“I am writing this in the quarters of Aguinaldo, where I am acting as officer of the
day. Captain Palmer has general charge of Aggie, and another officer and myself are
taking turns staying in Aguinaldo’s house while the captain is out. This is a big house
on the Malacannan, the swell residence street of Manila. Some officer has to be here
all the time. There is a guard of two men about the house, who prevent any illicit
correspondence from going out or coming in. Aguinaldo has his secretary here and
his family, so that he has a monotonous but a comfortable confinement.
He is allowed to see any visitors he wishes to at certain hours of the day. Captain
Palmer looks over all his letters, and Aguinaldo is allowed to have any newspapers
or letters which have been inspected. He has been here for several months and I
believe has not been off the top floor of this house since he came here. He can go out
walking in the big yard if he wishes to, but has to be accompanied by an officer if he
goes out into the street. It is said that some of Luna’s friends (a Filipino general who
had almost as much influence as Aggie, and who was killed by Aggie for political
reasons) will assassinate him if they get a chance. I have met Aggie and talked with
him for a short time. He is not a remarkably brilliant-looking man, but has a certain
amount of magnetism, and he certainly has had an interesting life so far.”
Two weeks after his arrest, Aguinaldo took the Oath of Allegiance and issued a
letter for the Filipino forces to lay down their arms. In fact, he knew that he no
longer had any formal authority over Filipino forces – under orders he himself
issued the year before: “Anyone belonging to the Liberating Army who may fall into
the power of the American Army either as a prisoner or by surrender, shall lose his
authority in the army of the revolution from the moment of his capture or
surrender.” Indeed, several months earlier he had written "In case (I) should be
captured alive they would probably compel (me) by force to order you to lay down
your arms. In that case you would be right in not obeying because when the hour
comes for (Me) to fall into the hands of others, (I) will at that moment be berift of
the office (Of commander)".

That Aguinaldo considered himself without authority is confirmed in a meeting

between him and the 23-year-old Manuel Quezon, a future president of the
For weeks after Aguinaldo's capture Filipino force were uncertain as to his fate.
Quezon was part of the command of the Philippine General Tomas Mascardo and,
sick with malaria, was ordered to surrender in April 1901, and verify Aguinaldo's
capture179. General Arthur McArthur himself took Quezon to see Aguinaldo. At the

Filipinos In History, National Historical Institute, Vol II, Manila, 1990, p121
meeting, Aguinaldo, in cautious, carefully framed words, fit for the American ears
that no doubt listened to his conversations as much as their eyes read his mail, said:

"As you see, I am now a prisoner. I have taken the oath of allegiance to the
United States and I have no right, directly or indirectly, to advise you to go on
fighting. On the other hand, if I were to send word to General Mascardo to
surrender, he might think that I am acting under duress and he would have the right
to disobey me."180

In mid-May, Mascardo surrendered.

By June, more US forces were moving into Samar. The 2 nd Battalion arrived in
Basey on June 10 under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Morris Foote. Bumpus
expected to follow: “I understand that Samar has a good climate, but it is a very
difficult country to fight in. Guerrilla warfare has been going on there for some time
under charge of a certain General Lukban, who is said to be a capable man. I do not
care much for that kind of warfare, for there is little glory and much hard work
connected with it. Never mind! This is the only privilege we soldiers have, and that
is to growl and do our duty.”
Ten days later Edward Bumpus was on his way to Samar.

180 Ocampo, Ambeth, Bonifacio's Bolo, Anvil Publishing, Pasig City, Philippines, 1995, p55
Chapter Nineteen

Lukban and Samar

Emilio Aguinaldo sent Vicente Lukban to Samar to administer the island,
organize tax collection and oversee local elections. Lukban did not go to Samar as a
guerrilla or rebel but as an authorized representative of his government, yet he
proved effective at irregular warfare, although perhaps not quite as effective as
widely proposed.
“On no other island did the Americans make as sustained an effort to harness
their military and naval forces toward the suppression of indigenous resistance,”
wrote Brian Linn181 of the struggler in Samar, to which might be added RM Taylor’s
comment: “The history of Samar during this period is the history of Gen. Vicente
Lucban or Lukban, a formidable guerrilla leader…”182.
It is also the story of Lukban's constant struggle to maintain a credible threat on
Samar in the face of Samareno prejudice against 'foreigners' like Lukban himself.
That it took a truly massive application of force and resources and the destruction of
the entire island's economy by US forces to end his resistance says much for his
skills as a commander and his ability to both marshal his own resources and men
and maximize those available to him.
The American experience during the mobilization against the Japanese on Samar
may well mirror Lukban's own: "Tagalog officers… created a very real problem… a
large portion of the officers was from Luzon and did not speak the various dialects
of the Visayans… to understand the lack of respect towards the Filipino officers by
their men, resulting in the failure of Filipinos as officers, this disunity should not be


Brian Linn, “The Struggle for Samar”, Crucible of Empire, Bradford, James C. (ed), Naval Institute
Press, USA.
182 Taylor, RM, Vol II, page 426
183 Sharp, Maj. Gen. William, Historical Report on Visayan-Mindanao Force Defense of the Philippines,
in Ancheta, Celedonio A. (ed), The Wainwright Papers, New Day, Quezon City,1982.
When World War 2 broke out, the Americans followed almost exactly Lukban's
strategies on Samar, from sending guerrillas into the hills to producing homemade
weapons, ammunition and clothes. So he must have been doing something right.
Lukban was to be one of the few Filipino generals to be captured by American
forces and was potentially one of the most dangerous men, from an American
perspective, to associate with Aguinaldo.
He was dangerous not just because he had a burning hatred of foreign
domination of his country and commitment to its liberty, nor because his personal
tragedies left him little to lose, but because he understood the nature of guerrilla
warfare, how to marshal resources, live off the land, and make the most of the
surrounding environment. As a successful businessman, he understood the
management of people and resources, something few others understood.
It may have been the death of his first wife in the early 1890's and, a few months
later, the death of his third child that triggered Lukban to commitment himself to
the Philippine fight for independence. Having done so, he remained firm until after
his capture and probably longer - family tradition says that he was being groomed to
take over the leadership from Emilio Aguinaldo, which may be confirmed, in a way,
by his later arrest by the US administration184.
The American press of the period followed the government line that Lukban was
nothing more than a ladrone, a bandit out for easy loot, had absconded with the
revolutionary funds and so forth. It wasn't so. In fact, Lukban's curriculum vita
shows him to have one of the most respectable backgrounds of any of the
revolutionaries, and certainly a more upstanding one than many of those who
pursued him185.
Vicente Lukban was born in Tayabas Province, now Quezon, on February 11,
1860 in Labo, Camarines Norte. He studied at the prestigious Ateneo Municipal de
Manila and law at San Juan Letran, then worked in the Court of First Instance in
Quiapo, Manila before becoming Justice of the Peace in Labo.
Here was a man of substance who had little to gain by taking up the cause of
Philippine independence against the United States.
By 1894 he became a freemason186, the rites of which were adapted by the
revolutionary Katipunan movement founded by Andres Bonifacio, and established
lodges in Bicol. He set-up co-operatives for small and medium scale farmers which

184 Unless otherwise noted, biographical information on Lukban is based on the author’s interviews with
the Lukban family in Quezon City, 1999.
185 Chaput, Donald, The American Press and General Vicente Lukban, Hero of Samar, Leyte Samar
Studies, VIII; 1 (1974) 21-31
186 The Cabletow, January-February 1985, Grand Lodge of the Philippines.
not only helped them economically but also helped raise funds for the revolt against
In 1896 he was imprisoned and tortured by the Spanish. This, too, is a thread of
incidence towards Balangiga. The record of his interrogation by the Spanish
authorities is dated September 28, 1896 187. Days of imprisonment in a flooded cell
left him with a permanent limp.
August 1897 saw his release from prison under a pardon of political prisoners
by the then Governor-General188. After tearing up the pardon document he joined
Aguinaldo and participated in several battles against the Spanish.
After the Pact of Biak Na Bato towards the end of that year, he went into exile
with Aguinaldo in Hong Kong and became part of the revolutionary junta. There,
according to some sources, he studied military science under Commander Joseph
Churchase and at ‘Japan’s equivalent of West Point’ neither of which can be
In 1898 he returned to the Philippines and fought very successfully against the
Painted in contemporary American accounts as little more than a wily oriental
bandit with a touch of sneaky Chinese blood in him - a useful addition to the
weaponry of propaganda warfare after the Boxer Revolt - General Vicente Lukban
was probably the most competent and imaginative general in Aguinaldo's team.
After extensive successful actions against Spanish forces in Luzon and Bicol
during the Spanish-American War he was ordered to Leyte and Samar in April 1898.
He set up his first post at Calbayog, Samar, on December 31, 1898 and another at
Tacloban on January 17, 1899189
As one of Aguinaldo's most trusted people it may seem strange that he was
assigned to what at first appears to be a mere backwater, Leyte and Samar, in early
1899. Yet, as the war of independence faltered in Luzon, it became clear that Samar,
or at least the Visayas, could be the kernel of a continuing guerilla war that could
last for years. These islands had an international trade in abaca, the raw material for
maritime cordage, through British trading houses based in Samar and Leyte, like
Smith, Bell and Warner, Barnes which could provide an income to keep the fight
Neither island had played much of a role in the 1898 conflict. On his arrival in
Samar Lukban wrote to the islanders: “We no longer are slaves exploited by the

187 Dr Domingo Abella Collection, Rizal Library, Ateneo de Manila, Philippines

188 Filipinos in History, National Historical Institute, Manila, 1990, p12 et seq.
189 Imperial, Reynaldo H., Leyte 1898-1902, Office of Research Co-Ordination, University of the
Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City, 1996
Spaniard; we no longer blush on account of our condition, because our beloved
Filipinas has entered the concert of civilized nations… And you, children of Samar
and Leyte, participate in all this happiness, although you did not co-operate in the
Lukban recognized that McKinley’s proclamation of sovereignty in December
1898 made war almost inevitable: “Will you permit this soil, legally ours, should be
taken again from us?”
He faced an uphill task among people who already considered themselves
largely independent and owed little to Manila. As a Bicolano, he was an outsider.
And Leyte and Samar were just as divided by internal politicking as the rest of the
country. Then came the outbreak of war.
Inevitably, the local elite, whose noses were being put out of joint by elections
under the Aguinaldo government which challenged their traditional influence, made
a variety of accusations against Lukban. His command was split – Lukban would
retain Samar while Leyte was handed to Ambrosio Mojica. While Mojica was still a
stranger, a Tagalog from Cavite, he appears to have been more malleable by the local
Lukban thought little of Mojica and made sure that he wasn’t under the
newcomer’s command: “I believe… that you (Antonio Luna, then secretary of war)
would never consent that a private be over a corporal.”190
To Lukban’s anger, Cebu peacefully submitted to American authority on
February 21. Even worse, he thought, there was a move afoot to replace Lukban
with Mojica on Samar. Berating the elite whom he believed were only working for
his own interests he warned: “under Mojica they will have their own way, and they
are taking advantage of this leniency or trust to carry out their wishes.”
Lukban’s judgment was to prove correct and Mojica was eventually to fold and
His practical bent quickly showed dividends. Near Catbalogan he established an
arsenal that was turning out cartridges of various calibres by July using old sewing
machines. He recruited a chemist, Vito Borromeo, to find ways of increasing the
supply of potassium nitrate explosives with the use of chlorates made from locally
available substances. He ordered the establishment of militia in each town. He was
preparing for war in Samar.
Although American forces were not to land on Samar until nearly a year later,
their control of Cebu and Ilo-Ilo and the closure of ports meant that food and other
supplies were short and the price of rice went through the roof. By the start of the

190 Lukban to Luna, July 8, 1899, published in Taylor, page 633

rainy season Lukban’s forces were reduced to eating sweet potatoes, plain boiled
rice, rice gruel and, occasionally, palm flour.
Hunger, rather than American forces, proved to be Lukban’s greatest enemy in
his first contact with American forces in January 1900.
A naval blockade ordered by Otis successfully prevented the movement of
Filipino forces to and from Samar and food supplies from reaching the island, but
created a problem, too. Abaca was in short supply by late 1899 and Elihu Root,
McKinley’s Secretary of War ordered Otis to open ports handling abaca.
With Philippine hemp such an important strategic and economic material, an
expedition led by Brigadier General William Kobbé was dispatched with the USS
Nashville and USS Helena to occupy ports in Samar and Leyte. In late January he took
the ports of Calbayog and Catbalogan with the 43 rd US Volunteers.
On January 27, 1900, Lukban’s forces took on Kobbe’s brigade.
Lukban heard about the assault on Calbayog in the evening of January 27 and
quickly set about readying to defend Catbalogan and, if necessary, to burn it. At 9am
the following morning Kobbe’s forces anchored in Catbalogan Bay and sent a launch
to the shore where a Filipino artillery officer met with an American emissary who
demanded surrender and was refused. The Filipinos were given two more hours to
surrender and the launch returned to the ships.
Almost immediately, US forces began landing and opened fire, with a covering
barrage of ship’s guns. After 24 hours, Lukban was forced to retreat because of his
men’s exhaustion and hunger. The experience led him to issue an order to his men
not to attack American forces until sufficient provisions were in place 191. The
apparent ease of occupation led Kobbé to merely leave garrisons at the two Samar
towns and one on Leyte at Tacloban and return to Manila, leaving the forces in the
command of Major Henry T Allen, the ports supposedly now open to trade.
Unfortunately, the Navy disagreed. While Kobbé was easing restrictions to
enable hemp boats to operate, the navy was seizing and sinking boats flying the
Filipino flag, carrying alleged contraband, such as food and hemp, or trying to leave
restricted ports192.
Kobbé talked to a British trader in Catbalogan, a Mr. Easton, who assured him
that Lukban was hated on Samar and who alleged that he had been responsible for
several atrocities. Kobbé put a bounty of $5,000 on Lukban's dead but it was never
collected, although at least one attempt was made to do so.
Lukban abandoned his headquarters at Matuguinao, taking with him as much of
his force’s money and arms as he could to establish a new government. His army

191 Lukban to local presidentes (mayors), February 4, 1900, in Taylor, page 637.
192 Linn, p164
close to mutiny because of hunger, he left much of his column behind as he marched
day and night for four days, alone but for two small boys and a hunter.
Surviving on palm and ‘obod’193, he arrived in Buan, Paranas to discover an even
worse situation. The province had long since turned its agricultural production over
to hemp and relied on buying food from merchants. Despite his continuous barrage
of instructions to plant rice and root crops, the province continued to grow hemp
alone. Kobbe’s withdrawal after taking Tacloban convinced them that the Americans
would never arrive en masse.
Lukban himself may have gone hungrier than he needed to. He failed to fully
adapt to Visayan ways. He avoided one formal gathering because “…in these Visayan
islands they were making me drink and eat things which my dignity did not
There was no food, at least, little palatable to Lukban. And worse was to follow.
Captain Francisco Rafael at Calbayog had been forced to disperse the 2nd Company
because of food shortages. Lukban organized the collection of sweet potatoes and
sent a message to Rafael’s second in command, Francisco Lobato, for the company to
report to Buan. The depressing reply was that Lobato had surrendered to the
American forces, and ordered his men to follow suit 195.
The Filipinos had lost Catbalogan and Calbayog not from firepower, but hunger.
His army demoralized he found himself facing a barrage of criticism. All the same, he
put a brave face towards the Samarenos in a series of propaganda letters.
With less than 500 men, and an overabundance of confidence, Allen set out to
tame Samar and the Samarenos and secure the hemp crops196.
Booby traps that would become a feature of Vietnam 60 years later, were in
place: “The cowardly enemy continues to maraud along the coasts” he told the
hands of towns, “You should, therefore, make numerous pits and set pointed canes,
steeped in poison, in the bottom, and other strategic devices as did the worthy
people of Pambujan.”
At Pambujan, according to Lukban, 150 American soldiers disembarked but
“became so affrighted that they fled precipitately to their ship.”
While Lukban’s propaganda letters to Samar’s inhabitants should be treated
with as much caution as formal US reports, there do appear to have been some
successes that put weapons into his hands. Five rifles and an officer’s pistol were
won in an engagement at Capatgan in the pueblo of Tiabong. On the 27 th Major Claro

193 Coconut heart, usually boiled.

194 Lukban to Trias August 15, 1900
195 Lukban to Trias August 15, 1900
196 Linn, p163
Guevara, based in Gandara, reported a sighting of American soldiers who returned
to the town after sighting a Filipino contingent. In the afternoon, Filipino forces
attacked the town allegedly killing 17 US soldiers and wounding 11. At Oras, claimed
Lukban, a Filipino ran through American lines, killing seven men before being shot
dead. Filipino forces reportedly still had the town under siege on March 31
Borongan, the hometown of Eugenio Daza, who was to become Lukban’s
administrator in an area that covered Balangiga to the south, was visited by a
steamerful of American forces that supposedly retreated after the townspeople
showed their hostility.
More weapons came into Lukban’s hands on March 30 th in an engagement at San
Jose (Buan). US forces, he claims, lost one dead and one wounded, along with a rifle,
ammunition and canned goods and took four Filipinos captive, whose fate is not
The following month, Lukban introduced conscription, ordering town mayors:
“you will send to this headquarters a large number of men, selecting the most
resolute and decided ones, to be soldiers”, with the ominous warning “if you fail to
do this, you will be treated as traitors to the country; which, however, this
government does not anticipate in view of your evident patriotism up to the
Recruitment, then, cannot have been going as well as Lukban wished and threats
were necessary to encourage towns to send him their best and brightest.
An old threat re-emerged in January – the Philippines may be handed back to
much-hated friars. Papal Delegate Archbishop Chapelle of New Orleans visited the
Philippines and sought the return of the friars and the restoration of their lands.
Despite a firm refusal by Otis, Chapelle embarked upon a propaganda campaign that
made it appear that the United States government favoured his proposal. After much
damage was done to American attempts to pacify their reluctant new subjects, the
Vatican recalled Chapelle the following year197.
By early March, Lukban succeeded in getting his hands on eight rifles, enough to
modestly resume operations to some extent. He kept four for his own defence and
the rest went to the Filipino detachment at Paranas to attack an American
detachment. Four rifles and some bolomen went against 11 43 rd Infantry volunteers.
In what must have appeared as a deadly version of the biblical loaves and fishes,
30 other rifles magically appeared in the Filipino hands during the attack. Men had
disobeyed orders to stash their weapons in caches subsequently discovered by the

197 Gleek, Lewis, The American Half Century, New Day Publishers, Quezon City, 1998. pp 44-45
After Paranas, according to Lukban, 14 US detachments were put into the field
together with ‘flying columns’, the equivalent of today’s Special Forces. Lukban sent
part of his 34 riflemen, and bolomen, against US forces in Gandara and Borongan. On
The 15th, according to Lukban’s account, the Americans were ‘expelled’ from
Borongan. He claims that the forces targeted upon Gandara, lead by Claro Guevara
forced the 50 – strong US detachment there to retire.
With weapons captured from the Americans, Lukban now had 50 rifles. At
around 5 in the morning on Easter Sunday, April 15, he led the siege of Catubig.
After, according to Lukban, five days (three days in US accounts), the Filipino force
had acquired 25 rifles and 12,000 rounds of ammunition. He was now able to put
together two battalions. Some 15 Americans died in the attack.
On a roll, with Claro Guevara now promoted to Colonel and two others,
Francisco Rafael and Narciso Abuke, both promoted to Major, Lukban mounted
actions in Northern Samar.
Abuke was given 12 rifles and ordered to Catarman to attack a US detachment.
To prevent American reinforcements being sent from Catbalogan, a Captain Serrano
was sent to harass the US detachment there. Lukban returned to his old
headquarters at Matuguinao.
Catarman got greater attention when the town’s vice mayor, Jose Hermosilla,
turned up in Matuguinao to tell Lukban that the mayor had been captured by US
troops. Immediately, Guevara, second in command, was placed in temporary charge
of the Philippine government on Samar and Lukban set off in pursuit of Abuke’s unit
on its way to Catarman. By the time Lukban arrived at Catarman, the action was
over and, reported Lukban, ‘Sr. Abuke had succeeded in ousting the enemy’.
Returning to Matuguinao, he met Guevara who returned an attack by 130 US
troops, probably the hard-suffering 43rd Volunteer Infantry, had been repulsed and
that US forces had lost a total of 50 men. If true, this would have exceeded the
number of US dead in Balangiga the following year, but there is no reason to believe
that Filipino body counts were any more accurate than their American counterparts.
Allen came under criticism by Otis and Kobbé for overextending his forces.
General Arthur McArthur took command of the Philippines on May 5. He was a
man with far greater understanding than Otis of the situation in the Philippines, or
at least, did not have to defend the fiction that the Filipinos only sought American
rule. With McArthur came an even greater threat to Philippine independence, the
policy of attraction.
An enhanced school system and civil works were meant to show the beneficial
nature of American colonization. The impact of the policy in some quarters was
significant. Gleek cites a letter regarding the arrival of an American superintendent
of schools: “The Filipinos seem very much astonished that we should invite the
teachers socially to our house. One of our friends said that it was the first time in the
history of the Philippines that anyone connected with the government had treated
the native teachers as if they were on the same social plane as himself.”
Visiting Samar in May, McArthur decided to abandon the offensive in the interior
begun by Allen. Catbalogan and Calbayog were to be held and the 43 rd withdrawn
from Leyte and replaced with a battalion of the 29 th Volunteer Infantry.
McArthur issued a ‘forgive and forget’ amnesty to the Filipinos offering
immunity for past acts, and a bounty of 30 pesos for each rifle, to those who signed a
document renouncing connections with the Filipino forces and acceptance of US
Lukban warned any Samarenos thinking of taking up McArthur’s offer that they
“will become slaves. At first they will treat him with kindness, which will later turn
to tortures and humiliation.”
Perhaps Lukban’s words echoed the following year in Balangiga, where just such
a process was demonstrated.
As a tit-for-tat, Lukban distributed his own proclamation five days after
McArthur’s. Any Americans who turned themselves and their weapons over to the
Filipinos would be treated “as their rank and character entitle them… (Given) good
food and other necessaries… they will be given due protection and assistance
provided they recognize our cause… and they shall be entitled to continue their
residence in this province….”
He even managed to top McArthur with “Any Filipino soldier or other person
who sacks, robs, maltreats, or upbraids the nation or person of any American who
presents himself to our forces and surrenders his arms, will be immediately shot to
The Americans were chipping away at Lukban’s support in ways they may not
even have been aware of: “I… began to receive information that the Yankee
government was good because it charges only one peseta as contribution… “ In
response, Lukban issued a proclamation suspending all taxes and payments to the
Philippine government “Which certainly did bear good results”.
Three American POWs of the 43rd Volunteers were captured at Calbayog, one of
whom identified himself as a Freemason. Proving he was as good as his word,
Lukban returned them to American lines under a flag of truce. Over a year later he
was to similarly treat with kindness an American private who turned himself over to
the Filipinos – Private William Denton of Company C., 9th United States Infantry.
General Arthur McArthur offered $5,000 for Lukban's head. Such was the
demoralization among Lukban’s forces that three men from Tiabon attempted to
collect the bounty by poisoning Lukban, possibly with ‘Dita’, the same poison he
recommended for use against the Americans. At least one of the men stayed alive,
Felipe Zuniga.
“”Desiring to teach those who do not know, I ordered the author of the poisoning
to be arrested, whose life I gave him, teaching him how a Filipino citizen should act,
the manner of conspiring, attacking and repulsing the enemy, until he became a
good pupil, and is now one of my most active assistants, working in our favor; being
pleased with such good conduct, I presented him with a revolver, being successful in
having him again assume command of his town.”
Lukban was offered the position of governor of Samar under the American
regime, with autonomy, if he would surrender, but he refused to accept the offer.
By late April or the beginning of May, Lukban was making headway, both against
internal dissent and the Americans, so he believed. The inhabitants had stopped
producing hemp and were growing rice and root crops. But food production was
attacked by a plague of locusts.
Lukban had clearly turned a corner. Women were busy weaving ‘sinamay’ fabric
for his men's uniforms. He renewed the production of rifle cartridges using
galvanized iron taken, so he reports, from churches and convents burned by the
Food was appearing from throughout Samar – rice, palay (unhusked rice), salted
fish, fresh and salted meat, canned goods, “all voluntary contributions of war”, and
money. Given Lukban's modest manpower, his food needs would not have
endangered the islander's well-being and he was, afterall, considered the
government on Samar.
In the meantime, Colonel Arthur Murray, commander of the 43rd on Leyte was at
loggerheads with the navy. He believed that normalizing commerce was a step
towards gaining local support for the American occupation and threatened to drive
the US Navy from the Leyte coast if they continued their blockade. Eventually,
McArthur arbitrated in favour of the Navy and a strict blockade198.
At the same time, the Samareno elite accused Lukban of robberies and abuses.
The extent to which they were true or not is difficult to substantiate today. At the
same time, they certainly saw Lukban as a threat to their own power base and his
insistence on growing food rather than cash crops, as a threat to their income.
Lack of planning and foresight on behalf of other regional commanders took its
toll. Mojica asked Lukban to supply him with 2,000 cartridges. Lukban declined but
offered to increase his operations in Samar which would force the Americans to
reinforce the island, thus relieving pressure on Leyte. He did, however, send men to

198 Linn, p165

Mojica to show how to prepare sodium nitrate for gunpowder, to fill cartridges and
how to repair rifles.
“… Before the outbreak those people thought of nothing but luxury and now that
the time has come, they remember the arsenal I organized there and which they
ridiculed…” he told Trias.
September saw yet another disaster for American forces in Luzon when 51 men
of the 29th Volunteer infantry were routed at Torrijos, Marinduque. Four American
soldiers died, seven were wounded and 40 men surrendered to the Filipinos. A
further 8 men were captured. Three days later came the Battle of Matibac and the
second greatest loss to the US states in a single action of the war. All POWS were
handed back, unharmed, to US forces on October 15199.
With the Boxer Rebellion underway in China, and combat continuing in Luzon,
several US units were withdrawn from Visayan garrisons. Hearing that Laoang, on
the East coast of Samar was to be evacuated by US forces, Lukban ordered First
Lieutenant Marcos Espinas to take control or the town, adding: “you will not permit
any Americanistas (American supporters) to leave the town and you will issue strict
orders that they be not molested under your strict liability.” 200
Some Americanistas were unlucky. Reporting from Burias, Colonel Santos of the
2nd Battalion reported that on the island of Masbate, which earlier surrendered to
American forces, a Spanish merchant, Echvarria and his family were murdered by
Filipino forces, having been accused of playing a lead role in the earlier surrender.
On September 18, Lukban sent an odd letter to the mayor of Catubig. It
congratulated the unnamed mayor for repelling an attack by US forces and for
sinking a steamer. No such action appears in American records or elsewhere in
Lukban’s records.
By October, Lukban clearly felt he had secured the interest of the Samarenos in
the independence of the Philippines and, strangely, invoked William Tell, a
legendary Swiss patriot of five hundred years before of whom it is unlikely that
many Filipinos had even heard.
He appealed to the women of Samar to spurn any men who had not
demonstrated his worth by facing the enemy201 and, on October 9, released a
captured American sergeant and a corporal whom, he says, undertook not to take up
arms against the Philippines, following standing orders.
While Lukban spent much time on propaganda, so did the Americans. By
December 1900, US forces controlled Borongan on the East coast of Samar. The local

199 Combat In the 20th Century, VFW Magazine, p6

200 Lukban to Espinas, September 8, 1900, in Taylor, page 663.
201 Lukban, Oct. 11, 1900, in Taylor, Page 666
mayor, Magno Abenis, took dictation for a letter to local authorities in Samar urging
them to abandon any thoughts of independence. Lukban later received a copy of the
letter from one of his commanders together with a note that the “backslider, Magno
Abenis, has fortunately fallen into my hands.”
Nothing more is heard of Abenis. Collaborators have been harshly treated in all
theatres of warfare and Samar was no different. However, as is noted elsewhere,
claims of atrocities by Lukban were made by a local elite whose own powerbase was
threatened by Lukban, and American claims must be treated with caution since, as
Linn warns, many of the officer making those claims were themselves accused of
war crimes202.
On December 6, the residents of Matuguinao burned the town to ashes to
prevent its occupation by American forces. Just a month later they set about
rebuilding it, complete with new quarters for the Filipino forces.
The last quarter of 1900 was particularly busy for Lukban, according to his
report to Trias. During those months some 3,000 American troops arrived in Samar
together with eight warships, under the command of Robert Hughes, the man who
was to order that Balangiga and surrounding areas be turned into a desert. The US
forces blockaded Samar then in mid December half the force withdrew.
“Wretched as is the condition of these people, they continue to make sacrifices
for their country…” Wrote Lukban.
By the end of the year, US forces reached their peak strength of nearly 70,000
men. On Samar, their weak presence and inability to set up garrisons across the
island left them with little more to do than make punitive raids to destroy villages,
food and seize hemp supplies. These operations, says Linn,”… did little beyond
demonstrating that the American’s capacity to inflict damage on the civilian
population was equal to that of the guerrillas.” 203

202 Linn, p177

203 Linn, p165
Chapter Twenty

Samar Strategies
While towns could be burned to deprive US forces of logistics, another strategy
Lukban sought to introduce was attacks on garrisons in place from within the town.
Several such plans were put in place but not acted upon. It is tempting to include
Balangiga as the one instance in which such an attack was carried out, but it may, in
fact, not be so.
One can compare, for instance, the May 30 letter by Abayan with a report from
Catbalogan. On the morning of January 20, the chief of Kalbiga 204, Feliciano Figueroa,
briefed the commander of Catbalogan on plans for Kalbiga townspeople to attack
the garrison in the town. He gave an assessment of US troop strength, 200 and the
commander of Catbalogan asked Lukban for guerrilla support and orders to attack.
Another attack was planned for Borongan in February but abandoned: “The
outlook for its execution is rather dark, as the town is filled with secret police who
serve the enemy body and soul” reported Captain Acevili 205. Borongan was under
firm American control, with the help of Magno Abenis. Acevili tried to recruit his
own ‘secret police’ to launch an uprising in the town but failed.
None of the foregoing applied to Balangiga, strengthening the thesis that the
Abayan letter was merely a plea to be left alone by Lukban rather than a plan of
attack. Towns had good reason to want to be left alone and keep the guerrillas out of
their hair. In February, a patrol of the 29 th Infantry went to Pandang to investigate
the disappearance of three collaborators. Arriving at the village they discovered it
abandoned except for one old man who told them that the guerrillas had abducted
the collaborators and that the villagers had fled to the mountains. The village was
burned to the ground206.


Taylor, p 669, given as ‘Kaloiga’

205 Acevili to Lukban, February 24, 1901, printed in Taylor, p685
206 Linn, p165
In between writing copious propaganda letters and waging war Lukban, a
widower, managed to find enough time to get married. On February 11, his birthday,
he tied the knot with Pacienca Gonzalez from Catbalogan. True to his anti-
clericalism, it was a civil wedding207. The marriage not only brought him in-laws, but
through them new resources.
Samar was then in a critical situation. When the people heard that Lukban had
gone to Leyte in response to Captain Chinchilla's appeal he noticed a rapid 'loss of
heart' among he Samarenos that continued to spread. This may just have been an
excuse to stay in Samar but it may also be true. If so, it suggests that the Samarenos
simply weren't as keen on continuing the war as he was, reinforcing the suspicion
that his support was less that is commonly supposed.
May saw American operations begin in Samar under Brigadier General Robert P.
Hughes, who was already responsible for Cebu, Bohol and Ilo-Ilo. With Leyte under
civilian government, and supposedly pacified, Hughes had 'some uneasiness as to
what might happen (in Leyte) unless active operations were undertaken in
For reasons known only to the minds of the US military command of the time,
Samar was not included in the responsibilities of the Department of the Visayas
when Hughes took command of it in July 1899. Hughes admitted that by the time he
was given Samar, he was no longer conducting civilized warfare. When Senator
Rawlins pointed out that in destroying people's homes that the weight of
punishment fell on women and children rather than their menfolk, Hughes further
admitted: "The women and children are part of the family.,. And where you wish to
inflict a punishment you can punish a man in that way than in any other". Said
Rawlins: "Of course, you could exterminate the family, which would be still worse
punishment". Chillingly, rather than deny that such extermination took place,
Hughes simply responded: "These people are uncivilized". Evidently, the
commander of US forces in Samar considered women and children a fair target in
warfare nearly six months before the issuance of General Jacob Smith's notorious
outburst. During Senate testimony, when asked " is there any shooting down in cold
blood by our men?" Hughes responded "Not to my knowledge."
Another witness to the Senate Committee of 1902, former Corporal Richard
O'Brien gave explicit details of what was happening under Hughes's watch in
another part of the Visayas.
His account of action at the barrio La Nog, some 16 miles northeast of Igbarras
on Panay, appeared in a New York newspaper, the New York World, and later in Irish

207 Lukban to Trias, February 25, 1901, Taylor exhibit 1346

208 Testimony of Robert P. Hughes, Affairs of the Philippine Islands, p553.
World, on December 27 209. The account was discussed in the Senate Committee of
inquiry in Affairs in the Philippine Islands on May 15, 1902, when O'Brien could not
be found. He was however, located and just a week later gave testimony before the
On the 27th of September, under the command of the sole officer, Captain Fred
McDonald, some 100 men of O'Brien's company, Company M of the 26th Infantry,
approached the barrio Indian file at daybreak. Orders had gone down the line "take
no prisoners," although nobody knew where it emanated from. It was an order that
O'Brien conceded was obeyed: "… if there was any fighting the fighting was
continued until everybody had fled or everybody was killed."
A young boy was spotted about 1,500 yards away, approaching on a carabao
down a mountain path. Sergeant William Stahlberg, later to become a policeman in
Manila, took aim towards the boy and fired. The boy jumped from the carabao and
fled. "That was a sort of silent signal for a volley. Everybody fired at him (The boy)",
said O'Brien under oath, admitting that he, too, fired: "I am supposed to obey".
Asked by Senator Beveridge why he fired, although no explicit order was given,
O'Brien responded: "I can not tell. A man fires when he is in those places."
A single volley of shots was fired, apparently missing the boy. The noise
attracted the attention of people in nearby houses who came out onto the streets.
O'Brien described what happened next: "… how the order started and who gave it I
don't know, but the town was fired on. I saw an old fellow come to the door, and he
looked out; he got a shot in the abdomen and fell to his knees and turned around
and died... After that, two old men came out, hand in hand, I should think they were
over 50 years old, probably between 50 and 70 years old. They had a white flag.
They were shot down. At the other end of the town we heard screams, and there
was a woman there; she was burned up, and in her arms was a baby, and on the
floor was another child. The baby was at her breast, the one in her arms, and this
child on the floor was, I should judge, about 3 years of age. They were burned.
Whether she was demoralized or driven insane I don't know. She stayed in the
house… There was not a shot fired on the part of the Filipinos... I did not see a
soldier. I did not see a shot fired from the Filipinos. I won't say insurrectos, or not."
At the shooting of the old men and four others, the rest of the people fled into the
O'Brien's testimony produced other details of his year and a half service in the
Panay that were increasingly unsavoury, and went far beyond observing the use of
the water cure to the mayor of Igbarras, who had taken the Oath of Allegiance.

209 Affairs in the Philippine Islands, page 2549 et seq.

"There was a Spanish woman there (Igbarras), a highly educated woman so far
as education goes, a graduate of the seminary at Molo, educated by the Sisters there.
Her husband was consumptive. At the burning of the town this woman was violated
by the American officers."
At first, O'Brien claimed not to know the names of the officers involved, but
when pressed revealed: "Captain Glenn, Lieutenant Conger, and Capt. Fred
McDonald… afterwards she was violated by the enlisted men." His source, he
claimed, was the husband of the woman violated.
On another occasion, a reception was held to which several women were invited:
"They were high above the average peasant woman and some of them were full-
blooded Spaniards. During the evening (The officers) got intoxicated. They were
Captain McDonald, Lieutenant Plummer, and Major Cook, of Providence, R.I. They
disrobed to their undershirts, took off everything except their undershirts and
trousers, and put their undershirts outside their trousers, and started waltzing
around the room and taking the women in their arms, and it was most repulsive to
the women, as I learned afterwards from their own mouths... The next morning
when the officers left the convent and the ladies were standing at the window, and
they saw them coming down the road and they stuck out their tongues at them and
turned away and would not recognize them. It was childish, of course, on their part,
but just showed their feeling."
O'Brien admitted that there was ill-feeling between him and Captain McDonald –
he believed McDonald was skimming off money meant for supplies for the soldiers.
Elsewhere in his testimony, O'Brien claims that dum-dum, or exploding, bullets
were issued to him and presented samples to the committee. The samples proved to
be standard ammunition. Few people are aware of the damage ordinary
ammunition does to the human body and it may be that what O'Brien observed was
the normal result of such ammunition. The fact that he presented samples to the
committee suggests that his belief was sincere.
Captain McDonald, however, denied O'Brien's claims in their entirety and
claimed that La Nog was a ladrone stronghold and had been so since the Spanish
Approaching the town. Says McDonald, he sent a party to the other side which
was fired upon and general firing then broke out. The town was taken and burned
after warning had been given to its inhabitants. Of the shooting at the boy on the
carabao, McDonald pointed out that his men were experienced shooters, unlikely to
miss such an easy target,certainly a valid point. He also denied giving a 'take no
prisoners order210.

210 Affairs, page 2762

Claims and counterclaims about atrocities were common in the subsequent
Senate hearings and it may be that McDonald simply wasn't aware of what was
happening out of his sight.
The inclusion of Glenn in O'Brien's testimony is notable, and Hughes's comments
regarding Samar should be read with the above account in mind. Information travels
surprisingly fast between the Philippine islands and the nearly two years between
events in La Nog and events in Balangiga give plenty of time for them to be common
currency in Samar at the time Company C. arrived.
It should also be noted that while there has been much comment over the years
regarding atrocities by US forces in the Philippines, and by Filipinos operating under
US control, relatively little has been said about those carried out by Filipino forces
for which there are plentiful accounts in the Philippine Insurgency
Records/Philippine Revolutionary Records alone, although relatively few regarding
Samar and Lukban. There were constant complaints that the activities of soldiers
and officers supposedly under Aguinaldo's supreme command, and allegedly with
his authority, were acting in a way that antagonized and alienated the populace and
compromised Filipino support for his cause. The influence of these events on the
commitment of the people to Aguinaldo and his subsequent failure should not be
underestimated. It led to many towns appealing to American forces for protection.
Indeed, while Aguinaldo's capture can be laid at the door of a single Filipino
collaborator, the failure of Filipinos to win their independence against a more
modern force, as happened in Vietnam many years later, should be placed at the
door of those who made colonisation by America a more attractive proposition than
tyranny by their own people.
Originally, the southern part of Samar was left alone because it was presumed
that Lukban had little control and there was no organization and armed enemy to
contend with. As lines of communications and trails were laid between various
points on the northern part of the island, Hughes realized that rice, ammunition and
materiel was finding its way onto the island from the southern ports. Hughes
decided to garrison towns on the southern coast.
Hughes told the Committee on Affairs in the Philippine Islands that inhabitants
were advised 'if they saw fit', to relocate themselves near military garrisons and
were warned that they were in danger from US military actions if they stayed put. "If
any of our commands happened to come along and find insurrectos there, they
would attack them regardless of anybody being around. The result would be that
these people, who were perfectly innocent, would find themselves in trouble".
Hughes's inquisitors, Senators Hale and Patterson elected to ask no questions
regarding how many innocent lives were lost in this way or the fashion in which
'insurrectos' were assumed to be present.
No food was directly provided to the Filipinos by the Army, but Hughes raised
money by selling captured hemp supposedly being grown by the 'Filipino forces'
and using the cash to buy food. It should be noted that nowhere in Lukban's reports
is any mention made of his forces growing hemp.
Hemp is, in fact, grown by smallholders in the uplands. The result of Hughes's
efforts can only have been to alienate further much of the Samar population and
convince them to join Lukban.
The afternoon of June 18th saw the occupation of Basey, 35 km north east of
Balangiga, by 125 American troops without opposition. All but two members of the
local government fled from the town, leaving the police chief and the justice, who
were unable to leave because of illness. Three days later an election was held and, to
his horror, Joaquin Cabanas was elected mayor.
Apparently terrified, Cabanas immediately sat down and wrote a letter that he
hoped would save his life:
“In writing these lines I do not know how to express my ideas on account of the
difficulties under which I am labouring due to the gravity of the situation kin which I
am placed at the present time.
“Appointed by the town to fill a very delicate office, for which I do not consider
myself suited and which is contrary to my patriotic sentiments, because I have never
desired to recognize American sovereignty which is attempting to trample our
liberty under foot, and not being able to disobey the voice that has appointed me, I
cannot tolerate it without first informing you as the representative of our respected
government, the only one I recognize and which I have sworn and will swear
thousands of times, to defend, so that upon receipt hereof you will give me the
instructions which I must liberty (sic)..
“And in order that the commanders and officers may not have the slightest lack
of confidence in me, I earnestly request you to be kind enough to inform them all, in
order that they may recognize me as one of the true lovers of the country, and in
consequence the defender of our liberty.”211
On June 24, Lukban’s senior officer in Basey, Juan Colinares, reported the
election and asked Lukban for “further instructions as to the policy to be pursued
with respect to the recently elected officials, and also as to the plan of attack upon
the enemy, should an opportunity present itself.”
Again, it should be noted that Lukban is requested for advice and orders. There
is no evidence of any such request related to Balangiga.

211 Cabanas to Lukban, June 21, 1901, in Taylor, 691

Cabanas himself was eventually executed by American forces as an insurgent 212.
With the American occupation of Basey, Filipino war materiel was hidden and
guarded by Eugenio Daza, Major of Military Administration who had never, as far as
is known, gained direct combat leadership experience
In addition to the quisling Federalista party, the US recruited the priest of
Laoang, Wenceslao Singzon, one of only thirteen priests in Samar and the only one
known to actively support the American occupation. No other priests came forward,
nor are any known to have actively supported the Filipino forces.
By July, much had changed for Lukban. The shortage of rice appears to have been
overcome and his men were being fed, to judge by a report from one of his
commanders, Acevili on the 20th of that month213. It is probable that the rice and
money was being sourced from British trading companies in Tacloban (See
'Balangiga Papers: The Hemp War)).
The main weapon against American garrisons was incendiarism – on the 10th of
that month Guerrillas entered US-held Borongan and burned 40 houses. Six days
later they returned and claimed another 20 houses.
It was on the 4th of that month that General Adna Chaffee replaced Arthur
McArthur as the head of US forces in the Philippines. Otis went to war rather than
admit that Filipinos did not want American Sovereignty. McArthur recognized the
truth and used a stick and carrot policy. Chaffee was willing to ‘pin down the
Filipinos with bayonets for ten years until they submit’214.
At the same time, Hughes was stacking Samar with two regiments of infantry.
Only two provinces remained with significant resistance to American
sovereignty – Samar and Batangas. The final act for each of them would begin within
hours on the same day.

212 Basey, Historical Data Sheets, The National Library.

213 Acevili, July 20, 1901, in Taylor, page 696
214 Gate, JM, Schoolbooks and Krags, Greenwood Press, London, 1973, p250
Chapter Twenty One
August in Manila, the middle of the rainy season that will not reach Samar for
another couple of months. Every few days the sky darkens and yet another typhoon
spawns in the Pacific, roars westward across the island of Luzon at wind speeds of
up to 100 kilometres an hour or more to leave devastation and flooding in its wake
as it tears into the South China Sea.
When it isn’t raining, it’s preparing to rain. For the American soldiers camped
outside the gates of the ancient moated city of Intramuros itself, the humidity was
just as bad, sucking the sweat from their bodies into the heavy, blue cloth of their
uniforms and their thick, felt hats where it slowly evaporated to leave a white
residue of salt-stains.
After the dampness comes the powdery, light greenish mould that covers and
rots cloth, leather, paper, or bread in a matter of hours.
Edward Avery Bumpus, of Company C., 9 th United States Infantry, a man with a
grave-digger’s face, had found ways to deal with the rains and still look passable in
his first lieutenant’s uniform215. On patrol in the rains he’d strip down to his
undershirt and keep his uniform jacket rolled and dry in his pack. It was the sort of
minor victory he revelled in.
Too interested in American’s newly acquired possession to complain about the
heat, the rain or the flies, Bumpus was charmed by this new strange country with its
mixture of cultures, its brilliant colours. Indeed, he felt sorry for the Filipinos who
fought for their country’s independence; they didn’t stand much chance against the
just-dawned 20th century’s new super-power.
By November, the typhoons become quiescent. Manila, and the gaggle of villages
and towns that sprawled from its massive stone walls, come into its own and earn
its title – The Pearl of the Orient’, the most beautiful and sophisticated city in Asia,
but a somewhat smelly one. An American soldier wrote of Manila: "…a more filthy


EC Bumpus, In Memoriam.
place I never saw. Why, the streets of the city are used by the Spanish soldiers as
urinals and the stench is something awful"216.
William Howard Taft noted: "The city of Manila, from a sanitary standpoint,
needs some very radical improvements. One is a sewer system … The sewer system
- like frogs in Ireland, there is none. There are some sewers in the walled city which
empty into the moat and make the moat very unhealthful, but there are no sewers in
other parts of the city."217
The situation was made worse because all Spanish government workers were
fired and replaced by Americans with little or no experience in running the
infrastructure of a city. "…There is extreme disorder in all branches of government,"
write the French consul in September 1898, "The police and the street maintenance
is no longer monitored. And public hygiene has been neglected so much that if there
is rain during this season, an epidemic could affect the population."
Bit by bit they got the hang of running a foreign, alien city.
In the cool of early evening the streets filled with Filipino society. There were the
haughty, wealthy Peninsulares from Spain who once ran what passed for an
administration and the massive tobacco monopoly, looked down their noses at the
Insulares, born in the Philippines of Spanish parents. The insulares in turn looked
down upon the Ilustrados, the rising, educated middle-class, often of Chinese and
Spanish parentage, who tended to bend whichever way the winds of power blew,
east or west, yet from who’s ranks came the intellectual core of a revolution.
Then came the Indios, the ordinary Filipinos, who themselves looked down upon
the Tribu Independientes, the unconquered indigenous tribespeople scattered
among the islands – the tattooed Kalinga from the north, the tiny wiry-haired Aetas
from the Zambales mountains, the magnificently attired Maguindanao from the
great southern island of Mindanao and people from dozens of other islands and
provinces who seemed as strange and exotic to each other as they did to the bulky
Americans who now strode in their midst.
When the sun came out, so did the vendors, with their street-side stalls filled
with jackfruit, starfruit, sugar cane segments, the noxious-smelling sweet-tasting
durian, live chickens, filigree handkerchiefs, religious nick-nackery, an assortment of
psuedo-medical nostrums, and live snakes to catch rats in the dried-grass roofs.
The wealthy, and their wives and mistresses, and the expatriate Britons,
Germans and Americans found their way across the Pont d’Espana to the Escolta,
the city’s Bond Street or Fifth Avenue, to buy wines, fashionable clothes, foods from

216 Middleton, Howard, California Regulars in the Philippines, Bulletin of the American Historical
Collection Foundation, Manila, Philippines, Vol. XXVI No. I (102), January-March 1998, page 48.
217 Taft Testimony, Affairs in the Philippine Islands, " page 243
Europe, have their photographs taken and gather business gossip over a cup of rich,
addictive, heady chocolat-espesyal.
Public entertainment might be a visit to the theatre to see a Zarsuela, the ritual
melodrama with familiar, unchanging themes and characters, or a flamenco
performer or singer from Spain at the Metropolitan. Once in a while there would be
a special presentation – the flickering images of the 20th century’s first mass
entertainment, the movies from Edison, the Lumiere Brothers and the American
Biograph Company.
Invented by England’s William Frieze-Green, Edison’s technicians made the
motion picture commercially viable. The Spanish-American and the Philippine-
American War, with its Biograph actualities and Edison’s fanciful re-enactments
replacing the Asian-Latin Filipinos with blacks on a backlot, set the stage for the
motion picture to become a major source of mass entertainment and laid the
groundwork for Hollywood’s traditional mistreatment of history.
American cinema had its own place in Filipino history. An American
entrepreneur who was demonstrating the cinematograph when the Spanish-
American War broke out, LR Johnson, was a signatory to the Philippine declaration
of Independence in June 1898
The Biograph might have had a special interest for Company C. – in China,
shortly before returning to the Philippines, they had been lined up and marched
smartly past the camera as the cinematographer cranked the handle. Those ghostly
images still exist as paper prints in the US Library of Congress.
In the Luneta, the crescent-shaped park outside the city walls was a circus with a
couple of tired and scraggy ponies. Occasionally, in the park’s gazebo, a military
band played popular tunes – ‘There’ll be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight’, a
raucous favourite of the officer’s mess which Filipinos had dubbed with the name of
a soup – Hototay, and, more appropriately ‘After the Ball Was Over’, the first million
dollar song in history, a ballad whose story of mistaken identity and suspicion had
become a staple of music hall and vaudeville in nearly every English-speaking
country and could almost be the anthem of Filipino-American relationships.
A far more important entertainment was the evening promenade by foot or by
horse-drawn carriage through the Luneta in the cool of the day’s end. It became a
social everyman’s land where licit liaisons could be renewed and illicit ones begun, a
place to see and be seen. Ladies in colourful, modest baro’t saya and men in knee-
length baro ng Tagalog – both generally made of almost impossibly fine, semi-
transparent delicate cloth derived from banana fibre, jusi, or a species of pineapple,
pina, mixed with middle-class strollers in European frock coats and jackets that
would one day be called Amerikana.
Together they would watch the spectacular firework display of the tropical
sunset over the bay, as a kaleidoscope of fluorescent turquoise, pinks and orange
light ushered in darkness.
Night time entertainments included the dance halls and the city’s casas, the girly
bars and brothels of the day. Often populated by Japanese immigrant women prized
for the paleness of their skin, these took as great a toll on American soldiers as
Filipino bullets and bolos.
One entertainment was no longer on display – public executions at a part of the
Luneta known as Bagumbayan. It was here, in 1894 that a womanising, polymathic,
world-travelling genius and freemason, was martyred at the insistence of powerful
Roman Catholic Church officials and a Spanish administration worried about a
His name was Jose Rizal, an ilustrado, and his crime was to put into print what
every Filipino knew about the abuses and hypocrisy of the friars and the Spaniard
who ruled the country for three hundred years with medieval fervour and the
subservience of the Filipinos themselves.
North of the city was a less public execution ground in the 16 th century Fort
Santiago. Here, between grim walls scarred by the bullets of centuries, was a morbid
favourite of the new flood of camera-toting American tourists eager to taste their
country’s latest possession – the garrote. It was device shaped like a high-backed
chair into which the victim would be bound, his head and neck locked into place and
covered by a black cloth. The executioner turned a screw arrangement at the back of
the chair, strangling the victim until finally his spine snapped.
Most of those who died in the garrote are forgotten but the death of three
Filipino priests, Gomez, Burgos and Zamora, known collectively as Gomburza, lit the
primer for the Philippine war of independence. Their sin was to support the
expansion of Filipinos in the Spanish-dominated Catholic priesthood.
In the late 19th century, Spanish authorities arrested a young businessman from
the province of Tayabas, in Bicol province far to the south of Manila, believing him to
be involved in the growing independence movement. Vicente Lukban’s fate would
soon be inextricably tied to that of Company C.
Between beatings and torture, he was incarcerated in a prison cell at Fort
Santiago. As well as being hardly big enough to stand up or sit down in, the cell was
flooded twice a day by the high tides of Manila Bay. Eventually he was released,
marked by a permanent limp and a burning hatred of the Spanish.
Situated almost halfway between Lukban’s prison cell and the killing field of
Bagumbayan is the college of San Juan Letran. Established in 1620, it was the
favourite of the upwardly mobile middle-class. Like other colleges and universities,
it was a breeding ground of intellectual revolt.
Sometime in the 1880s a boy from Balangiga, on the island of Samar, studied
briefly at Letran. Then slim and athletic, Valeriano Abanador had a dour look about
him, an effect amplified by somewhat protruding ears. His Manila classmates may
have looked down their noses at him as merely a provinciano, but they’d have
probably kept their opinion to themselves given Abanador's expertise in stick
Why Abanador didn’t complete his education at Letran is not known. His
intellect was not at fault; he was literate and intelligent with a fondness for chess.
Lack of money or family reasons, or perhaps he didn’t take to college life or meet its
intellectual demands, or a Cholera outbreak that closed the college, are all possible.
Equally, the answer may lay in the anting-anting he wore around his neck.
At sometime during his life Abanador acquired a mysterious small black book,
which he hung on a string around his neck as a protective amulet or anting-anting.
Such amulets and charms are common throughout Southeast Asia. In the Philippines
the aboriginal animistic religions fitted well with Catholicism and, as in Haiti, many
of those original beliefs took on the trappings of Catholicism and parallel religious
practices emerged, including a female priesthood of sorts, which still exists in the
21st century. His amulet may have been a miniature bible or a snatch of scripture.
Abanador’s amulet was no mere geegaw sold for a few centavos from one of the
miracle-promising hustlers that fleeced the gullible around churches after Sunday
mass. In return for its protection, Abanador was sworn to celibacy – he could only
marry and have a family if he could find someone to accept it and its restrictions, or
he must destroy it218.
Although such anting-anting were to come to prominence with the rise of the
Pulahanes movements in the first decade of the 20th century, there is no evidence
that Abanador himself was a member of the Pulahanes or the dios-dios movements
from which it grew.
Given the family-based nature of the Philippines, in which one’s identity depends
on complex familial relationships rather than tribal relationships, Abanador’s
celibacy would have placed him outside the norms of the community in a very real
sense. It represented an enormous psychic investment, one far beyond the needs of
mere self-protection.
Whatever fate had put the anting-anting around Abanador’s neck, that same fate
put him on a collision course with Company C. By 1901, in his early 30s, he was the
police chief of Balangiga.

218 Interview with Rene Amano, great-grand nephew, Balangiga, September 1998
On August 9, that fate began to write its final act. On that day, Captain Thomas
Walter Connell finally got the movement orders he’d been expecting since returning
to Manila from China. His temporary command, Company C. of the 9 th United States
Infantry, was ordered to the central Philippines island of Samar to establish a
garrison at Balangiga, a small town halfway along the southern coast.
His command was the luck of the draw. Paul Harris, the company’s own
commander had been detailed back to the United States for the Buffalo Exposition, a
grand statement in true empire style, of America’s new found status as a colonial
power. Connell had only been given his captain’s patches the previous February, and
the man who had been originally assigned to take over the company had been
injured in the Boxer Rebellion.
He was a man with something to prove. The son of third and fourth generation
Irish immigrants, Connell was a Catholic at a time when that faith was treated with
widespread suspicion, and often derision, in a Protestant-dominated country. It was
no mean achievement to graduate from the US army’s premier officer’s school, West
No one could doubt Connell’s courage; he’d demonstrated it fully in Cuba in the
bloody hell of China for nearly a year. That conflict cost the regiment dearly,
including the life of Colonel Liscum, commander of the 9 th Regiment and several
other officers and men, in battles in Tsientsin, Pictsang, Yangtuan and Peking.
Brave though he was, Connell was not an original thinker. He followed standard
procedures and orders as resolutely as a train on the Pacific railroad. Even worse for
the men under his command he had a reputation as a martinet, imposing sanctions
for infractions that went beyond the norm and a narrow, priggish attitude towards
sexuality and other perceived sins, together with an insistence on imposing his
narrow-minded moral code on others that made him wholly unsuited to any
position that put him face to face with another culture. These were traits that were
to cost him his life before the next eight weeks were over.
Fate’s dice-throwing brought Connell to the attention of Robert Hughes, now
commander of the department of the Visayas who had known him since he was a
second lieutenant. It was he who finally selected him to command Company C. in his
campaign to crush the remaining vestiges of the Filipino forces fighting for their
own country’s independent, as America had fought for its own independence 125
years before.
Hughes decided to send the 9th Infantry to Samar on the assumption that its
companies were at full strength, a little more than 100 men. They were not. Each
company had between 68 and 80 men, insufficient to maintain Hughes's strategy of
occupying towns and sending a mobile patrol from each garrison into the
At 77 men, and short of a Second Lieutenant and Major, the company was now
severely short of its full complement of 103 men and officers.
Whatever the China experience did to Connell’s psyche, it haunted his second in
command, First Lieutenant Edward Avery Bumpus.
Bumpus was not a natural-born soldier. His was a wealthy and powerful Boston
family that traced its roots back to the Plymouth Pilgrims. His father, Everitt Cephas
Bumpus was a member of the Massachusetts State Supreme Court and, in the
fashion of the times, one brother was to become a member of the clergy and
another, Chauncey, was to take up law.
It may have seemed reasonable for Edward to enter the profession of arms but
his bent was elsewhere. As a youngster he had been the eyes for Chauncey, whom
fate had made blind, and, over the years became very much the second fiddle to his
intellectually brilliant brother. When Chauncey went to Harvard law school, toting a
specially made typewriter to batter out his studies, Edward followed to study
Bumpus had been a poor student, perhaps because he lacked focus, perhaps
because he spent so much of his own time reading law books aloud to Chauncey.
One day, shortly after the first salvos of the Spanish-American War boomed
across Manila Bay on May 1, 1898, Bumpus disappeared from his Massachusetts
home. After many days of silence he finally wrote to his worried family – he had
joined Battery A of the Massachusetts Heavy Artillery to fight the Spanish and, he
said, spent many happy hours picking hatfuls of posies during basic training.
Edward’s desire to fight the Spanish was to be in vain. The Spanish-American
War proved to be little more than a flash in the pan. Along with several thousand
other volunteers who had joined to fight the Spanish, he found himself dispatched to
the Philippines to suppress Asia’s first attempt at modern democracy.
For a while, Bumpus was in charge of Company C. but discipline under his
command was, perhaps, not as tight as a perfectionist might desire. The men found
him aloof, perhaps because of his Boston Brahmin background and he did not
connect with them.
A priggish, by-the-book Captain with little empathy or sympathy for anyone
else's worldview and a deeply troubled, battle-traumatized First Lieutenant, then
under a cloud, would later be joined by a somewhat deaf Major Surgeon with

219 Testimony of Col. Robert P. Hugh, Affairs in the Philippine Islands, page 567
neuralgia and a Teddy Roosevelt complex, Richard Griswold. The wonder may not
be that they were killed, but that they lasted as long as they did.
Getting their orders, The men of Company Co packed their kit, put the rest of
their belongings into storage, left Paco Barracks and joined a second company,
Company M of the same regiment aboard the Liscum, in Manila harbour.
The 248ft vessel, was built in Britain in 1878, as the Kongsee and acquired by the
US Army Transport Service in 1898 in Manila and had a civilian crew. Although not
very old in ship terms she seems to have been in poor condition.
With the sort of foresight that made ‘military intelligence’ an oxymoron, General
Adna R. Chaffee, commander of American forces, had initially posted cavalry units in
Samar, whose topography made it supremely inappropriate for horse-born troops.
Now he wanted to bring the units back to the flat and fertile plains of Luzon where
they could be mounted and the broken down Liscum was his only horseboat220.
So it was that Company C was shrouded in a miasma of horse urine on its way to
Commanding the Department of the Visayas in the central Philippines was
Brigadier General Robert P. Hughes. His initial intelligence about Samar was also
faulty. He believed the Samarenos to be a docile and obedient people, based on
information gathered from a British trader, Mr. Easton, who knew the island well.
Briefing Connell prior to departure, Hughes warned Connell neither to trust the
natives nor to antagonize them. "I sent him down there and I had no more anxiety
about that station. I felt it was absolutely safe" 221.
Subsequently, it was alleged that Connell had followed his own policy of
‘benevolent assimilation’ in Balangiga. He did not.
Contrary to later newspaper reports and several subsequent books and papers,
Connell’s mission was not to protect the people of Balangiga, nor to spread the
dubious benefits of the new colonial order through ‘benevolent assimilation’. His
orders were simply to prevent supplies of food and materiel reaching Filipinos
forces through the port of Balangiga. He was to close the port, cutting the town's
economic lifeline.
Company C. was a cross section of American society and military experience of
the time. Private Adolph Gamlin, a shy, taciturn, farmboy from Nebraska, first
enlisted in 1898 with the 51st Iowa Volunteer Infantry until 1899, then re-enlisted
in 1900 on a three year contract. He arrived in Manila on November 28, 1900, too
late to be part of the Boxer Rebellion expedition.

220 Chaffee, Major General Adna, October 8, 1901

221 Testimony of Col. Robert P. Hugh, Affairs in the Philippine Islands, page 570
Gamlin's German ancestry may have been of interest to Private Fred
Schechterley, about 23, who was born in Germany and described his profession on
his enlistment papers of February 23, 1899, as 'soldier'. He'd previously served with
distinction in the 6th Cavalry222. Schechterley had enlisted at the Hanover Street
recruiting station in Boston, as had a good number of Company C. men, which
included several immigrants.
Italian-born George Bonney, 21, also joined up at Boston, as did William Gibbs, a
piano tuner from England.
Thermistocles Qula, around 25, was a labourer, Fred McCormick, 28, was a
quarryman. Patrick Dobbins was a former machinist who re-enlisted in Boston after
service with Company I, 9th Massachusetts Volunteers.
Among the newer recruits was Melvin Wall. Expecting to do combat with the
Spanish, he had first enlisted with Company G of the Second Missouri Volunteers in
May 1898 but the Spanish American War ended before the unit was needed and he
was mustered out in March in following year, the month after the start of the
Philippine-American War. In October 1899 he re-enlisted and was sent to China,
where he joined the 9th Infantry regiment.
Walter James Bertholf may have only been approaching his 22nd birthday but
he, like several others, was a veteran. In late 1898, he asked his father for
permission to enlist in the army. Refused, he did what many other young men did,
he lied his age up to 21 and joined Battery C. of the 6th US Artillery. Since the 6th
Artillery, as a coast-based heavy unit, didn't seem headed for anything much more
exciting than frightening the occasional North Carolina seagull, he asked for, and got,
his discharge. Six days after hostilities began in Manila, he joined Company C.,
enlisting with a former schoolmate, Floyd Shoemaker. He saw action at Pateros,
Guadaloupe Bridge, Las Pinas and the Zapote River and was in the China expedition.
Other 'old' China hands included Private August Porczeng, whose service went
back as far as the Cuban campaign. Porczeng had been the company's
Quartermaster Sergeant until being busted down to private by Connell for laziness.
Together with Corporals John Closson and Sergeant Henry Scharer, also with
experience in Cuba, he carried the scars of injuries sustained in the Boxer
Rebellion223. Corporal Proal Peters had also been with the regiment during the Cuba
and China conflicts.
Another veteran of long standing was New Yorker Frank Betron. Late 20s,
medium build with fair hair, blue eyes and one bow leg, he joined the army after the
death of his widowed mother and saw action in Cuba and China as well as the

222 Boston Globe, October 1, 1901

223 Company C souvenir, June (?), 1901
There were also two brothers, the Armanis, Litto and John. Other men sharing
surnames, three Burkes and three O'Neills, appear not to have been related, both
sets of names being commonly Irish.
The kid of the company was George Meyers at just 17 224. He acted as one of the
Company's two musicians, to replace Ladislaus Garcia, who remained in Manila.
Acting First Sergeant James Randles was the most senior non-commissioned
officer with the Company, having replaced Porczeng on its movement southwards.
One man determined not to face Lukban's wrath was the officer's Chinese cook,
who refused to leave Manila225 and vanished.
As the Liscum chuffed and clattered out into Manila Bay and past Corregidor
island, from where the first shots of the Spanish American War were fired, Connell
would have done well to recall the struggles of his own Irish ancestors, or even that
of the United States itself, but probably didn’t. Nor is it likely that he paid much
attention to the Philippine’s own history. Indeed, few people, from President
William McKinley down, made much effort to understand what was driving the
Filipinos to defend with such ferocity, and for so long, the independence they felt
they had earned and which they had trusted America to grant them.

224 American Legion Monthly, November 1929.

225 Bertholf, Walter James, Diary, jean Wall Collection.
Company C.'s last photograph Before Leaving for Samar
Top Row (l to r) W. Gibbs, M. Walls, W. Denton Martin, H.
Claas, C. Markley, P. Voybada, J. Cain, J. Randles, J.
Burton, PJ Dobbins, J. S. Miller, S. Keller; Second Row: F.
Betron, C. S. Record, JV Wannebo, F. Schechterle, AJ Stier,
JH Armani, D. Mullins, JW Aydelotte, J. Uthop, C. Samelsen,
TB Hickman, LB Schley, CE McGilligan, E. Fitzgerald, C.
Mumby, P. Peters; Third Row: J. Long, J. Hartley, RT Clark,
A. Gamlin, J. Kleinhample, TE Baird, EB De Graffenreid, T.
Qula, A. Irish, J. Pickett, F. McCormack,; Bottom row: S.
Burke, J. Gallagher, G. Bony, E. South, EN Ralston, GC
Dennis, HM Wood, JL Covington, FJ Shoemaker.
Chapter Twenty Two

On Sunday August 11, Balangiga was abuzz with a mixture of curiosity,
apprehension and possibly even some relief. An American warship filled with
soldiers had arrived the previous night and now bobbed in San Pedro Bay awaiting a
There were more people than usual in Balangiga that day. It was filled with
families, friends, and visitors from other villages in the area, there for the previous
day's fiesta of St. Lawrence, Martyr and staying over for the Sunday morning mass.
Gathered at the waterfront in their 'Sunday best', they watched the strangers
cautiously as the town's principalia decided what to do next.
Other than a small number of Spaniards in the town itself, immigrants from
Guiuan – who hardly counted as 'foreign' - and the British traders some might have
met in Tacloban, these were the first foreigners most had seen. Curiosity was a
There may even have been some relief, if the presence of the soldiers would
provide defence for the town, and also the relief of knowing the waiting was over.
Apprehension? Undoubtedly. Lukban's constant barrage of letters warned of
American behaviour. But, as Warays, the Balangiganons would offer the strangers
their hospitality, as generously as their resources would allow, keeping the
traditional Waray reserve and distance. If these new arrivals proved themselves
worthy of friendship, well and good. If they failed to pass the test of friendship, if
they overstepped the duties of guests and cultural mores, then they would deal with
that in whatever manner was appropriate.
In fact, mysteries begin with the arrival of Company C. in Balangiga. Bumpus
wrote to his stepsister, Christine, “We have been here since August 13” 226, but in


Bumpus, September 21, 1901, In Memoriam.

1921, George Meyers gave the date of arrival as August 11 227. Eugenio Daza also
gives a date of August 11228. William Gibbs, testifying before the Congressional
committee on Affairs in the Philippine Islands, gives a date of July 13 229 – clearly
Daza’s statement was made several years after a campaign had begun to have
the survivors of the Balangiga attack granted the Medal of Honor and there had been
much coverage in the Philippine press. Taylor’s ‘The Massacre at Balangiga’ was part
of that campaign and would certainly have found its way to the Philippines. Thus
Daza’s statement may actually be based on newspapers reports or otherwise
indirectly from ‘The Massacre’.
Meyers claims that the Company departed Manila on August 6 and arrived five
days later. A journey to Samar, however, is unlikely to have taken more than two
days, even in the rickety Liscum. The movement orders were issued on August 9230.
The time difference between the movement orders and Bumpus’s date of arrival
also provide a journey time of five days. Is this a co-incidence? Two elements that
may explain the mystery is the need to drop Company M at Santa Rita on Samar,
where they were to replace a company of the 9 th cavalry, a black regiment, and the
hazardous waters of the San Juanico Straits, through which the Liscum travelled.
A best-fit scenario would be departure from Manila on or about the 9 th and
arrival at Santa Rita on the 11th. It would have taken several hours for the men of
Company M to disembark together with their supplies; there may also have been
other cargo for the garrison.
The next stage of the journey was through the San Juanico Straits, a waterway as
narrow as 300 metres in places, with unexpected shallows, treacherous whirlpools
and a vicious current. It is a journey that could take as long as four to eight hours for
the broken down vessel. One survivor talks of the Liscum being towed by another
vessel, the Ingalls231.
To add to the difficulties, the Straits had but one lighthouse, at its southern end,
and the moon was just a thin sliver in the sky shedding little light232.

227 Meyers, G.A. Meyers, James O. Taylor (ed), The Massacre at Balangiga, Joplin, Missouri, 1931, page
228 Daza, Eugenio, Historia en la Revolucion el 28 Septiembre 1901, Affidavit, 23 December, 1935,
author’s collection.
229 Gibbs, William, Affairs in the Philippine Islands
230 General Orders, War Department, 1901
231 Manire, Henry, in RO Taylor, p21
232 I am indebted to Captain Liam Toner , of the International Development and Environmental Training
School, Subic Bay, and yachtsman and author Bruce Curran, for information on sailing and
navigational conditions in the San Juanico Straits.
No captain would wish to risk his cargo, passengers and vessel by attempting the
Straits at night. His safest course of action would be to overnight in Santa Rita until
the following morning, the 12th. The journey that day would bring them to Balangiga
late on the afternoon of the 12th, with too little time before sundown to safely
disembark, forcing them to stay aboard until the following morning, the 13 th.
William Gibbs confirmed this analysis: “…the Captain was somewhat afraid to go to
this place in the nighttime, so he waited until morning…”233.
On the 13th, Major Surgeon Richard Sill Griswold joined the company234. Born on
November 15, 1869, in Waterbury, Connecticut, he was the oldest officer with the
company. Formerly with the US Volunteers in the Philippines he was posted to
Manila in July 1901. He preferred adventure and requested postings to Ilo-Ilo and
then Samar and may have arrived in the Visayas with Adjutant General Corbin.
Griswold suffered neuralgia and had poor hearing 235.
At sunrise, the Liscum was anchored offshore236, waiting. The vessel was too
large to cross the sandbar at the mouth of the Balangiga River to reach the town’s
wharf and custom demanded that the vessel stay put until approached by boats
from the town.
Crowds gathered at the waterfront as, in the town itself, Pedro Abayan,
Valeriano Abanador and Fr. Donato Guimbaiolibot conferred, Abayan grabbed his
silver-topped cane, symbol of his authority, then moved to the wharf and boarded a
barroto, probably Guimbaiolibot's, the largest available with a capacity for up to
Pedro Duran, a sergeant in the local police force remembered that the
townspeople offered their traditional courtesy and he occasionally acted as an
interpreter for the Americans because of his command of Spanish237.
Under the tense, curious eyes of the townspeople and Company C., the priest, the
mayor and the police chief boarded the Liscum to meet the first Americans they had
ever seen.
Connell told the worthies that the Company had come in peace to protect the
town, but would respond vigorously to any hostility and asked if there were any
insurgents in the town, to be told there were none.
Gibbs described the meeting: “He told them he wanted to be peaceable, and if
they were not he was all ready and prepared to fight”238. The warnings went both

233 SD. 331, p2284

234 RO Taylor, page 42
235 In Memoriam, page 6
236 Taylor, RO, The Massacre at Balangiga, p 2
237 Loyola, Valentin, Abletez, Jose P., The Balangiga Massacre, Historical Notes, This Week Magazine,
September 13, 1959.
ways. Later, Manire recalls, “the natives informed us that they had massacred an
entire regiment (Spanish, presumably) with not one man spared to remain alive to
tell the tale”. No such action is known to have occurred in Balangiga and the story
may have been derived from the earlier Sumuroy revolt under the Spanish regime,
or a scrambled retelling of the earlier siege of the Catubig garrison. Manire probably
interpreted the intent of the storyteller correctly: “This news, brought to our notice
was to serve as a warning by which we were to benefit…”
After the introductions, a fleet of small boats ferried Company C. and its supplies
to shore. “Every possible courtesy was shown us by them,” says Meyers 239. Henry
Manire recalls: “…the water, being only knee-deep or else up to the waist,
necessitated our carrying rations, supplies etc. on our shoulder backs to the shore.”
With Abanador acting as interpreter between the Americans and the town
officials, the bulk of Company C., 46 men, moved into the second floor of the
thatched-roof municipal hall, the tribunal, its walls studded with windows. On the
top floor, two rooms were separated by a hallway reached by interior stairs. At the
north end of the lower floor was a prison and stores for guns and ammunition,
including a box of 23 rifles and 22 boxes of ammunition, a guardhouse. The south
end of the building was occupied as a sales commissary storeroom. At the back of
the building a latticework of steps, or a ladder, led to a bamboo shack, an annex to
the second floor240. This entrance was only used by a few of the men in normal
One of the town’s wealthy families, the Salazars, gave up their house on a corner
of the street immediately behind the Municipal Hall to New Yorker Sergeant Frank
Betron, who moved in with Corporal Sylvester Burke, Musician George Meyers,
Privates Cornelius Donahue, William Gibbs, Anthony Stier along with the Hospital
Corpsman Harry Wright, and others totalling fifteen men.
The presence of Wright in the Salazar house lends support to Filipino
accounts241 and a mention by American journalist Stephen Bonsal, which describe a
hospital set up either in the Salazar house or in a tent beside it 242.
The Belaez family house, on a street corner off the plaza, surrendered its house
to West Virginian Sergeant George Markley, Corporal Arnold Irish, Privates Harry
Wood, Carl Swanson and Frank Voybada, who, with others, came to a total if nine

238 SD. 331, p2284

239 Ibid, p3
240 Gamlin, in RO Taylor, p25
241 Arens, Richard J. SVD, The Filipino Side of the Balangiga Massacre, Philippine Free Press,
November 21, 1959. A map shows a hotel approximately in the position of the Salazar house.
242 Arens, Richard, The Early Pulahanes Movement in Samar, The Journal of History, V VII:4, pps 303-
370. Republished in Leyte Samar Studies, page 61. In 1957 Arens interviewed the last two remaining
Filipino participants, Pedro Duran Sr. and Francisco Dadulla.
Meanwhile, Connell and Bumpus moved into the priest’s house, the convento. A
local man, Victoriano Dado, a sacristan, was hired as a houseboy 243.
A kitchen was set up on the opposite side of the road behind the municipal hall
and the mess tent blocked the road itself. Maps of the town made by a survivor, De
Graffenreid, show a hog pen next to the kitchen. These animals were certainly
obtained locally. Since it is common for rural Filipino households to own pigs,
tethered or free-running, these may have been acquired during the subsequent
'policing up' of the town.
A mess for non-commissioned officers was set up beside the Salazar house. The
kitchen was built inside a part-finished nipa hut on stilts, with wall tents around to
provide protection from the elements.
That evening, Connell called a meeting of the townspeople to order the
establishment of a police force and leaving it to themselves whom to appoint244
The next day, a flagpole was erected and the Stars and Stripes fluttered over the
Guards were set up in front and rear of the convento. During the day, a guard
stood at the door of the convent facing the plaza, at night a sentinel was placed at
the head of the stairs leading from the church to the second storey. 245 The guard at
the convent consisted of one corporal and three privates.
More guard posts were set up, one in front of the municipal hall facing the
church, and one behind. Another sentry walked along the perimeter of the area,
from the back of the municipal hall, along the north side of the plaza to the front of
the church. Later, when Company. C had acquired prisoners, yet another guard was
set up over the Sibley tents used as prisons. In all, there were seven guards plus one
Standing orders placed five men on guard duty inside the municipal hall and a
further two inside the Belaez house. There was no need for extra guards inside
Betron's barracks in the Salazar house because a stairway led directly down to the
mess tent below246.
If going more than 100 yards from his barracks, or just going to the latrines, each
man was required to be armed. When they swam from the beach, there was to be
one armed guard for each man in the water.
With Company C. came a new type of rifle, the 1898 Krag-Jorgensen, using the
first using smokeless powder to be adopted by the US Army. A .30 calibre weapon, it

243 Duran, p95

244 Daza, Eugenio, affidavit, December 23, 1935, BRG Collection.
245 Bookmiller, Capt. Edwin V., October 1, 1901
246 Meyers, George, to General Wahl, April 4, 1928
featured a fixed five-shot magazine that was loaded through the breech. A cut-off
would disable the magazine feed and, in normal use, bullets would be loaded and
fired one at a time. This practice remains to this day, when boot-camp soldiers are
told to keep their M-16s on single fire to avoid wasting ammunition and
indiscriminate firing. It also had a trigger lock, enabling the gun to be cocked but not
fire. For anyone unused to the weapon it was easy to accidentally lock the trigger
while trying to release the magazine feed.
The weapon sported, when required, an 11-½ inch bayonet.
Security was strict, according to Meyers: “We were compelled to carry our guns
at all times except at mess table. If ten of us went out bathing, five remained on
shore to guard.” Guards also stood by whenever the men played team sports 247.
Barracks were never to be left unguarded 248. Standing orders were that men should
be armed at all times, except at meals.
The rifles were stored in the Municipal hall and in the barracks: “We never
doubted that however strong the attack we would have time to reach our rifles”,
says Meyers.
At Mass the next Sunday, August 18, Connell spoke to the townspeople, almost
certainly in Spanish with Guimbaiolibot, Abayan, Duran or Abanador translating. He
asked them to trust the United States and announced that every male over 18 would
be required to pay 20 centavos tax – 10 cents. The news was further spread by a
bandillo, a town crier249.
Bumpus noted the importance of coconut to the town’s economy: “There are a
great many cocoanut (sic) trees along the lowlands near the seacoast, and this town
has large numbers near at hand. The meat of the cocoanut and its milk are highly
prized by the natives, and they get a good price for the oil. ... “ 250 But to sell the oil
required going to Tacloban, and Company C. had closed the port.
Bumpus also noticed that wild-grown sweet potatoes were a common part of the
diet, another indicator that food supplies were not reaching the town from
elsewhere and of the economic downturn since the 1897 typhoon.
The First Lieutenant settled into the routine of post quartermaster, overseeing
official government supplies, ran a small commissary in the municipal hall, and
acted as summary court officer – soldiers accused of infractions would be subject to
his judgment.

247 RO Taylor, page 35

248 Markley, George, in RO Taylor, p9
249 Arens, p61
250 Bumpus, August 28, 1901
With the closure of the port, Balangiga was now thoroughly isolated: “You can
imagine what an out-of-the-way place this is as we have to rely principally on an
occasional steamer for much of any communication with the outside world. We are
on the southern coast of Samar, and are stationed here to keep this small port closed
and allow no trading,” wrote Bumpus to his father 251.
Company C. and its mission created the very isolation that its men and officers
complained about.
The town was something of a shock to other men of Company C. “On the ground
beneath the flooring, the natives threw every kind of filth, and it was rarely one
could approach a hut without holding his nose,” wrote Meyers. A young private,
Adolph also referred to ‘filth’252. Walter Bertholf recalled: "The natives are clean
about their person but very filthy about their living quarters." 253
Not everyone found conditions unpleasant. Bumpus told his Father “There is
good salt-water bathing here, and some of the days and nights are fine. We get the
sea breezes, and there are no mosquitoes here. In fact, I feel better here than I did in
Bumpus was not the only Bostonian in Company C., another was William J, Gibbs,
a British-born piano tuner from Springfield Massachusetts who was due to muster
out in February the next year. Gibbs’s description of the attitudes of the townsfolk
matches the expected behaviour of Samarenos of the time, and even today: “Things
went in a way that was somewhat strange to a soldier; that is, the natives did not
seem to associate with the soldiers the same way as they did in the northern
provinces, and the soldiers began to think there was something wrong”255.

251 Bumpus, August 28, 1901, In Memoriam.

252 Wall, Jean, personal communications.
253 Bertholf, Walter James, Diary, Jean Wall Collection.
254 SD 331, p2284
255 Gibbs, SD331,p2295.
Bumpus ibid.
The Revolutionists in Samar, August 15, 1901, RM Taylor, page 698-699
Gamlin, Adolph, in RO Taylor, p24. There are several extant accounts by Gamlin, one quoted by
Meyers in RO Taylor, a second account, also printed in RO Taylor, a third is archived at the Center for
Military History, Carlisle Barracks, and a fourth in an article by his son-in-law, George Wall.
Gibbs, SD331 p2289
Valdenor, Jose S., What Had Happened in the Battle of Balangiga, unpublished mss. BRG collection.
Meyers’s account displays much forgetfulness. He writes: “One side of Balangiga was the bay, on the
other side were high mountains whose tops were rarely seen because of the masses of clouds that hung
about them”. There are no mountains, cloud-topped or otherwise, in the immediate vicinity of the town.
RO Taylor, page 35
Markley, George, in RO Taylor, p9
Markley, George, in RO Taylor, p9
Ralston, in RO Taylor, p22
Rafael, Francisco, to Lukban, September 3, 1901, in RM Taylor, page 700.
Bumpus, August 28. 1901
To put context to Gibbs's words, daily life on Luzon was not especially onerous
for a soldier. Glenn May's description of a garrison in Batangas probably reflects
many in Luzon, and explains Gibbs's expectations and disappointments. In Lipa,
Batangas, soldiers spent their free time catching venereal disease in local brothels
and getting drunk. Many soldiers found themselves live-in companions among the
poorer girls of the population and shared their pay with them. They gambled with
Filipinos from the town, socialised with them at cockfights and concerts. Says May
"the simple fact of the matter was that, much of the time, by their own choice, the
garrisoned company were in the company of Filipinos."256
The Tagalogs were simply more willing to engage socially than the provincial
Accustomed to the more easy going ambiance of Luzon, the more traditional
social mores of Samar lead to tension, and almost certainly unease among the
townsfolk. “There were some men (of Co. C.) who made improper advances by
speaking to them (women) and all that sort of stuff, but the natives would have
nothing to do with them at all; they would simply chase them out, tell them to go on,
or something like that.” Said Gibbs257.
Gibbs testimony, if true, is revealing. For a male non-relative to touch or even
talk directly to a woman, in that time, place and culture, was at very least impolite
and assumptive and at worst, depending upon the nature of the touch, insulting and
abusive. The soldiers were breaching the local mores. It also shows that the
Balangiganons did not react in a cowed, submissive manner to such infractions but
were willing to stand their ground and chase off these bigger, and certainly better
armed, soldiers.
While there are convincing inferences of one, certainly decorous, courtship
between a Company C. man and a local woman, nothing can be known for certain
regarding other relationships. While, as men of their day, Company C. carried much
of the baggage of a western racist, this did not necessarily prevent them from
relationships with the opposite sex. Such things were common enough that, for
instance, 90 per cent of American policeman patrolling Manila were estimated to
have mistresses, and laws were considered to prohibit such relationships258.
Even in the heights of the Cordilleras, culturally an almost planetary distance
from sophisticated Manila, among tribes who still, at that time, indulged in
occasional illicit headhunting, it was usual for American military administrators to

256 May, Glenn Anthony, Battle For Batangas: A Philippine Province at War, New Day, Quezon
257 Gibbs, SD331,p2295.
258 Gleek, Lewis, The American Governors General, p79
acquire long-term companions. The offspring of many of these relationships still live
in the Cordilleras259.
Several factors militate against such intimacy at Balangiga. The protection
afforded by Balangiganons and discouragement of strangers interfacing with their
womenfolk, as suggested by Gibbs statement, for instance. Company C. simply
wasn't there long enough for a courtship to take its course. And, of course, Connell's
moral fundamentalism would have deterred overt relationships.
Some of the men discovered the local alcohol, Tuba. Bumpus appears to have
even tried it himself: “Tuba comes from the juice of the blossom of the cocoanut tree,
and when fresh tastes like cider, and is hell on fire when fermented.”
While at least a few of the men took to tuba, it's unlikely that any took to the
habit of eating what appeared to be live worms, sasing, a marine species regarded as
a delicacy by the Balangiganons and with such disgust by the Americans that Ernest
Ralston remembered it decades later260. At least they found something to agree with
Lukban about. On the other hand, eating just as unlikely delicacies, to the Western
palate, has been part of rites of passage, and male-bonding rituals among US
servicemen for decades.
Each morning at 9am the men would drill and stand guard in the plaza and
occasionally scouted the surrounding countryside: “We have made several scouts
lately. I went out four days ago with fifteen men for nearly three miles and had some
pretty rough ground to go over part of the trip... The trails are all bad, and even now
one cannot go far without getting into swampy ground and it will be much worse, or
practically impossible to do any “biking” during the heavy rains here in October and
November … We cannot do much long marching about this country, as we only have
seventy odd men. The nearest garrisoned post is thirty-five miles overland at Guigan
(Guiuan), where there is a company of the First Infantry. Lieutenant-colonel
(Morris) Foote is at Basey, forty-five miles to the northwest of us, with one company
of the regiment.261”
As is usually the case in military occupations, the biggest enemy was boredom
and the main weapon against that for the officers was books and board games,
especially chess, which seems to have acted as a sort of common ground-
Guimbaiolibot “comes in to see us every night for a game of chess. The padre and I
generally break even. There is a surgeon here who plays a good game of chess. This
game is the most universal of any.” The death of Griswold was to be one of the few
regrets Valeriano Abanador was to have after later events.

259 Jenista, Frank Lawrence, The White Apos, New Day, 1987.
260 Jean Wall, personal communication
261 Bumpus ibid.
On the corner opposite the Salazar house lived a 23 year-old woman known
locally as ‘Apoy Sana’ and has been given various names, including Juliana Susanna
Nacionales and Casiana Juliana Nacionales. She appears in Filipino accounts as
Geronima Nacionales, a name that may have been acquired as a pet name, or as a
code-name for the only woman to be part of later plans to attack Company C. 262 She
was closely involved in Church affairs, prayed up to eight times a day, beginning at
4am, and visited the church every day. As a parapambat, she led prayers and was
the unofficial caretaker of the church. She is described as “tall, large, fairskinned and
It would be surprising if she hadn’t attracted the attention of the Americans and,
indeed, Tibe-Bonfacio was told by a grand-nephew “Sometimes… the American
officials would pay Geronima a visit'. Local traditions, and those of the Betron family
suggest that she was being courted by Sergeant Frank Betron, a man who, as an
orphan, would have been attracted to the Filipino family relationships and whose
lack of family may even have attracted Geronima’s interest.
The treatment of Casiana would certainly have been more in keeping with local
practices, including a chaperone, no touching and raised no known objections.
The other officers' visits may have been little more than building relationships
with the local elite and persons of influence, of which she was one. Bumpus accepted
invitations to the homes of local worthies in Luzon so there is good reason to
suppose that he and other officers would do the same in Balangiga. Apart from
anything else, they would have to go through this elite for local hires and certain
At the other end of the scale, the situation may have been vastly different. The
main body of Filipinos were, to their eyes, people of colour and, as men of their time
and class, the privates of Company C. almost certainly had little to do with them.
Those who may have been more liberally inclined would certainly be brought to
heel through peer pressure. Even Connell was referred to as a 'nigger-lover', even
though he does not appear to have treated the Balangiganons in any special way, or
at least differently to the way Filipinos in occupied towns were treated elsewhere.
This is at odds with the thesis of my good friend Rolly Borrinaga, who paints a
rather bucolic picture of Balangiganons and Company C. privates sucking the tuba
suds together beneath shady trees263. The actual state of relationships between
Company C. and the Balangiganons is difficult to determine today with any certainty
but the picture does seem at odds with the personalities and agendas of senior
officers and NCOs.

262 Tibe-Bonifacio, Glenda Lynne Anne, Deconstructing Maria in Geronima: The Balangiga Story,
unpublished ms.
263 See Borrinaga, Rolando, The Balangiga Conflict Revisited.
The privates in Company C., as men of their day, were unlikely to actively
socialise with the males Balangiganons at least to such an extent, but others
certainly did so elsewhere in the Philippines. Connell's priggishness would seem to
militate against it. Bumpus, trying to redeem himself in the eyes of the army for his
'trouble' in China is similarly unlikely to have encouraged or permitted such open
And then there's Acting First Sergeant James Randles who had good reason to
keep his men on a leash. The Army Memorial, printed before the Company went to
Balangiga, and the after-action reports, show that the Company's actual Quarter
Master Sergeant was August Porczeng and that he had been reduced to the ranks for
some infraction and the only person with the authority to do that was Connell. It is
improbable that Randles should allow his men to do anything that would risk his
newfound status.
Also, there is the testimony of William Gibbs that suggests strongly that the
Balangiganons themselves maintained a cautious relationship with their new
This is not to say that none of the privates drank, some certainly did, or that none
of the privates mixed with Balangiganons on occasion, they also certainly did, and
probably the same men. Some Balangiganons may have deliberately approached
Company C. men to pass on oblique warnings as pressure grew, as in the case of
Manire's retelling of an attack upon a Spanish garrison
On the other hand, Helen Ralston recalls her father talking of trying to teach
baseball to the Balangiganons264. Balangiga folk history tells of Valeriano Abanador
trying to teach Arnis, Filipino stick fighting, to some of the American soldiers. A
'Sergeant Benton', possibly Betron, is said to have become adept at it 265.
“There is good salt-water bathing here, and some of the days and nights are fine.
We get the sea breezes, and there are no mosquitoes here. In fact, I feel better here
than I did in Manila, where it seems to be hotter than this place, although we are
only 120 from the equator,” says Bumpus. It was certainly not the most exciting
posting “… every day has the same monotony in this place,” says Bumpus.
Exactly a weeks before he died, Bumpus gave the details of a typical Saturday: “ I
got up at seven o’clock, had a bath (consisting of a large tin can which is hoisted
above the head, through small holes in the bottom of which the water pours in a
shower), had breakfast with the doctor at half-past seven, then inspection of the
men, their arms and quarters, at eight o’clock (as it was Saturday). Then the doctor
and I walked about the town to see if the people were keeping it clean. From half-
past nine to lunch at twelve I read and loafed about the house. We had a siesta after

264 Jean Wall, personal communication

265 Borrinaga, Balangiga Revisited.
lunch until half-past two. I should say here that Captain Connell came back from a
trip down the coast with part of the company. From half-past two to six o’clock I
read and watched the men batting ball on the ground in front of the quarters. I took
retreat at six, and then had dinner. I read and talked until half-past ten. This is much
like any day.”
The men’s diet was monotonous: “We cannot get any fresh meat or fresh
vegetables or bread, so that we have to rely on canned goods entirely. When I come
marching home, I do not want to see any canned goods.” Said Bumpus in his first
letters from Balangiga says that Company C. was unable to buy fresh food,. By late
September, eggs and chickens, at least, were available: “We haven’t many plagues, as
there are few flies and hardly any mosquitoes. There has been an ambitious snake
here lately, who has taken a fondness for our chickens,” said Bumpus.
Meanwhile, Lukban found himself forced to rally his own people in the face of a
letter written under American control by Wenceslao Singson, the priest of Laoang
who had urged surrender in June. It may have had a significant effect because just
days after Company C's arrival in Balangiga Lukban was penning a stinging response
asking "Why does he (Singson) oblige Christians to live among Protestants? And
why does he not oblige Americans to hear Mass, confess and receive communion?"

Connell followed standard operating procedure and ordered Abanador and

Abayan to ‘police up’ the town by clearing away the underbrush around the streets
and removing the detritus under the huts. The order was announced around the
town and written copies were posted at street corners. Exactly when this order was
given is uncertain. The fiesta of San Lorenzo had been held on August 10, shortly
before the arrival of Company C. which would suggest that the town had been
recently cleaned up in a ‘pintakasi’ – communal work, but possibly not as Connell
William Gibbs told a congressional committee that Connell issued the clean-up
order almost as soon as he arrived, or the day following.
Says Gamlin: “the first thing we did was to take steps to have the town policed, to
which the natives objected… (They) refused to work”267
About 50 men reported for work, most of them so old they were unable to
work268. Gibbs testimony suggests that around the 14 th of August some 50

266 The Revolutionists in Samar, August 15, 1901, RM Taylor, page 698-699
267 Gamlin, Adolph, in RO Taylor, p24. There are several extant accounts by Gamlin, one quoted by
Meyers in RO Taylor, a second account, also printed in RO Taylor, a third is archived at the Center for
Military History, Carlisle Barracks, and a fourth in an article by his son-in-law, George Wall.
268 Gibbs, SD331 p2289
townsmen were press-ganged into forced labour. If true, it is not supported by other
An account by Jose S. Valdenor, a former Philippine Army officer who knew
many of the surviving Balangiganon participants explains the reluctance: "The
(town) officials complains (sic) against what they consider intrusive and onerous
orders and demands and explains (sic) that the men are busy in their farms to work
in the town"269.This is also confirmed by other interviews carried out with
Balangiganon participants and would explain Gibbs reference to men too old to
work – the healthy ones were out in the fields or collecting coconuts..
Connell gave the order three more times to no avail. Meyers claims that Abayan,
Abanador and Guimbaiolibot told Connell that the townspeople refused to obey and
allegedly asked for assistance. Other survivors described Meyers as unreliable and,
as with Abayan’s imaginary request for military assistance, he may simply have
been filling in gaps with information beyond his knowledge270.
True to his character, Connell quickly began interfering with local traditions and
culture. He tried to ban cockfighting, a sport popular for centuries, which may even
have been present before Magellan sunk his hook in the South China Sea. It was first
banned in the United States in 1836. A swathe of anti-cockfighting legislation
bubbled away in the late 19th century. Washington banned it the same year
Company C. arrived in Balangiga. In 1902 the Philippine Commission attempted to
ban cockfighting throughout the country, which led to an uproar sufficiently
threatening for the legislation to be adapted to allow it on fietas and holidays, but
the law was not on the books while Connell was trying to ban it in Balangiga.
Abhorrent though cockfighting is to any civilized person in the 21st century, the
same was not true in the 19th century. Or even in the 21st Century - it still remains
legal in two states, New Mexico and Louisiana.
Relevant to Connell's mindset is that the spate of cockfight bans had less to do
with concern for the cocks than the 'sins' that accompanied it – gambling, drinking
and, especially hateful to someone with a strong puritan streak, having a good time.
Many of the company believed that an attack by the Filipinos was likely. Sergeant
Markley later said: “I was rather suspicious of the natives there anyhow” 271, an
opinion echoed by Manire: “we were watchfully waiting the expected outbreak”. 272

269 Valdenor, Jose S., What Had Happened in the Battle of Balangiga, unpublished mss. BRG collection.
270 Meyers’s account displays much forgetfulness. He writes: “One side of Balangiga was the bay, on the
other side were high mountains whose tops were rarely seen because of the masses of clouds that hung
about them”. There are no mountains, cloud-topped or otherwise, in the immediate vicinity of the town.
271 Markley, George, in RO Taylor, p9
272 Ralston, in RO Taylor, p22
A little more than a week after its arrival Company C. suffered its first casualty,
Private Charles McGilligan, who died of dysentery 20th August and was buried in
the cemetery. Griswold ordered that, for fresh water, the men use coconut water273.
Lukban was looking for an opening and on August 24 issued instructions to
Lieutenant-Colonel Francisco Rafael in Catbalogan recommending attacks on
smaller American detachments and recruiting locally organized forces to combine
with the Filipino forces. Rafael attempted to follow those instructions a week later
with miserable consequences274.
In the closing days of August, Bumpus took a boat with six men to Tacloban for
supplies and the mail275, but the mails had yet to arrive from Manila.
The trip was largely uneventful, and Bumpus’s account reveals a shoreline not
much changed in a century: “Six men of the company and myself left here at half-
past seven one morning and rowed along the coast of Samar thirty-five miles to
Basey on this island. We had the padre’s boat, a large hollowed log changed into a
fairly good rowboat. The boats here are all made this way, and most of them have
outriggers of bamboo, which make the boats very stiff in the water.
“The boat we had carried the six men, who rowed, and myself, who steered, with
rations for two days very easily. We landed about twelve o’clock on a pretty little
sandy beach lined with cocoanut trees 276, and had lunch. Some natives came to see
us from a neighboring house, and we made them climb some cocoanut trees and we
had all the fresh cocoanut milk (sic) we wanted. In fact, we had a little picnic, but
kept our guns close at hand all the time.
“From there we journeyed on to Basey, reaching there about seven o’clock.
There are a few fishing villages along this shore. A good many coral reefs run out
from the shore, and it is hard to make a landing in most places with even a small
rowboat. I had a pleasant night at Basey with Lieutenant-Colonel Foote, Hammond,
(Lieutenant) Drouillard, and Captain Bookmiller. They are comfortably settled in a
large convent. Lieutenant-Colonel Foote asked very pleasantly after you, and wished
to be remembered to you and the family. The next morning I rowed seven miles to
Tacloban, the capital of the island of Leyte.
There I did some errands, and took luncheon with Colonel De Russey of the
Eleventh Infantry. This last is a city of fifteen thousand people, and has some big
trading companies and a few stores.

273 Daza, Affidavit.

274 Rafael, Francisco, to Lukban, September 3, 1901, in RM Taylor, page 700.
275 Bumpus, August 28. 1901
276 This is almost certainly the spectacular site of the Marabut resort, presently owned by the Leyte Park
“I rode back to Basey by moonlight, and spent part of another night in a festive
game of cards. The next morning I left at sunrise, and was well on my way back to
this place before the sun came out. We took lunch at the same place. On the way we
stopped at an interesting rock partially hollowed out by the sea, and full of sea birds.
We reached camp about four o’clock, and sailed part of the way back. I have not
received any mail for nearly two months, and we cannot get it here with any
regularity, as we are out of the line of steamers. Still we are expecting a mail at any
Meanwhile, The New American, published in Manila, was optimistic that Lukban
would soon surrender or be captured: "It is said by those experienced with the
mountain life that the insurrectos are at present living entirely on 'camotes' – sweet
potatoes… they will soon be cut off from their only available supplies as in
September the native sweet potatoes begin to dry up, and are no longer fit for
food…they are entirely without rice or other food… so that they may soon be driven
in by hunger"277. Camote is a year-round crop with no season, an indication of now
little intelligence actually existed regarding conditions in Samar.

277 The New American, August 29, reported in Campaigning in Samar, Literary Digest, October 19, 1901.
Chapter Eighteen

Hang The Dogs

It was "Ting-bitay sa iro", 'time to hang the dogs' according to the local tradition,
the last months of the year. Samar had just one annual rice crop, harvested in May,
and even in normal, peaceful years without blockades, closed ports, devastating
typhoons and locust plagues, August onwards was a time of shortage when
shrinking stores of rice would be bulked out with camote – sweet potato -, and
continued to be so until recent years.
By September, the situation for Samarenos was grave. Many people were being
forced from the interior into coastal towns that were already desperately short of
food and Robert Hughes had to order his commanders to buy rice for the
refugees278. As the month progressed, Hughes pressured British trading house on
the island. Hemp buyers were arrested and in some cases tortured.
Confessions given under torture led to two British traders being ordered out of
Samar. The British Consul later wrote: "…the methods adopted by the American
Military Authorities to restore their prestige were as drastic as to render the
presence of witnesses undesirable." 279
On September 1st, several men from the Basey detachment were attacked at
Barrio Tingib by a small Filipino force led by a Vicario Amanillo 280 as they checked a
telegraph line. The encounter left eight Filipinos dead. Filipino accounts claim two
American soldiers dead and admit to severe losses themselves.
Morris Foote, the commander at Basey, believed that the attackers had left the
vicinity of Basey and gone elsewhere, possibly towards Balangiga.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the world a bewildered and oddly behaved
Polish immigrant, Czolgosz, listened to speeches by the anarchist Emma Goldman. In


Linn, Brian M. "We will go heavily armed": The Marines Small War on Samar.
279 See Balangiga Papers: The Hemp War.
280 Historical Data Sheet, Basey, 1953, National Library
a conversation with another anarchist, Emil Schilling, he lamented the war in the
Philippines: "It does not harmonize with the teaching in our public schools about
our flag." Suspicious, on September 1, Schilling published a warning that Czolgosz
might be an agent provocateur.281 Another historic thread was being tied.
A Filipino attack on September 2 went awry. Lieutenant Colonel Rafael marched
his men to Katapagan near a US detachment at Quiabong. Arriving at mid-day he
recruited 100 local men as bolomen and moved on to Quiambong intending to
assault the garrison under cover of darkness. As they prepared to attack, the newly
recruited bolomen ran off.
"…Being very cowardly, there is no commander who can control them; the
guerrillas when they saw this action were obliged to retreat without having had any
success in entering the town… they are of no use for fighting and it is impossible to
comply with your order," wrote a depressed Rafael. It was the third time he had
tried to implement the plan and failed due to the reluctance of the local bolomen to
attack. Rafael requested that Lukban send 150 bolomen from the other side of
Samar because "with the people here it is impossible to execute the plan we
The reluctance of the bolomen is easily understood. The attack strategy
consisted of sending in bolomen to rush American guns with the better-armed
Filipino forces following behind, rather than using Filipino guns to soften up the
enemy first.
Rafael also came to the conclusion that an attack and siege similar to that at
Catubig the previous year was well-nigh impossible. American detachments were
now in place at eight posts, Catbalogan, Quiambong, Motiong, Kalanan, Calbiga, Villa
Real, Santa Rita and Basey. All were within some 90 minutes of each other and help
could arrive quickly in event of an extended assault.
Unaware of the fighting, Co. C. continued to patrol, confident in the power of
their rifles: “We have scouted over all the country within a radius of several miles of
this post, and have not been troubled by any ladrones (robbers) with bolo or gun. As
we never go without arms, and hardly ever alone, no native is liable to bother an
American soldier if he values his health.” Says Bumpus283.
By the end of the first week of September, Samar was already taking its toll on
the Company. On September 6, Bumpus told his father: “ One of the men in the com-
pany shot himself the other day and died, and one man deserted while crazed with
tuba, the native drink, and has probably died in the woods.”

281 Tuchman, Barbara W., The Proud Tower, Macmillan, 1966, page 106
282 Rafael, Francisco, to Lukban, September 3, 1901, in RM Taylor, page 700-701
283 Bumpus, September 6, 1901
On September 4, Fred Schechterle blew his own brains out with a Krag and was
buried in the town cemetery south west of the church, next to the grave of
McGilligan, who had died in August.
Foote decided to visit Balangiga and warn Connell of the potential danger from
the Filipinos. George Allen remembers the visit: “They arrived, made us a visit,
looked over the town and departed.” Foote himself told Bumpus’s father: “I went to
Balangiga on (September) the 7th and warned Tommy Connell about them (The
Basey attackers)... Possibly poor Connell did not fully realize just how treacherous
and dangerous these devils are.” 284
Foote also brought news that Balangiga was to be inspected by General Adna
Chaffee. Now the pressure was on Connell, his weeks of occupation had produced no
results. No insurgents had been captured, killed, or even engaged, nor did he have
any intelligence as to where they were. No insurgent supplies had been identified or
seized, and progress on the clean-up of Balangiga was slow. This may explain
increasingly stringent measure taken in the three weeks following Foote’s visit.
“The next day (after Foote's visit), some of the native women claimed they had
been assaulted by some American soldiers. Company C. was lined up but they failed
to identify any member of our company as being the guilty ones. A few nights later,
one of our men disappeared, Private Denton… After this occurrence, we received
orders never to go any great distance from our quarters without going armed.” 285
Says George Allen. Allen is wrong. Denton disappeared on August 23 and it may be
that he confuses the arrival of Foote with the arrival of Lt. Bumpus at about that
time in August.
Denton was assumed, to have deserted. The exact circumstances are vague but
he turned himself in to the Filipino forces, possibly with the help of Valeriano
Abanador and Eugenio Daza (See Heroes And Hells, The Cases of William Denton and
Adolph Gamlin) and was hidden until finally being looked after at Cietro 286.
He was, at least, luckier than another 9th Infantry Regiment private, Parnell, who
was kidnapped by Vicario Amantillo287 while overseeing the gathering of water from
Himanoc Island for the Basey garrison on August 4 and hidden on Himanoc Island or
Isla De Dios. After reports that Parnell had been seen in a southward travelling
banca, with his rifle, he was assumed to have deserted on August 5. A reward of 60
pesos was put on his head, with another 30 pesos for the rifle288.

284 In Memoriam, pp86-87.

285 Allen, George, in RO Taylor, p30
286 Waller, Littleton WT, to Smith, October 31.
287 Historical Data Sheet, Basey, 1953, National Library.
288 Parnell was killed by a Nicholas Lobrio at Sulat, Samar in retaliation for the death of a Filipino officer
during the punitive expeditions on Samar.
Gibbs describes Denton as “a good soldier… he was in sympathy always with the
natives; only he would watch them and he would not allow them to do anything that
was contrary…”289 But he drank. Oddly, when asked why Denton should be ‘made
away with’ with, i.e., killed, Gibbs says: “…he was not liked very well by the natives.
He simply did his duty, and some of the men would allow them a little more than
others. This was one of the men who would not do that. When he went into the
house to drive them out he would drive them out; he would not punch them or
anything like that, but he would send them out and see that they got out on time.” 290
William Gibbs also spoke of the alleged rape, somewhat differently. An elderly
native woman made an allegation of rape and supposedly described Private Denton.
The camp was searched but all that was found was Denton’s shoes by the riverbank
the next morning. “(Connell) suspected… that it was just a put-up game (To excuse
Denton’s disappearance)".
It is equally possible that the elderly woman was not the complainant but a
relative of a younger woman. It was then, as now, normal practice for someone to
find a 'go between', someone respected in the community, to present such
Rape was not uncommon in the Philippine-American War, whether carried out
by American soldiers, Filipinos under American command or Filipino pro-
independence forces fighting the Americans. Both the records of US courts-martial
and the message traffic of the Filipino forces that opposed them, preserved in the
Philippine Revolutionary Records, show that neither side had a spotless record, nor
did either side encourage it.
Regardless of any moral strictures, permissiveness with regard to rape increased
friction with local people and was bad for discipline at a time when soldiers needed
to remain focussed on their objectives.
There is good reason to suspect that no rape took place, and nor was the
complaint a 'put up job'.
Balangiganon respondents, descendants of the Filipino participants, in
interviews with this author consistently emphatically denied that rape took place in
Balangiga and the emphasis in interviews with actual participants would seem to
support their belief. A Waray word, kalamadaya may be significant in this context.
The term refers to a range of abuse against women from suggestive and
inappropriate touching to rougher horseplay291. It is considered a serious assault in
the Balangiganon culture.

289 Gibbs, SD331, p2295

290 Gibbs, SD331, p2296
291 Borrinaga, Rolando O., The Balangiga Conflict Revisited, New Day, Quezon City, Philippines, 2003
In discussing the rape allegations, Balangiganon respondents volunteered the
opinion that what has been interpreted as rape was, in fact, kalamandaya and the
complaint may have arisen from what Balangiganons view as inappropriate
Addressing the evidence for rape suggests that this might be the case. Published
interviews with Balangiganon participants place the rape at the same level as the
alleged stealing of pigs and chickens and the taking of food without payment. One
would have expected rape to be considered far more important than the theft of a
chicken. On the other hand, given the almost totemic importance of food in the
Filipino cultural matrix, then it is conceivable that rape and the taking of food
would be of comparable severity.
Equally, there is nothing specific in the rape allegations. In the affair at the tuba
stall, for instance, one knows the names of the Balangiganon participants and where
and when it happened. It is only fairly recently that rape victims have been
encouraged to speak without shame yet, even so, one would expect statements like
'a girl from barrio X or place Y was raped by American soldiers', none of which have
been recorded.
However, if the Balangiganons felt here was a more generalized disrespect or
over familiarity of the kind suggested by Gibbs's statement that Balangiganon men
would chase soldiers out of their houses when they stepped over the line vis a vis
the womenfolk, then one does have a phenomena that, arguably, would be perceived
on the same level as the theft of food.
It has been suggested that the old woman making the complaint was some sort
of 'spy' for the insurgents trying to ascertain what was known about Denton's
disappearance292. But the insurgents knew precisely where Denton was; he was in
their hands. Abanador knew this, as Abayan certainly also knew. Abanador was in
daily contact with the American officers and he knew what they knew.
Nor was it necessary to go through the 'rigodon' of a complaint to explain
Denton's disappearance. As far as the officers knew, he'd got drunk, gone into the
forest and was probably dead. There was nothing to be explained.
Gibbs is the only reference to an allegation of a specific rape; there are none in
Filipino accounts. Since American and Filipino participants' accounts agree to a
surprisingly large extent, it is worth looking at the latter for an incident that might
connect with Gibbs's statements. That connection may be the incident at the tuba
stall, involving a girl, which had overtones of a narrow escape from rape, certainly
involved kalamandaya, and was of a nature serious enough for the punishment of
the offending soldiers, if found.

292 BRG archives, communications with Bruce Gordon.

Against making that connection is that Gibbs's statement places the rape
allegations at a much earlier phase of Company Co.'s occupation. Gibbs's testimony
shows great confusion over dates – he places Company C.'s arrival in Balangiga
several weeks earlier than it actually did – and it is possible, if not probable, that
what Gibbs recalled actually happened much later and was in response to the tuba
stall incident.
It was also about the time of Denton's disappearance that Bumpus took 15 men
out on patrol for three miles over rough ground, carefully keeping 'Indian file', one
behind the other in case of attack. As usual, the patrol was uneventful.
He wrote to his father:” There is not as much to be feared from the rifles on this
island as the bolo, which last is a nasty weapon when at close quarters. We keep
constantly on the alert with bayonets fixed, magazines loaded, and Indian file, so
that in case any bolomen try to surprise us from the long grass or impenetrable
thickets, we will be instantly ready for them.”
With Balangiga founded on a river-mouth sandbar, the northern and eastern
sides were difficult terrain and much of Co. C.’s patrolling was done on water:
”…there are swamps all about the town, we will have to go about in boats. There is a
small river close by the town, and the captain and the doctor went up it for a short
distance with a detachment without finding anything.”293
The patrols never did find anything, or at least, anyone. During one patrol they
came across the now-ruined Baluarte but were told not to poke around it too much
because of the danger from snakes. Another patrol allegedly unearthed a box
containing a priest's vestments, some of which crumbled at a touch. With them was
a crucifix in a frame decorated with stones. Inconveniently large and heavy, the
frame was discarded. In later years the figure of Christ was placed on a new cross
and it remains with the soldier's descendants today.
September 10 brought some brief respite from boredom as an earthquake shook
the town294. Ominously its epicentre was in Camarines Sur, Vicente Lukban’s home
territory. It registered 9 on the Richter scale in Bicol but felt mild in Balangiga, as
Bumpus reveals in his letters: “We have had two small earthquakes, and I hope they
will all be small, as I do not want to have the roof fall in, or cracks open in the earth.”
Months later, a respected journalist, Stephen Bonsal wrote about the earthquake.
Cephas Bumpus quotes his article in the New York Herald of December 22, “…an
earthquake had destroyed buildings in the town and injured many of the natives.

293 Bumpus, September 6

294 Philippines Institute of Volcanology records.
Surgeon Griswold and his assistants had tenderly cared for these people the same
friendly treatment that the soldiers of Company C. had…”295
Nipa huts actually survive earthquakes very well, they flex with the
movement296. It is unlikely that any buildings were damaged or that anyone was
injured. Bonsai's information almost certainly came from the senior military officers
who carefully controlled where he went and to whom he spoke.
The earthquake was followed by much church activity, which, according to
Bonsal, and this time probably accurately, was ascribed to fear of more earthquakes,
specifically aftershocks, and the tidal wave that may follow sub-sea quakes.
Elsewhere on Samar, Filipinos collaborating with the Americans received rough
treatment. In the barrio of San Miguel two men, Cipriano Manoso and Pablo Cabarles
were captured and badly beaten on September 12. They were to be taken to
Lukban's headquarters for disposition but they never made it. Manoso died on the
journey and Cabarles made an amazing escape from the custody of the police guard
accompanying him. A Major Agapito Sebastian viewed the reports with suspicion –
Cabarles and Manosos had been too disabled to attempt to escape.
Meanwhile, Hughes moved his headquarters from Samar to Cebu on September
Balangiga was quiet, but it was not going to remain that way. A Filipino
participant told an interviewer that, at first the Americans were well received, but
the people's attitude changed when the Americans made mistakes in dealing with
the local population297.
On September 18, unknown to Connell, Eugenio Daza arrived on the outskirts of
Balangiga with, he claims, 400 men whom he had 'received' the previous day, to
attack the American garrison. That he was forced to abandon his plans strongly
suggests that he had received little intelligence regarding the situation in the town,
if any: "on account of certain inconveniences, I withdrew my forces since they were
not sufficient to oppose the enemy's force."298
Daza says that he returned to study the plan of combat and then recruited the
support of Abanador and Custodio Salazar who were relatives living in Balangiga
and influential members of the town principalia, or council.
Had Daza gathered his several hundred men from the outskirts of Balangiga, it is
difficult to understand how the principalia could not have known, and clearly they

295 In Memoriam, p87

296 The author experienced the Baguio earthquake of 1990 and observed the behaviour of various
buildings at the time.
297 Arens, page 61
298 Taylor, RO, Vol. V, Exhibit 1360, (PIR 820.5), page 705.
did not. Had it been part of the alleged plan suggested in the May 30, 1901, letter,
again the town leaders would have had to know.
If Lukban had given approval to the plan in Abayan's letter, Daza would have
been the one to pass the approval back to the townsfolk.
Daza intended, therefore, to attack the town without prior notice to the
supposed Lukban supporters inside. Why?
While family relationships in the Philippines are, indeed, close, especially in
Samar, and carry heavy obligations, they are often riven with dispute. The mutual
dislike between former Philippine President Corazon Aquino and her blood relative
Antonio Cojuangco, and Fidel Ramos's participation in the overthrow of his relative
Ferdinand Marcos are just two of many modern examples.
While many Balangiganons were related to Daza it would be unwise in the
extreme to assume that they owed him any loyalty or felt any particular obligation
to die for him.
The most likely explanation for the events of the evening of September 18 is that
Daza intended to punish Balangiga for being friendly to the Americans and for
taking the oath of allegiance, as members of Lukban's forces had punished others.
He may also have wanted to get into Lukban's good books299.
Whether or not Daza actually did have the 400 men he refers to is debatable. He
does not mention it in any other report or his 1935 affidavit. It may have been a
If it was not a bluff, however, his numbers would certainly have impacted upon
the fears of the Balangiga leadership. With fewer than 80 American soldiers
protecting the town, well-outnumbered, they may well have felt vulnerable and
reviewed their options, just as the inability of US forces to protect, or the political
unwillingness to provide protection for, Samar towns a few years later led to
thousands joining the notorious Pulahanes rather than be slaughtered by them.
A discussion took place between Daza and members of the town leadership and
the attack was reset for October 6, a Sunday more than two weeks away. If
Balangiga had been prepared, or preparing, to attack Company C., if they had been
obedient to Lukban's orders, and if Daza really did have a workable plan of attack,
then the deed could have been carried out almost immediately rather than two
weeks ahead, weeks during which the Americans could have been tipped off by
words or actions.

299 Professor Borrinaga, in The Balangiga Conflict Revisited (New Day, 2003) expresses surprise that
Daza's after action reports were made to Claro Guevara, a Tagalog, and not directly to Lukban.
Guevara, however, was Daza's superior officer, not his equal.
Extra time would only be of benefit if the Balangiganons needed more time to
figure out what to do next.
It has been suggested that Connell heard about the aborted attack but there is no
reason to suppose that he did. His action or, rather, inaction demonstrates no alarm
on his part. Given that his unit was too small to launch offensive manoeuvres against
the Filipino forces, common sense suggests that he would have stopped patrols and
increased the town's defences.
At best it would appear that the Balangiganons were sitting on the fence
between two powerful forces. At that critical moment, Connell decided to shake the
Chapter Twenty Three

Honeymoon’s End
Pedro Duran, shortly before he died, commented: "Everything would have been
all right had the Americans not committed mistakes in their so-called pacification
campaigns"300. Indeed, it is common in the Balangiganon accounts to see references
to errors rather than deliberate beastliness by the Americans or even loyalty to the
Filipino nationalist cause.
After weeks of apparently cautious friendship, or, at least, lack of overt hostility
Lukban’s earlier prediction came true On Sunday, September 22 301 Company C.
suddenly and without warning turned on the townspeople. To avoid suspicion,
Connell waited until after retreat had been sounded and the townspeople would be
in their homes preparing for sleep. Then he gave the order – surround the town and
arrest every able-bodied male302.
One Balangiganon, interviewed by Richard Arens recalled it differently: "A
meeting was called by the bandillo. When the people gathered at the plaza, they
noticed on the north side of the Municipal Hall two newly constructed tents.
Suddenly all the men were rounded up, 143 of them, and taken to the tents" 303.
The reason for Connell's precipitate action may have its origins in an incident at
a stall selling tuba on Saturday, 21st September, when two soldiers threatened to
take away a girl serving them, Catalina Catalogo. Her two brothers intervened,
beating up the Americans. If two unarmed Filipinos were willing to take on a pair of
heavily armed American soldiers, Connell may well have felt it necessary to exert his
authority more firmly.
That same day, Adolph Gamlin turned 23 years old.


Loyola, Valentin, Abletez, Jose P., The Balangiga 'Massacre', Historical Notes, This Week Magazine,
September 13, 1959.
301 Bookmiller, October 1, 1901
302 Arens presents a timeline beginning with this incident that begins in August but says that his
interviewees were often uncertain as to dates, event sequence and even names. The time scale proposed
here agrees better with both Filipino and American accounts and requires a simple shift forward,
303 Arens, Richard, SVD, The Filipino Side of the Balangiga Massacre, Philippines Free Press, November
21, 1959.
Says Gamlin: “Captain Thomas E. Connell decided to place a guard around the
town and ordered the sentries to allow no Filipinos to leave. Then he had squads, in
charge of noncoms (Non commissioned officers), search the native shacks for
William Gibbs described the operation to a Congressional committee on May 9,
1902:“…he (Connell) went to work and sent the men, each man to a shack, and
forced them to come out.”305
Not everyone went quietly. According to George Allen: “Some of our men were
attacked by bolomen but they only succeeded in capturing one of them. This one
was held in confinement in our make-shift guardhouse.” This captive does not
appear in any other account.
In this instance, of course, 'bolomen' in this instance indicates nothing more than
men trying to defend themselves and their families. Daza clearly had no men in
position at that time.
Some eighty men were kept in two Sibley tents, each with room for just sixteen
people, under armed guard. The rest of the townsmen were set free but warned to
report for work in the morning, which they did.
“There was not room enough to lie down,” explains Gibbs, ”the weather was
damp, and of course it was the rainy season at that time and it was very unpleasant
all right for the natives, and they started to complain about it. They even wanted a
little matting to put on the inside of the tent to keep them from dampness, from the
ground, but he (Connell) would not allow that at all.”306
This round-up was excluded from subsequent public official reports and press
reports until Gibbs gave testimony before a congressional inquiry in 1902307.
Some uncertainty exists about the enforced labour to which the townsmen were
subjected. Gibbs suggests that the round-up occurred within the first week of
Company C.’s arrival. Lt. Bumpus’s letters indicate that some form of organized
cleaning had been put in motion prior to September 21 st. Bookmiller’s reports,
based on debriefings of survivors, agree with statements given by Filipino survivors
on a date around September 22nd. While it is possible that Gibbs’s testimony was
erroneous, two other scenarios are also available – that there were two such round-
ups, one soon after arrival, involving 50 townsmen, and a second on September 22.

304 Gamlin, Adolph, Interviewed by Harry M. Most, Spanish American War Survey, Centre for Military
History, also in RO Taylor, p24,
305 Gibbs, SD 331, p2285
306 Gibbs, SD 331, p2290
307 Testimony of William J, Gibbs, Senate Document 331, pps 2284-2311
Among those imprisoned was Guno Nacionales, brother of Geronima308, who was
later to take an active role in the incident.
Asked whether the some emergency had led to the imprisonment, Gibbs said
“yes… The emergency was to clear up the town quickly in order to have it ready for
the inspector, General Smith.” From this it would appear that Connell was very
worried about the impression his command would have on his senior officers.
Connell also ordered all banana trees to be cut down, stored rice to be destroyed
and pigs, chickens and cattle to be seized. Finally, according to Father Arens
interviewees, 'some soldiers abused women in the barrios'. Such abuse need not
have been sexual in nature, or even particularly serious to a Westerners eyes, but to
the Balangiganons it was a grave offence against their women.
The prisoners also repaired the thatch roofs of the nipa huts preparatory to the
coming rains.309 Thus ladders gave access to the upper quarters of the Salazar and
Belaez houses, while the thatch itself was prepared just outside the municipal hall.
In addition to cleaning up the town and removing the nearby underbrush,
according to Pedro Duran, the impressed workers were involved in construction of
barricades and fortifications "to protect the American garrison from the Filipino
guerrillas. The prisoners were ordered to cut trees and to drag them with their bare
hands into the camp site." 310. There is no reference to such construction in American
To make matter worse, while the Filipinos cleaned the town, Connell decided to
seize the town’s foodstocks: “While the natives were cleaning up the town he sent
out men from the company to destroy all the rice and fish and everything else in the
line of food that they possibly could. He thought they were taking them to the
insurrectos in the mountains.” Says Gibbs 311.
Some of the men may also have done what soldiers have done since time
immemorial – ‘requisitioned’ food from the local population. This also became one
of the causes of tension according Balangiganon participants.. If food was stolen and
if complaints were made and if those responsible were identified, then Connell
would undoubtedly have exacted severe punishment. Whether anything of this sort
happened is an unknown. It is certainly conceivable that a couple or so men might
have taken the occasional chicken, if only for entertainment value.
It is also possible that the accounts refer to the food seizures. One map drawn by
a survivor shows a hog pen beside the Company kitchen. Pigs typically roam free in

308 Tibe-Bonfacio
309 Bookmiller report, October1,
310 Loyola and Abletez.
311 Gibbs, sd331,p2300
places like Balangiga, or on a tether to a house post. It would appear that Connell
had the pigs collected and put into the hog pen.
The impact of the food issue cannot be overestimated. In ordering people to cut
down 'undergrowth', Connell was ordering them to destroy root and leaf crops such
as camote and gabi which always grow between and around such houses intended
for survival during the wet season. One cannot, of course, live long on coconut and
banana, assuming the later was not part of the 'undergrowth' and remained
standing. Foraging in the forest was a dangerous occupation with Hughes's men
apparently shooting on sight anyone who might be an 'insurrecto', according to his
own testimony.
Later, Littleton Waller would forcefully demonstrate the difficulty of living off
the land. If around a couple of dozen Marines and native bearers couldn't find
enough food to live across the width of Samar, it is specious in the extreme to
suggest that a population of 2,000 could have found enough to live on in that same
There is no evidence, either, that Connell ordered food to be given to the
Balangiganons. None, as far as is known, came on the Liscum, none was delivered
after Company C.'s arrival. Gibbs's testimony suggests that little more than a week's
supply of rice was stored in the town.
To say the least, from a Balangiganon perspective, this was a poor way for a
guest to treat a host who had shown nothing but hospitality and friendship. They
had done nothing to justify such an assault or the belittlement of enforced labour.
And they felt scared, abused and betrayed. Awod came to the fore. The Americans
had failed the test of friendship. It's difficult to believe that any American would not
feel similarly had they walked in the Balangiganons shoes' and been treated the
same way.
There are some hints that warnings were given that the behaviour would
alienate the townspeople. One would expect such a warning to be very indirect,
possibly too indirect for its importance to be realized by a non-Westerner. One hint
is Manire's statement that he was told of a previous successful attack on a Spanish
garrison, information by which he was supposed to benefit. Betron family traditions
say that a so-far undiscovered account in a Filipino magazine about Frank Betron
talks of a warning given to him by a woman in Balangiga, possibly Casiana
Given Connell's obtuseness and his clear incomprehension of the impact of his
activities, it is unlikely that he would have recognized any warning at all.

312 Wagner, Kevin, descendant of Betron, personal communication.

From the Sunday to the Monday, no food was given to the prisoners. Pedro
Duran asked an American, supposedly Connell, when they would be released and
was told 'Until New Year'. An elderly man nearby counted on his fingers and loudly
concluded that they would all be dead of hunger before then 313.
The next day, at 10am, prisoners' relatives brought food but were too afraid of
the soldiers to bring more in the afternoon314. Each morning, the townspeople
would bring breakfast for them. 315 At noon, the prisoners would be lined up beside
the Sibley tents where women would bring them food and they would eat under
armed guard, but the women were afraid to bring food in the afternoon.
Angry, the town's leadership, led by Evangelista Gabornes, a councillor,
Abanador and Mariano 'Maloy' Valdenor, met on that Monday to discuss how to deal
with the situation. They decided to attack the garrison and drive away the
It was a decision drawn from the tradition of awod, a public punishment,
revenge and the driving away of the problem.
Andronico 'Deko' Belaez the vice mayor of Balangiga, suggested that the attack
should take place during breakfast, when most of Company C. would not be carrying
arms. Men from the outlying barrios, who still had their bolos, would hide in the
underbrush alongside the mess tent. The unarmed prisoners, who would be waiting
for the soldiers to finish breakfast would be tasked with grabbing and immobilizing
the men at the tables, the men in the underbrush would rush forward and kill the
The meeting broke up at 2am and they hurried back to their houses with much
work to do. Over the next few days, word was spread to the outlying barrio of the
upcoming attack.
Each morning the prisoners would be taken out under armed guard in groups of
ten and given assignments by Sergeant Randles. The rest of the townsmen would
gather outside the municipal hall to wait their own guards finished breakfast and
were then led off to cut the underbrush. Abanador’s police force oversaw each
family’s work around their own nipa huts. Recalls Gibbs: “they (the workers) stayed
there right in the heat of the sun”317.
On Tuesday, September 24, Lt. Bumpus set out for Basey and Tacloban, with six
men, to collect supplies and the Company mail. After reaching Tacloban he went
across the San Juanico Strait to Basey, where he stayed overnight to rest his men

313 Arens, page 63

314 Arens Page 63
315 Gibbs, DS331, p2292
316 Valdenor, Jose S, What Had Happened in the Battle of Balangiga, unpublished mss. BRG collection.
317 Gibbs, SD331 p2290
and arrange some official papers. Lieutenant-Colonel Foote says: “I told him to stay
as long as he wanted, but he said he wanted to get back with the supplies and the
mail for Captain Connell and the men”318.
Meanwhile, Connell was worried about the speed of the clean-up in the town.
The visit by the inspector general was coming ever closer.319
As Bumpus was on his way to Tacloban, two groups of prisoners, totalling ten,
went under armed guard around the village seizing weapons, bolos and sundangs,
pointed machetes with an angled blade, from the huts320. Seven sacks full were
gathered and sorted into sundangs, which were kept aside, and blunt-ended work
bolos, which would be given to the impressed workforce. The seizures were kept to
the town proper, however, leaving the outlying barrios untouched, and armed.
That same Tuesday, Pedro Duran was supervising prisoners cleaning up the
plaza when Father Guimbaiolibot appeared. Duran had been waiting for him. He told
the priest that there would be a fight on Saturday: "Father, make up your mind, to
stay or to leave" Fr. Guimbaiolibot left the town and was taken to Calbayog in a
sailboat by a Fulgencio Campanero321.
At another meeting on Wednesday, September 25th, the Balangiganons decided
to ask the help of Eugenio Daza322.
The prisoners stayed in the tents for four days, working from 7am to 5pm,until
the following Thursday when Abanador approached Connell and offered to bring in
men from the outlying areas who owed municipal taxes in return for the release of
Balangiga townsmen of the same number. Connell agreed and the next day
Abanador brought in 40 ‘strong, husky men’ 323, 324. Melvin Wall, however, told a
slightly different story to the East St Louis Daily Journal: “The Captain thought the
work was not progressing fast enough, so he told the native chief of police to take a
detachment (of soldiers) and round up more natives in the mountains”. 325
However, other survivors accounts say that Abanador approached Sergeant
Randles with the offer of help by bring in 'tax evaders' from the surrounding areas.
Eager to please Connell, he accepted.
It was a Thursday, the same day that the detailed plan of attack was finalized.

318 In Memoriam, p86

319 Gibbs, SD331,2297
320 Arens p 63
321 Arens, The Filipino side
322 Loyola and Abletez
323 Meyers, in RO Taylor, p4
324 Gibbs, in testimony, says that this second set of prisoners were kept in the tents for about a week
before the attack.
325 Walls, in ROI Taylor, p36
These new prisoners seemed markedly different from the townsfolk, according
to Gibbs: “(They were) Very muscular people, and they were burly looking and had
on nothing but jock straps, just short pants; they were not dressed like the other
Filipinos, and they had a more ferocious look about them.”326
To some extent, Abanador may have been telling some sort of truth. If these men
did come from the mountains then the chances are that, under the Spanish regime,
they were, indeed, errant taxpayers. Given that Hughes's men had probably already
taken their hemp, they may have been only too happy to get a deadly rebate.
According to Daza, he had managed to place 200 men in the town327. Half were
the prisoners brought in by Abanador and the rest were working alongside the
Balangiganons, possibly as much to keep an eye on potential backsliders, there was
little other purpose in having them in place so early. However this group is not
referred to by any other participant.
The new imprisoned men, who raised no objections to being in the Sibley tents,
complained about their treatment to the soldiers who guarded them, “They were
afraid to make them to the officers,” says Gibbs, "some (soldiers) would sympathize
with them and others just the opposite.” Gibbs told the Committee on Affair in the
Philippine Islands that he believed that the plans to attack Company C. began when
the imprisonment of the townsmen occurred328.
Arens was told that Connell feared that Filipino forces would invade the town to
get the supplies329. Adding to the Balangiganons ire was the seizure of pigs, chicken
and cattle 'without compensation'330.
In addition to imprisonment and the loss of food supplies, another fear faced the
town – that with the able-bodied men now incarcerated the American troops would
go after the women331, a fear with some perceived basis, given the alleged events at
the tuba stall.
Adding to the Balangiganon concern was that with only women and children
able to work the farms, they feared famine: "Rather than allow their families to die
of starvation, they decided to take a chance" 332 said Pedro Duran. In other words,
food, not nationalism was at the heart of their concerns and Connell had not
addressed that concern, much as Otis failed to address Filipino concerns about being
handed back to the Spanish. It didn't occur to either of them that the concerns could
be genuine.

326 Gibbs, SD331,p2301

327 Daza Affidavit.
328 Gibbs, DS331, p2292
329 Arens page 63
330 Arens Page 63 and Daza Affidavit.
331 Tibe-Bonifacio
332 Loyola and Abletez.
This statement perhaps deserves further thought. With the local elite dependent
on those same farms for their economic well-being, and the future crops now
threatened at a critical moment by the imprisonment of the workforce, Connell's
order not only alienated the ordinary people of the town but struck at the town
principalia, the elite, polarizing any sympathy, support, ambivalence or neutrality
they may have possessed.
If Gibbs's Senate testimony is correct, only 40 bushels of rice were found in two
barns in storage enough for, at most, 8,000 meal portions for a total population of
2,000 people333. At most, it could only have been one week's supply if used
sparingly. There could be no harvest from the few rice fields around Balangiga
during the rainy season and none could be imported or traded because all trading
through the port was prohibited.
Also on the 26th, Lieutenant Bumpus was dispatched to Tacloban to pick up
supplies and men returning from Manila to the garrison.
Incredibly, despite the undermanning of the Company, Captain Connell decided
to take Major Griswold and the remaining men up the Balangiga River, leaving a
detail of a dozen men. Manire wrote: “Many times I wondered why the enemy did
not overpower our little post detail and the others as they would arrive.”
The reason may simply be that those planning the attack were meeting at
Tarusan334, just North of Balangiga with Daza. Pedro Abayan headed the meeting
with Valeriano Abanador, Mariano Valdenor, Andronico Belaez, Pedro Duran, Juan
Salazar and Evangelista Gabornes. Although a later writer who claims to have
interviewed several of the participants presents Daza as a military advisor his later
debriefings and his affidavit given in the 1930s fail to demonstrate any particular
skill in strategy or tactics. Indeed, quite the opposite.
According to Daza, the date set for the attack was Saturday, September 28th.
Abanador’s nephew, Juan, however, told historian Nemesio Duran that the attack
was planned for September 29th. “The immediate execution of (the) attack plan was
paramount to avoid being discovered by the Americans”, says Nemesio Duran.
Indeed, it may be that the attack was overtly planned for the 29th, but covert
preparations made for the 28th, thus giving the faint of heart no time to slip away to
avoid involvement. This would explain the ‘hurried mobilisation’ referred to by
Duran and the confusion that exists regarding the date of the attack.

333 These estimates are based on 1 bushel=36.4 litres with one meal portion of rice equivalent to a 200cc
to 250cc measure. The rice, however, would have been stored as 'palay', or unhusked, unpolished rice,
so the quantity of edible rice would have been significantly less.
334 Duran, Nemesio, unpublished master’s thesis, Centro Escolar University, 1997 p91.
The plan was detailed and finalized in nearby Amenlara Springs on Thursday,
September 26th335. That same day, in Cavite, a Marine Corps major celebrated his
45th birthday. His name was Littleton Waller Tazewell Waller, from Norfolk,
Virginia and his future would become inextricably linked to the decision made so
many miles away. More threads.
Geronima Nacionales, who may also have been at the September 26 th meeting,
acted as go-between with the men in the Sibley tents. The town treasurer, Benito
Canillas, covertly used his tax-collecting activities to inform the townspeople and
the surrounding areas of the coming attack. A blacksmith, Isauro Cabillo, fashioned
‘sundangs’, the angled Samareno bolo.
On the morning of the 27th Gamlin was assigned to the guard, beginning at 10am.
That day some 13 Filipinos came from outside Balangiga on Abanador’s orders but
he himself did not return.336
It was not an ordinary day – it was the 52nd anniversary of the founding of the
parish and a cause for a fiesta. All mention of this fiesta was expunged from US
official military records and accounts but there are direct and indirect references to
it in the literature. Journalist Stephen Bonsal, who met some of the Company C.
survivors, says: “That afternoon (the 27 th) the natives had killed a caraboa, as they
were accustomed to do every two or three weeks to celebrate an important event,
and many were drunk with kino (sic). They curled up in the grass when they had
gorged themselves…” Helen Herron Taft's memoirs, Memories of Full Years also
refers to a Church fiesta at Balangiga.
An indirect reference to the fiesta may be the ‘coffins’ so often associate with the
Balangiga story. Years later, some survivors would give confused accounts of one or
more coffins being moved to and from the church. Manire, for instance, writes:
“…they had also been sending out what appeared to be little covered coffins, and we
thought that surely a baby epidemic was on. They were, in fact, smuggling bolos into
the outward nipa huts that were handy and near, and when we examined these
caskets we found that sure enough some contained dead babies taken up from their
shallow graves, under whose little bodies bolos were hidden.”337
Digging up bodies of dead children fitted the public taste for the exotically
gruesome and its prejudices, but the story was mostly imagination.
In an article in the East St. Louis Daily Journal based on an interview with Melvin
Wall, it is stated “towards evening a funeral procession, with a coffin borne on the
shoulders of six strong men, filed into the church.”338

335 Arens, page 63

336 Bookmiller report, October 1, 1901
337 Manire, in RO Taylor, p22
338 RO Taylor, 34
All that can be assumed with any safety is that something like a coffin was
involved which contained something like a child’s body. That ‘something’ was,
almost certainly, an image of the Santo Intierra, the interred Christ.
Most churches in the Philippines have such a statue on display, consisting of an
image of a reclining Christ on a bier. In larger churches this is enclosed in glass but
in smaller, poorer churches the image is kept in a coffin-like wooden box with a
wooden lid. Indeed, today’s Balangiga church has such a Santo Intierra.
Some retelling of the incident, all based on Schott's Ordeal of Samar describe
women objecting to the opening of the 'casket' with the words "El cholera!"
However, cholera is the English name for the disease they would have known as 'el
calenturon' and it is notable that, to a western ear "Santo Intierra iton" ('It's the
Interred Christ' in Waray) sounds very similar to 'El calenturon'339.
Such an image would be carried in religious processions. The 27th of September
is the anniversary of the founding of Balangiga as a parish, precisely the kind of
occasion on which such a procession would take place.
It seems that a few men of Company C., too, took advantage of the available
liquor, too.
That day some 500 men armed with bolos, axes, spears, knives and clubs
gathered at Canlara, approximately a kilometre North of the poblacion. 340
Bumpus returned on the evening of the 27 th with three men and later gave out
the mail. The mail was the first received for four months, according to Meyers
‘having been sent to China, our mail had missed us there, was forwarded to Manila
and had there again missed us.”
Walter Bertholf took his mail treasures back to his quarters on the second floor
of the convent, set aside two popular magazines, Puck's and Judge's, and a pack of
weeklies and began to read his letters from home. He was lucky - he had an oil lamp.
Most of the company had to make do with their issuance of a half candle a month
With Bumpus came confirmation of rumours that President McKinley had been
killed. On Sept. 6, 1901, he was shot by Leon Czolgosz, an anarchist, at the Pan-
American Exposition, in Buffalo, NY. It was the same exposition to which Captain
Paul Harris, the regular commander of Company C. had been assigned. McKinley
died on September 14, having overseen the abandonment by the American
government of the country’s anti-colonial policy and involved it in its first war of the
20th century.

339 See also Borrinaga, Balangiga Revisited.

340 Duran, p92
"We had not heard of the tragedy back home. Some of the natives had, though,
and they tried to tell us about it, but we couldn't understand their pigeon (pidgin)
Spanish," said Adolph Gamlin341.
Also with Bumpus was Private John Miller, returning from sick leave in Manila.
The men retired to their quarters, those who still had remnants of the half-
candle issued to each man each month read them by candlelight. Meyers received 30
packets, including family photographs. Arnold Irish got several letters, and a
photograph of a girl from the US.
Outside Balangiga, the townsmen were getting organized into companies.
The first company was under the command of Pedro Abayan and Daza. Company
Two came under the local tax collector, or revenue delegate, Captain Benito Canillas
and Lieutenant Artemio Belaez. The Barrio Lieutenant of Giporlos, Pedro Abite,
commanded the Third Company and a town worthy called Bartolome Ayjon. Captain
Lope Angorin and an infantry lieutenant, Pelagio Acosta from Guiuan, would lead
company Four342. The fifth company was led by Pedro Avila and Andres Hilaria, both
members of the police force. A sixth company was made up mainly of men from
Lawa-an and was headed by Daza's relative, the Ex-Municipal Captain, Custodio
Salazar, and Pablo Gacho, Barrio head of Lawa-an. Finally the seventh company,
commanded by Valeriano Abanador, was composed of the rest of the police force,
the men who had been cleaning the streets and the prisoners.
Each of those in the main attack force were told to carry at least two weapons, a
bolo and a knife, to be strapped to their wrists343.
One of the groups covered the riverbank from the opposite shore 344. The main
attack force blocked escape to the east 345. Pits, lined with bamboo spikes tipped
with dita, were dug along small two trails leading north. Only the sea could offer
The night of the 27th was clear, still, and bright - just one day away from full
moon. One attack group moved to the edge of the forest behind the municipal hall.
The sixth attack company quietly occupied a house north east of Betron's
barracks. At 5 o’clock, the 34 men from Lawa-an changed into women's clothing to
avoid the American soldiers becoming suspicious about the lack of women in the

341 Coveted Picture, (Nebraska) News-Press, undated.

342 The Historical Data Sheet for Guiuan mentions Pelagio Acosta. It may be that his rank refers to a
Spanish Army rank, since Guiuan was the nearest Spanish outpost to Balangiga until 1896. From hat
year to 1900 he was mayor of Guiuan.
343 Giporlos, Historical Data Sheets, Philippine National Library.
344 Duran and Jose Valdenor, who interviewed participants suggest that lantaka, bamboo cannon, were
mounted on the riverbank.
345 Duran, p93
town and to provide cover for bolos hanging from their waists. One man, a Tagalog
who had married a girl from Lawa-an, had a particular problem – he borrowed his
wife’s dress and it was too small for him, making him the butt of Samareno joking.
Unchallenged by sentries, they made their way into the church.346 With them was
Geronima Nacionales347.
One soldier, unable to sleep, sat at a window of the municipal hall, saw people
around the door of the church and heard chanting. ‘This was unusual” says Meyers.
At about midnight, unable to sleep, Arnold Irish went out into the plaza. ‘I
noticed and felt that everything was not right, but nothing had been done to cause
any suspicion, so passed it up and went back to bed.” 348
Gamlin, on guard on a two hours on, two hours off regime having caught third
relief, walked his post from behind the municipal hall and the church. “Around
midnight, I heard considerable praying going on and, as it was a bright, moonlit
night, I saw many women and children leaving the town”. He reported the
evacuation to Sergeant Henry Scharer, in charge of the guard, which appears to be
as far as the warning got.
The evacuation of Balangiga may, in fact, have begun as early as September 26th.
Several small groups of women and children left the town on foot supposedly to
visit a nearby shrine at Salcedo. 349
Women, children and the elderly were evacuated to a place of safety and
protected by another group. One woman stayed behind, Geronima Nacionales,
possibly with a small group of women who had a significant role to play the
following morning350.
In the church, the men from Lawaan prayed fervently and, on the walls of the
Church and the doors to the convent, drew images of what appeared to be cherubim
but may have been St. Michael together with the words "Salvami, Christo" and
"Salvami, Jesus". The same pictures and words were put on triangular pieces of
paper and tied around the men's necks for spiritual protection – anting-anting.351
As dawn approached, those who had bolos tied them to their wrists with leather
thongs to ensure that they would not be easily disarmed in combat. On the stone-
strewn beach and the sandy riverbank, shallow trenches were dug.

346 Duran, p93

347 Tibe-Bonifacio
348 Irish, Arnold, in RO Taylor, page 16.
349 The Massacre in Samar, unidentified news clipping citing New York Herald Tribune, December 22,
1901, Folder Charles G. Clifton, 1898-w-1520, box: US Volunteer Infantry – 43rd Regiment, Spanish
American War Survey, US Army Military History Institute, Carlisle Barracks, Pasadena.
350 In Filipino accounts, only a few men in the church dressed as women, therefore it seems that several
women must have stayed behind with Geronima.
351 Bonsal, Stephen, New York Herald Tribune, December 22 1901, incomplete. Jean Wall Collection
During the night the natives held church services and worked up to the priest’s
room according to Meyers. The priest had left two days earlier (sic), and they had
only to throw open the large folding doors ‘and they were in on the officers.’
Later, Captain Connell came onto the moonlight plaza, and approached Gamlin.
He asked what Gamlin would do if the prisoners tried to escape and Gamlin replied
he would try to stop them. Connell saluted and returned to his quarters.
Many years later, in old age, Gamlin would reveal that the officers were drunk
that night.
Chapter Twenty Four

Dawn in Balangiga
On the morning of Saturday, September 28 th352, Musician George Meyers
sounded reveille and the men of Company C. grabbed their Krag rifles and
assembled in the Plaza. It was cloudy enough the make the morning too dark to read
and Sergeant James Randles had a lantern lit then intoned the roll call 353. Then the
men went back to their barracks, stacked their guns, unloaded, and proceeded to the
latrines and 'sinks' for the usual formalities.
Cook Melvin Walls opened cans of corned beef hash for breakfast in the kitchen
as two of the prisoners from the Sibley tents chopped firewood, one of them was
Graciano Baleos.
Gamlin took breakfast at 6am and went on guard at 6.30am, relieving George
Allen. Allen left his rifle in the guardhouse in the municipal hall, picked up his
messkit and headed for the back of the municipal hall.
Sergeant Betron, Meyers, Burke, Armani, Driscoll and nine others seated
themselves at the mess table in front of the Salazar house. There was no need for a
guard inside the house. After all, the steps led straight up from their mess table to
the hut where the guns waited.
As they did every morning, women delivered food and water to the prisoners in
the Sibley tents. This time several of the water tubes carried more than water – they
carried knives and bolos354. Geronima slipped a small knife, a punyal, to her brother
hidden inside a tuba of suman, sweetened steamed glutinous rice.


Some writers such as Nemesio Duran and Lt. Col. Jose Valdenor (What Had Happened (sic) in the
Battle of Balangiga, unpublished ms.) believe the attack took place on September 29th. Filipino and
American military traffic shows that this date is untenable.
353 Marak, Charles, account published post-mortem, Spanish War Vet Relates How He Saw Massacre,
National Tribune-Stars and Stripes, April 6, 1961
354 Tibe-Bonifacio
By 6.30am, the natives were gathering for the day’s work, lounging around the
plaza, bolo in hand. Some were gathered near the guard posts and in front of the
municipal hall. The prisoners were grouped near the tents near a pile of picks, bolos
and shovels355 against the wall of the municipal hall356.
Private Frank Voybada wearily returned to the Belaez house after taking an
early breakfast. He’d been on guard the previous night. Now it was time for a
cigarette. Voybada rested his gun on his cot, sat down and pulled out tobacco and
papers as Sergeant George Markley, on guard duty in the barracks since the
previous morning, waited for Private James Cain to return from the main mess tent.
Betron finished his meal, he was the first to do so at the Salazar house, and set
off for front of the Municipal Hall357.
Markley called out to the mess tent for Cain to hurry up and a moment later, Cain
headed towards him. Impatient, and leaving his loaded rifle on his cot by the door,
Markley set off for the mess tent, passing Cain on the way, “The niggers are back
early today,” said Markley358.
Manire remembered the morning differently, and at odds with other American
accounts and Filipino accounts: “We noticed that there not too many men in the
town, most of the inhabitants appeared to be women…” His memory may have been
obscured by over-indulgence the previous day since much of his account is
markedly in disagreement with those of other survivors in several instances.
Arnold Irish felt too unwell to eat breakfast. After a few moments he changed his
mind and went to the mess tent. It was a decision that saved his life.
Sergeant Betron finished his breakfast by the Salazar house and set off towards
the Municipal hall.
Sergeant James Randles, with his Japanese swordstick, finished his breakfast and
walked over to the water barrel near the kitchen to wash his steel messkit. Nearby,
the two prisoners busily chopped wood for the fire.
A few yards away, Private Ernest Ralston took his breakfast to the rear of the
kitchen and settled down on a box of hard tack to eat it.
Private Henry Manire got his mess kit filled with hash, placed it on the table with
a tin mug of coffee and sat down next to Sergeant Martin to eat.
In the Orderly room in the municipal hall, Private Miller decided to forgo
breakfast and catch up with his paperwork duties as Orderly Clerk.

355 Meyers, in RO Taylor, page 6

356 Gamlin, RO Taylor, page 24
357 American Legion Monthly, November 1929. Although an account by Betron is said to exist, it has yet
to be found. There appears to be a confusion between Betron and Markley in some accounts.
358 Markley account in Bertholf, Walter James, Diary, Jean Wall Collection.
In his room in the convent, Lieutenant Bumpus sat down in his chair. He tore
open the envelopes of his first mail from home for months and began to read as
Bertholf prepared breakfast for the officers with the help of Francisco. Taylor
Hickman, from Tennessee, meanwhile, was sneaking a peek at Bertholf's Puck's
Only three guards were now on duty in the plaza – Gamlin, Dent and Armani.
Another two were in the Belaez house and the municipal hall. One more guard
crouched on the ground beside the Sibley tents.
Victoriano Dado positioned himself close to Armani. Pedro Duran prepared to
launch himself at Private Dent.
Entering the mess tent, Markley held out his plate to Walls for breakfast.
Abanador, together with three or four of his men walked to the mess by Salazar
house and spoke with Corporal Burke.
Zero hour arrived. Three centuries of threads came suddenly together to weave
a bloody fabric.

359 Bertholf, Walter James, Diary, Jean Wall Collection.

Chapter Twenty Five

In an instant the anger and fear of the Balangiganons unfurled. Abanador took a
couple of steps and closed on Gamlin from the rear.
Suddenly, Gamlin saw Filipinos running towards him, yelling360. Someone
shouted at Gamlin ‘Fire!’. Before he could react, the rifle was snatched from him by
Abanador who smashed the gun butt down on his head, stunning him. Another
version of the attack on Gamlin describes Abanador asking Gamlin for the time and
attacking him before he could answer361.
The image of the attack burned into George Allen's memory. Even nearly 30
years later he would write to Gamlin: "I can see the chief of police now as he made
the attack upon you and grabbed your gun from your shoulder. Things happened so
quickly after, that it is surprising to me that any of us were ever left to tell the
Meyers saw Abanador walk from Post No. 2 to Post No. 3, “As the sentinel
(Gamlin) passed him, the Chief of Police suddenly snatched the rifle out of his hands,
knocked him senseless with the butt and yelled, firing at the same time into our
group and wounding one of the men (Donahue)”363.
William Gibbs remembered hearing “No more than that yell. Some say that the
bells were tolled, but I did not hear them; I did not hear anything but that yell.”364
Simultaneously, Victoriano Dado put his hands around John Armini's waist,
blades in both hands and slashed him across the abdomen and Pedro Duran killed
Byron Dent at the municipal hall, seizing him from behind and killing him with his
own bayonet.


Gamlin, in RO Taylor, p25

361 The Massacre in Samar, unidentified news clipping citing New York Herald Tribune, December 22,
1901, Folder Charles G. Clifton, 1898-w-1520, box: US Volunteer Infantry – 43rd Regiment, Spanish
American War Survey, US Army Military History Institute, Carlisle Barracks, Pasadena.
362 George Allen to Gamlin, April 8, 1930, Jean Wall collection
363 Meyers, in RO Taylor, page 6
364 Gibbs, SD 331, p2286
Meanwhile, the Filipino forces raced up the ladders being used to thatch the huts
to gain access through the rear to the Salazar and Belaez houses and the armed
guards within.
Unable to fire the unfamiliar weapon again because its magazine was cut off,
Abanador jabbed the bayonet at the fallen, dazed Gamlin who rolled aside365.
Abanador, raised his garotte and shouted 'Attacke!'
“There was a succession of shouts, the tower bells rang out a deafening appeal
(sic) and the chief of police rushed towards us with the evident intention of cutting
us off from our weapons in the barracks. They were brandishing bolos and clubs and
yelling like devils.” Says Meyers366.
Bells were not the only sound. From the surrounding forest came the wail of
budjong conch shells, bamboo gongs and hollow-log drums.
Not all the attackers obeyed Abanador's orders, some lost their nerve and ran
away, most followed through, but as a severely weakened force. Already Abanador
had made a fatal error in not ensuring that Gamlin was dead: "For that mistake,
sixteen Filipinos were lost," said Pedro Duran years later 367.
For the Balangiganons, it was critical to seize control of the Municipal Hall, the
two subsidiary barracks and the convent and prevent the men at breakfast reaching
their guns.

The Mess Tent

At the mess tent, the primary targets appear to have been senior non-
commissioned officers, sometimes being killed while the man seated next was
unharmed. From there it became a race to the steps at the back of the municipal hall,
each side trying to beat the other to the guns, with some unarmed American soldiers
being ignored.
Sergeant John Martin probably never knew what hit him. As he prepared to take
a spoonful of breakfast a bolo sliced into his neck, almost separating his head from
his body, leaving just a thin stretch of skin as his head fell to the table.
Not yet realizing what was happening, Manire didn’t notice the fate of the man
next to him: “I inquired of my comrade to my right, Sergeant Martin, if there were a
fire, earthquake or something of that sort. But he could not answer, as he was split

365 American Legion Monthly dubbed Gamlin 'The Agile American', for which he was later teased by
post-office employees.
366 Meyers, in RO Taylor, page 6
367 Loyola and Abletez.
through the head obliquely towards the left shoulder”. Manire grabbed his knife and
fork and ran for the back steps of the municipal hall.
Corporal Arnold Irish, also at the southern end of main mess tent, heard the yells
and the bells, too. Looking out under the tent flaps he saw Filipinos attacking a
soldier as someone in the mess, Corporal Burke or Sergeant Markley, shouted:
“They’re in on us, run for your lives!” Irish grabbed a heavy mahogany stick and fled
from the south end of the tent. Two Filipinos block his way with bolos; he hit one,
ducked the blow of the other and ran around the south end of the municipal hall.
Cook Melvin Walls said: “…there was a loud yelling and the native boys in the old
Spanish church began ringing the bells.”
Other men around the mess table tried and failed to extricate themselves from
the narrow space between the bench and table, dying where they sat, knees halfway
out and trapped. “They made a dash upon the table, and they just threw bolos
around and severed the heads of our men from their bodies, right at the table…”
says Gibbs368.
Charles Marak was faster; he dropped his mess kit, vaulted over the table and
headed for the municipal hall where he found an axe. As he raised it he was attacked
and stabbed through the arm, severing arteries, but he managed to hit his attacker
who went down, the knife in Marak's arm still tied to a thong around the man's
wrist. Marak was pulled to the ground. Blood flowed freely from the severed blood
vessels as Marak untangled himself from his gruesome load.
As the attack began, Privates Henry Class and Patrick Dobbins, together with
Musician John Covington fled the mess tent and headed for the river, and a waiting
mop-up team.
Clifford Mumby was able to grab a bread knife, but its blade was too whippy and
flexible and found a butcher's knife. "(It) was a most effective weapon," he later
recalled369. Mumby raced for his barracks, slightly behind Private Booth. Booth fell
back, dead, but Mumby made it into the barracks. He fought with a Filipino over a
gun, was hit in the back and knocked down the steps to the ground.
Mumby made his way back to the kitchen, where he found Randles fighting. The
two fought side by side until Randles backed against the water barrel and died as
Graciano Baleos cleaved his skull in two down to the shoulder.
Of the two assailants, Mumby stabbed one with the butcher's knife and knocked
the other off balance with the bread knife and escaped 370. Like others, Mumby owed

368 Gibbs, SD331, p2288

369 Survivors Left The Philippines, Manila Times, May 23, 1933
370 James, Marquis, American Legion Magazine, November 1929
his life to the company dog, which attacked the Filipinos and gave several soldiers
time to grab a weapon.
Richard 'Red' Considine grabbed a baseball bat as a weapon and Cook Walls
found a pick to defend himself371.
Markley, too, heard yells, then the ringing of the church bells. Instinctively, he
shouted: “Get your rifles boys!” and ran between the kitchen and the mess tent,
where he was overtaken by Private Harry Wood, and around the corner towards his
barracks. “The whole place seemed to swarm with natives”, he says. Harry Wood
didn’t reach his barracks.
A 'big native' policeman lashed out at Markley with a bolo or a club. Markley
threw his in cup in the man's face and ran on.
Sergeant John Closson, seated at the south end of the main mess tent, didn’t see
the first seconds of the attack; to him the yells and the bells seemed to come
simultaneously372. He looked out from under the tent flys and saw natives running
towards him. He, too, ran for the ladder at the back of the municipal hall.
Fighting continued at the mess tent, but much of the action moved to the back of
the Municipal Hall.

Municipal Hall
The Filipinos in the Sibley tents burst out and poured into the municipal hall to
gain control of the guns on the second floor, slamming the doors shut and keeping
them closed from the inside. Other stationed themselves at the doors as the first line
of defence to fight off the soldiers.
In a matter of seconds, they had control of the Municipal Hall and began taking
rifles from the racks and throwing through the windows to others outside.
The steps to the second floor of the municipal hall, and the guns, were just a few
feet from the mess tent, many didn't make it that far as soldiers and Filipinos raced
up them, desperate to get the guns.
Private Ralston dropped his messkit and ran for the steps at the back of the
municipal hall and forced his way through the Filipinos climbing it, without injury.
At the top of the stairs inside he saw Private John Buhrer being attacked by a
Filipino with a bolo. Ralston tore the bolo from the man’s hand, cutting his own
thumb, and killed him. He struck out at the Filipinos milling around, then saw
Buhrer seated on a cot, arms over his head as a second man attacked him, whom
Ralston killed.

371 Gamlin, in RO Taylor p26

372 Closson, in RO Taylor, page 7
Two more Filipinos with guns entered from the main room where the rifles were
stored and one hit Ralston over the head, the other jabbed at him with a bayonet.
Manire also managed to get up the ladder at the back of the municipal hall
unharmed but was stabbed in the chest. At the top he found a Filipino fumbling
with a Krag, grabbed the rifle and used it as a club.
Inside the building, Manire found Private Miller with a bolo fighting several
Filipinos “They have about finished me,” gasped Miller.
Manire claims he fought his way down the interior stairs to the main entrance to
find a soldier he remembered as Byron Dent fighting: “Well, Manire, I have nearly
got them,” he said, then was felled by three bolos. John Aydelotte was also killed in
the building.
Dazed, Gamlin staggered to his feet, blinded by the flood of blood from his head
wound, he grabbed a Filipino straw hat to staunch the blood. It nearly cost him his
life – as he ran towards the municipal building an unknown American soldier fired
at him but missed373.
On his way around the side of the municipal hall, Gamlin ran into a Filipino
armed with a bolo and a knife and immediately tackled him. Both men hit the
ground but the Filipino was too strong for Gamlin to keep him pinned down. The
Filipino go one arm free and stabbed Gamlin with the knife, hitting a rib and
glancing off, tearing a wound in the skin374. A second knife thrust went into Gamlin's
abdomen and he rolled away from his attacker, bleeding heavily, and ran a few more
On the ground he found an abandoned rifle and turned as his attacker came at
him once more and fired, killed the Filipino.
Gamlin continued up the ladder and into the room, dodged a Filipino with a bolo
and dagger, and tried to get into the main room where Ralston was fighting. A
Filipino with a Krag and bayonet blocked his way. Gamlin stepped aside and the
thrust went towards Ralston.
As Ralston stepped back, he fell over a cot, the Filipino lost his balance and fell,
too, stabbing Ralston in the neck. Both men came to their feet at the same time.
Again the Filipino lunged with the bayonet as Ralston leapt out of the window, to
land safely on the ground below.
Unable to get to the guns, Gamlin retreated from the Municipal hall.

373 Jean Wall, personal communications.

374 Wall, Gerald J. Jr., What's Left of Company C. Saga Magazine, November 1953. The Late Mr. Wall
interviewed Adolph Gamlin.
Closson reached the ladder at the municipal hall about the same time as the
attackers. He climbed up it and ran into the second floor annex, but others were not
so lucky: ‘About a dozen succeeded in forcing their way up a broad ladder (but) the
ladder given way, precipitating them to the ground, where they were dispatched by
bolos. .. About five of our men were left at the top. These were cut to pieces… their
bodies thrown on the ground below.” Says Meyers.
Some 14 others died trying to get to their guns in the municipal hall375.
Among the first Filipinos into the municipal hall was Francisco Dadulla who
killed Henry Scharer376, Sergeant of the Guard. 377 Another, Osep Baldoza, is said to
have strangled two of the American soldiers to death with his bare hands378.
In the municipal hall annex, Closson pushed his way through the Filipinos, who
did not attack him379 Like Taylor Hickman at the Convent, he seems to have
survived because he was unarmed.
As Closson seized a rifle he was grabbed from behind and pulled to the floor by a
crowd of Filipinos. Three or four held him down while the others went looking for
rifles. Closson struggled to get to his feet and hit out with his fists. Losing the
struggle against the enormous soldier, the Filipinos began striking him with bolos,
wounding him over the left temple. Mariano Valdenor appeared, his stiletto bent out
of shape and already bloody, and attacked Closson, his knife entering behind
Closson's left ear and coming out through the American's throat, severing the nerves
and leaving the left side of his face uncontrollable. Other wounds followed, on top of
his head, his elbow and a slash across his first and second fingers of his left hand.
Determined to live, Closson shook off Valdenor and grabbed a stick, using it as a
weapon until he saw a Filipino entered the annex holding a rifle and a full belt of
ammunition. Closson knocked the man down, grabbed the rifle and belt and jumped
through the window at the north end of the annex.
As he hit the ground, two more Filipinos attacked. He smashed one with the
stock of his rifle so hard it broke. Then he noticed the rifle was cocked, he pointed
the weapon at the second attacker and pulled the trigger – it fired. As he reloaded
the chamber he noticed that the magazine was full but cut-off. He headed for the
corner of the barracks and the main door. As he came to the corner, several Filipinos
ran around it. Closson fired and they fled.

Belaez House (Markley Barracks)

375 In Memoriam, p89

376 Arens, p64
377 Bookmiller report, October 1, 1901
378 Valdenor, Jose S. What had happened in the Battle of Balangiga.
379 Closson, in RO Taylor, page 8
The Belaez house had great strategic importance. Whoever controlled these
barracks controlled the plaza and inside were armed guards and men with guns. At
the signal, four waiting men burst through the thin Sawali walls.
Frank Voybada, in the Belaez house with Private Cain, had no time to lick and
seal his cigarette, realizing there was an attack, he reached for his gun and pulled
the bolt, but before he could fire the north wall crashed inwards.
Meanwhile, Markley and Swanson raced for the hut. Seeing a group of Filipinos
at the front entrance, Swanson ran around to the opened north side of the building
while Markley tackled them. Jumping up onto the porch, an attacker swung a bolo at
Markley who grabbed it, getting light cuts as he did so, and punched the men in the
face, knocking him out into the street.
Inside the house, Private Cain was already dead; four natives were killing Frank
Voybada. Markley’s Krag still lay where he’d left it when he went for breakfast.
Grabbing it, he fired as the four Filipinos escaped through the hole in the north wall,
hitting one, who fell down on Swanson, trying to enter the hut from that side.
Swanson climbed into the house and got a rifle.
Arnold Irish, who was quartered in the Belaez house had left his pistol behind
when he went for breakfast and it probably saved his life: “Up to that time I had
always carried my loaded pistol, but somehow or other that morning I left it up in
my quarters. I think this was one of the things that saved my life.” 380
Shortly after Markley picked up his Krag inside the house, Irish reached the
corner of the house outside, chased by two Filipinos armed with clubs. Suddenly a
third appeared, with a knife. Irish hit him and leapt on the steps into the house, but
the steps broke, spilling him to the ground.
As the two Filipinos began to club him, Irish crawled up the remaining steps,
yelling for help, as Markley appeared and started firing at the Filipinos, who ran
off.381 Markley hauled Irish into the hut and told him to get a rifle.
Nobody paid attention to Voybada, who had joined the army in Minneapolis with
Irish. An effort of will brought him to his feet, bleeding profusely from his throat
wound: “Irish, I’m wounded. Can’t you do something for me?”
“I can’t now, Frank, we’re surrounded” said Irish. He took Voybada’s gun and
aimed it out of the south window as Voybada fell to the floor, dead. Suddenly the hut
shook – attackers were shaking the house poles.
Markley fired out of the south window, looking out onto the plaza, killing the
policeman who had tried to club him. Near the flagpole, Markley saw a Filipino with
a cartridge belt and shot him and shot another coming out of the municipal hall.

380 Irish, Arnold, in RO Taylor, page 11

381 Markley claims he shot one Filipino with a bolo.
Across the Plaza, three brothers named Bajo from Bankaw tried to pull down the
flag, each was shot dead 382, one while struggling with the mechanism of a Krag. Also
killed while trying to pull down the American flag was Bango Catalogo 383, brother of
the girl involved in the tuba stall incident. Another Filipino ran from the municipal
hall with a belt of ammunition, Markley dropped him, too.
The Filipinos had lost control of a critical target, the Belaez House.

Salazar House (Betron Barracks)

The Salazar house, less than a dozen steps from the main mess tent, also
contained soldiers and arms. This, too, was to be immediately neutralized the
moment the attack began.
William Gibbs was supposed to be on duty in the Betron barracks but left his
rifle inside and ate breakfast anyway at the mess at the entrance to the house. The
gun was, after all just a few short steps away. To that lapse of strict discipline he
probably owed his life – he wasn't inside the hut when the Filipinos burst through
the rear.
The attack on Gamlin and the shooting of Donahue in their midst sent them
scrambling up the steps into the Salazar House with Gibbs in the lead followed by
Meyers, Burke, Clark and the others, with Filipinos hard on their heels.
Already, hand-to-hand fighting was underway inside the house as Gibbs grabbed
his rifle and belt of ammunition. “Blood was flowing in streams through the bamboo
floor of the hut.”384 Sergeant Betron secured a bolo and was swinging it at the
attackers according to Bonsal, but no-one else in the house mentions Betron during
the fight.385.
Meyers reached for his revolver, as a club hit his wrist from a ‘big native
policeman', numbing it, he raised his other arm and was stabbed in the hand.
Disarmed, Meyers grabbed the big native around the middle and the two men fell to
the floor. Meyers clung on tightly as his opponent slowly started to free himself.
Corporal Burke fought with a man referred to as ‘the Chief of Police’ – “both
giants in stature and strength and pretty evenly matched” says Meyers. The
struggling men overturned Hospital Corpsman Wright's cot - a revolver fell within
reach of Burke386. He grabbed the gun and shot his opponent. A second shot and
Meyers’s opponent was dead.

382 Valdenor, Jose S, What Had Happened in the Battle of Balangiga, unpublished mss.
383 Duran, p96
384 Meyers, in RO Taylor, page 6
385 In Memoriam, p90
386 Meyers account in Bertholf, Walter James, Diary, Jean Wall Collection
Gibbs claims he took a gun from one of the attackers and shot him, then killed
two or three more as they tried to escape out of the hut.
Eight rifle were secured and ‘Just a few more of our men succeeded in getting
their rifles, and the natives ran out into the plaza. In a few minutes seven of us were
firing at the enemy387”. With the Americans now armed, the attackers ran into the
The fight in the Salazar house was over. Meyers surveyed the scene - Private
Litto Armani slashed across the abdomen suffering intense agony, Private Jerry
Driscoll crawling on his hands and knees ‘like a stabbed pig, his brains falling out
through a head wound. On the steps outside an unnamed soldier sat bolt upright,
dying from a hole in his forehead.
The second target of the attackers was now under American control.
The men moved out towards the plaza, shooting as Filipinos ‘ran in all direction’,
according to Meyers, Some Filipinos would fall, pretending to be shot, only to jump
to their feet and run again moments later. Then they heard firing from the Markley
group in the Belaez house.

The Convent
There were two strategic objectives at the Convent – to capture or kill the
officers and to neutralize the threat of the weapons available to the soldiers within.
The building shook as the Filipinos discarded their women's clothes, ran through
the covered passageway from the Church and burst through the folding doors on the
second floor.
Hickman dropped the Puck magazine he was reading and emerged into the
corridor, to be ignored by the attackers, whose interest was on the officers. He
jumped through a window to the ground below armed only with a bayonet. Bertholf,
who thought there had been an earthquake aftershock, didn't realize he danger until
Francisco shouted "Run, cook, run!"388.
As the bells rang, the group in leading to the convento, ran past the surprised
Corporal Hickman, broke through into the officers quarters, and the guard. At a
Bumpus looked from his reading as a bolo smashed down on the bridge of his
nose, taking away the bottom part of his face.

387 Meyers, in RO Taylor, page 7

388 Bertholf, Walter James, Diary, Jean Wall Collection
From the plaza, a crowd was seen rushing into the convento from the covered
walkway. Muffled shouts were heard from inside as Bumpus was killed in his chair
and Griswold died as he leapt from his bed, then silence, until there was the sound of
breaking glass and Connell was seen in the window of his room fighting his
Bertholf ran the length of the second floor, chased by, and dodging, a half dozen
attackers until he could reach his rifle. Grabbing his Krag he killed a pursuer. The
sound attracted the attention of several who were attacking the officers who ran
towards Bertholf. He jumped through a window onto the roof of a building attached
to the convent and then to the ground.
As he hit the ground, four more attackers came at him. Bertholf fired, wounding
one who screamed in pain. The other three attackers looked at the wounded man
and fled.
In his quarters, Connell tried to defend himself, but was forced to jump from the
window to the ground twenty feet below. As Connell ran past the corner of the
convent, Bertholf fired at, and killed, one of the pursuers but the Filipinos quickly
drove Connell to the ground under a rain of blows. . “It was impossible to kill all of
the natives who surrounded him,” says Irish, who saw Connell die from across the
other side of the plaza.
Bertholf heard a noise behind him and turned, ready to fire. It was Francisco,
with his belt of ammunition and bayonet.
Across the Plaza, Bertholf, his rifle reloaded, saw Private Joseph Kleinhample
running, severely wounded, chased by a Filipino. Again, says Bertholf, he fired at,
and killed Kleinhampl's pursuers, but the private was already fatally wounded.
In the confusion, Bertholf forgot that his Krag was switched to magazine feed
and, as a couple of Balangiganons ran towards him, shoved a bullet from his belt into
the chamber. As he pushed home the bolt, the rifle jammed. Seeing the gun pointed
at them, the Filipinos dodged behind a building. At that moment Corporal Hickman
arrived with an ammunition belt and a bayonet and, while Bertholf and Francisco
fended off attackers with spades, he unjammed his weapon and continued firing 390
as Bertholf called for help.
With firing coming from the Americans, the Filipinos abandoned the convent and
fled to the river behind. The convent was abandoned to American hands.

The Plaza

389 The Massacre in Samar, unidentified news clipping citing New York Herald Tribune, December 22,
1901, Folder Charles G. Clifton, 1898-w-1520, box: US Volunteer Infantry – 43rd Regiment, Spanish
390 Bertholf's own account says that he unjammed the rifle himself.
As the attack began De Graffenreid ran toward the municipal hall looking for a
weapon or a safe haven. One of the attackers hit him on the left side of the head,
knocking him down. He got up and knocked his assailant down but another attacker
struck at him with a bolo. He warded off the bolo, getting a deep cut in his hand and
ran across the plaza, mounted a pile of broken concrete across the cross in front of
the church and made what seemed to be a hopeless stand 391.
George Allen, caught in the plaza, thought he saw Private Dent at the Municipal
Hall fire his weapon as he ran “I did not know where”. It is possible that Allen
mistook Gamlin for Dent.
Allen found himself on the broken concrete pile around the crucifix outside the
church, making a stand beside De Graffenreid.
Soon they were joined by Walls, the three of them keeping off up to ten attackers
by hurling rocks at them. In the heat of battle, accounts and memories differ. De
Graffenreid remembered: "I really repulsed an attack headed by an old hombre and
perhaps 10 others, and by throwing the pieces of concrete I was fortunate enough to
hit this old savage squarely. It must have hurt very much for his followers picked
him up and altogether disappeared into the church."
Betron was also caught in the plaza but his movements are uncertain. One
account says that Betron defended himself with a carpenter's adze 392. According to a
Filipino account, Betron entered Geronima’s house and fired through a window,
which would have had a clear field of fire into the plaza393.
As more men entered the plaza, according to one account, the Filipino charge
stopped several times as the attackers rapped daggers against bolos and shouted
Geronima, meanwhile, allegedly ran through the streets urging on the attackers
and pointing out Americans shooting. As the fight grew bloody, she fled to the
church and prayed fervently395.
Bleeding profusely, Marak went around the Municipal Hall. Meyers, from the
Salazar house appeared with a rifle and revolver and handed the revolver to Marak,
who emptied it into the attackers: "I was feeling much better". With the revolver
now empty, Marak looked around and saw rifles being thrown from the windows of
the Municipal Hall. He picked up one but his left arm was now useless. He got his
back against the stone wall of the building.

391 De Graffenreid, quoted in Crago letter to Gamlin, December 6, 1930

392 James, Marquis, American Legion Magazine.
393 Tibe-Bonifacio
394 The Massacre in Samar, unidentified news clipping citing New York Herald Tribune, December 22,
1901, Folder Charles G. Clifton, 1898-w-1520, box: US Volunteer Infantry – 43rd Regiment, Spanish
American War Survey, US Army Military History Institute, Carlisle Barracks, Pasadena.
395 Tibe-Bonifacio
A moment later, Markley found Marak and told him to hold a cross street on the
north side of the building. Marak did as ordered, fired one shot, then buckled and hit
the ground, unmoving.
One of Richard Arens's interviewees told him "One American Soldier who was
late in going for breakfast was able to fight off his assailant with his mess kit and
grabbing a gun, fired into the crowd. Another soldier in the hospital, wounded and
supposed to be dead, got hold of a gun and fired some shots into the crowd. Between
them they accounted for 14 Filipinos396. The first man appears to have been
Markley, the second was certainly Adolph Gamlin, the guard Abanador attacked but
failed to kill.
Coming around to the front of the barracks Gamlin had again armed himself. He
saw Filipinos throwing guns from the second storey on the municipal hall and
calmly opened up on them. Several dropped their weapons as Gamlin fired at them
and others in the plaza.
As much as anything else, Gamlin's sudden appearance at that critical moment,
when many of the Company C. survivors believed their lives forfeit, sparked
renewed determination to live. It was the beginning of the end of the attack.
One of those who benefited from Gamlin's sharpshooting was Richard Considine
who grabbed one of the fallen guns and used it as a club until the stock broke then,
discovering it was loaded, he started firing, and kept firing until his hands
Gamlin also earned the gratitude of De Graffenreid on the concrete pile: De
Graffenreid heard the cough of a Krag and saw Gamlin near the barracks firing at
Filipinos in the windows of the Municipal Hall. The Filipinos were trying to fire the
rifles they had seized but were confused by the mechanism "I saw Gamlin raise his
rifle and more than once pick the gugu out of the window, causing him to drop the
rifle on the outside of the building, where some of the boys would pick it up and use
it," he says.
"It has always seemed that it we all owed our lives to him… (He) gave me added
courage and saved my life," concluded De Graffenreid.
Meyers and Markley also, somewhat colourfully, claimed credit for shooting the
Filipinos in the municipal hall: “As fast as they appeared, we shot them, many being
dead before striking the ground”398

396 Arens, The Filipino Side

397 George Crago to Adolph Gamlin, December 6, 1930 quoting De Graffenreid.
398 Meyers, in RO Taylor, page 7
During the fight, Claude Wingo had got himself armed. Roland Clark spotted a
native running at Wingo and yelled for him to stoop down. Clark shot the attacker
and Wingo thanked him: “Clark, that was very thoughtful of you.”399
Markley, Irish and Swanson left the Belaez house, firing at Filipinos in front of
the municipal hall. Irish noticed a short knife laying on the ground, picked it up and
stuffed it in his boot. It would save his life.
Hearing firing at the Salazar house, Irish spotted Sergeant Betron, Corporal
Burke and musician Meyers firing at Filipinos retreating into the underbrush east of
the kitchen.

The Tide Turns

Abanador was apparently unaware of just how successful his forces had been.
One more concerted rush, while undoubtedly taking more casualties, would have
smothered the remnants of Company C. entirely. But his men were not Dios-Dios or
Pulahanes fanatics nor trained soldiers, they were farmers, fisherman and some
policemen together with local government officials and only a small group of Daza's
men who themselves may have been untried in battle and were now trapped in the
Municipal Hall.
Abanador could not know how many guns the Americans had acquired or how
few of them were capable of putting up a sustained fight. Or perhaps he was
unwilling to lose any more men that he'd grown up with.
For whatever reason, Abanador shouted orders for retreat and his force left the
Some men were in no position to obey the order, even if they were aware of it –
the men inside the municipal hall.
Still firing as he ran around the municipal hall, Closson made his way to the main
door, joining Gamlin, and found Elbert De Graffenreid, Considine, and Manire trying
to break it down with spades and a shovel.
Filipinos were holding the doors of the municipal hall shut from inside. Closson
fired through the door, the natives let go and Closson, Gamlin, De Graffenreid,
Manire and Considine forced their way in, driving the Filipinos up the stairs to the
second floor.
At the top of the stairs, Closson found another rifle, gave his to Manire, and kept
the other for himself. De Graffenreid also found a rifle. Faced with the overwhelming

399 Palmer, extracts

400 Arens, the Filipino Side
firepower, many Filipino jumped from the Municipal hall windows. One group ran
into the orderly room.
On the second floor of the municipal hall, Closson peered through cracks in the
orderly room door. The trapped Filipinos pleaded for mercy, claiming they had been
forced to take part in the attack. “…We could see it was crowded with natives, so we
opened up on them and 14 or 16 were killed in there.” None survived401.
Gibbs remembered the incident slightly differently and claims that it was Claude
Wingo who suggested attacking the men in the orderly room: “Wingo… was a
coolheaded young fellow… and seemed to be the only one who had any idea of doing
something. He suggested going up to the orderly room which was full of natives and
attacking them.”
Meanwhile, hearing shouts from the Convent Markley's group headed towards
it. On the way Ralston, bleeding profusely from a scalp wound, joined them. He
found Connell's body and turned it over The Captain gasped once but was already
At the Convent they found Bertholf, Francisco and Taylor Hickman, who told
them all the officers were dead. One soldier started up the stairs, then returned and
said “For God’s sake, don’t go up there” but the group went up anyway to find
Bumpus, with his lower face fallen in his chest and Griswold dead.
“You better do something, Ralston, you are bleeding”, said Markley. Someone
found an MD towel for Ralston’s neck wound and he sat down on a cot and fainted.
By the time he came too, preparations were being made to leave.
Around the plaza were wounded American soldiers tried desperately to staunch
their wounds with dry dirt and strips of their shirts.
The ground was also littered with Filipino dead and dying. One man, hit in the
head by a Krag bullet lay, still breathing, the pressure of the impact having pushed
his eyeballs out of their sockets. He would take more than four hours to die. 402

Death in the River

Seeing many Filipinos retreating across the river behind the church, Markley,
Irish and Mumby ran to the riverbank and began firing.
As with many of the details of the attack, there remains doubt and confusion
about what happened at the riverbank and who was involved. Considine and Allen
are also said to have been at the riverbank.

401 The Massacre in Samar, unidentified news clipping citing New York Herald Tribune, December 22,
1901, Folder Charles G. Clifton, 1898-w-1520, box: US Volunteer Infantry – 43rd Regiment, Spanish
402 Interview with Judge Cresencio Fabillar, grandson of Andres Fabillar, taped September 28, 1998
An account by Arnold Irish claims that Filipinos in boats surrounded Claas,
Dobbins and Covington and chopped at them with their bolos, killing the latter two
men. Claas is said to have escaped by diving and taking off his shoes underwater.
The Markley group came to the shore, fired on the Filipinos, killed some and upset
some boats and rescued Claas. If true, the boats used can only have been the shallow
draft monohull river boats rather than the more unwieldy sea outriggers, which
would not manouevre well under those conditions.
Allen only recalled seeing Class struggling in the water being chased by Filipinos.
Yet another account, from Considine, says only that the river was full of fleeing
Filipinos and boats.
Considine saw a good target among the swimming heads, fired and missed.
Before he could fire again the head turned, it was Private Henry Class, who shouted
'Don't shoot boys, I'm one of you!'403
No first hand account by Claas is currently available and the incident is not
mentioned in Mumby's reported accounts. Markley did not mention the rescue of
Claas in later newspaper interviews, although he was a very old man by then and its
conceivable he forgot about it. The incident does not feature in Bonsal's reports,
One is tempted to speculate that Dobbins and Covington may have been the
victims of friendly fire but it cannot be proven one or the other today.

How Many Francisco's?

Henry Manire creates an intriguing mystery. He describes two Filipinos: A
‘Tagalog, muchacho for Captain Connell, firing directly at the Americans. We had to
put a stop to this and it took nearly everyone of us to put a bullet through him
before he fell”. This, clearly, could not have been Francisco, Connell’s servant, and
may have been a local hire. Manire also writes of watching: ‘Mackabebe, black
muchacho for Lieutenant Bumpus, rather closely, but he was still plugging away at
the Filipinos, putting forth all his efforts in our favour. He was the first to become a
commissioned officer in our American Army, the first native of the Philippine
islands to be accredited a regular first Lieutenant”. Again, this cannot be Francisco.
Neither man has been positively identified. Balangiga folk tradition does tell of two
Filipinos escaping with Company C. It may simply be an artefact created by the
confusion of battle.

403 James, Marquis, Balangiga, American Legion Monthly, November 1929

Chapter Twenty Six

Escape to Basey
The attack over in little more than 20 minutes, if that, Company C. counted the
survivors, there were just twenty six out of an original 78 men, and only three were
unwounded – Thermistocles Qula, Roland Clark and Walter Bertholf. It was too few
to hold the town against another attack and most of the men needed urgent medical
attention. “…We saw so many natives in the bushes, that, if they made a good stand,
they could easily have wiped us out…” recalled Irish 404.
Other than sporadic spatters of rifle fire405, the Filipinos kept their distance.
The survivors gathered to the municipal hall and Sergeant Betron, as the senior
non-commissioned, took command of the company.
Suddenly, Gamlin heard a noise in the doorway and Corporal Pickett entered,
clutching his stomach, unable to talk. "What is it Pickett?" asked Betron. Silently,
Pickett cupped his hands and a mess of his intestines fell into them from a six-inch
gash in his stomach. Pickett stuffed the entrails back in and sat on a bunk,
There were too few effective men left to hold the town. Beside the flagpole, they
discussed their options. They had three choices, Basey, 35 miles to the northwest, or
Guiuan, about equidistant to the southeast and Tacloban on Leyte. They decided to
evacuate to Basey.
The dead and injured were sorted. Many of the dead and all of the injured were
brought into the shade of a tree in front of the municipal hall. Among the dead
soldiers was found the body of the company dog, beheaded 407.


Irish, in RO Taylor, p17

405 Irish, in RO Taylor, p12
406 Wall, Gerald J., What's Left Of Company C, Saga Magazine, November 1953
407 Survivors Left the Philippines, Manila Times, May 23, 1933
Checking for survivors at the north end of the municipal hall Bertholf heard a cry
"For God's sake help me, Wal, I am dying". It was Shoemaker, with whom Bertholf
had enlisted. He was stabbed through the lungs and abdomen. After applying a first
aid kit as well as he could, Bertholf carried Shoemaker to the wounded assembly
Returning to look for more wounded, Bertholf found Wood, fatally injured. As
Bertholf picked him up Wood said: "That's all" and died.
A priority was to disable or destroy any weapons they could not take with them.
Corporal Irish and Private Allen were ordered to remove the bolts of rifles around
the town and in the municipal hall and throw them into the bay.
Corporal Hickman reached for the rifle in Marak's apparently dead hand to
remove its bolt, but it was held in a vice-like grip. Marak was alive. Hickman poured
water into Marak's face and nose and he came to 'like a scared rabbit' and vomited
over Hickman408. Considine appeared and tied a tourniquet on Marak's arm.
Entering the body-strewn municipal hall, Irish left his rifle at the door. As he
entered, an apparently dead Filipino suddenly sprang at him. As they struggled,
Irish remembered the knife in his boot, pulled it and stabbed the Filipino to death.
In an attempt to destroy the 55 guns and 26,000 rounds of ammunition, they
tried to burn the municipal hall with a five-gallon can of coal oil. Then they came
under fire and retreated before they could set fire to the municipal hall409.
From the Belaez house, Irish collected his trumpet and revolver, a rifle, and
Sergeant Martin’s Chinese watch. Together with Bertholf and Allen, Irish also
retrieved the case of whiskey Bumpus had brought back the previous night. “We
found a dozen quarts of whiskey,” recalls Allen, “This was a life-saver.” They up-
ended a five-gallon can of coal oil in the church and convent and set fire to it, but it
again failed to take.
Corporal Hickman and three others were dispatched to the riverbank to secure
five boats to the north of the boat landing. Swanson rushed to the Belaez house to
get some paddles for the boats.
Betron secured the Company records, packing them into a box and ordered two
of the less seriously wounded to load the boats with water, hardtack and bacon.
However, Gamlin remembered differently “We left without taking water or rations,”
he says410. It is, perhaps possible that these were in another boat.
Markley was ordered to organize stretcher parties to bring the wounded to the

408 Marak, Charles, National Tribune-Stars and Stripes, April 6, 1961

409 Bookmiller, October 1, 1901
410 Gamlin, in RO Taylor, p26
On the beach, Markley shouted to Betron that he would try to retrieve the Stars
and Stripes and burn the barracks and main building. Betron shouted back: “Alright,
hurry up and don’t be long”411. Markley, Clark, Swanson and, allegedly, Irish went
for the flag. “Wingo and I… succeeded in bringing back the flag” Says Irish. Proudly,
Wingo said: “I pulled Old Glory down” and Betron responded “Good Boy”.
However, the story of Wingo saving the flag can be questioned. In another
version Wingo undid the halyard, allowing the flag to fall down in Melvin Walls who,
together with Markley, folded it. Walls refusal to change his telling of the event cost
him his promotion412.
It appeared later in a moving version in The Veteran magazine twenty eight
years later: "The little Dakota bugler'. Who had been musician of the guard, and who
still had his bugle slung over his shoulder, bravely attempted to sound a few bars as
the flag was reverently lowered from the staff, but found his bugle dumb from
dagger strokes". The 'Little Dakota Bugler', however, was the ever-imaginative
George Meyer and there is justifiable doubt as to whether he did anything of the
Cephas Bumpus, Edwards father later wrote movingly: “One can see the brave
bugler, at his post on the plaza, cut down while rallying his fellows, while his young
associate escapes from the same fate by using his bugle as a fender off; and when
the flag, amid assaults and yells of the enemy, is pulled down as the men leave the
place, he tries to blow his call to honor his flag, but the bolos have cut it so badly that
it cannot be used”. A romantic image without foundation.
Another romantic version has Betron on the riverbank looking back at the flag
waving in the breeze, saying "What about it boys?" whereupon all the ambulant men
moved as one, with two providing covering fire, back to the flagpole to secure 'Old
Whatever the truth, it was a sensitive enough issue for Walls to be denied
Sergeant Markley and Private Swanson were sent ahead to alert the Basey
garrison an hour ahead of the other boats but got lost as they headed across the
Leyte Gulf.
The most severely wounded were loaded into the largest boat, big enough for
eight men, commanded by Sergeant Betron. Hickman took charge of a second boat
with Irish, Wingo in a third, Bertholf in a fourth.
With the boats crowded with the injured, Wingo offered to stay behind but
Betron put him in a boat with Powers and the boat was tied to Betron’s vessel.

411 Palmer, FL, extracts of statements.

412 Crago, George, to Gamlin, Adolph, September 4, 1932, Jean Wall collection.
As the boats were about to set off, there was one more rush. Says Irish: ”We lined
up on the beach and gave them magazine fire and drove them back again.”
The five boats set out on the waters of San Pedro Bay, now calm for the first time
in days, followed by Filipinos on the river bank. It was not yet 8am.
Slowly they made their way to the rough waters of Capines Point. About half a
mile out, they were fired on by Filipinos and one man killed according to Arnold
At about noon, Ralston noticed Recard’s scalp hanging down over his face.
Carefully, Ralston moved it back into place and covered it with a hat. Moments later,
Recard died.
As they left the cover of the bay around Capines Point the sea suddenly
roughened and Bertholf's boat was swamped about foot under, held up by
outriggers. Salt water added new agony to the men’s open wounds. The men
struggled to keep the heads of the worst wounded above water and decided that
they needed to transfer some of them. They signalled to the other boats, which
worked their way back to Bertholf's.
Shoemaker and Considine transferred to Betron's boat, lightening the load but
still leaving Bertholf largely under water. Ralston helped Shoemaker into Betron’s
boat and shuddered as his fingers dropped into the bone-deep wounds on the man’s
With a promise that they would return and pick up the men in Bertholf's boat,
Betron's boat went on. Says Bertholf: "They claim they tried but the breakers near
the shore were too dangerous and they dare not land."414
Slowly, swamped and uncontrollable, Bertholf's boar drifted towards shore with
three wounded men and Francisco.
Later, Corporal Thomas Baird, in Betron’s boat died. “Someone spoke of
throwing them (The two dead) overboard to lighten our load, but when we put it to a
vote not a man would say do it,” says Ralston415. Again, other survivors say the
bodies were jettisoned.
In the afternoon, Betron, Walls and De Graffenreid tired and Ralston took over
one of their places “But for the courage and fortitude of these three men, we would
never have reached Basey,” said Ralston later.
The second boat, with Wingo, Powers and Driscoll also foundered. According to
Meyers, Wingo complained that the towline was pulling his bow under water “I

413 Ralston, in RO Taylor, p19

414 Bertholf, Walter James, Diary, Jean Wall Collection.
415 Ralston, in RO Taylor p20
guess I will have a better chance paddling my own canoe”, he said. Closson was at
the stern of the Betron boat and confirmed Meyers's account, “Wingo... told me to
cut his boat loose as ours was pulling his under and would swamp him. I untied it
and cast him loose.”416
The remaining two boats moved so slowly that some two hours after being cast
off, Clifford Mumby heard distress shots and saw Wingo’s boat in the distance
Any illusion that they were out of danger was shattered by a small boat that
appeared following them. As conch shells sounded along the shoreline, every half-
mile or so more boats would be launched, loaded with men with bolos and spears
says Meyers.
Once or twice, the men in the two boats shouted challenges at their pursuers and
lay on the oars. When the Filipino boats came within range, shots would be fired and
the Filipinos backed off. Betron realized that there was little danger provided the
boats stayed afloat. By sunset, the pursuing Filipinos gave up the chase.
According to Meyers a school of shark followed, attracted by the blood from the
By dusk, what little fresh water they had was finished. With fresh coconut water
tantalizingly close, they attempted to land at about 6pm, to be met by another attack
and forced back out to sea. All that was left to drink was Bumpus’s whiskey, which
could only make matters worse, even though it was a disinfectant and a crude
anaesthetic against the pain of the wounded: It “helped save the wounded while on
the water 24 hours.” Says Meyers.
Some men tried to slake their thirst with seawater, “It made us worse, until there
was not a man left who could talk,” says Irish.
To lighten the load in the boats more rifles, and a thousand rounds of
ammunition went into the sea. Two men in Betron’s boat used a coconut shell as a
dipper to bail out the seeping water.
As the sunset, they sighted a steamer. Hauling up the flag inverted they fired off a
volley of gunfire but failed to get its attention.
By dark, they had reached today’s Marabut rocks, one of the few sandy shores
along the coastline and again discussed landing and staying overnight, but the
wounded were in too bad a shape and they continued on.
Through the night many of the men became delirious. Those who were conscious
either paddled or bailed water from the leaky vessels. Along the seashore, fires
appeared, although probably unconnected with Company C.

416 Palmer extracts

At about 4am, as the sky began to darken with a coming storm, they saw the
glitter of moonlight on the corrugated iron roof of Basey cathedral. The boats
grounded on a sandbar at the shallow entrance to Basey. Four exhausted men
climbed out of the boats and started to drag them towards the shore. Suddenly,
there was a light, and a challenge from a sentry ashore, “Private Gamlin and what's
left of Company C.,” came Adolph Gamlin's reply as four exhausted men struggled to
pull their boat onto a sandbank.
It was September 29th, the feast of Michael Archangel in Basey.
Awod had been satisfied with a terrible revenge. But awod works both ways...
Chapter Twenty Seven

The Missing Boats

Utterly alone, uncontrolled and half sunk, exposed unshaded to the glare of the
sun, Bertholf's boat with Francisco drifted shoreward. Marak struggled with a
wounded arm, Buhrer's head wound put his eye out of his socket and made him of
little use, and Litto Armani with his abdomen sliced open.
"Words cannot express our condition of mind with that tropical sun burning
down on top of our heads, no water to drink, and the salt water causing excruciating
agony as it soaked into our wounds."417
Marak recalled: "…we thought we were going to our own funeral to lay in a very
wet grave"418
Trying to lighten the load in the boat, rifles and ammunition were dumped
overboard, but Francisco had the presence of mind to keep one rifle and two belts.
There was only one relief from their suffering, delirium "I don't think any of us
can tell all that happened that afternoon."
Even worse, it appeared at one stage that they were drifting back towards
Balangiga. It was late afternoon, the town was aflame and they could see the people
moving against the glare.
The boat seemed to hardly be moving at all but at sundown it looked to Bertholf
as if they were nearer to the rocky beach. "I called the other boys' attention to this,
thinking to encourage them by telling them the tide was slowly drifting us towards
It took another six hours or so before they actually grounded on a coral reef 400
yards offshore at about midnight. Could it take their weight? They tested it and it
"(We were) so weak we could hardly get out of the boat," remembered Bertholf.
Francisco and Bertholf hauled the boat a short way up on the coral then helped
Armani and Buhrer ashore. All were desperately thirsty and Armani and Buhrer
continuously called for water.


Bertholf, Walter James, Diary, Jean Wall Collection.

418 Marak, Charles, account published posthumously, National Tribune-Stars and Stripes, April 6, 1961
Yet again, Francisco came to their aid. Despite the darkness he climbed a coconut
tree and cut down some of the fruit with either a bolo or bayonet, the coconut water
within slaking their parched throats419.
Bertholf let Marak, Buhrer and Armani sleep while he kept guard. Fatigue caught
up with him. He tried walking around and splashing water on his face but he finally
fell asleep.
It was daylight when Bertholf woke up to see their boat drifting back out to sea.
It was their only means of escape from hostile ground, now gone.
Armani and Buhrer broke down, begging Bertholf to kill them. He calmed them
down and decided to explore further along the beach, with Armani walking and
Bertholf carrying Buhrer for about a mile.
Coming across some huge boulders they climbed over them with great difficulty.
The two wounded soldiers refused to go any further and were hidden among the
rocks, visible only from the sea.
Walking and swimming, and carrying the rifle, Bertholf, Marak and Francisco
explored a half-mile further along the shoreline.
Climbing over some rocks, Marak found Powers's body, stripped and the back of
his head split open. “We knew that his head had not been bandaged before getting
into the boat, and had helped row so we knew he had been killed after landing”. 420
There was no sign of Wingo, who conceivably perished at sea after his boat was seen
Sudden there was a yell and, looking back, Bertholf saw a band of Filipinos
killing Armani and Buhrer. Bertholf took aim with the Krag: eight hundred yards is
literally a long shot without a scope: "I raised my sight and emptied my magazine
into them, but they took cover." There was little that Bertholf could have done to
save the two soldiers.
According to Marak the Filipinos approached cautiously and the American
soldiers backed off, taking advantage of trees and rocks for cover.
Bertholf and Francisco fled up the beach, fearing that they would be overtaken.
“We ran, and must have gone four miles along the shore till we found an old barroto,
in which we shoved off from the shore."
Some four miles later, they spotted an outrigger with 'a big husky native', or an
old man421. Despite, or because of Bertholf's rifle, the boatman reached for a bolo.

419 Bertholf actually uses the term 'milk', which is squeezed from shredded coconut meat.
420 Bertholf, in RO Taylor, P13
421 Marak and Bertholf's account differ.
Understandably, Bertholf didn't spend much time assessing the situation: "I did not
stand on ceremony, but let drive, and taking possession of the boat, we shoved off."
This boat, and its location, matches the account of Vicario Ferreras given in
Duran422 of attacking beached American soldiers at Pinamitinan, between Lipata
and Lawa-an. However, Ferreras, who came from Lipata, now Marabut, is claimed to
have killed seven Americans, but only four – Armani, and Buhrer from Bertholf’s
boat and Wingo and Powers from Wingo’s boat, can be accounted for. The Valdenor
account only mentions Ferreras shooting at an American boat.
Luck seemed to be fresh out that morning. There were no paddles in the boat.
They used sticks as best as they could, and one end of the vessel had a hole, plugged
with coconut husk.
Bertholf's gunshot may have been heard some distance away because when they
were 200 yards from shore a band of Filipinos was seen with the dead boatman.
They proceeded to swim towards the escaping boat.
"But I made this very discouraging by firing at several heads and had the
satisfaction of seeing each head disappear", said Bertholf.
Hours passed, it seemed, and Marak's arm had swollen to twice its normal size.
Such was the pain that he begged Bertholf to shoot him and end his suffering.
Even Bertholf had almost given up hope. Then, on the horizon, a plume of smoke
appeared. Over the next 30 minutes, as the sorry boat-load feared the ship would
pass them, it resolved into the SS Pittsburgh, a coastal steamer requisitioned by
Bookmiller at Tacloban. Some 60 men were aboard the vessel; company G of the 9th
Infantry and a handful of the Company C. survivors.
A launch was dropped and picked up the three men. Marak was turned over to
the ship's doctor
Ironically, Bertholf, Marak and Francisco, who had escaped from Balangiga, were
now on their way back to the town, although under somewhat different

422 Duran, p97

Chapter Twenty Eight

Return to Balangiga
In the aftermath of the attack on the 28th, the Filipinos buried their dead in a
trench behind the church bell tower. Later, there were celebrations in Balangiga.
Women cooked food, children sang, the menfolk indulged in cockfights.
The celebrations went beyond a victory party in horrible ways. Certain of the
Balangiga attackers, believed to be those brought in with the help of Eugenio Daza,
mutilated the dead, cutting off the private parts of some of the American soldiers
and dancing around with the severed penises in their mouths. In years to come it
would be talked about only in whispers by Abanador and is known today because
some of the children in a school set up in Abanador's house overheard the adults
talking about the event and have passed on the accounts to their children 423.
The 'group mind' came to the fore, the same phenomenon that, a century later
led to the deaths of students in Philippine universities and the severe beating and
abuse of female students in small town America at hazing events in the 1990s.
Mutilation of the dead was not confined to Filipinos in the Philippine-American
War; it was indulged in by both sides to a greater or lesser extent and contrary to
the laws issued by the respective commanders on both sides.
When Lukban finally heard about the mutilations he was a prisoner of the
Americans but ordered an investigation by Claro Guevara, Daza's commanding
officer, who was still in he field. Guevara had little time to carry out the
investigation. Others of Lukban's commanders spoke of the attack on the American
garrison but declined to give details because it was 'against the laws of war' 424.
The next day Eugenio Daza entered the town with the deserter, Will Denton, who
identified the three dead officers of Company C425. He secured 75 rifles, 25,000
cartridges, three 'American Mausers', a shotgun and three sabres - the later
presumably the property of Connell, Bumpus and Griswold.


Several interviewees referred to the mutilation of the dead, providing information that could not be
found in published American accounts.
424 Quiason, PRR
425 Guevara to Local Chiefs, January 8, 1902 Exhibit 1364, The Philippine Insurrection, page
711,PRR1074.5. Also, Daza affidavit, and Daza to Guevara (Chief of this province), October 6, 1901,
Taylor page 705, PRR 820.5.
Geronima collected 17 rifles and handed them over to Daza, who appears not to
have been directly involved in the actual attack of the 28th426.
That morning, at Basey, Captain Bookmiller and the officers of Company G. heard
the commotion on the beach and were immediately awake.
The arrival of the survivors at Basey set off a flurry cables. In charge of the Basey
garrison was Captain Edwin Bookmiller of Company G, 9 th Infantry, who
immediately reported to Hughes in Cebu, in a cable sent via Tacloban “24 men, 11
wounded (sic) just arrived here from Balangiga. Remainder of Co. killed. Insgnts
(insurgents) secured all company supplies & all rifles except 36. Company were
attacked during breakfast yesterday morning”.
Hearing of the incident in Manila, Chaffee had his deputy, Hall, send a forceful
cable to Hughes: “Investigate affair Balangiga. Seeming nothing but gross
carelessness could have permitted such an occurrence.” 427
At 9am the gunboat Pittsburgh was dispatched to Balangiga with 55 men plus
some of the survivors aboard to identify the dead, including Arnold Irish, Roland
Clark, Taylor Hickman, George Allen, Melvin Walls, De Graffenreid and Clifford
Mumby. Gamlin volunteered to return but De Graffenreid alerted Bookmiller to his
wounds and he was taken back to the Basey convent.
Later that day, Sergeant Markley and Private Swanson arrived at Tanauan on
Leyte. Hearing of their arrival, Hughes angrily telegraphed Colonel De Russey, who
commanded the 11th Infantry at Tacloban, “Can you get a command together strong
enough to make a desert of Balangiga and that corner of Samar without endangering
your own domain?”
De Russey dispatched another boat to Balangiga to "chastise savages if found” 428.
News of the Pittsburgh’s approach spread quickly to Balangiga. Geronima left the
town to join her sister, Maxima, in Giporlos and eventually reached Tacloban safely.
Her mother was not to be so lucky.
Arriving at Balangiga at 12.30pm, Bookmiller found the town being abandoned.
One shot was fired at the Pittsburgh 429. As soon as the steamer came within 500
yards of the town, the Pittsburgh opened fire from a mountain guns secured to its

426 Daza's account in his affidavit reveals knowledge of the organisation of the attack but nothing
substantive about the attack itself and claims that he, not Abanador, gave the signal for the attack to
begin from near the flagpole. His account is difficult to entirely reconcile with other accounts, Filipino
or American.
427 Hall, September 29, 1901
428 Hughes, September 30, 1901
429 Bookmiller, September 30, 1901
foredeck. “As we entered the town, the main barracks were burning; but it was
evident that the ordnance had been carried away430.
The burial party later told Gamlin that the Filipinos had set fire to the town.
According to Meyers, the relief expedition found the buildings burning and the dead
‘horribly mutilated’, their hair was burned and some had been stripped. The
company dog had been killed and stones placed in its eyes – a ritual meant to
prevent the soul of the dead finding its killer431.
Arnold Irish’s account, given 30 years later, has been given much attention in the
Balangiga literature, principally because of Joseph’s Schott’s ‘Ordeal of Samar’. Given
the lack of verification by Filipino or firsthand American accounts one is tempted to
believe that claims such as “We shot all the native in the town, except those whom
we took prisoners and forced to bury the dead”… Were the result of half-
remembered fragments, wishful thinking and his own repeated nightmares.
Going to his ‘shack’, the Belaez house, Irish found it burned out and the badly
burned body of Voybada in front of it. Among the remains of the house he found the
photograph of the girl he'd received in the mail and pocketed it.
Allen claims that the bodies of Byron Dent, Joseph Godon and Guy Dennis were
found dumped in the well in front of the municipal hall. The bodies of Sergeant
Martin and the company dog were found covered with flour in the kitchen.
Bumpus’s eyes, he says, had been gouged out and the sockets smeared with
The burial party told Gibbs of Bumpus’s mutilation: “…they dug his eye sockets
out and put burnt paper over it… and they put jam in there… and put toy flags in the
sockets of his eyes… They threw some of the men in the well and cut their fingers off
and different parts of the body.” The private parts of the dead were cut off.
Connell's class ring was taken.
De Graffenreid identified each of the bodies, the names written on a slip of paper
that was placed in empty beer bottles and placed between their legs as they were
buried in a trench on the south side of the plaza, where a sports hall stands today 433.
Taps was blown, orders were given to destroy the town and at 6.15pm, Company
G. returned to Basey as Balangiga flared behind them.
Hours later, Colonel Isaac De Russey arrived in Balangiga, apparently unaware
that his vessel had passed Bookmiller's going the other way, and gave a curious
report: "Forty-five bodies had been burned in a trench, leaving seven unaccounted

430 Bookmiller, October 1, 1901

431 Borrinaga, Rolando, personal communication
432 Allen, in RO Taylor, page 32.
433 Crago, George, to Gamlin, Adolph, September 4, 1932
for. The charred remains of many were recovered. In numerous instances the bodies
had been badly mutilated."
Yet Bookmiller had already buried the American dead and it seems unlikely that
the Filipinos uncovered them and burnt them, and equally unlikely that De Russey
had the remains dug up and burned. De Russey's count, forty-five, differs markedly
from Bookmiller's report, which shows that 32 bodies were buried but may include
the remains of those men in the burning buildings that Bookmiller's contingent
could not recover.
With a twelve-hour time difference, a shocked Washington received its first
notification at 9.50am on the morning of September 29 th as the Pittsburgh chugged
through the darkness to Basey eight thousand miles away.
Stephen Bonsal met some of the survivors a week later: “…tears were still in the
eyes of those who saw the gallant fight the Captain made to warn and join his men,
but they spoke of it as something that had happened months before, so innumerable
were the incidents and sensations which followed in the next crowded tragic half
Bookmiller's sketch map of Balangiga.
Chapter Twenty Nine

Not A Stone
Emil F. Runge, a member of the 9th Infantry, sums up the atmosphere after the
attack in a poem:

The Noble Ninth

Vanquished but not disgraced

A story came one morning

From Samar's distant land
That savages had massacred
A small but gallant band
Against four hundred fiendish foes,
With rifles, spear and blade;
Surprised, unarmed, the noble band
Their last brave stand have made

All honor to the noble ninth

Of glorious renown
Columbia, avenge your countrymen
And strike the foemen down

At matin's toll that morning

While peaceful at their meal,
Without a sign of warning
The foes from ambush steal.
Then back to back with foot and fist,
Gainst bullet, spear and knife,
Till one by one in death's last gasp
Each hero gave his life.

All honor to the noble ninth

Of glorious renown
Columbia, avenge your countrymen
And strike the foemen down

We weep for those who've fallen,

We mourn with those who mourn,
Whose hearts, in pain, must wait in vain
Their loved ones home return.
Columbia loose your armored fist
And let such traitors learn,
That shrapnel, maxims, Krag and fire
Demand our vengeance stern.

All honor to the noble ninth

Of glorious renown
Columbia, avenge your countrymen
And strike the foemen down

The striking began quickly. Hughes cabled a report of the Balangiga attack to
Chaffee in Manila who telegraphed it to Washington. Immediately, before
confirmation, Adjutant General Corbin issued the report to the press and copied it to
President Roosevelt.
Initial reports issued by the War Department led to confusion. Connell, Griswold
and Bumpus were said to have survived 434. Later reports correcting the error


Bloody Combat in Philippines, San Pablo Chieftain, September 30, 1901, Colorado.
caused even greater confusion and Edward Bumpus's father, Judge Everitt Bumpus
fretted over his son's fate as the War Department failed to issue official notices.
Adjutant General Corbin detailed the Army paymaster General Bates, a relative by
marriage to the Bumpus family, to break the sad news435.
At breakfast time, September 30, the first of two telegrams was delivered to an
apartment above offices at 14 South William Street, New York, the home of Ellie and
David Connell. The confusion about who had and had not died was settled: "David J.
Connell: Your boy killed in action. Gillespie. War Department" Ellie Connell fainted.
Any possibility of doubt was further removed when a second telegram arrived from
Manila, sent on the 29th: "Tommy killed yesterday' It was signed 'Frank' and used
the code address agreed three years before – Quoconnell.
An unnamed US government official believed that the attack was launched in
response to the McKinley assassination: "…(The Filipino forces) probably believed
the shooting to be the result of some popular outbreak against the President. The
natives had seized the opportunity in the flickering hope of retrieving some of their
Of Balangiga, except 'the stone walls of the church and a few large upright
poles… there is today not a vestige of the town of Balangiga left"436.

435 Chaffee and the Country Waiting for Samar News, Boston Globe, October 2, 1901
436 Blackford, RM to Adjutant General, October 8, 1901, cited in Linn, Brian M. We will go heavily
Armed: The Marines Small War on Samar 1901-1902, New Interpretations in Naval History, William
R. Roberts and Jack Sweetman (eds) Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, Maryland.
Chapter Thirty

Samar Burning
Mrs. Taft was so shaken by the Balangiga Incident that she feared having a
nervous breakdown and had to be shipped off to China, as sidearms were firmly
strapped to the waists of guards at the Palacio Del Gobernador437.
Like many in Manila, Mrs. Taft didn't know what was going on in the country.
The attack was "So undreamed of under the conditions of almost universal peace",
she wrote, "It created absolute panic."
"Men began to go about their everyday occupations in Manila carrying pistols
conspicuously displayed, and half the people one met could talk of nothing else but
their conviction that the whole archipelago was a smouldering volcano and that we
were liable to be murdered in our beds at night."
"…It was a frightful nervous strain and it took several months of tranquillity to
restore confidence."
Mrs. Taft's definition of tranquillity is somewhat creative.
Within days, American soldiers on Luzon had cocky Filipinos sidling up to them
to mutter words along the lines of "Americano mucho malo. You're next".
After months of being told officially that everything was under control in the
Philippines, that all the little brown brothers wanted to do was salute the flag and
docilely accept a new master, that there was little more to do that pacifying a couple
of errant provinces, and being fully aware that it was not so, newspapers had a field
day with enormous headlines.
AL Conger reported that some 140 Filipinos had been killed at Balangiga 438.
Later estimates raised this figure to 250439. Interestingly, the Committee on Affairs


Taft, Helen Herron, Remembrances of Full Years

438 Conger, October 7, 1901
439 RO Taylor, p37
in the Philippine Islands was told that it was assumed that as many as five Filipinos
were killed in combat for every Filipino body found because the Filipinos withdrew
their dead from the field. Those mathematics produces figures of 28 to 50 dead,
which brackets the estimates given by both Bookmiller440 and Filipino participants
very precisely.
Both Pedro Abayan and Valeriano Abanador were reported dead, yet not only
was Abanador listed among those who later surrendered, but Abayan returned as
mayor. That American officialdom was willing to overlook the fact that the
instigators of the attack not only survived, but returned to the town to resume their
positions and continued to hold their posts with American military blessing
suggests, too, that the less enquiry was made about the attack the better. Abayan
died in 1932 and Abanador followed him into the afterlife in November 1956.
Today, Abanador’s body lays beneath an anonymous concrete block in the town
Having spent the past three years trotting a stableful of horses and coaches
through the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and fundamental principles that most
Americans hold dear, Congress decided to go for the gold and suppress freedom of
speech. The Sedition Act was born on November 4, 1901, which made it a crime,
subject to two years imprisonment, to publicly write or say anything that suggested
that the Philippines should be independent. No American was ever, as far as is
known, arrested and prosecuted. This may be because the main challenger of this
law was Mark Twain, a man of unquestionable American patriotism whose intellect,
wit and public popularity was such as to send stabs of cold fear through the veins of
any Federal prosecutor foolish enough to chance his arm and career.
A number of Filipinos were not so lucky.
It was not one of Congress's finest moments. E Pluribus Unum indeed.
William Taft later used the Sedition Act to stifle pro-independence Nationalist
opponents of the Federalista Party running for the 1907 elections for the first
Philippine National Assembly. In the event, the 80 seat legislature was dominated by
the 59 seats of the Nationalista party, much to the dismay of the War Department
which, on the basis presumably that the Filipinos hadn't yet learned their lesson and
still preferred independence over the civilizing hand of the United States, concluded:
"the Filipinos are not competent to administer their political affairs" 441.
The Independent commented that the Balangiga attack "was the most appalling
event of its kind in the history of the insurrection" and reported that 9th Infantry
officers had warned that the veneer of pacification in the islands was an illusion and

440 Bookmiller, October 1, 1901

441 Golay, Frank Hindeman, Face of Empire, Ateneo De Manila Press, Quezon City,1997, p124
that the Filipinos were merely waiting for an opportunity: "The blow may first be
felt in some out of the way place like this island of Samar."442
Several US Congressmen returned from the Philippines with varying opinions.
Mr. Hull, of the Committee on Military Affairs complained that the existing law
withheld franchises from American companies because Europeans already held
them under agreements with Spain. He reported that only a small percentage of
Filipinos wanted American rule and predicted that some 40,000 troops would need
to be stationed in the islands. Shafroth of Colorado didn't think the islands worth
keeping anyway and a Republican, Mr. Weeks, of Michigan decided that Filipinos
were incapable of participating in any form of government443.
Balangiga appeared, in the public prints, at least, to be the tip of an iceberg, or
the first puff of a volcano as the Mayor of Calbiga was discovered to be involved in
smuggling bolomen into a prison in preparation for a surprise attack on the guards.
In Luzon, a cargo of wagon springs was interdicted on its way to the provinces for
conversion into bolos. Elsewhere, members of the recently armed Philippine
Constabulary were also discovered to be working for the Filipino independence
forces. An entire force of Filipino policemen at Binan, Batangas was arrested 444.
A bay north of Manila, called Subig, or Subic, was reserved for a top-class naval
station. The cost would be 20 million dollars, the same as the United States paid
Spain for the entire country. It was then occupied by Marines and would stay
occupied until November 24, 1992. Today, the USS New York is on the bottom of
that bay but in 1901 it ferried Marines around the Philippines and would make a
thread-like appearance in the story of Balangiga and Samar.
In Balangiga itself, a myth was created that only two Americans survived the
attack. Despite plentiful documentary evidence to the contrary, this story continues
to circulate445.
On Leyte, JH Grant, the Provincial Governor became concerned at the immediate
itchy-trigger finger response of the military: "the military authorities here have
sustained a severe fright… and have done many things that calculated to hinder the
progress of civil government, and to make the people inquire as to what benefits
they are to derive from civil government."446
When news of the Balangiga incident hit Tacloban, soldiers began to patrol the
town at night, arresting anyone who could not prove he was a 'good man'. A nervous
sentry shot a Filipino who did not respond to a challenge. Some 150 men allegedly

442 Survey of the World, The Independent, pp 2380-2381

443 Survey of the World, The Independent, pp 2440-2441
444 Survey of the World, The Independent, pp 2498-2499
445 Duran, p99
446 Grant, JH, Report, October 26, 1901
from Samar were arrested without warrant and detained; all of them were released
the next morning apart from six. A group of labourers was fired on by a military
detachment, killing one and wounding two. Orders were given to close ports
believed to be used by Filipino guerrillas but upon which several Leyte towns
depended for food.
Other than a very small number of examples of trigger-finger itch, the immediate
military response on Leyte was not particularly unreasonable except for one issue –
Leyte was under civilian, not military government and the governor was the last
person consulted in the actions of military commanders.
Chapter Thirty One

The Steel Typhoon

Winds whipped clouds into vast dark cartwheels over the Pacific waters to the
east of Samar, ready to rip into the island, as a typhoon of steel as destructive as that
which scoured the landscape exactly four years earlier was preparing to sweep the
island again. This time, however, it would not be formed of barometric change but
men, guns and fire.
General Jacob Smith, already selected to head the Sixth Separate Brigade, was
called in to Adna Chaffee's headquarters and ordered to proceed to Tacloban, Leyte,
and take command of the first district of the Department of the Visayas under the
command of Robert P. Hughes.
The choice of Smith was an interesting one. 'Interesting' in the English colloquial
sense of 'it was a dumb idea'. Throughout his career Jakey H. 'Hell-roaring' Smith, of
small stature and large voice had shown an incapacity for commonsense and a great
capacity for getting himself into trouble.
During the American Civil War, he was wounded in the Battle Shiloh in 1862 and
still carried a chunk of Confederate ammunition buried in his thigh thirty-odd years
later. And they were 30 odd years. Unable to return to the Civil War battlefields
because of his wound he participated in a scam involving bounty money for
recruiting black soldiers for the Union that boosted his net worth from $4,000 to
$40,000 dollars in just four years. In 1864 $40,000 was a lot of money.
Various other scrapes, and his mouth, kept him in and out of court from then on.
He was briefly a Judge Advocate until the US President himself revoked it when
Smith's past caught up with him. His written and oral statements led the Judge
Advocate General to write: "By his conflicting statements and his unfortunate
explanation, he is placed in a dilemma full of embarrassment".
His exploits led to a General Court Martial in 1885 for welching on a poker bet at
the Mint Saloon and found guilty of 'conduct unbecoming an officer and a
gentleman". In 1886, in another court martial, Smith was actually sentenced to be
cashiered from the army. His career was, unwisely, saved by President Grover
More charges followed, in 1891 for using enlisted men as servants.
All was forgiven when, while grandstanding during at the battle of El Caney,
Cuba, in 1898 a Spanish bullet buried itself in his chest.
General Arthur McArthur thought highly of Smith's courage – whatever else he
lacked it wasn't physical courage but moral courage. After the taking of Angeles in
1899, McArthur commended his bravery and observed that Smith had "reached a
time when promotion to a Brigadier Generalship would worthily end his services,
for I believe it is his intention to retire upon promotion".
On the first count McArthur was correct, on the second he was wrong. Smith,
unfortunately, had no intention of retiring. Smith got his Brigadier General's stars
and stayed firmly in harness.
Inevitably, his mouth got him into trouble again in Dagupan while interfering in
a local church-political issue in Zambales447.
Adna Chaffee had assigned a man with a track record of poor judgment into one
of the most sensitive theatres of combat in the war at that time. To make matters
any worse would take a Marine. And it did.
In all, some 57 Krags and 28,000 rounds of ammunition were now added to
some 300 rifles reportedly in Filipino hands, a scary proposition 448. General Smith
was told: "We have lost 100 rifles and 25,000 rounds of ammunition. You must get
them back. You can have $5,000 gold. Capture the arms of you can, buy them if you
must, which ever course you adopt, get them back." 449
Says Chaffee: "I deemed it of much importance to secure those arms, as the result
of our loss at Balangiga was too liable to injuriously affect the public mind of those
still in insurrection against the government and it was necessary to counteract this
harmful influence for peace…" The Balangiganons had shown, forcefully, that
American soldiers could be beaten, a fact that threatened to re-ignite the fight for
The gloves were now off, and any measure seemed to be acceptable. Smith
ordered "Every native whether in arms or living in the pueblos will be regarded and
treated as an enemy until he has conclusively shown that he is a friend… Neutrality
must not be tolerated on the part of any native… If not an active friend, he is an open
The dispatch of more troops to Samar from Manila was delayed by a typhoon,
during which 300 Macabebe scouts from Pampanga cooled their heels aboard the
USS Legaspi in Manila bay. A battalion of the 7th US Infantry boarded the US


Much of he Smith's biographical detail is taken from 'Before the 'Howling Wilderness': The Military
Career of Jacob Hurd Smith,1862-1902, Military Affairs, November-December 1979.
448 Bookmiller, September 30th, 1901
449 Chaffee, General Adna R., War Department Report, 1902, p188
450 Sexton, Soldiers in the Sun, p273
Hospital Ship Relief in Manila and a further battalion of the 27th joined the ship at
Legaspi in Bicol.
Aware of the potential backlash against military activities in Samar, Stephan
Bonsal, a much-respected journalist who would later earn the Pulitzer Prize, was
allowed to tour the Visayas under the careful guidance of Army officers. His first
reports of Balangiga bear the stamp of carefully calculated information to him by
those he would later criticize.
Bonsal was to write: "It seems incredible, but none the less true, that during the
eight weeks the company had been stationed on the lonely, sinister strand of
Balangigan (sic) not a single communication or order had been received from the
outside world… The men, and perhaps the officers, came to the conclusion that they
had been lost in the military shuffle." 451 As we have seen, not only did Bumpus go to
Tacloban on at least one occasion prior to his journey of September 25-27, but Foote
had visited also the company in early September. However, the alleged isolation
helped build a vivid sympathy for the attacked company.
Bonsal went on to describe his discovery if a battered bugle near the flagpole: "
I… made several interesting discoveries… most valued of all the blackened bugle of
the dead trumpeter who sounded the call to arms from his station under the flag
until he was cut down…" Stirring though the imagery was, it, too, was false. Meyers,
who blew reveille that morning survived and Covington, the only other person who
would have used the bugle had simply fled for his life to the river where he died
without putting his lips to his bugle.
Readers were treated to imagery of savage 'Amazonian' Samareno women: "As a
matter of fact, and not of fancy imagined in Manila, not a few women remained in
the town during the fight, and were seen dispatching our wounded men with the
double-edged daggers which all the women of Samar carry and can use upon
occasion with tigerish ferocity".
Of course, Samareno women used such blades for the 1001 minor daily duties of
life, with the addition of self-defence, much in the way Western women even today
carry nail scissors and clippers and a good few in the US find it necessary to carry
firearms in their purses (And did so even then). It goes against the sense of
'otherness', the assumption that even Samareno women were 'different', less
civilized, and less human than their American sisters. American women of that time
routinely carried Derringer pistols in Los Angeles, without being accused of 'tigerish
ferocity'. Certainly nobody batted an eyelid or referred to 'tigerish ferocity' when
Annie Oakley volunteered for the Spanish-American War.

451 Bonsal, Stephen, New York Herald Tribune, December 22 1901, incomplete. Jean Wall Collection
It would appear that neither military officers nor the men of Company C. were
aware until a considerable time later that a certain number of the attackers were
dressed as women. One is tempted to speculate that it was only discovered during
the meeting referred to by Duran – the meeting that appears in no published official
Stephen Bonsal was to claim that the anting-anting found on the bodies of the
dead were 'given under the hand of their insurgent priest', which, like much else fed
to Bonsal by US military officers, was untrue but added to the justification for the
arrest and torture of priests on Samar. He also refers to 'an unorthodox deacon, who
had come in from the mountains to take the Padre's place'.
No such 'deacon' appears in Balangiganon accounts and, as with Meyers's claims
of a 'petition' to US authorities by the Balangiga mayor, may be explained by the
earlier visit of the priest from Guiuan, Father August Delcado, mentioned by
Bumpus in his letters, once the parish priest of Balangiga. It was Delcado who
carried Bumpus's letter of September 6, and presumably those of other men, to
Bonsal was clearly unaware of the earlier friction between Lukban and the
priesthood, or that Lukban thumbed his nose at the priests when he contracted a
civil marriage. Under Spanish law there was no such thing as civil marriage.
Elsewhere, Bonsal claims that Griswold tended people supposedly hurt in an
earthquake that, in fact, would have done little damage in Balangiga453, which is also
implied in Bumpus's letters home. Bonsal does, however, confirm the existence of a
hospital tent, referred to in Filipino accounts but missing from Co. C. survivors'
Such stories enhanced the impact of what was already a grisly episode, angered
the American public and made severities on Samar more acceptable in the post-
Balangiga era in a way they might not have been before. The American public
wanted action, and got it.
At Catbalogan, Captain Edwin Glenn got the water 'cure' into full swing. Gibbs
claims that the water cure was used three times at the rear of the officer’s quarters
in Catbalogan: “I have seen the men brought down to the place where I knew it was
going to be administered… Some of my comrades and I have tried to peep in the
windows and see what was going on. ... We heard moans… and then we could see a
kind of sickly expression on a man’s face after coming out… One man died in

452 Bumpus to Father, September 6, 1901, In Memoriam.

453 The Massacre in Samar, unidentified news clipping citing New York Herald Tribune, December 22,
1901, Folder Charles G. Clifton, 1898-w-1520, box: US Volunteer Infantry – 43rd Regiment, Spanish
American War Survey, US Army Military History Institute, Carlisle Barracks, Pasadena.
Catbalogan… I was on guard the next day and heard he died the day afterwards... 454
Dirty water was preferable to the cleanest water… They would go down to the shore
and take a tin pan and dish up sand with water, with the salt water and if that could
not be found they would get something else that was dirty… simply to inflict a more
severe punishment upon them.”455
Major Glenn, a man who dismayed his fellow officers, went to work with a
vengeance. "I tell you, Major Glenn is going after these people proper and I tell you
he just commenced in time, too. They had a plot to make a rush on us here but we
caught them just in time to bust up all their plans. We have the presidente in the
guardhouse, hung the priest, got $10,000 of their money which was to be sent to
Hong Kong to buy arms and ammunition. Got 5 Chinese in the jail, too, they are no
good. They are sure giving these fellows with stand-up collars hell for the last few
days… they are just the ones they should have commenced on 4 years ago." 456
Ralston's letter lends credence to a newspaper report in El Nuevo Día on January
29, 1902: "The inquisition had as its purpose to find out who in the towns were
cooperators with the Revolution, especially those who were helping the Filipinos
still in arms with rice and money. And, of course, the Fathers had to know this
information, according to the thinking of the American officers, especially because
they possessed the secret of the confessional… Among the priests it was Father
Acevedo, because of his being of greater strength than his companions, who
received the greater pressure. He is now in Palo, Leyte, his home town,
That water torture, supposedly inherited from the Spanish by way of the
Macabebe Scouts, was going on before the Balangiga event under Captain Robert H.
Nobell was common knowledge in Catbalogan (See Balangiga Papers: The Hemp
War). How many were subjected to it isn't known, and probably never will be.
Rolando Borrinaga refers it as 'massive' 458 while Bruce Gordon, after reviewing
transcripts in Affair in the Philippines, believes the number of reported incidents

454 Possibly Father Severino Picson (See Schumacher, p145)

455 Gibbs, SD331, p2303-2305. While Rey Imperial (Balangiga and After, a paper presented during the
Balangiga Roundtable Conference, Tacloban, November 1998) and Charo Narbong-Cabardo
(‘Filipinos Dealt US Worst Single Defeat, Philippine Daily Inquirer, September 29, 1996) have
suggested that the water cure was applied in Balangiga, there is no evidence that it was used there at
any time.
456 Ralston, Ernest, to parents, January 18, 1902
457 Schumacher, John N., SJ, Revolutionary Clergy, Ateneo University Press, Quezon City, Manila, 1981
458 Borrinaga, Rolando, The Balangiga Conflict Revisited
amount to about 20459. Perhaps the safest description is that used by Edwin Glenn
himself, that its use was 'common'460.
That Filipinos may have been encouraged by American officers to inflict the
torture on other Filipinos is evident in orders issued by Colonel Cornelius Gardener:
"If these things need to be done, they had best be done by native troops so that the
people of the U.S. will not be credited therewith." 461
Faced with incontrovertible evidence that US forces, and Filipino forces under
their command, commonly used the 'water cure', and unable to deny it, apologists
for these excesses did the next best thing and denied that it was torture at all. One
reverend came to the conclusion that it was quite humanitarian to forcibly extract
information this way, without, of course, undergoing it himself, and a particularly
revealing exchange took place during the 1902 hearings on affairs in the Philippines
in the examination of Captain McDonald:

Q. Now, do you not know that these rules of war, Orders No. 100, provide,
among other things, that tortures shall not be used to extort confessions?
A. I am not familiar enough with General Orders, No. 100, to quote it at this
particular moment, but I know that the general rules of war are that tortures are not
to be administered, and they never were administered to any prisoner in my
custody or the custody of any of my men.
Q. You saw the cure administered there that day?
A. I did see it, yes, sir.
Senator BEVERIDGE. You understand that the Senator makes "water cure" and
"torture" synonymous?
Senator CULBERSON. Certainly; and I don't suppose anybody else makes a
Senator BEVERIDGE. I think there are a great many who do.462

459 Bruce Gordon, Personal communication.

460 Mettraux, Guénaël, US Courts-Martial and the Armed Conflict in the Philippines: Their Contribution
to National Case Law on War Crimes, Journal of International Criminal Justice, 1.1, Oxford University
Press, 2003, pp135-150
461 Gardner, Cornelius, December 10, 1901, cited in Ileto, Reynaldo, The Philippine-
American War: Friendship and Forgetting, Vestiges of War: The Philippine-American
War and the Aftermath of an Imperial Dream, 1899-1999. Angel Velasco Shaw and Luis
H. Francia, (eds.) New York: New York University Press, 2002. pp. 3-21
462 Testimony of Captain McDonald, Affairs in the Philippines, page 2777
The Reverend Homer Stunz was among those who drew the distinction. In an
article called "The 'Water Cure' From a Missionary Point of View". He spoke with
authority since he'd had the pleasure of seeing it conducted on several Filipinos,
though not with as much authority as the Filipinos themselves might have done
since he didn't deem it necessary to undergo it himself. It wasn't really torture
because the victim could stop it anytime he wanted, before harm came to him,
simply by telling all, and it was only given to spies 463.
The missionary position has never looked so indefensible in daylight.
At least two inquiries into the Balangiga Affair followed, one with Bookmiller
and the officers in Basey and a second before the regimental adjutant after the men
had been returned to their regiment in Catbalogan. Only extracts from these
inquiries now exist. Says Gamlin: “I made my story short, as I was always timid
before an officer. I wish now that I had gone further into details.”464
Hughes dispatched a gunboat to a 60-man unit based in Pambujan and sent a
warning to other garrisons “If the battalions come with reasonable promptness I
don’t think we will have lost much beyond the terrible loss in Company C.” he wrote.
On October 16, the Ninth Infantry lost another ten men dead and six wounded,
mainly from bolos, at the mouth of the Gandara River. Six rifles were reported to
have been carried by the Filipino forces of which three were captured. 465
By now, Filipino scouts recruited on Samar were getting to work “The
detachment at Calbayog has killed more barefoots than any full company on the
island,” says Hughes with satisfaction.
Native scouts were not entirely trusted by the US military. Given magazine-fed
rifles, orders issued the day before the Balangiga attack ordered them to be supplied
only with the obsolete single-shot Springfield rifle and a limited amount of black
powder. All magazine rifles and carbines, such as the Krag, were withdrawn 466.
The Age reported Smith’s activities with approval on October 30, 1901, under the
headline “Filipino Treachery. How America Deals With It: ” Brigadier-General Smith,
commanding the American troops in the island of Samar, one of the Philippines, has
called to account the presidentes and head men of all the towns and villages in the
island, in connection with the late treacherous attack on a company of United States
infantry at Balangiga in September last… General Smith has now summoned the
presidentes and headmen in Samar to surrender to him every Filipino concerned in
the treacherous attack on or before 11th November. If these surrenders are not

463 Cited in Creighton Miller, Stuart, Benevolent Assimilation, The American Conquest of the
Philippines, Yale University Press,
464 Gamlin, in RO Taylor, p27
465 Chaffee, General Adna R., War Department Report, 1902, p188
466 General Order 293, September 27, 1901.
made the American informs the presidentes that they themselves will be exiled,
their villages will be destroyed, and the property of the villagers will be confiscated.
Lt. Schoeffel narrowly averted an alleged 'second Balangiga' at Motiong. Hughes
reported on October 4, “A similar confidence game has been tried on Lieutenant
Schoeffel… but the deception was detected, and those who entered the town in
accordance with a good plan are now in the Catbalogan guardhouse.” 467
On October 16, another 9th Infantry Regiment unit, Company E of 46 men led by
Captain Schoeffel was attacked by 400 Filipinos, but the company had taken the
lessons of Balangiga to heart: “After the massacre of poor Tommy’s company, I
ordered my men to keep their magazines filled and bayonets fixed at all times, and
to that precaution is due the saving of the camp” 468. All the same, Company E lost 10
men, with 8 wounded and a claimed 83 Filipinos killed in action469.
By October 7, one of the men, Hospital Corpsman Harry Wright, reported
missing had been found: “One HC man found dead with spade in his hand. Eleven
natives lying dead, found him evidently having been killed with that implement,”
reported AL Conger from Catbalogan470.
Two additional battalions, 543 men of the 7 th and 400 of the 26th Infantry471,472,
were dispatched to Samar and, around October 15, two companies of Ilocano scouts
arrived on the island. On the morning of October 9 General Jacob Smith sailed from
Manila and into notoriety473.
In the first week of October, Fr. Guimbaiolibot was spotted in Tanauan, with
Father Pantaleon Vara, where Markley and Swanson were in hospital, and was
arrested474, then water tortured475. Duran claims that Markley and Swanson
identified Guimbaiolibot. While he survived the torture, he lived with trauma for the
rest of his life.
Of the men of Company C, Donahue, despite his apparently survivable injury,
died on October 2476, his wound, like many of the others, infected. Private George
Allen and Corporal Sylvester Burke were sent to Catbalogan almost immediately and
then to Manila, the first men to leave Company C. after the attack to wait for their
enlistment to expire in December.

467 Hughes, RP, October 4, 1901

468 In Memoriam, p87
469 Combat in the 20th Century, p6
470 Conger, AL, October 7, 1901
471 Hall, September 29, 1901
472 Hall, October 4, 1901
473 Chaffee, October 8, 1901
474 Conger, October 8, 1901.
475 Shumaker SJ, John N., Revolutionary Clergy, Ateneo de Manila Press, Quezon City, 1981, pp146-147
476 Chaffee, October 12, 1901
Sun and salt water had baked Gamlin's straw hat to his head so hard it took three
days to soak it off and treat his wounds properly477.
Ralston stayed in hospital in Tacloban for 40 days until being returned to his
unit on Thursday, November 28 – Thanksgiving Day in the United States. He
watched as 40 new Company C. recruits stumbled through their training: “My but
they are green. Give them guns and take them off to drill and they come very near
knocking one another over coming to port arms (sic), but they will have to learn.
Bad country to learn in.”478
Smith's arrival in Tacloban was followed by a series of orders intended to
deprive Lukban's forces of food and materiel. Fishing and trading craft were
required to be painted red, numbered, and be issued passes. Any unpainted boats
were to be destroyed or used. Any towns or villages near suspected signal lights or
fires at night were to be bombarded and destroyed 479.
A week later, a further order was issued prohibiting travel between Samar and
Leyte: "All natives found passing between these two islands or afloat will be fired
upon and killed."480
Confusion among merchants and traders led to a clarification by Captain W. E.
Ayer, Adjutant-General of the 12th Infantry, who explained that the measures were
designed to prevent money getting into circulation in Leyte and to restrict food to
friendly natives481.
The threads that stretched forward in time from the Balangiga incident now
entangled a man whose career would be forever blighted by his association with it
and who would be responsible for more Marine deaths on Samar than his enemy:
Major Littleton WT Waller, brevetted Lieutenant-Colonel, commander of Marines at
Cavite, South of Manila.
On October 20, Waller was ordered to take command of a battalion of Marines,
consisting of Companies C, D and H of the First Regiment and Company F of the
Second Regiment, each of 75 men for a total of 300, for duty on Samar 482. Waller
was detached from duty with the First Brigade to report to the Navy southern
squadron commander. At 9am on October 20, Waller and his marines sailed from
Cavite with 10,000 rations, bound for Catbalogan.
Littleton Waller had his own problems. Given to rash decisions with little
forethought, his appointment to Samar came in the wake of a ten-day suspension

477 Wall, Jean, personal communication.

478 Ralston, Ernest, to parents, January 18, 1902. Jean Wall collection.
479 Bates, Walter T., Field Order No1, October 21, 1901
480 Battle, JS, General Order No29, October 27, 1901.
481 Ayer, Captain WE, Circular No. 3, November 18, 1901
482 Bannon, PM, to Waller, October 20, 1901 (Bulletin of the American Historical Collection, Vol. XXIX
No. 4,
from duty because of an alcoholic binge483. He carried a bottle of booze with him on
field operations and "when it gave out he was in bad shape" 484.
Aboard the USS Flagship New York485 Waller penned his orders. Any Samareno
men who had not turned themselves in within two days of his order were to "be
regarded and treated as enemies". Just how the Samarenos were to learn of these
orders in time to obey them was not specified. "It must be expressed to the men that
the natives are treacherous, brave and savage. No trust, no confidence can be placed
in them… The men must be informed of the courage, skill, size and strength of the
The latter fact will be told to the men after they are landed… We have also to avenge
our late comrades in North China, the murdered men of the ninth U.S. Infantry."
Native labour was to be 'impressed' for carrying provisions and some would be
required to go in advance with long poles to look for pits and traps.
Private Harold Kinman wrote to his sister: "we will go heavily armed and longing
to avenge our comrades who fought side by side with us in China"486.
In Catbalogan, on the morning of the 24th, Smith, with Rear Admiral Fred
Rodgers present, interviewed Waller. He was to take control of an area of 600
square miles running from Basey eastwards to Hernani. The next orders were to
cost Smith an ignominious end to his career and the stifling of Waller's "I want no
prisoners. I wish you to kill and burn. The more you kill and burn, the better you will
please me. I want all persons killed who are capable of bearing arms against the
United States".
It was no longer enough to kill those in actual arms against the United States;
one was required to kill those who were merely capable of bearing arms regardless
of their combatant status487.
That certainly appears to have been Waller's understanding because he asked: "I
would like to know the limit of age to respect, Sir."
"Ten years" responded Smith. Waller sought confirmation of the astonishing
order: "Persons of ten years and older are those designated as being capable of
bearing arm?" Smith confirmed the order "Yes."

483 Linn, Brian, Small War

484 Adrince, Harry C. cited in Linn, Small War.
485 The USS New York was eventually renamed the Rochester and was sunk in Subic Bay, where it
remains today.
486 Kinman, Harold,, October 8, 1901, cited in Linn, Brian M. We will go heavily Armed: The Marines
Small War on Samar 1901-1902, New Interpretations in Naval History, William R. Roberts and Jack
Sweetman (eds) Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, Maryland.
487 At Smith's court martial the phrase "and in actual hostilities against the United States" were added. He
was found guilty under the revised specifications.
An alleged hard copy of the order to turn the interior of Samar into a howling
wilderness supposedly delivered by Lieutenant Day and brought to Waller's
attention, was mysteriously 'lost'. The other possible witness to Smith's orders,
Admiral Rodgers, just happened to have walked away at that precise moment.
Major Waller arrived in Basey on October 25 to relieve Captain Bookmiller.
Setting up a 3-inch rifle and a Colt 6 millimetre automatic gun, Waller occupied the
town with 158 men, then dispatched Captain DD Porter with 159 men, Marine
Companies F and H, a 3-inch gun with six boxes of ammunition, to Balangiga to
relieve the 11th Infantry companies in the town.
The 11th Infantry decided it needed souvenirs of its uneventful stay in Balangiga
and, contrary to General Orders 100 and 105, as well as the law and customs of war,
looted the town's church bells apparently believing itself to have been the first unit
into Balangiga after the attack on Company C. It also made off with the antiquated,
and now extremely valuable 16th century cannon, of no military value whatsoever.
No imperative need demanded the seizure of the bells and cannon 488. Two of the
bells and the cannon are presently on a US Air Force Base, AFB Warren, in
Cheyenne, Wyoming. Thus, illicitly, contrary to military and civil law and the laws
and customs of war, the 11th Infantry took what didn't belong to it, for honours it
did not deserve, and put them where they had no right to be, and which is now
under armed guard by an air force command with no relationship whatsoever with
them, or the 9th or 11th Infantry, didn't exist at the time, and denies all
responsibility for them today.
Quartermaster Sergeant J M Beane of the 9th Infantry, mentioned in the Bumpus
letters, appears to have been in Balangiga at this time and described the ground
littered with bells. He crated up the 1896 bell and sent it on its way to Madison
Barracks, New York, via Calbayog, where it was photographed with several
Company C. survivors. Today it is in the 9th Infantry collection at the regimental
headquarters in Korea and treated as a memorial to Company C.
Prior to landing the marines at Balangiga, the USS Vicksburg and Frolic put on a
show for General Smith, Hughes and various senior officers, bombarded the town
and imaginary insurgent trenches and imaginary insurgents, followed by an
During the visit, Smith repeated the orders given aboard the USS New York at
Catbalogan, shouted "Kill and burn! Kill and burn!"
The order could no longer be dismissed as a momentary outburst, but were
clearly Smith's considered policy. Possibly realizing that his new commanding

488 Military historians, including those working with the US Army, as well as personnel within the Army's
Judge Advocate General's office, legal authorities on cultural artefacts, and at least three legal reviews
by US government departments, concur that the bells were illicitly looted and should be returned.
officer was barking mad, away from Smith's hearing Waller called Captain Porter
over: "I've had instructions to kill everyone over ten years old. But we are not
making war on women and children, Porter. We are making war on men capable of
bearing arms. Keep that in mind, no matter what orders you receive."
Captain Porter later confirmed, to a court martial, that Waller's orders: "(did)
not go as far" as Smith's489.
Two days after Waller arrived on the scene, the Manila Times reported:
"Extermination has been decided upon in retaliation for the massacre" 490.
Porter's men were ordered to scout eastwards and connect with the Army at
Quinapundan and 'clearing out that part of the country." Then move north and
eastwards to the east coast of the island, and, finally westward to a point halfway
between Balangiga and Basey 491. "The whole country between the points named
must be cleared of the treacherous enemy, and the expeditions, in a way, are to be
punitive…", Wrote Waller. All rice and hemp was to be seized and brought in or
destroyed. Families were to be allowed enough rice each day to subsist on. Any
unregistered bancas were to be seized and, if they could not be used, destroyed.
Coming back from Balangiga, Waller sent an expedition to San Antonio, south of
Basey, destroyed the village, administered the oath of allegiance to 48 people,
captured two out of 20 Filipino guerrillas and got two useful intelligence leads
indicating Lukban's stronghold at Sotohon492. The Marine's first day on Samar was
particularly busy.
On the 26th an expedition was sent to abandoned trenches previously occupied
by Filipino forces, destroying houses on the way. Some of Company C's equipment
was allegedly found in the trenches. Three alleged bolomen were killed and 3,000
pounds of rice destroyed. Two days later Marines destroyed a small village on
Paglaloanan Point.
On the evening of October 26 a large force of bolomen made their way to Basey
but abandoned the attack after learning of Waller's strength and firepower. It may
have been this force which cut a quarter of a mile of telephone wire between Basey
and San Antonio.
Another expedition was sent to Quinapundan and the village was destroyed, as
was Gibasey.
Private Kinman wrote that he was: "hiking all the time killing all we came
across". Another told the Modesto Bee "we were to shoot on sight anyone over 12

489 Waller Court Martial

490 Manila Times, October 26, 1901, cited in Young, Kenneth Ray, Atrocities and War Crimes: The Case
of Major Waller and General Smith, Leyte Samar Studies, XII:1 (1978) 64-77
491 Waller, Major Littleton WT, orders, October 23, 1901, in Waller court martial records.
492 Waller, Major Littleton WT, report, October 27, 1901
years old, armed or not, to burn everything and to make the island a howling
On the way to Quinapundan, Waller met concerted opposition for the first time.
Arriving at the river mouth aboard the USS Vicksburg. At least three rifles fired on
the Marines from trenches on a nearby hill. The fire was concentrated at first then
died to a sporadic single rifle, presumably as the Filipinos ran out of ammunition.
Finally, Captain Porter charged the hill and the Filipinos retreated, leaving behind
Krag cartridge cases. A Filipino was killed on the way to Quinapundan, which was
still abandoned after its earlier destruction.
Returning to the Vicksburg, the Marines found that Filipinos had again engaged
the vessels there. The Vicksburg destroyed a nearby town and returned to Basey
with Waller and his men.
The operations were a hard slog. On October 27, David Porter sent a 60-strong
detachment to the north and west of Balangiga. Starting at 7am, the party followed a
trail that disappeared into swamps. As they searched for an exit they came across a
stock of rice, which they destroyed. Cautiously they moved westward, skirting rice
paddies at the foot of a mountain, keeping to the right of known Filipino positions.
They crossed the mountain and found themselves in a ravine and found a Filipino
encampment. The house and stores were destroyed, among them were found parts
of Company C's kit – several pairs of leggings, a canteen, a belt and two ditty boxes.
Porter's group continued to burn every house found as they worked their way back
out of the ravine.
At almost every step, Porter's men sunk up to their knees in mud and the
underbrush was so thick they could only find their way with a compass. In all they
covered some 12 miles on a journey that was just three miles in a straight line.
On at least one occasion, an 'impressed' native at Balangiga allegedly attacked
one of the marines with a club494.
On the 30th, Waller took the Villalobos to Balangiga, using the opportunity to
destroy another two villages on the way, killed one Filipino and captured another
who claimed to be a 'coast guard' working for the Filipino forces and reporting ship
movement to the teniente in charge of the town of Alabas on Capines Point where
some 30 Filipino guerrillas were stationed, one of them armed with Parnell's Krag.
Intelligence reports suggested that a powder factory was operating at Lawa-an'
to the west of Balangiga and Waller set off to find it. Failing to find the factory,
Waller turned to the west and the town of Bulasao. He arrived to find the town
partially destroyed by Filipino forces and decided to finish the job by burning 23

493 Linn, Brian M, Small War

494 Waller Court Martial
more houses. Suddenly the Marines came under fire from a nearby hill by an
estimated three Krags. "The fire was exceedingly good, although we had no
casualties" said Waller495, suggesting that the Filipinos were growing in competence
with the new weapon. Attempts to surround the Filipinos failed and they escaped.
The same day, a detachment of 50 men and officers worked its way along the
riverbank and came across several houses, which they destroyed. In one of the
houses with two Filipinos were found parts of Company C. uniforms, boxes,
photographs and Griswold's surgical case. The two Filipinos were executed. 496
By now, the rains had set in, threatening to sweep away the camp at Balangiga,
now called Camp Connell. Waller ordered cement and 18,000 bundles of nipa and 40
workers for building new barracks.
Balangiga itself remained empty of inhabitants but some were reported
encamped at a river 7 miles from the town with 20 rifles. Waller dispatched a party
to the river. As he waited for the party to report back another scouting party was
sent up the trail to Santa Rita, killed a boloman and returned to Basey.
Few from Balangiga were reached by the Americans. Only six post-Balangiga
Attack deaths are known: Ana Nacionales, Geronima’s mother is said to have been
shot in head by American soldiers while trying to avoid a patrol near Tadan497. The
soldiers are said to have taken gold nuggets from her basket, leaving her to die three
days later in the arms of her daughter, Susanna498. Patricio Carilla is reported to
have been captured, tortured, then killed. Two seven-year old cousins were
surprised by an American patrol to the east of Balangiga, one of the boys was shot
dead, while the other was caught, tossed into the air several times, then left.
A further three fishermen, which may or may not include Carilla and the boys,
were mentioned by Pedro Duran499.
Most of the townspeople fled to the forests and mountains of Cansigool, living in
little more than leaking lean-toos called longkahaw. Here disease took a greater toll
that the bullets: "…the people fled to the mountains where they died of malaria and
dysentery by the hundreds. 500.
Anyone brought up on romantic Hollywood notions of happily living in a verdant
rainforest or jungle full of nutrition would be surprised at how little sustenance is
actually available. The greenery and underbrush so often associated with such
environments only occurs on riverbanks and clearings. In the interior there is

495 Waller, Major Littleton WT, report, October 31, 1901

496 Porter, Captain David D., report, November 2, 1901.
497 Tibe-Bonifacio
498 Duran, p119.
499 Loyola and Abletez.
500 Loyola and Abletez
insufficient light for ground plants like sweet potato to grow. There are few animals
because there are few places where the food cycle can begin.
In World War 2, for instance, it was not the Japanese who overcame the 70,000
or so men on the Bataan peninsula but the lack of food in the forests to feed what
was actually a fairly moderate number of people. Since the vast majority of those
men, all but about 2,000, were Filipinos who could be expected to have the
knowledge to live off the land. And with lack of nutrition came disease 501.
William Pomeroy, an American who joined the Huk rebellion in the 1950s,
similarly suffered shortage of food and malnutrition in much the same sort of
environment that the Samarenos drew upon in 1901.502
A common characteristic of forest dwellers is short stature. In the case of the
Aetas of the Zambales forest, this is accompanied by reddish hair. Neither is genetic,
both are due to malnutrition, as is a high infant mortality rate.
Indeed, when Samarenos relocated into towns on the instructions of Robert
Hughes, the US Army had to sell captured hemp to import food from Manila 503.
If further proof of the difficulty of finding enough to eat were needed, Waller's
later trek across Samar provided it. If Marines and Filipinos go hungry, it’s a sure bet
most other people will, too.
When the Balangiganons felt the fear of famine when their food was seized and
destroyed by Connell, they did so with justification.
Waller may get a worse press than he deserves, if Stephen Bonsal is to be
believed. In the Boston Transcript he wrote: "During my stay on Samar the only
prisoners have been taken by Waller's command and I heard this act criticised by
the highest officers as a mistake which they believe he will not repeat… The truth is,
the struggle on Samar is one of extermination".504
Waller and his men merrily burned their way across Samar, reducing
Quinapundan, Lawa-an, Giporlos, Lipata, Gibasey and San Antonio to ashes. General
Smith, meanwhile, was stepping on some very tender toes.

501 Ancheta, Celandino, The Wainwright Papers, New Day, Quezon City, 1982
502 Pomeroy, William J., The Forest, International Publishers, New York, 1963. Reprinted in Filipiniana
Reprint Series, Solar Publishing, Manila, 1994.
503 Hughes, Brigadier-General Robert P, Affairs in the Philippine Islands, p557-558
504 Storey, Moorfield, and Julia Codman,
Chapter Thirty Two

November Nightmare
At the end of October, Smith proposed the suspension of civilian government on
Leyte505. While Samar was still under Martial Law, civil government had been
established in Leyte in April 1901. With Samar in some places just a few hundred
yards from Leyte across the San Juanico Straits the situation was far from ideal from
a military point of view but the Philippine Commission believed that civil
governance would reduce support for Filipino forces.
Smith claimed, probably correctly, that the people of Leyte were actively co-
operating with and assisting Lukban with food, arms and money. For good measure,
Smith waved the ghost of Balangiga: "To the people of Leyte, also, must be given the
credit for instigating and assisting in carrying out the barbarous assaults upon our
forces at Balangiga and on the Gandara River- proven by the identified Leyte dead
left upon both fields". It was fiction, there was no identification of the Balangiga
dead but Balangiga had become a bogeyman to wave whenever a course of action
required justification, vindication or excuse. It was yet another example of Smith's
willingness to issue false official statements, and for which he had once been court
martialled and ordered cashiered.
Adjutant General Hall asked Hughes for an opinion and Hughes responded "I do
not think the advantage gained would justify suspension of civilian government in
Leyte" Chaffee concurred "It is not good policy to withdraw provinces from civil
Smith's orders effectively put the commerce of Leyte under military supervision
and de facto suspended the provincial government. Acting Governor Luke Wright
forcefully complained to General Chaffee that the continuing conflict between
civilian and military authority was damaging America's image in the minds of
The Tacloban agent of the Anglo-American trading company Smith, Bell
complained to the civilian governor of Leyte, JH Grant: "…the military commander of
this district gave me verbal orders not to buy hemp on…Leyte, not to send money
out to subagents, but to call what was already out. Furthermore, he told me I could


Smith, JH, to Adjutant General Hall, October 29, 1901

506 Wright, Luke E., to Adna Chaffee, November 23, 1901
not buy hemp on the open market in Tacloban or import more rice… I have paid my
just taxes to do business on this island…"
Chaffee was unimpressed by the complaints of the Leyte traders "I may asked to
be excused for not entertaining a large amount of sympathy for traders in the
vicinity of active hostilities… a considerable part of the money paid out by them is
forcibly collected from the people and turned over to the chiefs of the
It was undoubtedly this trader that Chaffee referred to when complaining that
the Philippine Commission about "a trader whose business was interfered with,
notwithstanding his business may have indirectly contributed to prolong the
opposition to our troops."508
Leyte remained under civilian authority.
While Smith, the Civilian authorities and trader bickered, Waller continued to
literally blaze a trail across the southern coast of Samar. On the first of November he
sent out an expedition to destroy all homes between the Candacan (Sotohon) River
and Capines Point509. Another party went northwards on the 4th to various streams
to destroy all boats and burn any buildings missed the first time around.
Waller's thoughts were on the taking of Lukban's headquarters, 15 miles up the
Candacan River. His scorched earth proceedings were driving the inhabitants
towards Sotohon rather than into the arms of the American forces. The location was
considered virtually impregnable. His plan was to mount a gun on a raft, float it up
the river and shower the Filipino forces with shrapnel.
A scouting party was sent up the river on November 5. After some seven miles,
the party came under fire by rifles and bamboo cannon, lantaka. The Filipino forces
were finally driven off with six reported dead and one lantaka was captured.
The next day, Waller gathered a force of 100 men, along with the Colt 6mm and
the 3-inch rifle mounted on a raft, joined by two boats from the Vicksburg. Daring
though Waller's plans were, in an ominous precursor to later events that were to
account for third thirds of all Marine losses on Samar, he hadn't done his homework.
He launched the operation with the tide against him and his men were required
to tow the raft behind a boat rowing against the current. At about 8 miles upriver,
Filipino forces opened fire from both banks with rifles and lantaka. Two Marines
died before Waller's men were able to drive off the Filipino forces, which lost at
least 20 men, and more lantaka were captured.

507 Chaffee, Adna R., to Luke Wright, November 23, 1901

508 Chaffee, Major General Adna, Annual Report, September 30, 1902
509 Waller, Major Little WT, report, November 12, 1902
Waller gave up the attempt to cross the river to Sotohon, but the fates, or at least
the seas, did him no favours. As he guided the raft towards the Vicksburg at the
river's mouth a cross-sea developed and the raft turned turtle. The men on the raft
were saved although the body of one of the earlier casualties, Private Lynch, was
lost, as was the 3-inch gun, and 15 rifles were lost in 35 feet of water.
The next day, things perked up with the discovery by a 20-man party of Filipinos
entrenchments with 30 rifles. The Filipinos fell back but the party, too small to
follow, captured Krags and shells. An operation to destroy Iba and 'kill or capture all
men' the next day resulted in 40 houses burned, three carabao killed, a half ton of
hemp, nine dead Filipino men dead and 11 captured, one of whom claimed they
were 'insurrectos' who had fought Waller on the 6th.
Another detachment crossed the Candacan River to destroy all houses and
succeeded in burning 55 homes and killed two carabao.
Operating out of Balangiga, Captain Porter had even more success in a three day
operation that reduced 100 houses to ashes, discovered a number of entrenchments
and several relics of the Ninth Infantry such as photographs and cards, as well as
killing one man and capturing seven.
The capture of the seven men showed how fearful the Samarenos were of the
Americans. Caught unawares, and knowing they could not escape, they tried to kill
their wives and children rather than let them suffer in American hands. Regardless
of how they felt about Lukban, they were far more afraid of what the Americans
might do. How many other Samarenos fought on because of this fear is unknown.
By November 12, Waller's forces had destroyed 255 houses, killed 39 men,
captured 18 men, secured just 17 bolos, destroyed one ton of hemp and a half ton of
rice, killed 13 carabao and smashed some 50 boats.
A few days later, Waller finally launched his assault on the Sotohon redoubt. In
an operation of enormous courage and pluck, three columns set out, two by land,
one by river and stormed the caves, using bamboo ladders to scale the 200-foot high
cliffs and avoiding hanging bundles of rocks. David Porter and Hiram Bearss both
earned the Congressional Medal of Honor. It was Waller's finest moment, and almost
his last.
Waller then withdrew from Sotohon and within days it was re-occupied by
Filipino forces510.

510 Linn, Brian M. 'Small Wars'

Chapter Thirty Three

Death For Christmas

By late December, Smith had become frustrated at the lack of progress in
crushing the Filipinos on Samar and, on Christmas Eve issued a circular that was
certainly at odds with the greetings of the season.511
Smith had become satisfied that "…the people themselves, and especially the
wealthy and influential class, can stop this insurrection any time they make up their
minds to do so… They are in reality secretly doing everything in their power to
support and maintain the insurrection". It was an implicit admission that those who
had most to lose by continuing the fight, and the most to gain by accepting American
rule, still supported Filipino forces.
Most of the inhabitants on southern Samar had good reason for now detesting
Americans. Those who had once been neutral, or may have even welcomed
American forces had seen their homes burned, their crops seized and destroyed,
their valuable farm animals executed and at least a fair number of 'collateral' killings
on a far greater level than anywhere else in the islands.
Samareno hemp merchants who had supported the Americans with recruitment
into the Filipino Scouts, and probably saw the Americans as a 'solution' to their
problem with Lukban, who undoubtedly provided intelligence data, saw their
businesses being destroyed.
In short, Smith was probably the best recruiter Lukban ever had. Commanders
elsewhere in the islands had successfully adopted a policy of attraction a policy that
was Lukban's greatest fear. The Samar Campaign, however, convinced that
Samarenos that he had, after all, been telling the truth about the Americans.
Having now made the situation even worse, Smith's answer was to "create in all
the minds of all the people's a burning desire for the war to cease; a desire or
longing so intense, so personal, especially to every individual of the class mentioned,
and so real that it will impel them to devote themselves to join hands with the
Americans". Should there be any doubt about his intent, he clarified: "No civilized
war, however civilized, can be carried on a humanitarian basis."


Ayer, Captain WE, Circular No. 6, December 24, 1901

In an echo of Aguinaldo's order of the year before, Smith says: "Commanding
officers are earnestly requested and expected to exercise without reference to these
headquarters, their own discretion in the adoption of any and all measures of
warfare (within the provisions of General Order 100) which will tend to accomplish
the desired results… They will also encourage the younger officers of their
commands to constantly look for, engage, harass, and annoy the enemy…"
His men were to attack the enemy, regardless of the enemy numbers "unless and
until his command is so outnumbered as to render the loss of a major portion
thereof a certainty".
Every Filipino, especially those of influence, would be regarded as an enemy
unless taking an irrevocable step to commit to the Americans against the Filipino
forces. It was not enough for municipal officials to pass resolutions in favour of
America "…public acts of pueblo councils that are favorable to the Americans are
usually negatived by secret communications", warned Smith.
The 'most dangerous class', according to Smith, was the wealthy sympathizer
and contributor, which included those who lived in pueblos with their families. And
the most dangerous of all was the native priest. There is, in fact, little evidence to
show that priests actively supported Lukban to any great extent but their wealth of
knowledge from the confessional would be invaluable, thus the priesthood on Samar
was especially targeted for attention.
Two further provisions in Smith's circular are worthy of note. The ordinary
Filipino was to be forgiven contraventions of the Articles of War: "…the ordinary
tauo (sic) is regarded by the native of influence and standing as but little more than
a piece of machinery to be manipulated as may suit his fancy. Let but little attention
be paid, therefore, to the ordinary offenses against the laws of war that may be
committed by this class. Their minor offenses can and will be safely and properly
disregarded. Their services may be utilized wherever practicable or desirable in
operations against their leaders".
A second provision of note regards the protection to be afforded to those who
betrayed Lukban or his forces: Addressing fear of reprisals, Smith says: "There may
be some isolated cases in which such claims have a foundation, but they are very
rare indeed". From this it would appear that Lukban's alleged ferocity towards
turncoats has less basis than widely supposed. On the other hand, Smith had a track
record for distancing his official reports from reality.
In the last week of December, Waller was ordered to open a trail between
Lanang on the east coast and Basey, a distance of 35 miles, which would cut the
southern part of the island from the north and isolate the Filipino forces. With four
officers and 50 men, plus a Lieutenant Lyles of the 12th US Infantry and 36 Filipino
bearers, he decided to follow an old Spanish trail, long overgrown512. Lack of
foresight, bad rains and harsh terrain proved his undoing.
"Waller's march itself was absolutely foolish… on Samar the Army routinely did
marches over much longer distances and equally arduous terrain without anything
worse than sore feet," Commented historian Brian Linn.
Out of food and exhausted, Waller left Captain Porter with some of the men and,
a Lieutenant Williams, Lyle, headed for Basey, where he arrived on January 9 with
two officers, 13 men and Lyle. A relief party set out the next day with Waller but
returned to Basey 10 days later having not been able to find the men left behind.
After separating from Waller, Porter had tried to build rafts but the wood would
not float and he headed for Lanang, arriving there with just two men.
Another relief expedition reached more of the survivors but still failed to find ten
of the Marines.
Waller's escapade showed little more than that he was an incompetent
Later, with Waller sick and delirious, Day persuaded him to allow the summary
execution of 11 Filipino guides who had, in fact, tried to help the marines, even to
the extent of carrying the guns of those too weak to do so themselves.
Marines returned to Cavite aboard the USS New York, to the notes of 'Home Sweet
Home', flags at half mast for the men whose deaths he had largely been responsible
for – and Waller on a murder charge for the death of the eleven helpful Filipinos
contrary to General Order 100.
Waller pleaded guilty to the specifications charges except for the words: "
willfully and feloniously and with malice aforethought murder (the Filipinos),
pleading not guilty to the first part and to the murder charge, saying that his actions
were a necessary imperative.
Unquestionably, he could have denied all responsibility by reason of his ill-
health, but he did not. He accepted full responsibility, whether he was right or
It was during this trial that the prosecutors, and General Smith insisted in giving
testimony regarding the 'kill and burn' orders. Waller and his defence team
discussed the issue long into the night. To avoid it appearing that they were hiding
damaging testimony that, among other things, indicated that Waller had exceeded
the orders given to him, Smith's testimony had to be allowed in court.
Waller was acquitted, but Smith's court martial followed, based in the testimony
given in the Waller trial.

512 Chaffee, Adna R, to Adjutant General, January 28, 1902.

Should Waller have been acquitted? Brian Linn expressed the opinion that
"Waller perjured himself to save his career, having been pressured by his officers to
execute Filipinos who had actually tried to help the Marines. An officer called Day
had executed an alleged Filipino spy and was court martialled. His defence was that
he was acting under Waller's orders, orders which Waller denied giving. Day's
acquittal indicates that Waller had committed perjury. He was in violation of Army
policy and General Order 100".
The court martial and its acquittal were reviewed by General Chaffee, who
disagreed with its findings, saying that Waller's actions seemed "more of unlawful
retaliation than a justifiable act of war" and disapproved the findings.
Chaffee was correct. While summary execution is permitted under General Order
100 and the laws and customs of war in cases of immediate necessity, such was not
the case with the Waller executions. He had time to put the bearers to trial; he had
the opportunity to confer with his senior officers.
Lieutenant Day was also court martialled and acquitted. His defence was that he
was obeying orders. The reviewing body pointed out that the orders were such that
he should have questioned their legality and disobey them. Long before Nuremberg
"I was only obeying orders' ceased to be a defence.
Smith's court martial found him guilty, the court changing the words regarding
the age of people permitted to be killed in his specifications from those "capable of
bearing arms" to those "capable of bearing arms and in actual hostilities against the
United States" and recommended that he be admonished.
The lenient sentence, said the court, was given because Smith didn't mean
everything that he said and presumed that the order were not executed. Chaffee
pointed out that Smith was liable simply for issuing the orders, whether or not they
were carried out, and that orders to 'refuse quarter' were not permitted except in
exceptional circumstances which did not apply in this case.
Roosevelt commented that Waller and Smith had "sullied the American name"
and directed that Smith not merely be admonished, but compulsorily retired.
Like the deadly, self destructive scorpion in the fable of the frog and the
scorpion, Smith couldn't help himself. Once the trial was finished he told reporters
than he'd meant every word of his orders to Waller, he'd intended them to be taken
literally and be obeyed.
Chapter Thirty Four

End Game
The Roosevelt administration succeeded in convincing the American public that
peace reigned in the Philippines and that the war was substantially over except in
Under McKinley, Roosevelt shared the responsibility for the taking of the
Philippines and vigorously supported the retention of the islands under American
rule. While still Vice President he had private doubts. He had "varied very much in
his feelings about the islands and expressed a hope that "events will speedily justify
leaving them.'" But by 1902, now President and under attack by Democrats and anti-
imperialists, he became characteristically uncompromising and belligerent in his
public statements: "The Republic has put its flag in those islands' he told the Sons of
the American Revolution, "and the flag will stay there." 513.
One doubts that Roosevelt even heard the slipstream of irony whistling over his
head as his audience listening to him glorifying colonial expansion before a body
that honoured its country's own struggle against just such colonization.
Ralston, writing in January from Calbayog, had a different opinion. He told his
parents: “You said in your letter that the war was over here. Say, you people in the
States don’t know anything about this country. And not only that you don’t know
anything about this war. Very few reports are ever maid (sic), only just ones as the
massacre of my Co. and the butcher up of E. Co.”
He blames the military command for the continuation of the war: “Too much
money made over here by the army officers to put this war down till they all get a
By February 13, Smith felt he was making sufficient progress to ease the
restrictions and demands on the populace. There would continue to be 'constant an
unremitting prosecution of honorable warfare" against those still in arms or
supporting them. For the remainder, the restrictions and prohibitions would be
softened and allowed "larger privileges in securing and selling hemp, copra etc. and
fishing". The new policy lifted the insistence that every Filipino was an enemy
unless proven otherwise and the aim of the new policy was "that no persons (other


Mowbry, George E., The Era of Theodore Roosevelt 1900-1912. 1958. New York: Harper & Brothers,
page 168
than combatants and their supporters) shall suffer for food and clothing, and that
they should fall only just short enough of full liberty of action to engender in them a
real longing for full liberty. This they should be assured can be more speedily
secured by their own aid and cooperation than in any other way"514.
Officers were also told to pressure natives outside their immediate area of
control that "it is dangerous for them to remain in the mountains, where they are
not only liable to punishment from the enemies to peace and order, but that their
lives and property are not safe outside the jurisdiction of their commands".
Lukban finally ran out of luck on February 18, 1902, thanks to a remarkable
stroke of incompetence. Hiding between Matuguinawin and Yawa in the mountain of
Malarag at Malijo, he sent an order for supplies to Yawa. Incredibly, the head of the
barrio pinned the note on the wall of his house, where it was seen by a combined
force of 49 American soldiers and four Filipino scouts led by First Lieutenant
Alphonse Strebler of the 39th Company, Philippine Scouts.
Strebler and his party captured Pedro Antones, to whom the supplies were to be
given and extracted Lukban's whereabouts from him. Without a shot being fired,
Lukban, together with his secretary and two aides, were captured. His battle
standard was acquired by a Private Booth, whose son returned the flag to the
Lukban family some 60 years later.
Carried in a hammock, Lukban was taken by boat to Catubig. During the journey
the boat carrying Lukban capsized. Lukban is said to have refused to use the
opportunity to escape: "I've given my word to the Americans and Lukban's word is
as good as or better than his bond." Finally, the captured men reach Catubig and
were given beers and cigars in the office of the commanding officer of the American
Lukban was asked to write to his officers to urge them to surrender. At first he
refused, then later agreed. However, Claro Guevara, who succeeded Lukban, ordered
his men to ignore Lukban's letters, in accordance with standing orders.
In was after a while in detention that Lukban heard of the allegations of
atrocities against the dead of Company C. and ordered Guevara to investigate.
With Lukban's capture, effective resistant on Samar ended. By February 22
Smith reported that resistance had 'crumbled away' and while there remained a
considerable number in the mountains still in opposition to the Americans "their
power of resistance has been shattered".
"Hence forth, then, it must be the labor of our officers and men to assist the loyal
natives in repairing the ravages of war. No opportunity should be lost to instruct

514 Circular No. 1, February 12, 1902

515 My Brother!, Cabletow, Vol. 60, No.11, January-February 1985, Grand Lodge of The Philippines.
them that the Americans have come among them, not to take from them any of the
good things of life, but rather to give them more and in greater measure than they
have ever enjoyed before."
All the same, the defeat at Balangiga still rankled and Smith cautioned: "…the
standards of the natives of Samar were announced to the world at Balangiga".
That February saw accusations of atrocities build a head of steam. Nelson A.
Miles, Commanding General of the Army, created a sensation by making charges that
the American commanders in the Philippines were guilty of widespread brutalities
in their attempt to put down the native uprisings.516
Around the middle of the month a raid on a Filipino encampment produced the
errant William Denton who was shot and injured while trying to escape the US
forces (See Heroes And Heels).
Chaffee cabled Smith: "Do you know whether or not troops under your
command practice water cure on natives? If any such action forbid it" 517. Since
Chaffee had been perfectly well aware since the previous August that torture was
being carried out on Samar, the cable was disingenuous. In response, Smith
reminded his officers of the treatment of Filipinos required under General Order
100: "All officers are enjoined to see that (treatment of the natives) can not be
criticized by anyone". For Smith, however, it was too late – his own court martial
was on the horizon.
Through friendly intermediaries, Guevara agreed to a meeting with General
Smith on the Gandara River around March 15. Hostilities were put on hold for 15
days to enable Guevara to discuss the possibility of surrender with his officers and
men. Smith issued Field Order No 4., on March 18 announcing 'An armistice is
hereby declared in the island of Samar to continue until further notice from these
headquarters. No expeditions will be sent out, and all troops will be instructed not
to fire on insurgents unless it is absolutely necessary to do so in self defense."
April 2, 1901, saw one of the oddest missions, at least of this war as an American
launch unloaded bales of cloth, sewing machines and tailors from Catbalogan on a
wharf on the Gandara River, along with an aide of General Smith. After a conference
with Claro Guevara, the American Officers left and the tailors spun their machines
night and day thereafter to produce uniforms to replace the ragged clothes of the
Filipino forces. Eight days later the aide returned with hats and more clothes.
A surrender was originally agreed for April 15, then postponed until April 20. It
was not until April 26th and 27th, however, that Guevara finally surrendered his

516 Mowbry, George E., The Era of Theodore Roosevelt 1900-1912. 1958. New York: Harper & Brothers,
page 168
517 Circular No. 4, March 5, 1902
forces at Catbalogan to General Fredrick D. Grant, who had succeeded Smith as
commander of the Sixth Separate Brigade.
The surrender journey began with the Filipino forces being carried by river
boats to the mouth of the Gandara River where they were transferred to large
transports to take them to Catbalogan. At four o'clock that afternoon the
surrendered forces were landed at Catbalogan wharf with what must have seemed
an overwhelming welcome.
A ceremonial archway had been built at the end of the wharf and decorated with
the Stars and Stripes. Beside it was the town band along with various municipal
worthies and several American officers. There was so much pomp and ceremony
that the actual surrender had to be rescheduled until the next day and, on order of
Guevara, the Filipino forces deposited their weapons in a house occupied by a Major
All that was missing was the Balangiga contingent. At seven the next morning
news arrived that Eugenio Daza and some more surrenderees were waiting at
Paranas for transport and three gunboats were sent to fetch them.
At around noon the gunboats returned with Eugenio Daza and Captain Valeriano
Abanador, the supposedly dead police chief of Balangiga among others. The
American onlookers could not have helped but notice that some of this last group of
surrenderees carried new Krag rifles, filled cartridge boxes, and American hats,
raincoats and boots518. These were the men who had inflicted America's worse
disaster in its first war of the 20th century.
By the end of the process the tattered Filipino forces, consisting of 276 riflemen
and 497 bolomen handed over 116 Krags, 79 Remingtons, 31 Mausers and another
49 miscellaneous guns, a total of 275 weapons with 8,000 rounds of ammunition 519.
They had faced a force three times their size, ten times if rifles alone are taken into
account. While the American were numerically superior, those numbers were not
high enough alone to guarantee success on Samar.
Two hours after Daza's arrival, the Filipino troops gathered in the town plaza,
along with the ever-present brass band. The Filipinos lined up in twos before
officers of both sides, including Grant and Guevara, and stood to attention as
American soldiers paraded past with the band playing, and came to a halt before the
Guevara and his officers took the Oath of Allegiance to the United States and
Guevara was wrapped in a folded Star and Stripes. Daza received a pistol from

518 Some documents of the Philippine-American War

519 Circular No. 6, May 6, 1902
Major Francisco Rafael ordered his men to present arms. Their rifles clattered in
obedience. Then he gave his second to last order: "Armas on therra!" There was a
hesitation and Rafael snapped out the order once more. With reluctance, and in
some cases tears, the Filipinos lowered their rifles and, on the order "March!" strode
from the plaza, from the field of battle, and from the war on Samar.
Daza, along with Colonel Francisco Rafael and Lieutenant Colonel Narciso Abuke,
agreed to visit pueblos, barrios and sitios to encourage people to rebuild their
homes and to accept US sovereignty and control.
Father Arens's interviewees talk of a peace conference as early as January
1902520. It is possible that Eugenio Daza and/or some of Lukban's other officers
unilaterally opened talks with the Americans but much more likely that Arens's
interviewees simply misremembered the date. Since so many other elements
provided by Dadulla and Duran accord well with other sources regarding events
there is no reason to assume that the account is entirely fictional.
In a meeting at Giporlos, then part of the Balangiga municipality, Says Duran,
Daza appointed him as the representative for Balangiga; American forces still
controlled the town proper. After an eight-day hike through Borongan and Wright,
the forty representatives reached Catbalogan, with Duran staying at the house of a
Mr. Munoz.
The day after 'peace was proclaimed in Catbalogan', which may have been the
armistice agreed around March 15 on the Gandara River, two Philippine Scouts
accompanied Duran from the Munoz house for a four day investigation by US
military authorities, with two unidentified members of the Company C. survivors
present and a Filipino interpreter, Maximo Cinco 521.
Asked why the attack had happened at mealtime when Company C. was
unarmed, Duran replied: "We were forced to do so, because we had no weapons".
Duran spoke about the causes of the attack, the events put in train by Connell. He
told the officer that they had attacked because of the imprisonment of the
townsmen, forced labour and bad treatment.
The unnamed investigating officer, according to Duran, said: "No massacre in
Balangiga. Everything is absolved. Tomorrow I shall order the boat Laoang to bring
you back to Balangiga", and a 'certificate of complete peace in Balangiga was issued'.
Duran says that he was wined and dined by the Americans and, leaving for
Balangiga, was carried by American soldiers to the waiting boat.

520 Arens page 66

521 Loyola and Abletez
Returning to Balangiga, an American officer stationed there with troops
embraced Duran. Highly colourful though these last details may be, they are of a
piece with the treatment of the surrendering Filipinos on April 27.
Another version, in the Historical Data Sheet for Balangiga talks of a peace
conference on April 28, at which Pedro Abanador acted as spokesman and 'ably
defended the cause of the revolt (In Balangiga)', after which a general amnesty was
No documents have so far come to light to support Duran's story of a peace
certificate but it certainly fits the spirit of time. Smith had given orders that
breaches of the rules of war were to be forgiven. There was nothing to gain by
pursuing the Balangiganons and everything to gain by appearing to be friendly,
forgiving and giving them assurances that they would not be punished. The
'investigation' may have been nothing more than a moro-moro.
Over the next few months, the Balangiganons returned to the remnants of their
Geronima Nacionales returned to Balangiga and lived there until she died at the
age of 110. In her last year of life, suffering illness, she woke up from dreams to ask
those nursing her if a tall, fairskinned man had been in her room, and talked in her
sleep about him.
Pedro Abayan returned as Mayor and Valeriano Abanador as police chief.
Abanador served two terms as mayor of Balangiga, from 1907 to 1915 and again
from 1919 to 1921. Pedro Duran also eventually served two terms as Mayor, from
1916 to 1918 and 1931 to 1933522.
Civil government for Samar was put in place on June 17 and military forces on
the island were advised in General Orders 133 on June 21.
Some of the former Filipino officers appear to have adapted to military rule quite
quickly. In May 1902, within a month of surrender, Claro Guevara, then a General,
became president of a 'commercial society' and Brigadier General Grant issued a
recommendation "General Guevara's conduct has been of so high an order that I
have no hesitation in commending his enterprise"523. Guevara's later conduct may
have caused him to reverse that opinion, the Manila Times of January 19, 1905
reported: "Natives claimed that he (Guevara) was still secretly behind the
movement and that the permanent peace of Samar rested with Guevara. It was said
that if he were appointed to office there would be no further trouble, but if he was
slighted there would in time be a reopening of hostilities in Samar. The prediction

522 Historical Data Sheet, Balangiga

523 Grant, to whom it may concern, May 1902
appears to be true." In January 1905, General Henry T. Allen arrested Guevara for
his involvement in the Pulahanes movement.
Daza's fortunes rose steadily from the moment of his surrender. He was put in
charge of an unpaid volunteers unit to hunt down Pulahanes. Later he was
appointed member of the first Philippine Assembly for the third district of Samar by
the civilian governor of Samar, George Curry.
Vicente Lukban went on to become governor of Tayabas. During his election
campaigns he referred to "our glorious victory at Balangiga". Helen Herron Taft,
wife of William Howard Taft, clearly detested him: "He was appealing to an ignorant
electorate, many of whom, as he knew, wore the scar of the awful Katipunan "blood
pact" but it is just to record that the average Filipino is not proud of the Balangiga
Forty-five years later, Balangiga again went to war, this time against the
Japanese. An unrecorded number of men fought and died as guerrillas for the
American flag, as did tens of thousands of Filipinos elsewhere on the islands. It was
a centre of resistance and even issued its own 'guerrilla money', now a highly prized
Despite that sacrifice for the country that had taken away their first attempt at a
democratic republic, one influential Wyoming resident, best left anonymous, could
say of the 500 Filipinos who died every day in Japanese POW camps because they
fought for America "They've never liked us, and probably never will".
Balangiganons also served in US Forces in Korea and Vietnam, mainly the Navy
and Coastguard. One Balangiganon of note however is Anton Amano. Trained as a
priest in Rome, he joined the US Army as a Chaplain and went to Iraq with the
Armored Cavalry.

524 Taft, Helen Herron, Recollections of full years.

Chapter Thirty Five

Washington Style
In February, 1902, Nelson A. Miles, Commanding General of the Army, created a
sensation by making charges that the American commanders in the Philippines
were guilty of widespread brutalities in their attempt to put down the native
Faced with mounting concern over reports of atrocities, Senator George F. Hoar,
a friend of the Bumpus family, requested a special committee to "examine and
report into the conduct of the war in the Philippines, the administration of the
government there, and the condition and character of the inhabitants".
The Republican-dominated Senate persuaded Hoar that the Senate Standing
Committee on the Philippines should take on the task. With Henry Cabot Lodge in
charge, the inquiry threatened to become merely a whitewash. Friendly witnesses
dominated. Those whose testimony threatened to reveal wrongdoing in the
Philippines were browbeaten and subjected to ad hominem attacks worthy of the
notorious McCarthy era. The public was denied entry and only tame journalists
given access.526
Most notable, especially given the requirement to enquire into "the condition
and character of the inhabitants", not a single Filipino was summoned, suppoened,
invited or allowed to testify. Even members of the pro-occupation Federalista Party
were excluded.
So far, the provocation of the townspeople in Balangiga had been kept under
wraps. Captain R. C. Noyes of the 9th Infantry in Calbayog could write: “A calamity as
unprovoked as it was unexpected”527. It was not until the inquiry in 1902 that part
of the truth about what happened in the town began to seep out.


Mowbry, George E., The Era of Theodore Roosevelt 1900-1912. 1958. New York: Harper & Brothers,
page 168
526 Millett, Alan Reed, For The Common, Free Press, 1984, page 296
527 Noyes, CR, General Order No. 22, October 11, 1901
The Committee on Affairs in the Philippine Islands summoned the survivors of
Company C. to give testimony but only one turned up, William J. Gibbs, who
mustered out of the company March 20th.
Oddly, instead of writing to Gibbs’s home address, a letter of invitation was sent
to his local newspaper, The Springfield Republican. Asked why the letter was sent to
the newspaper, instead of his home address, Gibbs says: “That’s what I don’t know,
I’m sure… They knew my address at the Company when I was in the Philippines.”528
Gibbs’s information about the provocation at Balangiga was, overshadowed by
revelations about the notorious Water Cure and other alleged atrocities. Certainly,
many soldiers were court-martialled for wrong doing, some getting as much as
twenty years, but whatever justice was wrought by such trials, there were
overshadowed by the high-profile cases of Waller, Day, Smith and Glenn, who's
acquittals and wrist-slapping punishments even Chaffee. Elihu Root and Roosevelt
felt were travesties of justice.
It soon became clear that the Philippine adventure was no glorious flag waving
exercise. It exposed the dark underbelly of a war for conquest rather than liberty
and that precious principles had been trampled upon.
All it all, it was not a pretty sight. The committee's deliberations came to an end
and the book was quietly closed with no report or recommendations. The American
public, weary of the reality, turned its back on the war and the Americans veterans
who fought it on their behalf. The whole period was re-assembled as a sort of
outhouse to the Spanish-American War – somewhere no-one talked about going,
except the men who fought it.
Monuments to the Spanish-American War sprouted in thousands of towns and
cities in the United States, many of them engraved with the names of battles fought
long after that war, in which no Spanish forces were involved and with the sole aim
of subduing the people of a foreign country who were fighting for there own liberty.
Only one state capitol, Minnesota, has corrected its marker, a process that took
more than 30 years of activism.
Revisionism became the order of the day, and in some quarters still is. In a letter
to President Clinton, Senators Craig Thomas and Michael Enzi, together with
Barbara Cubin in Congress, stated that, following the Spanish-American War, "peace
in the islands was delayed by a bloody civil war. American soldiers at Fort DA
Warren, now FE Warren Air Force Base, were sent to the Philippines… (After the
Balangiga Incident) the survivors brought the bells back to Wyoming as a memorial
to their fallen comrades…"529

528 Testimony of William J. Gibbs, Senate Document 331, p2284

529 January 9, 1998, Thomas Enzi, Cubin to President Clinton
Peace, of course, was delayed because William McKinley elected to release the
dogs of war rather than the doves of peace. And neither Company C. nor any of its
members came from Wyoming.
Even the basic details of what happened at Balangiga became confused: ", the
insurrectos, or rebels who were under the command of Emilio Aguinaldo, launched
a surprise attack on the village of Balangiga and upon its garrison, Company C, Ninth
Infantry Regiment. According to one account, the Ninth's Bell of Balangiga was rung
to warn soldiers of the attack… Upon the Ninth's relief by the Eleventh Infantry
Regiment, the people of Balangiga donated the Bell to the Fighting Ninth," said the
official 9th Infantry Regiment until corrected in 2002530.
Company C.'s mission was changed from one of securing American control of the
islands to one of a 'peacekeeper' between contending local forces.
Following events in Afghanistan and Iraq, it has become fashionable to re-
interprete the Philippine-American War in terms of 'nation-building', a concept that
would have seemed entirely alien to William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt a
century ago.
Standard school textbooks in American-administered Filipino schools
emphasized the 1896-1898 period, glossed over the unpleasantness of 1899-1902
and implied that the unwillingness of Aguinaldo and others to fight and die for
independence was evidence of their incapacity for self-rule.531
An example of the thorough excision of the Philippine-American War and its
atrocities from the American and Filipino mind is the comment made by Abby Jacob,
an American teacher, long experienced with Filipinos, in Dumaguete, Negros. During
the Japanese occupation of the Philippines propaganda claims alleged (falsely) that
297 out of 300 Filipino construction workers on Corregidor had been massacred by
US soldiers to keep its facilities secret: "Of all the enemy propaganda pebbles
thrown into Philippine waters, certainly the splash of this brutality was the faintest.
The Filipino may occasionally think uncomplimentary things about Americans,
frequently with reason, but brutality is not one of them, Patronizing, maybe; overly
self-confident, outspoken, germ-conscious, making much ado about time, tide and
efficiency, irreverent of traditions – all these things one Filipino or another may
have thought about one American or another. But brutality? No."532

530 Combes, Kim, Curator, 9th Infantry Regiment Collection.

531 Ileto, Reynaldo, The Philippine-American War: Friendship and Forgetting, Angel
Shaw and Luis H. Francia, (eds.) Vestiges of War: The Philippine-American War
and the Aftermath of an Imperial Dream, 1899-1999. New York: New York University
Press, 2002. pp. 3-21
532 Abby R. Jacobs, We Did Not Surrender, Memorial Edition, Manila, 1986, page 31.
As researchers have consistently discovered in interviews with elderly Filipinos,
the brutality, burning of towns, the denial of independence, guerrilla warfare and
torture of the 1899-1902 period became almost inextricably mingled with the
actions of the Japanese forces in World War 2. That, itself, is a noteworthy
This sense of denial led to the burst of anti-American, left-wing historiography of
the 1960s and 1970s that still influence many Filipino attitudes towards their own
history today. Historians and writers brought up with the sanitized, bowdlerised
American version of their nation's struggle, discovered in the post-independence
years the dark side of the American colonization of the Philippines resulting in a
sense of betrayal and a backlash.
The growth in the latter years of the 20th century of the Marxist class-struggle
analysis of history, boosted by the disillusionment of the Vietnam War, and the firm
support given by US governments over almost two decades to the murderous and
kleptocratic dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos, provided all the fuel that was needed
to create the politicised Filipino histories of the 1960s and 1970s as a new nation
sought to define its sense of nationhood, such as those by Teodore Agoncillo and
Renato Constantino.
Under this new paradigm objectivity was thrown overboard, that could come
later once class consciousness was achieved. In an unconscious echo of Americans
colonizers some 60 or so years before, objective history, like self-government and
independence, could now also wait until Filipinos were ready for it.
Inadequate though such analyses were, they largely dominated the writing of
Filipino history for the next quarter century or so. They permitted only the concept
of a homogeneous 'mass' struggle, which denied the influence of Filipino culture,
both national and regional, and the interpersonal relationships between individuals
that created it, on the country's history. For these writers, the influence was not of
people but 'man the collective', the cardboard cutout, the stereotype.. 533
In relatively recent years the tendency has been towards examining the
Philippine-American War as a series of regional, interrelated conflicts. While a
heavy overburden of politicisation remains, this new direction has enabled incidents
such as that at Balangiga and others to be seen in a clearer context.
It is only in recent years that American general history textbooks for schools and
universities have begun giving the Philippine-American War more than a paragraph
or two. While there are perhaps dozens of historians in the United States
knowledgeable about, and studying, the Spanish-American War, the number who
have explored the Philippine conflict can be counted on one hand.

533 Constantino, Renato, The Philippines: A Past Revisited, Manila, 1975, p5

The centennial of the Spanish –American War was celebrated in books, articles,
television network documentaries and feature films. The Philippine War rated
hardly a mention. It didn't exist. In the history of Hollywood, there has been no film
set in that period since Edison's fanciful re-enactments of 1898-1899.
Roosevelt played a key role in the forgetting of the conflict. He continued to pull
the wool over the eyes of America. At a dinner at the Algonquin Club in Boston he
told an assembly of the Massachusetts Spanish American War Order: "Peace has
almost come to the Philippines. We have trouble with the uncivilized tribes in a
small part of the archipelago, outside of that… throughout the Philippine Islands
there is a greater condition of peace than have been obtained in them from the time
when the keels of the Spanish ships first furrowed the waters of Manila Bay." 534
It was, of course, arrant nonsense, but it got applause.
Roosevelt declared the Philippine-American war at an end on July 4, 1902, then
he and the War Department turned their backs on the men who had been sent 8,000
miles to the other side of the world to serve their country's interests, other than
during electioneering rhetoric. On June 4, 1903, Roosevelt said "A man good enough
to shed his blood for his country is good enough to be given a square deal
afterwards. More than that no man is entitled to and less than that, no man shall
What the 130,000 Philippine American War veterans actually got was rather
different. Those suffering the injuries and disease acquired during the war were
denied access to Veterans Bureau hospitals until 1922. The War Department refused
combat pay on the basis that there had been no war in the Philippines. They were
denied mustering-out pay and even a ticket home – veteran's organizations,
principally the Veterans of Foreign Wars and its precursors fought for 40 years
before securing travel pay for state volunteers who had enlisted in 1899. No
campaign medal was struck until 1905. 535.
To be betrayed by an enemy may be expected in war. To be betrayed by the War
Department and the President of the United States, a war hero and their Supreme
Commander, must have seemed far worse than any alleged Filipino 'treachery'.

534 New York Times, June 26, 1902, Page 1.

535 An excellent account of the treatment of returning veterans is given in a booklet, "Blaze in the
Boondocks", Richard Kolb (ed), published by VFW Magazine, 2002.
Chapter Thirty Six

Going Home
During 1902, all except two survivors, Frank Betron and Thermistocles Qula,
returned to the United States. For them there were no marching bands or ticker-
tape parades to meet their boats. Just empty wharfs and an America that just
wanted to forget.
That year, Royal Wallace Healey, a surveyor with the US Navy, guided a launch
from the survey ship USS Pathfinder into the awkward bay at Balangiga with a burial
detail. They exhumed the bodies in the plaza, loaded them aboard a number of boats
which were then towed out to the waiting USS Kansas City. A dozen miles further up
the coast another 10 bodies, the marines who died on the Waller expedition across
Samar, two thirds of total Marine losses in the war. The victims of Connell's
obtuseness and Waller's foolhardiness, and of McKinley and Roosevelt's ambition,
were going home at last536.
All except for Hospital Corpsman Harry Wright, who remains still lay beneath
the soil of Balangiga. Despite a Philippine Senate Resolution recommending the
return of Wright's remains as an act of good faith, those US government
departments which can provide the assistance needed to locate them decline to take
an interest.
On May 19, 1902, Adolph Gamlin finally left Manila, arriving in San Francisco a
month later. He mustered out of the Army in 1903 from Fort Niagara, New York, as a
sergeant. He decided to try his luck in Nebraska City and married a local girl.
Tragedy struck again when she died in childbirth after three children. Later he
started a second family, with the mother of Jean Wall, and had another three
children. He was active in Veterans affairs. 537
Gamlin spoke little of his wartime experience, but it lived with him daily. It was
32 years later, after the re-introduction of the Purple Heart, that he received it for
his wounds. Jean Wall remembers "the screams in the middle of the night, 'they're
coming, they're coming', to which my mother would wake him and soothe him." The
nightmares continued up until the day before Gamlin died in a Nebraska City
hospital on December 19, 1969.


Wallace, Royal Healey. See http://www.bdhhfamily.com/royal_wallace_healey.hm

537 Jean Wall, speech at Balangiga Symposium, September 27, 1998.
On a Saturday Morning in early June 1931, there was a knock on the door of
Gamlin's Nebraska home. Outside he found an elderly man, still with red hair. It was
Richard Considine, whom Gamlin had last seen in the melee at the mess tent thirty
years before. Like veterans of earlier and later wars, and probably wars in
perpetuity, Considine had become a 'rover', a man of the road. He had hitch hiked
from Los Angeles and was on his way to Syracuse538. The two talked for several
hours. Considine left and was never heard from again.
Years later, Adolph Gamlin was to receive an unexpected visitor, Mrs. Ralph
Dyer, wife of the then pastor of the local First Christian Church. She was the grand
niece of Emilio Aguinaldo. The meeting was probably the first between a 9th
Infantry man and someone from the Aguinaldo clan since 1901, when the company
guarded Aguinaldo and the last.
In the 1920s Gamlin received a photograph from a BA Pogue, a city fireman, and
a veteran of 9th Infantry Company E. Gamlin remembered the taking of the
photograph: I remember the day we posed for the picture, I had a copy then but
cannot find it. It wasn't as important to me then as it is now nearly 30 years after."
George Meyer became a dentist in Chicago and retailed rather imaginative
versions of the Balangiga event. A number of other veterans had little regard for
Arnold Irish married the girl in the photograph and became a telegraph operator
but suffered ill health and nervous problems. Seeking the open air he became a
successful beekeeper 539. After his son died in a car crash in the 1940s he suffered a
nervous breakdown.
Ernest Ralston bought a farm, but lost everything in the Great Depression. Marak
became a successful fruit farmer in California and thrived.
Frank Betron married Inocente Barrera from Cebu, had two children and lived in
Batangas. He died around 1916. He seems not to have told many people back home
about his marriage. The family he nominated as next of kin on his enlistment papers,
the Conkey's, were horrified when they discovered his relationship "I was much
surprised to learn of his being married to a Filipino for he was a fine man, a man of
elegant character, a refined and cultured man, " said Mary Tygart, né Conkey, "I
think that they must have got him drunk."540
John Closson mustered out in tears. He was too ashamed to let the woman he
loved see the uncontrollable disfigurement of his face.

538 Citian Tells of Balangiga Battle, Nebraska City New-Press, December 21, 1969
539 Personal communication with Roland Tee Irish, great grandson.
540 Examination of Mary Jane Tygart, Case of Inocente Betron Barrera, No. 1239828, Bureau of Pensions.
And little Francisco? He was adopted as the Company mascot and returned with
them to Fort Niagara, New York, where he was to be educated. “He got acquainted
with a Spanish lady living in Canada, and took French Leave (Absent Without Leave -
AWOL) we never saw him again,” says Gamlin.
The men of Company C. lived out the rest of their lives as other men of their age
did, except for the recurring nightmares. Once in a while they would be feted at
gathering of Spanish-American War veterans. Very now and then, around
September, local newspaper reporters would interview them. But by and large they
were, as Roosevelt intended, forgotten.
In 1903 came the first attempt to have the Congressional Medal of Honor
awarded to the survivors of Company C. under Senate Resolution 150 of the 57th
Congress, introduced by Senator Hoar. General Chaffee was determined that the
medal should not be granted, on the grounds that none of Co. C. did anything
particularly exceptional. The War Department was only too willing to agree – the
Medal of Honor came with a pension and the department would no more part with
money than it would part with Texas.
Some 25 years after the first Medal of Honor attempt failed a second bill was
filed to award the Medal of Honor to Arnold Irish 541. The bill was widened to cover
18 of the still-living survivors, but excluded Adolph Gamlin.
"Sergeant Irish… is but one of the many deserving", observed retired Major
General Mark Hersey, formerly a captain with the 9th Infantry. Edwin Bookmiller
supported the measure, as did Major General William Weigel, who had led the 11th
Infantry companies in the occupation of Balangiga, Captain FL Palmer, who had
debriefed the survivors at Catbalogan and Basey, and Colonel EG Peyton, now
commander of the 9th Infantry. "(These officers' opinions) have greater weight than
the views and opinions of General Chaffee, formed while in Manila, some 400 miles
distant, and who had no personal knowledge of the situation"542.
The Secretary of War snarled back: "Major General AR Chaffee… was abundantly
able to judge as to the propriety of the proposed legislation".
The men over whom the War Department, Chaffee and Secretary of War Elihu
Root and President Roosevelt had shed such crocodile tears when it was convenient
to do so were to remain shunned and unrecognised by Congress.
For most of the American survivors, the truth about what happened at Balangiga
was buried beneath official papers and inaccurate newspaper reports. George Crago,
who worked with several of the survivors in attempts to secure the Medal of Honor
for them noted: "It may be that we fail in the medal proposition but we can record

541 HR6765
542 Hersey, Mark L, to Adjutant General, March 30, 1928.
the truth of Balangiga, and that is something that has not been done before… The
history of this event was not complete."543
Connell's incompetence continued to be whitewashed, as it had to be to justify
the harsh measures taken on Samar after the Balangiga attack. "No use to defend
Capt. Connell, it cannot be done," said Crago on October 11, 1931, "Pickett, Meyers,
Ralston, that I know of have tried to defend the Captain. Gallant of them in a way but
when a man's error of judgment causes the loss of men's lives, let the truth prevail."
Yet what error of judgment is being concealed here? Claims that Connell had
been overly trusting of the people of Balangiga had long been in the public domain
since shortly after the attack, yet not one single example has ever surfaced. Connell
simply followed standing orders according to available accounts.
Sometime in the summer or autumn of 1932 several of the survivors, including
Melvin Walls and Adolph Gamlin met face to face. Much of what the men knew was
never committed to paper, "Something Walls said I am not allowed to pass on to
others," wrote Crago544.
The Crago letters reveal the existence of a hidden story still largely untold. He
wrote to Gamlin "You heard how Pickett held Manire and etc. You know Manire did
time and why. You heard how Bet(ron) stood at parade rest. You heard how Henry
C(lass) said "We gave them hell after we started". You heard that Wm G(ibb) was
helpless and why on the journey to Basey. Matches Dr. Meyers's allusions to those
cases. You heard Sergt M(arkley)s part in the concealment. So we have five men
living whose records are open to question… Any point you do not understand I can
explain to you as a key… some were facing court-martial at the time… No wonder
some of the boys wished the whole matter dropped."
The points were so sensitive that Ralston "wanted to lick some-one for hinting
that anything was amiss in this case".
Of these hints, the second reference to Manire involves him doing time in prison
for desertion before joining Co. C. One can be fairly certain that the reason for
Gibbs's helplessness was that he was drunk. As for the others, there is only
speculation. Crago's own papers have been missing since his death and the Co. C.
survivors took the truth to their graves.
The 9th Infantry's own records, including the interviews with survivors at
Calbayog were lost in New York when the regiment was sent to France in World
War 1. Other copies were destroyed in the razing of Manila in World War 2.
Two years before, Colonel Bookmiller, who supported the survivors' Medal of
Honor Campaign, had faced down the General Staff, who only wanted the medal to

543 George Crago to Adolph Gamlin, December 6, 1930, Jean Wall collection.
544 George Crago to Adolph Gamlin, September 4, 1932, Jean Wall collection.
go posthumously to Claude Wingo, insisting that it should be for "All or none". By
now there was a different reason for the Bookmiller stance – to avoid
embarrassment. "All are included," wrote Crago, "No ones friends are left out. So no-
one can stir up anything".
One of the most puzzling statements by Crago is "Washington has better eyes
than they are given credit for. If all the facts were known, anyone could see the
justification for the recall of Jakey Smith". Smith had no connection with the attack
on Company C. He was sent to Samar to inflict revenge for the attack and Crago's
statement only makes sense if that action was not justified by what happened in the
town. Or the attack on the Company was perceived to have been the result of actions
taken not by the Company C. itself, but by others commands acting under the orders
of Hughes and Chaffee in the months before. Actions that might justify such
Stephen Bonsal, in a report read out during Robert Hughes's testimony before
the Committee on Affairs in the Philippines, is clearly referring to the period before
the Balangiga incident. It was denied by Hughes, who claimed that Bonsal had not
been where he said he had been and did not know conditions on the island:

"The conditions revealed by these visits were shocking. I do not know where the
facts were suppressed, whether at the headquarters or the department in Iloilo or in
Manila, but they were suppressed somewhere, and whoever did it certainly shares
with the savages of Samar the blame of the Balangiga Massacre. Incidentally, may I
ask why should not the reports of General Smith as to what he found and saw on
reaching Samar be placed before Congress and the people? Such a state of affairs
could not possibly be suppressed in Russia or Germany, though one is tempted to
believe that they can be in the United States."
Smith, it should be recalled, had taken the necessary documents with him when
he was replaced by Grant. There was concern that, during Smith's court martial, he
would implicate Chaffee as the instigator of the atrocious orders he passed on to
Waller. Smith considered appealing his conviction in those terms.
He was prosecuted, basically, for blowing his mouth off. Yet he could have been
tried for perjuring himself during Waller's court martial, and, conceivably for
murder. The Army Judge Advocate General said: “As the charges were drawn the
real offense of the accused was not made the subject of judicial inquiry.” 545

545 Oswald , Mark G., The “Howling Wilderness” Courts-Martial Of 1902, Usawc Strategy Research
Project, U.S. Army War College Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania , 2001
Smith, it would appear, had Chaffee's smoking gun. If Chaffee fell, could Hughes,
his subordinate who admitted to carrying out uncivilised warfare on Samar be far
behind? It was Chaffee who arranged Smith's court martial which recommended
merely an admonishment, a very light punishment that would have enabled Smith to
retire quietly in relatively good grace. It was Roosevelt who insisted on Smith's
There, somewhere, is perhaps, the truth of the Balangiga Incident, and there are,
in fact, two of them. The attack itself was certainly carried out because of Connell's
orders and the perceived abuse and fears of the townspeople.
Chaffee and Hughes both accused Connell of being 'soft' on the natives, yet
everything he did was standard operating procedure, nothing other than that has
ever come to light.
It may be that Connell's sin, in the eyes of Chaffee and Hughes, the sign of his
apparent 'confidence' in the natives, was simply that he didn't 'kill and burn'.
Far from recording the truth of Balangiga, Crago's final conclusion, two years
after he began working on the medal of honor, was: "You can see that the true
history of this event can never be written."
Chapter Thirty Seven

The Wasteland
On June 17, 1902 Civil Government was established on Samar. Brigadier General
Robert P. Hughes and General Smith in his enforced retirement could pride
themselves on a job well done. Samar was indeed, a desert, a wasteland of
Not everyone agreed that Samar had suffered much. Said General Frederick
Grant, who succeeded Smith on April 19, 1902:

"… after making a complete our of Samar I find that while the insurgents
destroyed many of the principle pueblos and barrios of the islands to prevent the
Americans finding shelter therein, our troops destroyed very little, and this
destruction was generally confined to isolated shacks which sheltered the enemy in
the hills, though in a few cases the American troops did destroy towns. Many of the
rumours and statements that have passed into circulation, so far as I have been able
to ascertain the truth, greatly exaggerated the facts." 546
Grant, however, did not actually know what happened in Samar prior to his
arrival because Jacob Smith had taken most of the relevant reports and documents
away, supposedly to make a personal report of the campaign, never published. What
was left at the Sixth Separate Brigade Headquarters at Calbayog was"…not complete
enough, nor in condition which affords sufficient information".547

If his perceptions were correct, then one can only assume some massive,
mysterious and magically invisible force scoured Samar over the next year without
being noticed by either Americans or Samarenos.


Grant, Gen. F.D., Annual Report of the War Department, 1902, Vol 9, Page 417
547 Grant, Gen. F.D., Annual Report of the War Department, 1902, Vol 9, Page 416
Julio Llorente, the Visayan supervisor for the 1903 census, did his best to put
some sort of positive spin on the conditions. No-one was destitute or actually
starving, he believed, but the facts he presents show otherwise. All the same, he
believed it to be the most devastated province in the Philippines, and he was
probably correct548.
Llorente's sometimes conflicting analyses of the Samar situation may have
something to do with his own journey from reformist to collaborator.
Born an insulares in Cebu, he joined the Filipino Propaganda movement in
Madrid while studying law and even then advocated autonomy from Spain rather
than independence. It was he who paid for Jose Rizal's diploma licentiate in
medicine, and introduced George Taufer to Rizal, thus bringing Taufer's adopted
daughter Josphine Bracken and Rizal together in an ill-fated relationship.
Llorente returned to Cebu in 1891 and became a magistrate. He was accused of
treason and sentenced to death. The Spanish minister for the colonies, Segismundo
Moret, ordered his release.
When the Philippine-American War broke out, Llorente was in Malolos and was
appointed Aguinaldo's representative in Cebu, where he organized elections.
When he USS Petrel arrived in Cebu to carry out McKinley's occupation
instructions, Llorente was one of those who accepted the peaceful handover of Cebu
by Spanish forces in the city on December 1898, following the signing of the Treaty
of Paris. He was also part of the committee that negotiated the peaceful surrender,
under protest, of the city in February 1899 to American forces.
As presidente of the provincial government, Llorente promoted the acceptance
of autonomy, rather than independence and disarmed, as far as possible, the militia
in Cebu but others, such as Maxilom and Climaco refused to accept American
sovereignty and were still fighting up to October 1901.
In due course, Llorente, along with Florentino Torres became members of the
League of Peace, which segued into the pro-American Federalista Party.
Llorente was a member of the Philippine Commission under Dean Worcester
and was rewarded with the governorship of Cebu, then Samar. Llorente died, broke,
in Manila in 1940549.
He was he least likely person to exaggerate the damage done to Samar and the
differences between prosperous Cebu and devastated Samar were stark.

548 Llorente, Julio, Samar Province, Census Supervisor Report, Paper 120, Otley Beyer Collection, The
National Library.
549 Filipinos In History, National Historical Institute, Manila 1990, Vol II, pp4-5. See also Taylor,
Insurrection, Vol II, pp 416 et seq.
Of the island's 44 municipalities 27 were in ashes. Countless villages had been
erased from the face of the earth.
The once thriving abaca hemp and coconut industries were in tatters. The
coming abaca crop was predicted to reach just 25 per cent of pre-war levels, a
failure that would, significantly, impact upon the hill people most. Some were forced
to 'sell' their children into debt servitude for as little as one sack of rice.
Coconut, too, was virtually non-existent, its recovery from the 1897 typhoon
stopped dead, literally, in its tracks by the policy of destroying everything of
economic value.
If farmers could have set-to immediately, then economic recovery could have
been relatively swift. That, however, needed draft animals like carabao, and 85 per
cent of those were dead, a small number through rinderpest, the greater majority
shot during the war.
Food animals and other sources of normal sustenance had largely been
eradicated. What food there was had become too expensive for most people to buy,
leading to widespread malnutrition. More than a quarter of a million people now
scavenged for wild camote and ubod. Although Llorente denies here was famine, the
meagre diet lacked nutrition. As a result, beri-beri, a disease associated with poor
nutrition, became widespread, as did other malnutrition-related illnesses.
Smallpox broke out on Samar and the first batches of vaccines, or 'lymph' proved
ineffective. Cholera broke out, too, with a high mortality among children.
Peace and order, however, were good. People were 'complying with the
instructions of the insular government' and 'happily' paying taxes. Crime was
decreasing but the figures appeared higher due to better law enforcement and court
efficiency. 'Ladrones' were not having any effect, but that was to change, suddenly
and bloodily over the next few years.
Samar needed help desperately. Had that aid been forthcoming, had a
'benevolent assimilation' policy with roads, schools and agricultural advancement
actually been implemented on the island, the next phase of its history might have
been very different and Samar might have reverted to its relatively peaceful pre-war
Development was so slow that there was no road to Balangiga from Tacloban
until the late 1990s and it wasn't formally opened until 2002, a century after the
war ended. It replaced a four to six hour ferry trip with a 90-minute ride by car or
bus. It was funded by the Japanese government, which has, in fact, funded much of
the infrastructure development on Samar.
Until 2003, there was but one telephone in the town. Yet, this isolated
community produces an above-average number of doctors, engineers and other
As Brian Linn noted, referring to the Philippine-American War phase and the
lack of attempts to use more sophisticated – and successful – methods of winning
over the populace, Samar was only slightly more daunting than other parts of the
country550 and there was little reason to withold development. But it was not to be.
Instead, it was to become the Bloody Samar of legend.
The same sort of pressures Samar now experienced had already led to the three
revolts in the island's pre-American history and the scattering of smaller, individual
incidents during that era, as well as the attack on Company C. at Balangiga. It is not;
therefore surprising that further unrest should emerge in similar circumstances.
In this case those pressures were to be embodied in a far more violent form – the

550 Linn, Brian, "We Will Go Heavily Armed: The Marines' Small War on Samar", New Interpretations
in Naval History, Naval Institute Press,, Annapolis, 1989
Chapter Thirty Eight

The Birth of
Bloody Samar
Who were the Pulahanes? They were the hemp producers who lived in the hills
and named themselves after the variety of hemp they grew, called Pulahane. As
hemp production became more economically important after the early 1800s, and
with limited manpower on Samar, many of them were immigrants from nearby
They were generally peaceful but over time found themselves subject to abuse
by lowlanders who were the intermediaries between the Pulahanes and the trading
houses, largely British.
With the growth of justifiable dissatisfaction the so called semi-religious Dios-
Dios movement of the 1880s found a ready audience.
During the Philippine-American War the religion-based Dios-Dios and secular
Filipino forces had little to do which each other. There may, towards the end of that
period, been some accommodation between them but it does not appear to have
been significant.
The capture of Lukban in February 1902 and the surrender of General Miguel
Malvar in Batangas on April 16, 1902 are often regarded as the last of the
independence leaders to be in the field. This is not strictly true.
There were in fact, in the independence movement, two factions, the republicans
represented by Aguinaldo, and the Katipunan, which did not die with the execution
of Bonifacio. One element of the Katipunan, the Katagalunan, persisted as part of
Aguinaldo's resistance forces. After the capture and surrender of Lukban and
Malvar, the Katagalunan faction re-emerged led by men who had originally been
part of Bonifacio's Katipunan, and still carried its political and moral philosophy, in
particular Luciano San Miguel and Macario Sakay. Often dismissed as mere bandits,
or bandoleros, they were the Filipino equivalent of the post World War 2 Japanese
San Miguel died in the battle of Corral Na Bato on March 27, 1903, while Sakay
was captured as a bandit in July 1906 and hanged on September 13, 1907551.
While San Miguel and Sakay could lay claim to being the last standouts of
Filipino resistance, with a political and moral philosophy, which lead to the creation
of the Nationalista Party, such was not the case with the Pulahanes.552
During the punitive American expeditions to Samar in late 1901-1902 people
from coastal towns fled to the mountains, as did many of those from villages in the
interior in an attempt to keep out of the way of the American forces. This brought
them into contact with the Dios-Dios and under their influence, and possibly
protection in some way – the Dios-Dios knew the mountains and how to survive in
them better than their lowland cousins.
The surrender of Lukban's forces in April brought new blood into these groups,
men who were trained and experienced in combat, in martialling resources and
people and in tactics.
All in all, a very dangerous mix. Add to that a hard downward pressure over the
next few years on hemp buying prices that increased margins for American
companies now controlling the industry, like International Harvester 553, and there is
the recipe for extreme long-term unrest. It may not be coincidence that although
unrest continued into the 1930s, the conflict began to tail off after 1915 when hemp
prices and production saw significant increases 554.
A further element, according to James Blount, who served on Samar as a judge in
1904, was the nature of local municipal officials "who oppressed the poor, getting
the hemp out of the small farmer, when they would bring it to town, at their own
While some writers like to present the Pulahanes as the carriers of the torch of
independence, it was not so, or was at least more complex.


Ochosa, Orlino A., Bandoleros, Outlawed Guerrillas of the Philippine-American War 1903-1907, New
Day, Quezon City, 1995
552 Ileto, Reynaldo Clemeña, Pasyon and Revolution, Ateneo De Manila University Press, Quezon
553 Blount, Joseph H., American Occupation of he Philippines 1898/1912, p612
554 Golay, Frank Hindeman, Face of Empire, Ateneo De Manila University Press, Quezon City 1997,
The Pulahanes held no central commitment to an ideology other than a semi-
religious loyalty to their leaders. Their attacks on Filipinos, as well as Americans, on
Samar, were savage and led to Samar itself being dubbed the 'dark and bloody
Working in their favour was the fact that, with the island now under civilian
control, peace and order was in the hands of small detachments of undermanned
Philippine Constabulary units and the US government was reluctant to reintroduce
military forces in the face of an upcoming presidential election. As a result,
thousands of Samarenos found themselves in the position of either joining the
Pulahanes or being annihilated by them. As a result, it became a force to be
reckoned with.
The main outbreaks began in the middle of 1904 with an attack on Tauiran, in
the Gandara Valley, on July 10, in which twenty-one people died and the entire 100
hundred houses of the village burned to the ground.
The next day Pulahanes led by a Juliano Caduroy attacked another village of
about the same size in Gandara, Cabtaguic. The municipal officer was seized, his
head wrapped in the stars and stripes, soaked in kerosene and set alight. To add to
the details, the man's lips were also cut off. Then they took away fifty of the
The Pulahanes ranged through the Gandara Valley, until every house and village
had been burned. By the end of September some 50,000 people had been made
homeless. As the months passed, hundreds were killed or kidnapped.
The burning, looting and killing continued, getting almost to the centre of
Catbalogan with a contingent of the 14th US Infantry quietly twiddling its thumbs at
Calbayog and the 18th Infantry at Tacloban just hours away.
It was, of course, unthinkable to provide arms to the Samarenos to protect
themselves and go after the Pulahanes, as they would have done in pre-American
days. After All, they were perfectly safe under American protection, weren't they?
The report of the Philippine Commission for 1904 blandly claimed that some
disturbances had taken place in Samar, that the bands of Pulahanes had been
broken up and were being neutralized555. Not much action was needed because "The
only band of ladrones existing in Samar is armed with bolos and eight or ten
Blount asked George Harvey, Assistant Attorney General to impress upon the
then Governor of the Philippines, Luke Wright, the desperate need for military

555 Blount, page 455.

556 Arens, The Early Pulahanes Movement, Leyte-Samar Studies,
intervention. Harvey spoke to Wright, then sent a letter to Blount saying: "…while he
did not say very much, what he did say convinced me that there would be something
doing if it were not on the eve of the election…"
It was not until after the election that serious efforts were made to suppress the
As years passed and the Pulahanes problem continued, one town mayor decided
enough was enough in 1907. Armed or not, he would find a way to deal with the
problem as far as his municipality was concerned.
His name was Valeriano Abanador, the man who led the attack against Company
C. What was good enough for the Americans was good enough for the Pulahanes, or
one Pulahanes in particular, Andres Fabillar. - A participant in the attack on
Company C.
In 1907, Abanador was mayor of Balangiga, then occupied by a Philippine Scout
unit, and Pedro Duran was Justice of the Peace.
Fabillar was a barrio lieutenant in Giporlos. A 14-year-old girl complained to
Duran that Fabillar had abused her and Duran ordered his arrest. Fabillar took to
the hills and joined the Pulahanes leader Otoy, who made him a captain in his
The next year, Fabillar attacked his own barrio at Giporlos. The American officer
of the Scouts in Balangiga warned Abanador "If you cannot get Andres, military law
will continue in Balangiga because there is no peace."
To put this into context, and to give a possible extra rationale for Abanador to go
after Fabillar, part of what was at stake was a limited form of self-government for
the Philippines promised by Congress. If peace prevailed, a Philippine Assembly was
to be instituted two years after publication of a census of the country. That census
was taken in 1903 and published in 1905. Therefore it may not have escaped
Abanador that securing relative peace in 1907, two years after publication of the
census, was necessary to open the way for the Philippine Assembly.
Abanador sent word to Fabillar, inviting him to a 'peace picnic' at Caconganan 557
and telling him that a large number of men from Balangiga, Giporlos and Lawa-an
wanted to join the Pulahanes. It was certainly a bumper picnic, with Abanador
taking along red and white cloth for Pulahanes uniforms and each of Fabillar's
Pulahanes served by two people, who hovered behind them apparently to answer
their every need. Especially water.
When a Pulahanes asked for water, suddenly the 'waiters' all shouted water and,
simultaneously, grabbed the man in front of them and bound their hands. There was

557 Historical Data Sheet, Balangiga, 1953, National Library.

a brief fight and some men from Lawa-an reportedly killed, but Fabillar was
captured. At his trial he was sentenced to 16 years penal servitude in Palawan558.
Fabillar was to redeem himself. After 16 years of good conduct the much under-
rated Governor General Leonard Wood pardoned him in 1925. Returning to
Giporlos, the former convict became a successful farmer. He became barrio
lieutenant and oversaw community developments, including a public market,
building a convent, improvements to the church, new streets and school buildings.
He died in 1955, much respected559.

558 Arens, page 74

559 Arens 74
The Balangiga Papers
A Personal Journey to
No-one who has studied the Balangiga incident in depth and seen its human
perspective, met the Balangiganons themselves and experienced their Waray
warmth, who have listened to the Filipino descendants talking about their forbears
and descendants of the American survivors like Jean Wall, can fail to be both deeply
moved and at the same time angered by the injustice created by greed and ambition
and the naked intransigence of those who refuse, on both sides of the Pacific, to
bring closure to the tragedy. For Balangiga was a tragedy for all those involved.
The event might, for me, have remained just another nick-nack, a conversation
piece to be trotted out at parties after "did you know that…" Yet it consumed a good
part of a decade of my life, and challenged my own notions of being a journalist and
writer and my relationship with the country I made my home for nearly 30 years.
In part it is because the bells of Balangiga, the soul of the town remain an
unresolved issue between the United States and the Philippines. An issue in which, it
has to be said, both politicians sides have consistently shoved aside the
Balangiganons themselves to pursue their own political agendas, ranging from
voting catching to earning brownie points among ageing left-wing intellectuals and
Republican American war veterans, neither caring much about what was right, just
or true.
Even so, had I been alone in what became a journey, it would have been a short
trip had it not been for two remarkable people, Rolly Borrinaga, a fearsomely
patriotic Waray, and Jean Wall-Fe, an equally fearsomely patriotic American. Also, it
has to be said, there was the third element, the enormous open-heartedness, and
forgiveness, of the people of Balangiga whose own search for reconciliation with
their former foes is a tiny spark of hope in a world ravaged by hatred and conflict
born of long memories and resentment.
I remember very clearly my first step on the road to Balangiga. Then, in 1991, I
was a Manila stringer for several British publications and, occasionally reporting for
the BBC World Service. I had been 'adopted' by the National Press Club of the
Philippines, a rare foreigner to be given full membership, as a sort of alma mater
and it was there, one afternoon, four floors above the grey Pasig River, where I
spoke with Valdy Valdenor.
A short, wiry, grey-haired journalist with flashing gold-rimmed glasses, Valdy
came from the island of Samar in the central Philippines and the third largest in the
archipelago. Warm, generous and friendly he displayed a certain delightfully
bumptious pugnacity that seems to be characteristic of the Waray people.
My fairly clipped, rapid, British accent took some getting used to. Meeting again
after a couple or so years Valdy confided: “Last time, we drank beer from one in the
afternoon to one in the next morning. I had a great time but I never understood a
word you said”.
On the day of the first step we were talking about movies. At the time I was
nibbling at the edges of the motion picture industry. Having already acquired a
minor track record writing and narrating documentaries and dramas for the BBC
and writing radio plays, I wanted to explore new story-telling territory.
Valdy told me a true story, or at least as true as perceptions could make it, of
looted bells held hostage at a missile base in Wyoming, of a poor, isolated town
subjected to torture and abuse and finally a bloody and successful battle against an
American infantry unit in 1901. Indeed, it did sound like a good story. I filed it away
for further research, when there was time.
The second step was sideways. On a film set I met an American producer Mike
Sellers. A former US Foreign Service officer, he had lived in Manila for many years
and made movies. Once in a while we met and discussed stories and scripts but
didn’t go any further at that time.
A third step came when I browsed through the shelves of National Bookstore in
Manila and came across the Solar Books Filipiana series of reprints, directed by
Renato Constantino. The blue and red books featured rare and long out-of-print
reprints about Philippine history and I bought up every edition I could find.
Every culture has its own way of getting a recognizable perspective on another
person’s culture by asking questions related to the important elements in the
questioner's own culture. Filipinos, for instance, will ask where you come from, and
ask about your family. As a Briton my question was ‘what is your history?’
It was a question I’d been asking since first visiting the country in December
1980. In 1989 I decided to stay in the Philippines – since the overthrow of the
Marcos dictatorship in 1986 it seemed that the country was about to undergo
historic changes and I wanted to see them happen.
Most available history texts in the Philippines seemed poorly written, often
badly researched, and as often as not based on what the writer would like to have
happened rather than what actually did. In part it was a result of the odious, stifling
Marcos dictatorship. Later there was a switch to a Marxist-style class-conflict
analyses that seemed just as stifling and did not match the Filipinos I saw around
me. It also, sadly, had as much to do with the poor state of history education. The
Filipiniana series provided some answers.
Among the books was one that sounded vaguely familiar - Joseph Schott’s Ordeal
Of Samar. This, in book form, was Valdy Valdenor’s story, the story he told with such
passion. It was still a good story, too. And it did sound like there could be a movie in
In late 1993 I got a break, literally. In the same week I broke a heel bone
practicing a movie stunt and caught dysentery. Not a great combination. While the
dysentery was eventually cured, I was on crutches for the next nine-months and,
therefore, effectively out of what had momentarily looked deceptively like a
promising movie career (It wasn't) and back into writing.
Out of the blue, in November, Michael Sellers telephoned and invited me to Subic
Bay Freeport where he had set up home and office. Was I interested on helping to
develop two or three film scripts? I most certainly was and shortly afterwards I
hobbled onto a bus to Olongapo, Zambales, and took the next step closer to
It took me, at the most, fifteen minutes from hauling myself off the bus in
Olongapo four hours later, for me to decide that I was never going to return to
Over the next few years Mike and I worked on a number of ideas aimed at
exploring the Filipino-American relationship on film. The only one so far to bear
fruit is ‘Goodbye America’, modestly successful overseas and one of the top ten
grossing films in the Philippines that year, it was also cited as one of the top one
hundred films made in Asia.
Before making Goodbye America, Mike one day called me into his office. “I’ve
read this great book set in the Philippine-American War in Samar” before he
finished talking I told him the title of the book he’d been reading – it was Ordeal of
Samar. It was yet another fateful step in my journey to Balangiga.
We both agreed the book was great movie material and, at the time, seemed
fairly balanced, at least for an American view of a battle they’d lost. Since the book
was still in copyright we hired a specialist Los Angeles tracking agency to find
Joseph Schott. Despite their best efforts, they failed – the publisher was no longer in
existence and no-one could determine whether Schott was alive or who owned the
We were stuck with a great true story that we couldn’t make. Then came the
brainwave: as a true story it was in the public domain. To tell it, we’d have to go
back and research the whole things ourselves.
Which, as it turned out, was just as well.
I raided the Lopez Foundation at the Ortigas Center in Pasay City, the Philippine
National Library, the Ayala Museum, the American Historical Collection, Ateneo de
Manila, and everywhere else I could think of that might have the slightest
connection with the events nearly a hundred years before in Samar.
A Washington researcher, and screenwriter, Adam Gratice, whom I met on an
internet discussion list, offered to delve into the US National Archives and the Center
for Military History at Carlisle Barracks. Mike Sellers financed Adam’s fishing trips.
As we collated our materials and sought out historians in the US and the
Philippines over the next year it soon became clear that the true story of the
‘Balangiga Massacre’ had yet to be told. We quietly put away our copies of Ordeal
and concentrated on the flood of new and largely undiscovered information.
My early science background and later journalistic experience had long since
taught me to take nothing at face value and always check sources. Those instincts
kicked back in as I took on the challenge of discovering the true story of the
Balangiga Massacre.
In 1996-1997 I set up a Balangiga website on the internet – Balangiga: An
American Nightmare and baited it with some of the original material that had been
unearthed. It would, I hope, attract people who might have more information and
detail to fill in the missing links. It was to have more success than I imagined.
Something about Balangiga seemed to be fated for it was about this time that
Mike Sellers met and fell in love with the woman he was later to marry, Lorena
‘Rina’ Llavado. While Mike knew Rina came from Samar he was rather vague about
the location of her hometown, Lawa-an. In was only later he discovered the key role
Rina’s forebears played in the 'Balangiga Massacre'. He's been very nice to her ever
September 1997 saw another step. Mike financed a research trip with a video
crew, myself, and he and Rina to Balangiga. With no hotels, we were hosted by the
Elaba family who also generously gave us copies of documents and introduced us to
the neighbourhood.
When I left Balangiga some of the jigsaw pieces were beginning to fit in place.
More than that, I’d met a people with a tremendous sense of dignity and self-worth,
and with a total lack of hatred towards Americans, even those who had occupied
their town and turned it upside down nearly a century before.
These were not the Balangiganons of the standard American or Filipino accounts
and I simply didn’t believe that such an entire community could entirely and
fundamentally change in such a relatively short period of time. Philippine society is
very change-resistant. Core values, concepts, even its politics have hardly changed
in more than a century. That the people of Balangiga had changed entirely simply
didn’t ring true.
Returning to Olongapo I soon bumped into Rolly Borrinaga on the internet. Rolly
is Professor Rolando Borrinaga of the University of the Philippines Palo-Leyte
School of Health Science, who has vociferously promoted the history of Samar and
Leyte for many years. I’d occasionally read his letters and articles about Balangiga in
the Philippine Inquirer and largely dismissed him as a super-nationalist, anti-
American who simply didn’t know his stuff.
I was wrong.
Equally I am fairly sure that when we first began to butt heads he considered me
to be a know-it-all white guy who didn’t know his stuff.
The electronic head-butting began on several internet discussion lists and
eventually ended up on the discussion board of the American Nightmare site. It
wasn’t unusual to get into a flame war on the American Nightmare discussion list
with both Americans and Filipinos. Rolly’s pot-shots and claims were rather
different. When he questioned facts I’d presented, he’d cite sources and challenge
me to do the same, and vice verse.
So, on Christmas Eve 1997, like a pair of western gunfighters we stepped out
into Dodge City Main Street at high-noon, drew our sidearms and let loose with
flurry of documents, sources and citations.
By the time the smoke cleared we’d earned each other’s respect and friendship
and became co-travellers on the road to Balangiga, exploring and helping each other
as allies. We didn't always agree, and still have very different opinions on the
interpretation of what happened at Balangiga
A third ally was entirely unexpected in more ways than one. I had chanced upon
a military historian, David Perrine, who was researching the history of the 9 th
Infantry. He put me in touch with someone I didn’t even suspect existed – Jean Wall.
Jean Wall is the daughter of Adolph Gamlin, the only member of 9 th Infantry guard to
survive the attack at Balangiga. Since the 1950s she had gathered an enormous
archive of articles, documents and private letters about the Balangiga incident in an
effort to persuade the US government to grant her father, and others who had
survived the attack, the recognition it had denied them.
For Jean, a patriotic American with open eyes, Balangiga was an intensely
personal issue. Our initial, cautious exchanges by email, grew into a fulsome
exchange of information. It was with some trepidation that I electronically
introduced Jean and Rolly. Pretty soon there were three travellers en route to
Balangiga. We were an odd assortment, with different agendas, which worked
together and trusted each other.
In 1998, the centennial year of the Philippine declaration of independence
(Which the Spanish government celebrated with a special issue postage stamp, the
British celebrated with a CD of historical documents, the American Veterans of
Foreign Wars honoured with an excellent series of magazine articles, and the
American government studiously ignored) Mike Sellers and I discussed the
possibility of taking Jean to Balangiga.
I was cautious about the proposal, I wasn’t sure that it was a journey she would
want to make. When I asked her whether she would consider it. There was no sure
way of knowing what her response would be. On April 17 she gave me her reply, it
was clearly an emotionally charged email that finally said "I do not need to give my
response to your invitation (it) is just three small letters".
A few months later Jean followed her father’s footsteps, literally, to Balangiga.
Jean addressed a conference in at UP Tacloban, sitting alongside Ted Amano, a
descendant of Valeriano Abanador, Filipino operational commander of the attack. At
the end of her highly charged account of her father’s experience and the trauma he
lived with until the day he died, Jean and Ted turned to each other and embraced. It
was a wonderful moment of friendship, forgiveness and reconciliation that was met
with enthusiastic applause, and a frown from a resolutely anti-American historian
present that was hardly noticed by anybody.
Jean met Rolly at the Leyte Park Hotel, once a military compound called Camp
Bumpus, and the two got on like a house on fire.
The next day, Jean stepped aboard an out-rigger ferryboat and stepped back in
time. She saw Samar and Balangiga very much as her father saw it. It was a deeply
emotional experience and one that I know she values.
In Balangiga Jean stayed with Yolly Abanador Amano, the grand niece of
Valeriano Abanador. Their bonding and friendship was instant. Jean became an
honoured guest at the Balangiga Day commemoration rites and, each year since,
when not visiting the town, she has written a letter to the town for the
Over the next couple of years the three of us swapped notes, opinions,
photographs and information and our knowledge of what really happened at
Balangiga continued to grow.
Since the beginning, the three of us had discussed the return of the bells of
Balangiga. Rolly and I were separately on public record supporting the return. Jean
had been more cautious although in a television interview she had expressed, in a
diplomatic fashion, her opposition to the return of the bells "Of course we must
learn to understand how they (The Filipinos) feel, but they must learn to understand
how we feel, too," she said.
As the Philippine Independence Centennial approached, Philippine President
Fidel Ramos asked then-US President Clinton for the bells in Wyoming. Clinton
promised only that he would see what he could do.
Clinton, however, was far from the veteran's favourite president. He had gone to
study at Cambridge, England, instead of Vietnam, which marked him, for them, as a
draft dodger. While at Cambridge, he later admitted, he smoked marijuana but, he
assured everyone, he didn't inhale, thus, to the veterans he was also a pot-head.
Among those who supported the return of the Balangiga Bells was the American
Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, representing every major American
corporation operating in the Philippines. It's forceful president, Robert Sears, met
with Philippine Ambassador Raul Rabe on June 1997 who, over lunch, requested the
Chamber's support560.
Sears wrote to then secretary for the US Air force, Sheila Witnall, supporting the
return of the bells "We believe the return of the Balangiga Bells will symbolize the
current healthy state of affairs between our two governments, as well as healing the
wounds of a long ago conflict which should be retired to the history books." 561
History books were the last things on the Air force Secretary's mind as Lt. Col.
Walker, deputy Chief of Community Relations responded with "The lost troops (of
Company C) were mustered from Wyoming and trained at FE Warren AFB (Then
known as Fort DA Russell)… The Department of Defense… has advised the
Department of State that it has no authority to return the bells to the Philippines" 562
Not surprisingly, Sears regarded the Air force statements as a bunch of military
hogwash'563. Company C had never been near Wyoming.
Inevitably, 2001 was an important year in the Balangiga story – the centennial of
the attack. In mid-2001 we were, for the first time, able to provide documentary
evidence that one of two bells in Trophy Park, AFB Warren, Cheyenne, Wyoming,
originally came from Balangiga and that another bell, at the 9 th Infantry Museum in
Camp Red Cloud, Tongduchon, Korea, had also originated in Balangiga. It was the
first time such a connection had been positively proven.


Rabe, Ambassador Raul, to Robert Sears, June 6, 1997.

561 Sears, Robert, to Sheila E Witnall, July 1997.
562 Walker, Lt. Col. Andrew, to Robert Sears, September 18, 1997.
563 Sears, Robert, to George Suter, Philippine American Chamber of Commerce, October 6, 1997.
After much thought and soul-searching, Jean finally came to the conclusion that
the return of the bells was right and ethical and would not dishonour the men of
Company C. As the centennial approached, an email from Jean stunned Rolly and I.
She announced that she was willing to openly support the return of the bells of
Balangiga to the town church.
Over the years we had realized that there were significant differences of opinion
and analysis between the three of us. Rather than allow those differences to cause
division between us we developed an unspoken agreement that each of us was
entitled to an opinion, and to express that opinion, but our focus was the collecting
and dissemination of the data we found. Only when all three of us agreed would we
express an opinion as a group. Our passion went into our research, not into dissent.
Some of the joint opinions needed little discussion. We all felt, for instance, that
the remains of Hospital Corpsman Harry Wright, the last American body left in
Balangiga should be returned to the US. It is, after all, where they belong.
Others were less easy. No country, culture, community, religion or political
ideology has a monopoly on courage. That the people of Balangiga had shown
tremendous courage was unquestionable, but what about the men of Company C.?
After looking at Jean’s extensive documentation and comparing notes with Filipino
accounts Rolly and I came to the conclusion that the survivors of the company
deserved proper recognition. In supporting such recognition Rolly, a dyed in the
wool nationalist, was going out on a limb. Considering the climate of the Philippines
academic environment, it was an act of intellectual bravery.
Ironically, opposition to recognizing the bravery of Company C. survivors came
not only from Filipino self-styled nationalists (none of them from Balangiga, the
townspeople agreed with us), but also the US government and members of Veteran
Services Organizations in Wyoming, where two of the Balangiga bells are now kept.
Very odd bedfellows indeed.
It was another step towards Balangiga.
As we made our own plans for the Balangiga centennial bad news came. Long
delayed surgery on Jean’s leg suddenly became a matter of urgency and she would
not be fully recovered in time for the event. Indeed, her doctor firmly advised her
against travelling 8,000 miles across the other side of the world. Jean, just as firmly,
was determined to attend and recruited her quietly spoken brother, Richard Adolph
Gamlin, to help her.
The Balangiga event began to grow. Philippine president Gloria Macapagal and
the US Deputy Chief of Mission, Stephen Fitt, standing in for an as-yet to be
appointed Ambassador, were scheduled to attend and preparations for the
commemoration were given to a government agency. One of its first acts was to
suggest toning down the traditional Balangiga Day re-enactment, a rather vigorous
and fun event in context, for fear it might ‘upset’ foreigners who might be present.
Almost immediately we sent a message of support to Dr. Catalina Camenforte,
the town mayor, supporting her opposition to any change in the re-enactment.
It also seemed to us that Balangiga's hunger for recognition and reconciliation
with the 9th Infantry needed to be known more widely. How to achieve it? We
developed a project for the school children of Balangiga to start the process by
simply ending Christmas cards to the 9th Infantry and see what happened. Within
days, however, the project immediately, and explosively, became impractical. Just
seventeen days before the Balangiga Commemoration.
One evening I arrived home from the office to see what appeared to be a movie
clip showing on television – a passenger airliner slamming into one of the twin
towers of the World Trade Center in New York. “What’s the movie?” I asked. My
nephew, Ralph, replied, “It isn’t a movie, it’s the news”.
For the next several hours I watched, horrified, as the World Trade Center
burned and a second airliner crashed into the second tower, then came news of a
third airliner hitting the Pentagon, then the loss of yet a fourth aircraft in a
Pennsylvania field. Then the twin towers crumbled to dust.
Four groups of suicidal terrorists had hijacked fuel-laden aircraft filled with
innocent passengers and deliberately flown three of them into their targets, killing
thousands of people from every continent on earth. The fourth failed to reach its
target because the passengers, knowing their lives were forfeit, courageously
attacked the hijackers and crashed the aircraft.
Immediately, Rolly and I sent messages of concern and condolence to American
friends, including Jean, and the website was closed down for three days as a mark of
mourning and of solidarity with the American people. However critical one may be
of the American administration, Americans did not deserve such cowardly
As the dust cleared our attention turned back to Balangiga. The forceful
presentation of arguments for the return of the bells went largely on the backburner
for the time being, all of us felt it inappropriate to pursue such a possibly
controversial course so soon after the tragedies in New York, Washington and
Pennsylvania. Without publicity our ethical, political and legal case for the return of
the bells, the recognition of the Co. C survivors and the return of Harry Wright’s
remains was made in a letter to DCM Stephen Fitt, in the sure knowledge that it
would be ignored.
In an atmosphere of threat and fear following the 9/11 slaughter, several high-
level US visitors cancelled their plans to fly to the Philippines. Some even within the
Philippines cancelled domestic flight plans to Tacloban, the nearest airport to
Balangiga. There was no question of President Macapagal or DCM Fitt attending an
event so far out in the province, in a location difficult to secure.
Should Jean and Richard come? There was clearly a danger of extremist attacks
against foreigners, especially Americans, in parts of the Philippines. Ironically, the
safest place for Jean and Richard to be was in Balangiga.
Finally, Jean decided that despite her recent surgery and the terrorist threat she
was not going to miss the centennial rites. We kept her coming arrival on a strictly
need-to-know basis until she was in Tacloban.
This time there was to be another guest – Tom Elliot. For some time the
municipal government of Balangiga had hoped that a representative of American
veterans would attend the commemoration rites. With the help of Richard Kolb of
VFW Magazine we found Tom, then Departmental Adjutant of the VFW Pacific Areas
Department. It was the first time a Veterans representative had been to Balangiga,
to the delight of the townspeople.
So, on September 27, 2001, Jean, Rolly and I met face to face once again. Over the
next few days we renewed old friendships in Balangiga and discussed our journeys
through time and place. Our journey had taken 10 years and perhaps as much as
1.5m pesos. Yet we still weren’t finished. The new trip produced yet more data to
feed our hunger for information, critical insights and a tantalizing promise, as yet
unconfirmed, of a long-suspected first hand account by Valeriano Abanador.
That year was an important one for the return of the Balangiga bells. We had
spoken briefly with Professor Patrick Boylan of the Barbican University in London, a
specialist on cultural artefacts and advisor to the European Union, as well as a
Washington attorney, Thomas Kline, Who had been involved in presenting the US
government's view on German artefacts looted by Soviet forces in WW2. It was
important to prove that the bells in Wyoming and Korea actually came from
Balangiga. To our surprise, throughout all the years of urging the return of the bells
no-one had bothered to determine whether or not they actually came from
Balangiga. It was an astonishing oversight, a massive legal loophole that could stop
forever the return of the bells, and one that we set to and rectified. During the 2001
trip we were able to finalize the research into the bell's provenance through parish
Together we briefed Bishop Medroso of Borongan on the origin of the bells, the
evidence, and the legal background, another area that had been completely
overlooked down the years. When Medroso went to Washington two years later, his
arguments for the return of bells followed the briefing we had provided.
The summer of 2001 brought a flurry of activity on identifying the bells
themselves. Associated Press had reported the existence of a third bell with the 9 th
US Infantry, which had been based in Korea, at Tongduchon, since the 1950s.
Inquiries by the Philippine Embassy in Washington failed to locate the bell with the
Jean Wall succeeded in tracing the bell to Fort Lewis, site of the 9 th Infantry
Museum in Washington. With the help of a museum curator in Fort Lewis and
another in Korea, Jean secured photographs of the bell in both places. The bell
displayed at Fort Lewis on a concrete plinth engraved ‘Balangiga’ and the bell in
Korea were identical, both featured a characteristic dent at the front and, in the
inscription, the name ‘Bernardo Apericio’ and the date 1896. Was this the bell in the
photograph taking with the survivors of Company C. in Calbayog? Or was in the
much-mooted fourth bell? Or was it the only true Balangiga bell?
Doubts about the authenticity of the two bells in Cheyenne began in 1998 with
an internet posting by Major Dan Tarter. As commander of Company C from 1988 to
1990, he knew the bell in Korea but “I was surprised to read that the bells - or a
purported bell - is in Wyoming. I'm not sure that the Wyoming bell is authentic... as a
Manchu and former Charlie Company commander, I agree that it is time to let the
Bells of Balangiga go home.”564
Copies of the survivor’s bell appeared to show a domed top while the Korea bell
was clearly flat, and no dent was visible.
With the help of Australian photographer Kevin Hamdorf, then based in Subic
Bay Freeport, and his photographic specialists, a copy of the survivor’s bell
underwent computer enhancement. The ‘domed’ top proved to be a pile of rope and
an ‘anomaly’ became evident which precisely matched the Korea bell.
The final kicker was the name ‘Bernardo Apericio’ engraved on the survivor’s
bell. Comparison with a list of Samar priests issued by the National Historical
Institute in Manila and Balangiga church records showed that Apericio was priest of
Balangiga in 1896.
That year September 28 was overshadowed by a far bigger event, later to be
known as 9/11. During rush hour on the morning of September 11, suicidal fanatics
hijacked four commercial airliners. Two of the aircraft slammed into the twin
towers of New York’s World Trade Center, a third crashed into the Pentagon and
fourth disintegrated in a Pennsylvania field after its passengers attacked the
hijackers, each with appalling loss of life.
Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo immediately offered logistical
support to the US. It was not the first time the Philippines had helped the US in the
post-bases era, nor the first involving the World Trade Center. It had captured, and

564 Tarter, Major Daniel N., bit.listserv.seasia-l, 1998/01/09

extradited to the US, Ramzi Yousuff, a leader of the first World Trade Center
bombing in 1994.
The Philippine government, like its American and Spanish predecessors, had
fought an armed Muslim separatist movement in the southern islands for decades
and several groups were alleged to have links to Al-Queda, the terrorist organization
responsible for the 9/11 attacks, and its leader, Osama Bin-Laden. Most public,
however, was a relatively small kidnap-for-ransom gang, Abu Sayyaf that had
carried out several spectacular raids as far as Malaysia and, in 2001, held two
American missionaries hostage.
The attack 9/11 affected Balangiga itself deeply. Whatever had been the
situation a century before there was no hatred in the town against America. Many
Balangiganons live in the US, a significant number served in the US forces in
Vietnam and other 20th century conflicts. Unreservedly, the descendants of those
who fought Americans now wept for America’s loss.
For the BRG, there were decisions to be made. After a blizzard of emails between
Jean Wall, Rolly Borrinaga and myself, a number of high profile press conferences
and public meetings were put on hold. A series of feature articles for US and
Philippine publications were cancelled. The BRG website was taken offline and
replaced with a page of condolence.
2001 was the centenary of the Balangiga event and high-level attendance was
expected, with Bishop Hart of Wyoming, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, former
President Fidel Ramos and then US Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission, Stephen Fitt,
to be present. In the wake of events in New York, most cancelled.
One man determined not to cancel was Tom Elliott, Departmental Adjutant for
the VFW’s Pacific Areas Department. His was to be the first official representation of
the VFW at the event and he was committed to being there to honour the fallen men
of Co. C. and lay a wreath with Jean Wall. Al-Queda failed to deter him.
Jean Wall’s visit, too, was in doubt. Just weeks before, she had undergone
surgery and had difficulty walking. Showing classic American woman’s spunk she
recruited her brother, Richard Adolph Gamlin to accompany her, much to the
dismay of her doctor. Filipino and American friends advised her not to make the trip
after September 11, expressing fear of attacks on Americans in Manila. Much though
Rolly and I would have been disappointed by her non-arrival, the decision had to be
Jean’s. Her decision was not to give in to terrorism and she made the flight.
Although Rolly and I doubted that Jean was in any danger, Rolly made
appropriate arrangements for her safety in Samar and I contacted Richard Gordon,
then Secretary of the Philippine Department of Tourism and Norma Morante, the
much-admired head of the Department of Tourism's office in Tacloban to ensure
that Jean would be met and accompanied in Manila until she got on the plane to
The 2001 anniversary of the Balangiga event brought the first attendance by
representatives of the US government and of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. In a
speech, Michael Anderson, Public Affairs Counsellor at the US embassy in Manila
told a large crowd: “Today’s centenary event helps us vividly recall a grim, traumatic
event in U.S. military history and in the history of the Filipino struggle to become an
independent nation. This special occasion is a salute to the many brave Filipinos
and Americans who gave their lives or who suffered in the military encounter here
and in later events.
“In recent years, the question of the bells of Balangiga has served to remind us of
this past, but also to remind us that old wounds are best healed by patiently seeking
“We hope that a timely and equitable resolution to the bells issue can be found
sooner rather than later. In the interim, all parties need to recognize the
sensitivities that the bells still engender among some Americans who are familiar
with the Balangiga story. For our part, the U.S. Government certainly recognizes the
importance of the subject to our Filipino friends.”
Although Anderson was a middle-rank diplomat, the speech remained an
important phase shift in its recognition, by a US government representative, of the
Philippine war of independence.
That much remained to be done in terms of education about the Balangiga
incident was evident as Jean spent a great deal of time explaining to a historian that
her own existence proved the Adolph Gamlin survived the attack, a view the
historian was disinclined to accept.
In July 2002, the BRG had a surprise electronic visitor. Enquiries about the bell
had been made by a researcher to the director of the 2d US Infantry Division
Museum in Korea, who found the BRG website and offered to provide physical
details of the bell to the group. He sent the official version of the bell's acquisition
and the BRG provided some of its research materials. His response to the BRG
material, which took issue with the official version, was heartening:
"Your reply shocked me. I was amazed at the depth and quality of your
research…I have begun to research the bell from our end and using your sources I
expect to be able to provide a more accurate history of the Bell to the soldiers of the
9th. The “Piece I sent you” is from our history file and I never really seriously
reviewed it before. I know your feelings on “Bad History” and I am guilty of just
"The bell is important to the soldiers of the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 9th
Infantry regiment stationed in Korea. It is displayed in the 1-9 headquarters, and is
used in ceremonies and functions throughout the year. The history, or “legend” of
the bell is shared and soldiers salute the bell in grand tradition. I feel that the bell
belongs with the regiment but that the history of its association must be accurately
and honestly presented.
"I also feel that the sacrifice and valor of the soldiers of C Company should have
their story told. With American troops again in the Philippines, or in Afghanistan, or
even here in Korea we must remember the true story of our past." 565

Throughout April and May 2002, Rolly Borrinaga, Jean Wall and myself worked
with Aquilino Pimentel on a Philippine Senate Bill 393 on July 31, 2002 and passed
unopposed on October 1 that year. Unfortunately, someone in Pimentel's office had
made additions and deletions that created errors, and a fourth bell. Two important
considerations did survive the process, the undertaking that no returned artifact
would be used in a way to dishonour the American dead, and the retrieval and
return of Harry Wright's body to the United States.
With a friend, Larry Carino, we set about quietly lobbying and drafting a
counterpart bill in the Philippine Congress that would correct the errors. We
continued to consult Balangiga Mayor Catalina Camenforte and others on what we
were doing. There was widespread resentment in Balangiga itself toward a number
of people who claimed to speak on the town's behalf without actually talking to the
town. The bells belong to them.
Indeed, the town was embarrassed in 2002 when a government department,
opening a new Japanese-funded road, decided to invite Senator Pimentel as guest of
honour to the annual Balangiga rites. Nobody bothered to tell, or ask, the Mayor of
Balangiga or anyone else and Pimentel turned up unannounced and unexpected.
That year, too, the BBC World Service producer Hugh Levinson, came to the BRG
for help with a radio series, Tiger Tales, which included a program on the Philippine-
American War and featured the Balangiga Incident. As Balangiganon students
enthusiastically re-fought the battle during the afternoon re-enactment that year
Levinson gave a convincing 'live' report of the burning of Samar, and interviewed
Pimentel as well as, at our suggestion, UP Professors Bernadita Churchill and Rey
A new turn of events came with a surprise email from Korea. The sender was
Robert 'Kim' Combes, curator of the Second Infantry Division Museum in
Tongduchon, Korea, who was responsible for the bell with the 9th Infantry.

565 Coombs, Robert K. to Bob Couttie, July 27, 2002

Kim had found our website and offered to share some data on the bell. He sent
the official record of the acquisition of the 1896 bell – it was, according to the files,
donated to the 9th Infantry by the town in recognition of Company's defence of
Cautiously, we sent Kim some of our materials, not knowing what he would
make of them. Shortly afterwards he confessed to being shocked by what he read,
and impressed by our research. He set about correcting the regiment's files and, for
the first time in a century, the men of the 9th learned the true, tragic story of the bell
they honoured and venerated.
Over the next few months he 9th infantry collection curator talked to the head of
the US Army's Center for Military History and got permission to try to broker an
exchange with AFB Warren, he would take over the Wyoming bells, which have no
connection with Warren or Wyoming, and give Warren artifacts that were more
appropriate to its history. He soon found, as others have, that any mention of
moving the Wyoming bells quickly lead to a firm closing of the hatches at AFB
To AFB Warren, the bells are little more than an embarrassment, but the air
force seemed unable, or unwilling, to relieve itself of its embarrassment.
A new mission developed – the reconciliation of the 9th Infantry and Balangiga.
In many ways, the Balangiganon desire for the return of the bell went beyond the
recognition of the courage of their townspeople; the return would also signify
reconciliation and the healing of wounds that they still felt keenly after a century.
. Rolly and I interfaced with the mayor of Balangiga; The curator worked the 2nd
Infantry division end. The result was a confirmation that both sides wanted to heal
the wounds.
March 14 saw the publication of Rolly's book, The Balangiga Conflict Revisited,
by New Day. Based on much of the work we had done together, and Rolly's doctoral
dissertation, it was certainly well researched. It was important because it was the
first book published on the Balangiga incident for almost forty years, the first to be
written by a Filipino and the first to be written by a Waray in which the event was
seen through that culture's perspective.
It was controversial both outside and inside the group. Jean forcefully took issue
with some of Rolly's assumptions and analysis. Some Americans felt the book was
too anti-American while it was effectively 'blackballed' by certain University of the
Philippines academics for being too pro-American. Even worse, it treated neither
side as stereotypical cardboard cutouts, criticized the Manila-centric view of
Philippine history, and put the incident in terms of local dynamics rather than class
struggle. Several 'official' UP launches were scheduled then cancelled at short notice
until a hearted invitation was made for Rolly to attend a 'Balangiga Round Table'
timed to coincide with the visit of US President George Bush. Since the BRG supports
no political agenda, and the Round Table would have nothing to do with Balangiga,
nor help the return of the bells, but had everything to do with Bush's visit Rolly saw
little point in attending. The Round Table justifiably sank without trace.
Other academics proved to be far more open-minded. Professor Bernadita
Churchill, president of the Philippine National History Society, invited both Rolly
and I to give presentations at one of the PNHS regular fora. We discussed our
differences, and those with Jen, openly and fully. We discovered, too, that we were
not alone in doubting much of the commonly received wisdom about the Balangiga
incident and the Samar campaign.
In September 2003, the 9th Infantry visited Balangiga, saw the monument
erected to all those who died in the Balangiga Incident, Filipino and American, and
watched, in tears, the yearly re-enactment. He brought with him a copy of a letter
from Captain Parik, commander of today's 'Charlie' Company, expressing friendship
and a 'long overdue reconciliation'.
Coincidentally, Mayor Camenforte sent a letter to Brigadier General Bolger,
Commander of the 9th Infantry, inviting his men to the town's fiesta the next year.
There was also some astounding news: The Center for Military History had been
formally tasked by the US Army leadership with the mission of getting the Wyoming
bells back to Balangiga, to "assist the Air Force in its policy of doing the right thing".
Commander Brian Rinaldi, chief of Navy Operations at the US Embassy in Manila,
a no-nonsense Navy man with a gentle sense of humour, was tasked with gathering
information on the bells. We began talking cautiously by email and telephone and I
dug out the old BRG interim report and filled in a few gaps in his knowledge which
was passed on to the US Ambassador, Francis Riccardione. He was familiar with
message traffic passing between the embassy and the State Department and,
although he was unable to go into detail, it was clear something was happening with
regard to the bells. It quickly became apparent that the moves to return the bells
were coming from a very high level.
Over the years, I and other members of the BRG had built up an 'intelligence
network' of our own. In late 2003, information began in come in that something
serious was afoot.
Among those who opposed the return of the bells was US Vice President Dick
Cheyne. In 1991, Cheyne was part of the US team negotiating the retention of
permanent bases in the Philippines and found it difficult to forgive the Philippine
Senate, and the rest of the country, for voting down a treaty to keep US forces
permanently stationed at Subic Bay. One casualty was the Balangiga bells. Now, in
2003, Cheyne had reluctantly agreed not to oppose the return of the bells.
Less certain was the position of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, a
notoriously heavy-footed xenophobe.
In the run up to President George Bush's October State Visit to Manila in 2003,
the heat turned up. A secretive US East-Coast group of Filipino-Americans was
determined to use the bells issue to win brownie points for their candidate to
oppose the incumbent Philippine president, Gloria Arroyo, in the 2004 Philippine
elections and were exerting pressure and money to do so. It was money potentially
well spent. With two million Filipinos in the US, beneficiaries of the Absentee Voters
Bill, who could call upon four or five times that number of voters back home and
maybe half that number again throughout the rest of the world, it was a tempting
The controversial 1992 Philippines elections brought Fidel Ramos to power with
a couple of hundred thousand votes. Joseph 'Erap' Estrada won the 1998 elections
by a landslide with 35 per cent of the vote, but only some 10 million votes. Overseas
absentee voters could have been the deciding factor in the 2004 elections. A
decision to return the bells would be regarded as an implicit endorsement by the
most powerful man in the world for their candidate.
Bishop Medroso of Borongan, whom Rolly and I had briefed in 2001, was flown
to Washington by what became known as 'The ECG' and met with various folk in
Wyoming and Washington and returned without apparently moving the issue
Various Filipino politicians were climbing aboard the bells bandwagon, including
Aquilino Pimentel, Loren Legarda and Heherson Alvarez. Eastern Samar governor
Marcelino Libanan publicly claimed that President Arroyo had tasked him with
facilitating the bells return.
Much had changed since 1998. In the aftermath of 9/11 and the wars in
Afghanistan and Iraq, the US needed allies and, suddenly, the Philippines was the
White House's best friend in South East Asia. Bush's visit proved to be a warming of
a relationship that had grown distinctly frosty since the eviction of the US bases in
1992. He did not say anything publicly about the bells, but certainly spoke about it
privately to Philippine president Gloria Arroyo. Both leaders were heading for an
election and both had much to gain from the state visit.
Ambassador Riccardione had long made his views on the issue clear, he wanted
the bells back. "Everyone over there (Washington) knows what's the right thing to
do," he told me at a pre-State Visit dinner at the Ilustrado restaurant in Manila's
Walled City, Intramuros.
The Bush visit came and went, all eight hours of it, without a mention of the
bells. He spoke at the Philippine legislature, the Batasan, with the occasional fluff
and a dotting of quotes from Rizal and the Pope. He turned his Texas country boy
charm to the max, slid around the uncomfortable Philippine-American War period
by ignoring it, acknowledged that Filipinos had played a role in ending the Spanish
colonial period and referred to Bataan and Corregidor.
The US Congress approved a $19m proposal for Filipino veterans healthcare.
Another $33m was on the cards for education. Arms and anti-terrorism training
were on the way. There was quiet talk about a US Special forces operation to destroy
Abu Sayyaf, a bandit group specializing in kidnapping tourists from neighbouring
countries and taking them to the Philippines. In all, nearly a $1bn worth of aid and
support was promised. Bush would also back the Philippines to become a non-
permanent member of the UN Security Council.
There was, however, a common phrase coming from all those close to the bells
issue – it was no longer a matter of 'if' but 'when' the bells would be returned.
The US State Department quietly urged that the bells should be returned,
supported by a legal review that indicated that, under law, American law, the bells
still belonged to Balangiga. A US Air force General promised to fly the bells back
when they were freed from the clutches of Wyoming. A high level source at the US
Embassy privately commented: "If a Republican President can't get the bells back,
who can?".
Adding spice to the situation was a Congress House Resolution filed by
Californian Democrat Bob Filner, Hres. 268, aimed at returning the Wyoming bells,
which was shuffled off to the Armed Forces Committee. Another bill was mooted
with the help of another democrat, Rahm Emanuel of Chicago, targeting the Korea
bell. The 2004 session of Congress was soon to end and the pressure was on to get
Emanuel to file his bill. While it couldn't get passed before the Congressional recess
it could, at least, get the necessary sponsors to get it in front of the house at the next
As Rolly, Jean and I looked over the road we'd traversed, we seemed to have
come a long way. Meanwhile, the project to bring a more personal reconciliation
between today's Company C and Balangiga continued to push forward. Regardless
of the fate of the bells, it had a life of its own.
As of this moment, when will the bells return? I don't know. Winston Churchill
once said that 'Americans will always do the right thing – once they've exhausted
every possible alternative', and the alternatives are running out.
What I do know is that our journey became a mission to see justice done to
Balangiga and to the men of Company C., 9th US Infantry and, finally, to become a
bridge through which the town of Balangiga and today's 9th Infantry could reach
reconciliation and heal a century-old wound. It is still a 'work in progress'.
Return of Company C. to Balangiga will happen. The town and its former
enemies will be reconciled and reunited. If one can think in term of reward, then
that reconciliation is the greater.
One thing was certainly true. We were no longer on the outside of history
looking in; we were a small part of making history. One can ask for little more.
What Went Wrong
At Balangiga?
Brian Linn, arguably the foremost American historian studying the Philippine-
American War, told a conference of military officers: "The U.S. military pacification
of the (Philippine) archipelago offers… an unsurpassed case study of the dynamics of
non-Marxist agrarian regional insurgency… But there is a reason the Philippine
experience has been ignored by virtually all American officers for over a century.
The war was a complex and confusing conflict that defies conventional military
On the other side of the Pacific in the Philippines, discussion of the conflict is still
by and large enclosed by a politically driven paradigm that also underestimates and
underrates its complexities. It gives little objective insight into why the Filipino
forces lost the war and what they could or should have done to win it. Assessments
of Filipino leadership are usually based not on whether their strategies, tactics, men
and resources were appropriate to the task at hand but where they stood in terms of
class structure and regional loyalties.
Aguinaldo is therefore 'bad' because he came from the ruling class, despite his
modest wealth (At the time of the 1896 revolution he lived under a grass roof) and
even more modest education. Bonifacio is 'good' because, despite being quite well
read and middle class by profession and with enough education, whether self-taught
or otherwise, to win some the most plumb jobs in Manila, he is assumed to be of the
masses, or masa.
Antonio Luna, A Manileno of Ilocos Norte stock, must have been 'good' because it
is widely presumed that Aguinaldo, from Cavite, ordered his assassination, and even
if Aguinaldo didn't, he might have done, so he's 'good' anyway, even if he did betray
the Katipunan to the Spanish.


Linn, Brian, conference paper.

Militarily, one would necessarily have to point out that Aguinaldo did win a few
battles. Bonifacio won none. Luna lost rather more grandly, and expensively than
Character is an important factor in the success or failure of a military
commander. What effect did these mens' characters have on the success or failure of
their military actions? Self-estimation is a determinate.
Aguinaldo had noticeably modest assumptions about his own intellectual
abilities and drew around him some of the brightest thinkers among his
countrymen. As a former mayor, responsible for law enforcement and action and
defence against bandits his orientation was towards low-intensity 'guerrilla' war
involving small groups and ad hoc response but he listened to European-educated
advisors and attempted to follow Western-style principles of combat.
That Bonifacio overestimated his own limitations and his attacks on Spanish
targets did not prosper.
Like many arrogant, abrasive men with hair-trigger tempers, Luna
overestimated his ability to command, and upset the men under him so much that,
rather than die for the cause of freedom they preferred to assassinate him. A bright
pharmacist, his sole military training was reading European books. He had no
experience in combat or in managing men in combat and no capacity at all for
listening to the advise of others.
If nothing else, the Philippine American War is an excellent source of material on
the interplay of culture, and its subset, personality, on command competence and

Revolution and Conflict

Discussion of the Philippine conflict still often carries an overburden of
'revolutionary' vocabulary, usually with a heavy emphasis on clunky value-loaded
words: Filipinos 'retreat' but Americans 'scamper away', presumably in awe of the
Glorious Mighty Army Of The People's Free And Democratic Will568. This approach is
necessary, according to one classic writer of Philippine history, the late Renato
Constantino, because Filipinos have yet to achieve national revolutionary
consciousness; objectivity can come later569. According to this thinking, Filipinos are

567 I'm indebted to Commander John Kuehn of the Command and General Staff College, Leavenworth,
for the revealing insight regarding personality as a subset of culture.
568 One hesitates to provide specific examples, they are so common, but a general flavour of the quality of
debate can be found in the compilation 'Determining The Truth: The Story of Andres Bonifacio,
Manila Studies Association, Manila, Philippines 1997.
569 Constantino, Renato, A Past Revisited.
no more ready for an objective history today than, to the American administration
of 1898, they were capable of self-government at the turn of the century.
.'Nationalist', as opposed to 'revolutionary', purpose is part of the reason for
having 'history'. Like myth, it plays a role in the creation of a society's self-identity,
establishes a differential between 'them' and 'us' and provides an extension of the
bonding experience. Just as soldiers are bonded in the actual experience of the
battlefield, the story of Waterloo helps 'bond' Britons, and the history of the 'Civil
War' 'bonds' Americans, as an extension of those experiences. It also provides
confirmatory role models to reinforce cultural drives and mores such as, in Anglo-
Saxon western history, Bodiccia, Cromwell, Nelson, Wellington, Washington and
Grant or, in a revolutionary context, Che Guevara and Mao Tse Tung.
On occasion, 'we' may adopt one of 'their' heroes because he, or she, exemplifies
characteristics of intelligence, power, nobility or honour that we take to be our own.
Obvious examples range from Alexander the Great and Napoleon to Rommel and, in
the case of the Philippines, Douglas McArthur.
Military history serves the transnational 'nation' or society of soldiers and
commanders, performing much the same functions as any other national or
'nationalist' history. Filipino soldiers and commanders are part of that society but
severely under-represented in its literature.
That history can be written from a nationalist viewpoint without the clutter of
revolutionary rhetoric is shown by the works of Ambeth Ocampo, Rey Ileto and
Orlino Ochosa. The latter is, perhaps, the closest to a military historian and,
significantly, comes from outside the mainstream of academic historians in the
Philippines. His 'warts-and-all' works on the lesser-known commanders of the
revolution against Spain and the Philippine-American War are particularly
In the case of Balangiga and the Samar Campaign, Rolando Borrinaga goes
somewhat further than Filipino nationalism in writing from a specific regional
Waray cultural viewpoint570.
Despite the foregoing, the 'revolutionary' approach to the Philippine-American
War remains dominant in the literature – Constantino is still a standard history
textbook and one of the very few easily available publications in the Philippines
itself on the subject. It has become the formative influence on generations of
Filipinos and non-Filipinos largely by default, because so little else is available on
the bookshelf.
Contantino's writings and their influence stand as practical examples of
successful social engineering. In his defence, most historians recognize the

570 Borrinaga, Rolando, The Balangiga Conflict Revisited.

challenges of bias, whether political, cultural, or even gender-based, recognize the
impossibility of reaching perfect 'objectivity' and make clear the limits of bias in
their work, whether explicitly or implicitly. In his introduction to 'The Philippines
Revisited' Constatino makes his bias, his lack of objectivity and his purpose very
Because, as often as not, a student's only exposure to Constantino's book is
through references, quotations and citations made by history teachers and advisors,
not the original text, they are unaware of the Constantino's intentions. Those having
been taught history with a heavy reliance on Constantino's text not infrequently find
themselves shocked and confused when they read the introduction and its intent
Such influences are not unique to the Philippines and present a widespread
problem in the debate over guerrilla warfare/counterinsurgency/irregular warfare.
Says Gates: "Unfortunately, given the politicisation of much of the thinking on topics
relating to revolutionary and other forms of irregular warfare, arriving at an
understanding of the phenomenon is extremely difficult."571
In the case of the Philippine-American War this 'revolutionary' overburden veils
the lessons the war may provide by precluding the necessary objective analysis
required to validate them. There is plenty of raw material that could, and should, be
processed into a form that would illuminate the period and become a valuable
resource for those concerned with counterinsurgency operations in the post 9/11
Just one example: The control by powerful 'rulers' of local populations in turn of
the century Philippines, and in some places the Philippines of today, bears more
parallel with the situation in post-Taliban Afghanistan and post-Saddam Hussein
Iraq than it does the Vietnam War.
Where there is a surprising similarity is between the US military command in
Vietnam and the command of Aguinaldo's forces at the turn of the century. Summing
up a view on the command of the Vietnam War, John M. Gates comments that it
seemed to be a war by committee572. In the earlier Philippine conflict, Aguinaldo had
to rely upon the concurrence, rather than obedience, of his commanders to get
anything done, with much the same result, and for much the same reason.
It may, in the long term, be more instructive to equate the Filipino Government
at the turn of the century with the Americans of the Vietnam era than the Vietminh.

571 Gates, John M., The US Army and Irregular Warfare, Book in progress,
572 Gates, John M., The US Army and Irregular Warfare, Book in progress,
The question is not why did the Filipinos lose and the Vietnamese win, but why
similar circumstances produce the same result.
So, among the subsidiary answers to 'what went wrong in Balangiga' is that the
formal Filipino forces were hampered by the same command confusion that
similarly hampered US forces in Vietnam sixty-something years later.
Another very important difference is that Vietnam sought re-unification of a
country whose inhabitants had a strong existing identity of themselves as a single
nation. Revolutionary warfare was a means of achieving re-unification and
satisfying the hunger for singularity that came with that deep sense of national
identity. Filipino identity at the time, and to a large extent today, was regional rather
than national with loyalty to regional interests and leadership. Aguinaldo's army
was functionally an alliance of regional forces, in some cases little personal armies,
such as those of Tinio, Ricarte and Del Pilar.
Overtly, too, from the grassroots level, the Vietnamese peasants had much to
gain while their Filipino forebears had little. Aguinaldo had no 'USP' to ignite the
masses and maintain their support for a revolution after his capture.
Non-Communist South Vietnam administrations were the corrupt, tyrannical
'Spaniards and friars' of the 1960s. The Vietnamese revolutionaries offered peasants
change while the American administration fought for the existing system, the status
quo. Similarly, Aguinaldo, himself a mayor under the Spanish commanding local
elites who themselves were elites under the Spanish, did not offer fundamental
change while the Americans did. Again, Aguinaldo in 1899 equates well with the
American administration during the Vietnam War.
Again, the Vietminh had an underpinning of a belief system that transcended
personality and enabled the revolt to continue when leaders died or were captured.
This, too, differentiates the two conflicts.
To quote Linn again: " (Officers must) be willing to engage in intensive study and
self-reflection. The Philippine experience does not fit easily into conventional
frameworks… and efforts to do so will probably lead to conclusions that will be so
simplified as to be either useless or dangerous."573
His audience was one of military men, but replace 'officers' with 'students' or
'historians' and it would still be valid.

The Philippine Situation

By the time Spain and the United States agreed to end hostilities on August 12,
1898, Spain had lost control of the Philippine archipelago to an independent

573 Ibid.
republican and nascent democratic government under Emilio Aguinaldo, except for
Manila. Manila surrendered to Commodore Dewey the next day.
Over the next few months, Aguinaldo's forces captured or forced to surrender
the remaining Spanish forces and administration. The last major centre to come
under Filipino control was Ilo-Ilo on the island of Panay, a significant city. One
Spanish garrison in Baler remained under a siege that began before the outbreak of
the Spanish-American War and lasted until it surrendered several months after the
Philippine-American War started, but the garrison had control only of the church in
Baler and was unaware of the end of Spanish-American hostilities, the ensuing
peace treaty or the outbreak of the Philippine-American conflict.
Aguinaldo declared independence on June 12, 1898 and proceeded to establish
the infrastructure of government and administration.
When Spain signed over the archipelago, and pocketed $20 million dollars, the
de facto government of the Philippines was Filipino under Aguinaldo, not Spanish.
America accepted something that the Spanish government did not actually have to
give them.
Following the signing of a peace treaty in Paris on December 10, 1898, the
Philippines entered a diplomatic and legal limbo, until ratification by the Spanish
Cortes and the US Congress the next year. December 28 saw President William
McKinley proclaim sovereignty over the Philippines and order American forces to
occupy the rest of the archipelago. Without, it should be noted, the concurrence of
The 'Benevolent Assimilation' proclamation was, by ordering troops into
territory not yet belonging to America and in the hands of a legitimate government,
a de facto declaration of war. Controversy about this period of Philippine-American
relationships will continue for many years, as it doubtless will over other aspects of
the period, but the foregoing is certainly the interpretation adopted by Aguinaldo
and his advisors.
Negotiations began between representatives of the American Military Governor,
General Elwell Otis and those of Emilio Aguinaldo. Unfortunately, the negotiators
were talking from entirely different mission objectives which were entirely
unrelated. What one side was listening to was not what the other side was saying.
Although Otis was certainly aware of McKinley's intention to annex the
Philippines, his task was simply to administer Manila. He had no authority to
determine the desires of the Filipinos or their capacity for self-government and,
since it wasn't part of his mission, showed little interest. Thus, he sent but one brief
note to Washington on the issue and didn't get a response.
What Otis wanted was to establish a modus vivendi with the Filipino forces to
reduce friction between the two sides, maintain water supplies, which were in
Aguinaldo's territory, and make whatever arrangements were conducive to the
running of Manila.
Independence, or something approximating it, was the only concern to
Aguinaldo. He was willing for it to be independence in name only, to accept
American 'advisors' who would actually run the country for a period of five to eight
years, to provide whatever resources and facilities the United States required, so
long as the word 'independence' was used and actual independence would be given
somewhere down the line.
Otis's concessions were aimed at the smooth running of Manila; Aguinaldo's
were aimed at independence. When a concession was granted, for Otis it ceased to
be of any important, that part of the mission had been accomplished, for Aguinaldo
it was one more step in a negotiated agreement on some form of independence.
Seen in this light, Otis's temerity in editing McKinley's 'Benevolent Assimilation'
proclamation, removing references to American sovereignty and orders to occupy
Filipino territory, becomes somewhat more explicable. It would have caused
disturbances that might have inferred with his administration. Aguinaldo saw it as
American duplicity, after reading the full text which reached him from Ilo-Ilo.
Despite the sending of American troops to take Ilo-Ilo from the Filipinos, and
Aguinaldo's aborted guerrilla attack on the city in early January, some form of
negotiation continued, with Aguinaldo still attempting a compromise while Otis
demanding unconditional surrender. Aguinaldo's approach remained one of
attempted compromise and accommodation even after full hostilities broke on
February 4, 1899, but what inclined Otis to not only spurn all attempts at
accommodation, to the extent of not even alerting Washington on the seriousness
issue? It was simply not the way business was done in those days.
Similar questions have been asked of World War One in Europe, a mere 16 years
after the outbreak of the Philippine-American War. Why did diplomacy fail? We
have become so accustomed to thinking of non-military means of settling disputes
or differences that it seems self-evidently the right way to do things, but it hasn't
always been so.
The European nation-state, on which the American state is largely based, was a
product of seven hundred years of almost continuous war of one description or
another574. Otis was the product of a military system based on that European

574 Higginbotham, Major Ben, Inescapable Destiny: Why Diplomacy Failed to Avert the First World
War, Combat Studies Institute
experience. The DIME doctrine (Diplomacy, Information, Military, Economy as
instruments of national power) of the 60s simply did not exist and it was not in
Otis's ditty box in 1898.
Part of the answer to 'what went wrong' is that the lack of a community of
dialogue and common ground between Otis and Aguinaldo, the incompatibility of
Asian and Western approaches to settlement of differences, the lack of a sufficiently
vocal and powerful constituency in favour of independence in the United States,
made war as inevitable in 1898 as it was to be inescapable in 1914.

Samar's dependence on a cash-crop economy made it fundamentally weak in
terms of self-sufficiency. The Filipino military governor, Vicente Lukban, recognized
this weakness and attempted to resolve it. He failed, by force of arms or force of will,
to persuade the people to grow food, which made Samar as much a prison as a
Lukban also failed to secure the support of the powerful hemp merchants on the
island. There is, in fact, little evidence that he secured the whole-hearted support of
the Samarenos, either. He was as alien to them as were the Americans and his
constant harangues to local town leaders indicates his weakness in this regard.
He does not seem to have recognized hemp itself as a weapon in the way his
Cuban equivalents did sugar. Destroying the hemp, as the Cubans destroyed sugar
plantations, would have done far more damage to America than shooting Americans,
weakened the hold of the hemp merchants and forced the production of food.
Hughes gave instructions for American officers to sell seized hemp in order to
import food from Manila for 'refugees' from the hinterland. By destroying the hemp,
Lukban would have deprived the US Army of the ability to feed Samarenos who
sought its protection.
Unlike Luzon, there was no 'nationalist' movement in Samar to act as a platform,
or a tradition of frequent revolt to provide an institutional equivalent.
Lukban, then, was a stranger in a strange land.
It took only a year to subdue Lukban once concerted efforts began in March
1901, an extremely short time for a guerrilla war, and the speed with which
opposition to American occupation collapsed without him demonstrates that he had
not laid the groundwork for loyalty to his cause. The Pulahanes were not an
extension of Lukban's efforts and did not mirror his loyalty to independence or a
central nationalism or political philosophy. It is true he did much with very little, but
he remained on an uphill climb throughout the Samar campaign.
On the other side of the balance, following the occupation of the hemp ports by
Kobbé in January 1900, Lukban was at his weakest and most of his force dispersed.
Major Henry T. Allen, who replaced Kobbé, had just 500 men, roughly one man
for every 100 square miles of terrain. Allen had neither the resources, nor superiors
willing, to commit resources to controlling Samar. Insufficient intelligence assets
were developed or integrated with efforts on Samar until after Lukban regained
much lost ground. Although Lukban probably never returned to his initial level of
manpower, he was able to make better use of his resources and the terrain by that
In the year between the occupation and opening of the hemp ports and the
beginning of the Samar Campaign under Hughes, the US force were, knowingly or
not, doing business with their opponent, thus reinforcing his influence and enabling
him to raise funds.
Little was done to effectively undermine Lukban or provide adequate protection
against his forces, leaving little choice for communities outside those towns which
could be defended by American forces to come under his influence.
'What went wrong' on Samar was that Lukban did not have sufficient food,
firepower or manpower to adequately defend the island nor a sufficiently loyal,
'politicised' or 'nationalized' population to pursue a guerrilla campaign for an
extended period. He did not use hemp, or the food shortage, on Samar as a weapon
to polarize its inhabitants.
On the American side, Kobbé and Allen did not press the advantage and did not
have the manpower or firepower to do so, even if they knew they had an advantage.
The final phase on Samar, while succeeding in removing Lukban, destroyed the very
resource that made control of the island important. To that extent, the Samar
campaign was a failure.

So what went wrong at Balangiga? The officers of Company C were not new to
the Philippines. They had been in the country since 1899, apart from a stint in China
for the Boxer Rebellion and the taking of Peking. These were not strangers to the
country or its culture, but they were strangers to Samar and the requirements of
their mission in Balangiga.
Many were experienced regular troops, which may have been part of their
downfall. Other than performing provost duty within the relatively safe confines of
Manila, their experience was confined to conventional battlefield warfare, not the
holding and administering of a civilian population.
They were inexperienced in bush warfare under jungle conditions, as were most
American soldiers of the time.
Usually over-looked is that a great number of the men were fresh out of the
United States and had received little more than basic training. They had joined the
Company in Manila to replace casualties of the Boxer Rebellion. When the Company
left for Balangiga it was roughly a third understrength.
By 1901, the American military were fully aware that Filipinos could be friendly
amigos by day and fierce sandatahan guerilla bolomen by night - Edward Bumpus,
the second lieutenant says so in his letter home. Thus, there was no reason for
Company C to lower its guard just because the people of Balangiga smiled at them -
or at least didn't bolo them at the first opportunity.
Indeed, time and time again in Company C. survivors' accounts, it is made clear
that some kind of attack was expected sometime. Not only were they aware that
they were in enemy territory, a bloody war was in progress, and attacks were
common. Company C's temporary commander, Captain Thomas Connell was doubly
warned by Lieutenant Colonel Roger Foote on September 7 during his visit to
Balangiga from Basey.
The people of Balangiga had little reason to trust foreigners or outsiders; they
usually spelt trouble. Their experience was of occupation, as in the case of the
Spanish, or of coastal raiders or slave traders, who operated until the middle of the
19th century. They would be polite, even hospitable, but not over-friendly. Survivors'
accounts confirm this, adding that the people, who were Warays, were very different
from the people of Luzon, to whom Company C was accustomed.
Many draw similarities between Vietnam and the Philippine War but Major
Daniel Tarter, a former Company C. commander with the unit in Korea who used the
Balangiga incident as an example in training his men, believes this may be unwise.
"Be careful trying to interpret the Philippine war through the retrospective lens of
Vietnam. I know that this is terribly tempting and that there are parallels, but to do
so runs the risk of missing or misinterpreting some important points about changes
in the nature of warfare. This was the American army's first real experience at
"counter-insurgency" beyond our own frontier.”
He explains: “The institutional mindset then was post-Civil War - read attrition
warfare and scorched earth - followed by the Indian Wars - read more attrition and
genocide. To understand it, you've got to put yourself inside the head of a C
Company ‘Manchu’.”
According Tarter: “The hard-bitten troops of the Ninth Infantry and their
commanders were most certainly not today's', or even yesterdays' US Special Forces
with a firm grasp of capturing hearts and minds. They were tough, scratchy, poorly
paid men with sore feet and a confining uniform too hot for the tropics. They were
p***ed off at the weather, p***ed off at the bugs and p***ed off about the prospect of
an unbathed death among the filth of Samar. They were good at one thing - killing
people and breaking things and that's that. So the idea of denying food to a populace
that may be feeding your enemy, who may even be your enemy takes no leap
“(Their attitude was) They could give a "good goddamn" about Filipino culture -
if the dumb, brown bastard was too stupid to see the benefits of pacification, then
shoot the sonofabitch and maybe the guy next to him will have an epiphany. Get the
picture? “
“Having said that, be careful that you don't overlook that fact that the US Army
did make some remarkable "hearts and minds" conversions during the Philippine
campaign. "Howlin' Smith" and Balangiga are pieces of the mosaic, not the whole
picture. Pacification strategy was successful where local commanders were able to
separate the people from the insurrectos and co-opt the local leadership long
enough to demonstrate the dubious benefits of American colonialism."
Connell seems to have assumed that an attack would come from the outside and
that the main danger was to the patrols he occasionally dispatched, without
incident. Outside the plaza his men went fully armed, with bayonet fixed and full
magazines. Only at meal times were they allowed to go without their rifles, standard
procedure at the time elsewhere in the islands. His assumption that was where the
danger lay was a major error.
The guard posts were set up in such as way that each guard could see the other
around the plaza, so it would be difficult for bolomen to creep up on them. Guerilla
attacks tended to be noisy and the guerrillas would have to penetrate the town to do
much damage, giving plenty of warning. In any case, attacking an entire garrison
wasn't the general style of the guerrillas.
Given those assumptions, allowing the men to go without their weapons was not
unreasonable, it was, in fact, standard procedure. The Krags were heavy and the
men were uncomfortable enough as it was. While the majority of weapons were
racked - but not locked up - in the municipal hall, there were also weapons in the
two subsidiary barracks in the Salazar and Belaez houses. It would take only
seconds to reach them to fight off a bolo attack.
Then Connell ran into cultural problems. He had a reputation as a moralist, is
said to have attempted to ban cockfighting, a popular Filipino sport and wanted the
townswomen to dress less provocatively. Other than this interference with local
tradition and lifstyle, Connell merely followed standard operating procedures used
in Luzon.
Several events led up to the attack itself. Among them was the alleged abuse of
women. Although American writers like Joseph Schott go into great detail about an
alleged rape, this doesn't seem to have much basis in fact. Even Filipino accounts
actually say little about rape.
What may have happened is that a bit of horseplay got too rough. The American
soldiers expected the same sort of response as they'd get in Manila. To the
conservative Balangiganon, however, it was unacceptable behaviour.
Second, there was the seizure of food to prevent it reaching the guerrillas. Food
has a very special role in the Filipino culture and psyche far beyond its importance
as sustenance. It is a part of the social structure and sense of identity, in a way that
the Catholic Mass has the same role among Catholics. Almost the worst thing one
can do to a Filipino is to take away his or her food, the most shameful act is to 'break
his rice bowl'. It is difficult for a Westerner to connect with this, and Connell did not.
Such seizure would have been disturbing to the Filipinos in normal times, but
these were not normal times. At the time of the seizures, the rainy season, which
comes later in Samar than in Luzon, was approaching. During this period there
could be no harvesting or drying of rice and fishing would be severely limited.
Samar was dependant upon food imports but Company C closed the port at
Balangiga. For the four wet months Balangiga would be dependent upon the root
crops growing around their houses, the very root crops that Connell ordered cut
down in the policing up of the town.
Third, and probably the final nail in Company C's coffin was the imprisonment
and enforced labour of about 100 men. This, is a community that suffered the
predations of slavers until less than half a century before and now, in their terms,
they were experiencing it again. This, according to Balangiganon participants,
threatened their food security because it took the most productive members of the
workforce away from food production at a critical time.
Awod is a Waray word meaning, loosely, shame. The imprisonment and enforced
labour were belittling, shameful. The Americans had created awod for the men they
imprisoned. There is only one way to remove awod, to take revenge as publicly as
possible. By shaming the men, Connell had forced them into a situation in which
they had no choice but to attack Company C for the sake of honour.
Even so, it might have resulted in a fairly minor and survivable incident if it
wasn't for the astonishing lack of notice given to clear signs that something was
wrong. Unusual activity in the church went uninvestigated. A tradition in the Betron
family says that a female Filipino friend warned Sergeant Betron of an attack. On the
very night of the attack a guard, Adolph Gamlin saw the town's women and children
being evacuated, reported it, and was apparently ignored.
Connell failed, too, to set up any sort of effective intelligence gathering. One
Filipino descendant says, possibly correctly, that Connell was angry because he
wasn't getting information.
Comments Major Tarter: "It has always seemed odd to me that no-one seemed to
take much notice of the evacuation of women and children, which Filipino
participants say started at 1am on the 28th. Another shortfall seems to be a lack of
understanding of what is important in Filipino culture, which precluded an effective
'hearts and minds' strategy.
"Based upon the apparent passive or indifferent reception by the natives, the
absence of combatants and what appeared to be the cooperation of the local
leadership, CPT Connell allowed his security to slip.”
"We know there were only three soldiers providing local security at the time of
the attack. My guess is that Connell ran a 5-man guard relief throughout the night -
three sentries, a Commander of the Relief (probably a Corporal) and a Sergeant of
the Guard. One of his officers would have been designated as Officer of the Guard,
but he would have been asleep throughout the night and only awakened if there was
a problem that the sergeant couldn't handle.
"So three sleepy soldiers are watching over the camp throughout a humid night
checked on once or twice an hour by a corporal. Their attention, such as it probably
was, would have been directed to the immediate environs of their camp and not the
native village. Their concerns would have been pilferage more than an enemy
offensive. I don't think it likely that Connell would have dispatched patrols or
detailed observation posts or listening posts outside of his perimeter because, again,
he wasn't expecting an attack. “
“A little noise caused by footfalls or snapping branches probably wouldn't have
drawn much attention since villages on the edge of jungles can be surprisingly noisy
places with all kinds of things going on at all hours of the night. Finally, since (some
of) the raiders dressed as women, it would seem likely that no one would therefore
notice the absence of authentic women the morning of the attack.”
The errors, however, were not entirely on the American side. Pedro Duran, a
police sergeant, explains how attackers were assigned to each of the American
guards and says that one man failed to kill his target, resulting in the death of 16
Filipinos. The guard was Adolph Gamlin and his assigned attacker was Abanador.
Abanador's failure to kill Gamlin may have played a role in the turn around of the
battle since Gamlin was able to secure a rifle and start firing.
A second major error was that insufficient attackers were assigned to take the
two subsidiary barracks and the mess tent. It was from in and around these points
that the American soldiers were able to find rifles, regroup and turn the attack. In
this area of the attack, the Balangiganons had little more than two to one
superiority, far less than prudence would recommend.
Possibly the most significant error of all is that Abanador overestimated the
defensive capabilities of the surviving American soldiers. A single, concentrated
rush, while costly, would have left not a man of Company C. alive to tell the tale.
Instead, Abanador ordered a retreat.
Connell's failures at almost every level not only allowed the Balangiga Incident
to happen, but also caused it to happen, from complete disregard of local mores and
customs to poor security and intelligence, which is very much the situation that led
to the outbreak of the Philippine-American War in the first place. Those
commanding the townspeople did not push the advantage when they had it.

War Department Perceptions

Like the humps of the Loch Ness Monster, a simile chosen with care, a number of
documents – and the nature of certain vanishing documents - associated with the
Balangiga Incident and the Samar Campaign, if joined together, suggest – and it
should be emphasised 'suggest' – that senior military, and possibly political,
leadership had a very different idea as to what went wrong at Balangiga and seem to
place the blame not on Connell or the Balangiganons or even Vicente Lukban, but
relate the Balangiganon response to military conditions on the island prior to the
attack on Company C.
: "You can see that the true history of this event can never be written," wrote
George Crago in the early 1930s after two years gathering data from Army officers
and Company C. survivors. Since most of what is known today was known in Crago's
time it may be that he was referring to the actions of certain individuals during the
attack yet he also writes: "If all the facts were known, anyone could see the
justification for the recall of Jakey Smith". Since the courts martial of senior officers
on Samar were long over, and the post-Balangiga events well aired, he seems to be
referring to happenings prior to the attack, before Smith was appointed to Samar
yet still connected him to Balangiga.
Stephen Bonsal, in an article quoted during the testimony of Hughes in the 1902
'Affairs' hearings, says: "I do not know where the facts were suppressed, whether at
the headquarters or the department in Iloilo or in Manila, but they were suppressed
somewhere, and whoever did it certainly shares with the savages of Samar the
blame of the Balangiga Massacre."
Again, Bonsal refers to conditions on Samar prior to the attack on Company C.
and clearly apportions part of the blame for the attack on senior officers.
Three commanders knew the situation on Samar intimately, Adna Chaffee,
because Robert Hughes reported to him, Robert Hughes himself and Jacob Smith,
who not only took over Samar under the command of Chaffee and Hughes but also
had access to relevant documents.
Of those documents, Bonsal says: "…why should not the reports of General Smith
as to what he found and saw on reaching Samar be placed before Congress and the
people? Such a state of affairs could not possibly be suppressed in Russia or
Germany, though one is tempted to believe that they can be in the United States."
General Fred Grant, who replaced Smith, was unable to give an accurate report
of the period because there the documents were "…not complete enough, nor in
condition which affords sufficient information". Smith had taken them with him and
Grant assumed, officially that Smith would make a report to fill in the gaps, but he
never did.
Robert Hughes also refers to missing documents which prevent him from giving
a complete account. In his committee testimony, Hughes admits to carrying out
'uncivilised warfare', inflicting damage on the innocent to punish the guilty, and to
non-combatant casualties.
Lieutenant Waller pointedly refers to Smith's "verbal orders" in his after action
reports, which thus would have no documentary counterpart.
It would appear, joining these humps together, that 'Benevolent Assimilation'
was not an element in the Samar Campaign, that something approaching a 'kill and
burn policy' was already underway, possibly at a lower level of intensity, under
Robert Hughes.
Since, politically, there could be no question of not court martialling Smith,and if
Smith was in possession of embarrassing documents that indicated that Chaffee and
Hughes were the progenitors of the 'kill and burn' policy, one would expect to find
further ripples emanating from these humps in the water.
Sure enough: Chaffee had control of the conditions of the court martial, the
charges were about as minor as they could possibly be, and adjusted to make them
even more minor than the initial charges. Smith was given the lightest punishment
possible, an admonishment. It was Roosevelt who insisted on compulsory
Smith put one more warning shot across Chaffee's bows after the court martial
by telling reporters that he was considering an appeal that would implicate Chaffee
in the orders he gave. There was no appeal.
If these humps and ripples mean anything at all, it is that at least some military
personnel considered the Balangiga attack to be some sort of vengeance for the
policy carried out on Samar earlier in 1901, and that any reasonable person aware
of the conditions on the island would regard it as, to some extent, justified.
It would certainly take the wind out of the sails of those who used '“Remember
Balangiga" as a rallying cry to inflict even greater severities.
Neither Company C. nor its officers would necessarily have known what was
being done on Samar because they were only there a few weeks and did not
This offers two 'what went wrong' scenaria. First, that Chaffee and Hughes
created conditions in which a revenge attack by Filipinos would seem a reasonable
response. Second, that in the eyes of Chaffee's and Hughes, Connell's 'weakness', the
criticism against Connell, was that he did not 'kill and burn'.

Who Won?
Whether or not an action is successful depends on the mission it is intended to
accomplish. Both Filipino nationalists and their critics have accepted the Balangiga
incident as a Filipino victory. It is, however, worth reviewing that assumption and
the participants' objectives.
The Balangiganon objective was drawn from awod –to punish Company C. and
drive it away. In those terms it was an entirely successful action.
The guerrillas who participated, contributing approximately 15 to 20 per cent of
the attack force, secured rifles and ammunition. That material played little part in
the events that followed Balangiga and led to an intensification of American
strategies that had already been underway for several months. It was, at best, a
qualified victory.
For Company C. the objective, once the attack began, was to survive, drive away
the attackers and secure the town. This is what they did, then made an orderly
departure some two hours after the end of the battle. Caught by surprise and faced
with overwhelming numbers, that, too, is a victory.
American and Filipino
Forces At Balangiga
Lists and info compiled by Bob Couttie and Professor Rolando Borrinaga
No complete investigation of the Balangiga Incident was ever carried out. No
Filipino accounts deal in depth with the battle itself. Company C's records, and
investigation reports, were lost in the WW2 destruction of Manila and a company
move to France in WW1, as well as a fire in New York. Some American survivors
heavily suggest a cover-up of what happened there. The whole truth has never been
told, and may have been lost forever. In some cases only the sketchiest of
information is available. Any more details would be most welcome. Some of
Company C's men were in Manila, sick, others were in Basey, the nearest military
hospital, awaiting transfer to Manila or Balangiga. In the case of the Filipino forces,
relatively little is known in detail about them - there were up to 500 people involved
in the attack.

*= Known, or believed dead

-= Wounded, believed survived
*M= Missing, believed dead
Company C
Company C arrived in Manila, Paco barracks, from China, after a year's service,
on June 2. Connell (Promoted from First Lieutenant) was put in Command, but not
assigned to Co C's complement, on June 6 while the Company's commander, Paul
Harris, was on detached duty in the US. In Manila Company C carried out provost
duties which included guarding the captured Emilio Aguinaldo and acting as guard
of honour for William Howard Taft during his inauguration as the first civilian
governor of the Philippines on July One that year. The Company left Manila for
Samar on August 7 with Company A, which was put off at some point, arriving in
Balangiga on August 11 or 13. At that time it had strength of 101 men and two
officers but only seventy six men, including attached men, are believed to arrived in
Balangiga. Exactly how many of Co. C were actually at Balangiga, and how many
survived has been a matter of some debate and it is known that early reports were
inaccurate. Listed Officer and non-commissioned first, then Pvts alphabetically.

Captain Thomas W. Connell * Pvt. William J. Gibbs -

First Lt. Edward Avery Bumpus* Pvt Joseph I Godon*
Major Richard Sill Griswold* Pvt Elbert De Graffenreid -
Sgt Frank Betron - Pvt. Albert B. Keller-
Sgt John D. Closson- Pvt. Joseph O. Kleinhampl*
Sgt George F. Markley Pvt. Richard Long*
Sgt John F. Martin* Pvt Henry W. Manire-
QMS James M. Randles* Pvt. James Martin*
Sgt Henry J. Scharer* Pvt. James F. McDermott*
Corp Thomas E. Baird* Pvt. Henry W. Manire-
Corp. Sylvester Burke - Pvt Charles F. Marak-
Corp Taylor B. Hickman- Artificer Joseph E. Marx*
Corp. Arnold Irish - Musician George E. Meyers-
Corp Frank McCormack* Pvt. John H. Miller*
Corp Proal Peters* Pvt. Daniel S. Mullins*
Corp. James Pickett- Pvt Clifford M. Mumby -
Corp Leonard P. Schley* Pvt. Thermistocles. Qula
Pvt George Allen - Pvt. August F. Porczeng*M
Pvt. John D. Armani* Pvt Charles Powers*
Pvt Lito Armani* Ernest U. Ralston-
Pvt John W. Aydelotte* Pvt. Chris Recard*
Pvt Walter J. Bertholf Cook Gustave F. Schnitzler*
Pvt George Bony* Pvt. Floyd J. Shoemaker*
Pvt Robert L. Booth* Pvt Evan Smith*M
Pvt John D. Buhrer* Pvt. Robert Sproull*
Pvt. James L. Cain* Pvt Charles E Sterling*
Pvt. Roland T. Clark Pvt. Anthony Stier -
Pvt. Henry Claas- Pvt Case (Carl) E Swanson -
Pvt. Richard Considine - Pvt. Joseph Turner*
Musician John L. Covington* Pvt. John Uthof-
Pvt. Charles E. Davis* Pvt. Frank Voybada*
Private Guy C. Dennis* Cook Melvin M. Wall -
Pvt. Byron Dent* Pvt John E. Wannebo*
Pvt. Patrick J. Dobbins* Pvt Christian Williams*
Pvt. Cornelius Donahue* Pvt Claude C. Wingo*M?
Pvt. Jerry J. Driscoll* Pvt. Harry M. Wood*M
Pvt. Eli Fitzgerald* Harry (Jerry) Wright *
Pvt Adolph Gamlin - Francisco

Arrived at Balangiga but not present during attack

Private Aaron Burke Pvt. McGilligan *

Pvt. William Denton Pvt Schechterle *

Believed at Basey during attack

Men were constantly being re-posted and sent off on other duties, which may
explain the following men's presence at Basey after the attack.
Samuel Allison Andrew C. Neilson
Sgt. Alfred R. Davis Philo J. Trofser
George L. Devore John S. Wolfe.
John L. Hartley Ladislaus Garcia
Sherman S. Kelly

Company C members not at Balangiga

Most of those absent appear to have been in hospital in Manila.

Captain Paul Harris Pvt, John Gallagher

1st Sergeant Samuel F. Whipps Pvt Delbert Gibson
Sgt. John Carroll Pvt Watson B. Hendry
Sgt Charles H. Brown Pvt Harry H. Hall
Corp Charles Samuelson Pvt Charles Meeker
Corp. Charles Charbonneau Pvt Owen O'Neil
Corp Mack T. Bates Pvt Homer Stewart
Pvt Martin Coyne Pvt Anderson Temple
Pvt Daniel J. Donovan Pvt Herman Trapp.
Pvt Charles J. Downey
Charles W. Hanning
American Forces Notes
Those who were seriously injured were transferred to hospital in Tacloban. Except
where otherwise stated, the other wounded were treated in Basey.
George Allen - Slight finger wound. Billetted in Municipal Hall. Had just finished
duty before the attack, replaced by Gamlin and was between Municipal Hall and
mess tent. Fought from top of concrete pile with De Graffenreid and Wall. The joined
group including Burke, Stier, Meyers and Clarke. Seems to have been involved in
Claas incident. After withdrawal, returned to town with Wingo et al to drawn
remaining rifle bolts. Was in Betron's boat for escape. Returned to Balangiga with
Bookmiller. Only first-hand source for alleged post-death mutilation of Bumpus.
Mustered out, with Burke, around December 10, 1901.
Lito Armani - Probably billeted at Municipal hall and in mess tent when fight
started. Noted fighting at Municipal Hall. Badly injured. In Bertholf's boat. Died
when boat beached at Bulasao and was attacked.
Pvt John W. Aydelotte - Believed killed in or near Municipal hall (Manire).
Thomas E. Baird - Escaped in Betron's boat. Allen records him as dying en
route; Bookmiller says he died of wounds at either Basey or Tacloban.
Walter J. Bertholf - One of only three completely unwounded - Wingo and Clark
were the others. Was on duty in the guardroom under Hickman when the attack
occurred, jumped out of window to escape, along with Francisco. During the escape
his boat was swept ashore and attacked by Vicario Ferreras. Bertholf's
granddaughter has kept his personal diary. Last known location: Sta. Monica, Cal.
Frank Betron - Slight wound in thigh - one unidentified newspaper cutting
refers to it was a bullet wound. Family tradition says that he was warned of the
attack in advance by a Filipino, told the officers but was ignored. Was walking from
Betron/Belaez barracks to Municipal hall when fighting broke out. He took
command of Co C, as senior non-commissioned officer after the officers had been
killed. Was one of the three main rowers in his boat. He later settled in Cebu. His
son, Mike, now lives in Mindanao.
Robert L. Booth - Billetted in the Municipal Hall. In the mess when the attack
began. Killed while running to the main barracks to get his weapon.
John D. Buhrer - In the same boat as Bertholf during the escape. Boat grounded
near Capines Point and was attacked by Vicario Ferreras. Buhrer was killed on the
beach at Bulasao with Lito Armani.
Sylvester Burke - Slight eye wound. Was eating breakfast at the Betron/Belaez
barracks when the attack began. He is wrongly claimed to have killed the police
chief, who, in fact survived and was somewhere else during the attack. The closest
fit is Pedro Abajero, a police sergeant. In Betron's boat during attack. Mustered out
around December 10 with Allen.
James L. Cain - He was in the Markley/Salazar barrack when the attack started.
Roland T. Clarke - one of only three completely unwounded men, the others
were Wingo and Bertholf. One of those who returned to Balangiga with Bookmiller.
Was billeted in the Betron/Belaez Barracks. Last know location - Robert C. Anderson
Camp, Oswego, New York.
John D. Closson - Son of a blind civil war veteran. Severe scalp and ear injuries.
Transferred to Tacloban Hospital. Was at the south end of the mess tent when the
attack began. Ran to the municipal hall and reached the first floor. . Fought with
Mariano Valdenor in the Municipal hall and escaped by jumping out of a window.
Managed to take the municipal Hall with De Graffenreid, Considine and Manire.
Then joined by Markley. Almost certainly the 'Sergeant Palong' referred to in
Filipino accounts and probably one of two men seen by Pedro Duran during peace
talks in Catbalogan in February (According to Duran). Closson took the flag from
Markley after its retrieval and gave it to the guard at Basey. In Betron's boat during
escape. He claims to have cast Wingo loose. Half his face was paralysed by his
injuries and he was scared of returning home because he feared his fiancé would jilt
Richard Considine - Slight elbow wound. A cook. Second cook. Known as 'Red'
from the colour of his hair. A baseball fan, he fought off attackers with a baseball bat.
Originally in Bertholf's boat during the escape, when it swamped he transferred to
Betron's boat. Last seen in Nebraska City meeting with Gamlin. He was a wanderer
and was hitchhiking from Los Angeles to Syracuse
Alfred R. Davis - In Bookmiller as unwounded at Basey, not mentioned in
Bumpus. May have been at Basey from Manila on his way to Balangiga or vv.
Byron Dent - On duty outside the municipal hall. Allegedly fired the first shot
during the attack but was killed by Filipinos rushing the municipal hall. However,
Manire says he saw Dent in the stairway of the municipal hall.
Pvt William Denton - Denton disappeared about August 23, allegedly full of
tuba, the local coconut sap beer, leaving his shoes on the riverbank, which he may
have swum. He seems to be the [person referred to by Gibbs, who was alleged to
have been accused of rape by a 65-year-old woman in Balangiga. Her story was
thought to be a cover-up to explain his disappearance. Denton later said Lukban's
forces captured him, but Lukban and Daza say that he surrendered voluntarily. He
may be the soldier referred to as being captured by Filipino forces on either
Himanoc or De Dios islands and who's Krag was said to be with Insurgents at
Alabas, on Capines Point. Which ever is true, he fell into guerilla hands and was put
in the care of Colonel Narciso Abuke and well looked after. He identified the dead
American officers after the attack. He was wounded and captured by American
forces in late February 1902. He was charged with desertion and joining the enemy,
with Lukban and Daza as witnesses. The court found him guilty and he was
sentenced to death, later commuted to life imprisonment with hard labour, part of
which he spent at Bilibid prison in Manila before being transferred to Alcatraz. Like
Lukban and almost certainly Daza, he seems to have been a Freemason, a factor
known to promote the survival of captured American soldiers.
George L. Devore - In Bookmiller as unwounded at Basey, not mentioned in
Bumpus. May have been at Basey from Manila on his way to Balangiga or vv.
Patrick J. Dobbins - Appears to have been in the mess tent when the attack
started and driven to the river by pursuing Filipinos along with Covington and Claas.
He may also have been a victim of friendly fire.
Francisco - In the same boat as Bertholf during the escape. He saved rifles and
ammunition from being thrown overboard. Nothing is heard of him after the boat
foundered and it is possible, but doubtful, that he is the Francisco Laguilla
mentioned by Waller was captured, kept prisoner in Sotohon then escaped. He is not
mentioned either as being in the second boat with Bertholf and Marak or of
boarding the Pittsburgh by Bookmiller. He returned with Company C to Camp
Niagara, whereupon he skipped over the border with a Spanish lady and vanished.
Adolph Gamlin - Severe head wounds. From Hamburg, Iowa. 21 at Balangiga.
Previously with Co E, fifty first Iowa Infantry. Re-enlisted in 1900. Many of the
survivors owed him their life. Gamlin was on guard duty the evening before the
attack - two hours on, two off shift - and saw the evacuation of women and children.
He reported it to the officer of the guard, Corp. Scharer, who ignored it. Connell
spoke to him about the prisoners that night. On duty again in the morning, he was
the first soldier to be attacked when, he says, Filipino came running towards him
shouting and the police chief, Abanador attacked him from behind. He survived and
jammed a native hat on his head to staunch the bleeding. He armed himself with a
rifle and, according to Pedro Duran, killed sixteen Filipinos. He fought his way into
the Municipal hall - he may have been billeted there. He nearly died when a member
of Co C mistook him for a native and shot at him, fortunately missing. After arriving
in Basey, it took three days to remove the hat due to blood encrustation. Mustered
out October 3, 1903. Worked as a caretaker for the Nebraska City Post Office. Last
known location - Nebraska City.
William J. Gibbs - Moderate wounds. Gibbs became a piano tuner and later gave
testimony before a senate committee investigating the use of the 'water cure'. He
comes across as cocky, enjoying his moment in the limelight, and not entirely
reliable - he gets several significant dates and places wrong. He claims that Denton
disappeared after being accused of rape. One of five men whose records are said to
be dubious, the others being Claas, Betron, Markley, and Manire.
Elbert B. De Graffenreid - Sever ear wound. A member of the Co. baseball team,
he defended himself by throwing lumps of concrete from atop a broken wall
surrounding a stone cross in front of the Church, along with Allen and Wall. Then
joined Betron's group. Escaped in Betron's boat and did much of the rowing.
Married while still in the army, about 1903 and separated from his wife, Lottie, in
1921. Last known location: Dallas, Texas, working as a stockman for a wholesale
optical company.
Charles Hanning - From Boston, Mass. is mentioned in a 1950s article by Loyola
and Abletez in This Week magazine, published in the Philippines and then was
thought to have been the 'Sgt. Chow' mentioned in Filipino accounts as a survivor. It
has sometimes been wrongly assumed that Pedro Duran gave them the name. He
once owned a restaurant in a Manila Police Compound at Old Bilibid and later
managed the Army-Navy Club for fourteen years and died at Clark Field, then a
USAF base in Pampanga in 1959. His age was unknown, but he claimed to have
fought in the Boxer Rebellion and to have been wounded in France in the First
World War. There is no record of him in Company C's roll at the time. He left no
account of the incident. He may have been a fraud, telling the tale for the sake of
notoriety. He would have had a source in Conchita Belaez (Balais) who worked for
him for some years and came from Balangiga - indeed, Sgt. Betron's barracks were
probably in one of her ancestors houses.
John L. Hartley - - In Bookmiller as unwounded at Basey, not mentioned in
Bumpus. May have been at Basey from Manila on his way to Balangiga or vv.
Taylor B. Hickman - Cut in head (Bumpus) but listed as unwounded in
Bookmiller. He was Officer of the guard at the time of the attack and was in the
convent. Remarkably, he was ignored when the 6th attack group stormed the
officer's quarters and he was unarmed. Obtained rifle and eventually escaped with
Francisco and Bertholf by jumping out of a window. Returned to Balangiga with
Bookmiller. No first hand account has so far come to light.
Arnold Irish - Moderate shoulder wound. Billetted in Salazar/Markley barracks.
The night before the attack, unable to sleep, he had been in the plaza and noted
activity at the church but believed it was merely a religious service. Was in mess
tent at beginning of the attack. Joined Markley's group and was involved in Claas
incident. Claims to have been in group which secured flag. Escaped in Hickman's
boat. He returned to Balangiga aboard the Pittsburgh with Bookmiller in the hope of
burying Frank Voybada, a close friend. His grandson, who still lives in Arnold's
hometown of Savannah, Georgia, is named after another survivor and friend, Roland
T. Clark. Ill health forced him to give up his civilian job as a telegraph operator and
live on his $50 a month pension. During the 1930s he became a successful
beekeeper but tragedy still dogged him, his son died in a car crash in 1939 or 1940,
an event that precipitated a nervous breakdown. He writes colourfully about things
he clearly did not see personally - some of the alleged mutilations appear in his
account as well as the execution of 20 Filipinos even though these aren't mentioned
in accounts of people who were there - and writes of Lukban's surrender, although
Lukban was actually captured.
Albert B. Keller - Severe hip wound, treated in Tacloban. Originally in Bertholf's
boat during the escape, when it swamped he transferred to Betron's boat. Last
known location - Moclips.
Sherman S. Kelly - In Bookmiller as unwounded at Basey, not mentioned in
Bumpus. May have been at Basey from Manila on his way to Balangiga or vv. Some
years later Sherman Kelly's son visited Samar after his father had died, as the son of
a survivor, and met Eugenio Daza.
Henry W. Manire - Severely wounded in the arm. Treated at Tacloban Hospital.
Billetted in the municipal hall. He is the source of the Bumpus quote about 'Goo-
goos' in Schott - the conversation seems atypical of Bumpus, however. He also says
that the Liscum, on which they arrived, was towed to Balangiga by The Ingalls,
which may be true given the state of the Liscum. He was on the last patrol from
Balangiga, returning the same day as Bumpus arrived from Tacloban with the mail.
Manire appears to be the sole source of the claim of dead babies in coffins carrying
bolos. He was sitting next to Sgt Martin when the attack began and got into the
barracks at the municipal hall. Claims to have given medical aid to Closson, who
does not mention it in his account. Manire may not be entirely reliable - he describes
Francisco shooting at Americans and being shot by them, which did not happen. He
is also the only known source for Macabebe. Last known location, Brookfield,
Lieutenant Mackabebe - One of the mysteries of Balangiga, if Manire is to be
believed, he is the only source. Efforts to verify his existence have so far been
negative. He describes him as 'black muchacho for Lieutenant Bumpus' and claims
he was 'the first native to be accredited a regular first lieutenant'. There is no other
mention except that some Filipino accounts claim that two 'maccabebes' survived -
A tribe in Luzon, the Macabebe were regarded as turncoats by Filipinos and their
name was given generically to any Filipino who worked for the Americans. One
could have Francisco, was there another? Or was Manire's imagination running
away with him again?
Charles F. Marak - Moderate arm wound. Was in Bertholf's boat during escape.
Boat was swept ashore near Capines Point and attacked by Filipinos. He escaped
with Bertholf in a boat commandeered from a Filipino and was picked up by the
Pittsburgh, returning with it to Balangiga. Last known location: Imperial Valley, Cal.
where he was a successful fruit farmer. Died March 4, 1961 at Hanford, Cal.
George F. Markley - Received several cuts (Bumpus) but listed in Bookmiller as
unwounded. Immediately before the attack Markley left his barracks at the Salazar
house, to be replaced by Cain. He was in the mess tent and just served by Walls
when the attack began. Markley allegedly volunteered to return the town to burn
the barracks and regain the flag, joined by Wingo, Clark and Swanson. In same boat
with Swanson in escape from Balangiga, ended up in Toloso, Leyte, across the gulf.
Last known location - Aberdeen, Washington. A 1930s article about him in the
Aberdeen Daily World appears to be a press clipping compilation and not personal
experience, therefore not reliable.
James Martin - Died in the mess tent while at breakfast, allegedly decapitated
George E. Meyers (s)- slight back wounds (Bumpus). Seventeen. Treated at
Tacloban. He occupied the Belaez house with Sgt Betron. He was one of two
company musicians and blew reveille the morning of the attack. Much of Schott's
account is drawn from his version originally published in James Taylor's book. He
was at breakfast under the house having breakfast when the attack started. He was
widely regarded as 'two-faced' and unreliable by other survivors who criticised his
account for its 'illusions' in later years. He became a dentist in Chicago. The story of
Pedro Abayan asking for US military assistance appears only in his account and
those derived from it.
John H. Miller - The Orderly clerk. May have arrived from Manila the previous
day with Bumpus. Was in the orderly room on the first floor of the Municipal Hall
when the attack began and died there.
Daniel Mullins - Mentioned as killed in some reports, Bookmiller has him in
hospital a Tacloban. Presumably fatally wounded, died at Tacloban Hospital.
Clifford M. Mumby - Slight elbow wound. Company Clerk. Billetted at the
municipal Hall. In the kitchen when the attack started. Was involved in Claas
incident. He returned to Balangiga with Bookmiller and recovered letters and
photographs belonging to George Meyers. He kept the last company payroll, August
1901, which he brought to Manila in the 1930s during a visit. No full personal
accounts are known to exist; a book he was reportedly writing was never published.
Last known location: San Francisco.
James Pickett - serious abdominal wound. In Betron's boat during escape.
Ernest U. Ralston - Severe wounds. Treated at Tacloban. He'd been eating
breakfast behind the kitchen when the attack began and headed for his billet in the
municipal hall first floor for his rifle, there he found Buhrer being attacked and
injured. Escaped through window and hide in the church, then joined Mumby,
Pickett and De Graffenreid, and passed out in the officer's quarters. Escaped in
Betron's boat. He spent 40 days in hospital and rejoined Co C at Calbayog in
November. Last known location: Marion, Iowa, as a farmer.
QMS James M. Randles - He had six siblings and was the only breadwinner for
his widowed mother. Responsible for assigning work duties to Filipino prisoners.
Often carried a Japanese sword cane. Was killed in the kitchen, possibly by kitchen
orderly, Graciano Balcos.
Chris Recard - AKA Record. Irish claims to have seen him on the ground near
the Betron/Belaez barracks where he may have been billeted. Bookmiller says he
died of wounds at either Tacloban or Basey but Ralston describes his death in
Betron's boat, in which they both escaped. No-one wanted to throw his body
overboard so he may have been logged as arriving at Basey.
Henry J. Scharer - Officer of the guard the night before the attack. Gamlin
warned him that women and children were evacuating but took little notice. Killed
at the convent at the start of the attack.
Pvt Schechterle - Schechterle - called 'Scheetherley' by Schott, was severely
depressed and probably a victim of homesickness. His comrades became
increasingly concerned about his growing irrationality until he was finally
hospitalised in Balangiga. On September 4 he blew his brains out with a Krag and
was buried in the town cemetery south west of the church, next to the grave of
McGilligan. His body was retrieved in 1903, along with others, and returned to the
US aboard the Kilpatrick.
Anthony Stier - Not mentioned in Bumpus. Given as at Basey unwounded by
Bookmiller but is cited by Allen as present during battle. No personal account
known. Last known location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Carl E. Swanson - Stabbed in body. Billetted at the Salazar/Markley barracks. He
was in the same boat as Markley during the escape from Balangiga, which separated
from the convoy and landed in Toloso, Leyte. He and Markley gave the first reports
of the attack to reach Washington, claiming 140 Filipinos killed.
Philo J. Trofser - In Bookmiller as unwounded at Basey, not mentioned in
Bumpus. May have been at Basey from Manila on his way to Balangiga or vv.
John Uthof - AKA Uthop. Serious chest wound. Transferred to Tacloban. Later
worked as a gang boss for a plumbing and construction company.
Frank Voybada - Apparently rolling a cigarette in the Markley hut, his throat
was cut by a Filipino who may have gained access up a ladder used for roofing the
barracks, fatally injuring him. He bled to death as Arnold Irish fought off attacks.
Melvin M. Walls - slight chest wound. Originally enlisted in May 1898 in the 2nd
Missouri Volunteers and mustered out in 1899 then re-enlisted on October 13, 1900
and joined the 9th Infantry in China. Billetted in Municipal Hall. He was cook on the
morning of the attack and defended himself with a pick. Fought on the concrete pile
with De Graffenreid and Allen. Escaped in Betron's boat and was one of the three
main rowers, along with De Graffenreid and Betron. Returned to Basey with
Bookmiller. Questionable reliability - he describes a four feet high pile of around
250 native dead - but the Filipino dead had already been buried. After mustering out
he re-enlisted with Company C and returned to the Philippines. Last known location
- East St. Louis, where he worked for the C B & Q Railroad. Only known account
appeared in St Louis Daily Journal with much press clipping material - reprinted in
Taylor and one of Schott's major sources, although it's difficult to determine what
was first hand experience and what was the writer's imagination.
Christian Williams - Ironically, Williams was aboard the Olympia during
Dewey's destruction of the Spanish fleet. Reportedly, but unconfirmed, Medal of
Honor recipient. He died on the stairs inside the municipal hall where his body was
found by Irish.
Claude C. Wingo - A doctor's son from Spartenburg, South Carolina. His father
lived briefly in Wyoming, then in Kansas. Allegedly helped recover the flag after the
attack at Balangiga. Offered to stay behind in the town. Took boat with Charles
Powers in place of Arnold Irish, who couldn't steer. Took Driscol's body aboard
when Bertholf's boat sank. Said he's be better off alone he cut himself loose, or was
cut loose (Closson) from the convoy. Never seen again.
Harry Wright - AKA Jerry Wright, hospital corp. Arrived in Balangiga with
Griswold on August 13. His body was found (Conger) with a spade in his head and
surrounded by eleven Filipinos. His body was found some time after the Bookmiller
visit and was buried separately in another grave on a street corner on a road leading
West of the Church. It has never been recovered and is the only American to remain
buried in Balangiga.
John S. Wolfe - - In Bookmiller as unwounded at Basey, not mentioned in
Bumpus or Taylor. May have been at Basey from Manila on his way to Balangiga or
Harry M. Wood - Last seen alive running presumably from the mess tent, past
Markley at the beginning of the attack
Joseph Gordon - AKA Godon
Joseph Marx - AKA Marr
Leonard P. Schley - Also referred to as Private (Bumpus)
Evan Smith - AKA Evan South (Bumpus)
Aron J Burke - May have arrived in Balangiga with the rest of the company on
August 11 or 13 but was transferred to another unit in August.
Pvt McGilligan - referred to in Schott as Gilligan, McGilligan died of dysentery
20th August and was buried in the cemetery at Balangiga. His body was recovered in
1903 and returned to the US aboard the Kilpatrick, along with other recovered
bodies. Buried at San Francisco National Cemetery.
Charles Powers - Severely wounded. Was in same boat with Wingo. Body seen
on beach near Capines Point by Marak et al.
Floyd J. Shoemaker - Originally in Bertholf's boat during the escape, when it
swamped he transferred to Betron's boat. Died of wounds either at Tacloban or
John D. Armani - Brother of Lito. He was stationed in front of the convent
officer's quarters when the attacked began. Stabbed to death by Victoriano Dado.
Henry Claas - Serious back wound. Transferred to Tacloban Hospital. He was
one of three men who apparently escaped from the mess tent - the others were
Dobbins and Covington - into the river. Dobbins and Covington died, either from
Filipino attacks or by friendly fire before being rescued by a group led by Sgt
Markley and including Mumby, Irish and others. No account of the incident by Claas
or Mumby is known to exist. There are significant differences in American accounts
and no Filipino account of the incident has yet been found.
Cornelius F. Donahue - Wounded in the knee by Abanador, using Gamlin's rifle
- probably the first person shot. Transferred to Tacloban Hospital he died about 10
days later, probably from infection.
Jerry Driscoll - severely injured - his brains are said to have been hanging out,
he was in Bertholf's boat during the escape, until it swamped, was then transferred
to Wingo's and Power's boat, which was last seen apparently swamping. Body never
Ladislaus Garcia - In Bookmiller as unwounded, not mentioned in Bumpus. May
have been at Basey from Manila on his way to Balangiga.
John L. Covington - Appears to have been in the mess tent when the attack
began and was chased into the river by Filipinos, along with Claas and Dobbins.
Accounts differ as to whether he was killed by Filipinos from a boat or drowned. He
may also have been a victim of friendly fire.
Samuel Allison - In Bookmiller as unwounded at Basey, not mentioned in
Bumpus. May have been at Basey from Manila on his way to Balangiga or vv.
Captain Paul Harris - Detached of a years duty at the St Louis World's Fair. He
may have been present when President McKinley was shot and injured in early
Pvt. Thermistocles. Qula - One of only three unwounded men. He stayed in the
Philippines afterwards, possibly in Cebu.
Pvt. Charles Sterling - Buried at San Francisco National Cemetery, his body was
returned to the US on the USS Logan on August 9, 1903.
Filipino Forces
The Filipino forces were divided into seven attack groups of about 70 men each.
Groups 1 through five were assigned to the outskirts of the town, groups 6 and 7
made the main attack, with group 7 split into three units. Group 6 targeted the
church and officer's quarters and mainly came from Lawa-an; group 7 targeted the
main barracks, sub barracks and the mess tent. This list is far from complete.
Although several people carry ranks of Capitan and Teniente probably only Daza,
Abanador and Duran carried military ranks, In other instances Capitan denotes a
civilian Capitan Municipale, probably former town mayors, while Teniente generally
indicates Teniente del Barrio - today be called a barangay captain. - A barangay is
the smallest political unit in the Philippines. The Barangay captain is the senior
elected official.

General Vicente Lukban Victoriano Dado

Major Eugenio Daza Isidro Dado-
Captain Valeriano Abanador Francisco Dadulla
Pedro Abayan Isidro Dalino-
Father Donate Guimbaiolibot Santos Davanadero *
Benito Abajero Julian Decena
Pedro Abajero * Ponciano Delantar*
Gonzalo Abajero Marcela Delantar
Juan Abajero Mateo Delantar
Martinez Abal Alvero de la Dia-
Torbio Abajero- Tomas Diasanta
Hector Abedero Hilario Duran
Mateo Abellar- Pedro Duran
Basilio Abing* Ruperto Duran-
Tomas Abing Head of Ecaldre Family
Laurente Abit Jose Edejar-
Pedro Abit Gonzalez Eder-
Gregorio Abule Custodio 'Gono' Elacion*
Eugenio Abon Geronimo Elacion *
Ruperto Abon Lucio Elacion*
Victor Abon Salvador Elecho*
Pelagio Acosta Valeriano Eluspa-
Buenaventura Adana Domingo Enario-
Torebio Aguilla Head of Enciso Family
Victor Aguilar Catalino Espina*
Esteban Aguirre* Felipe Espina
Elegino Albarino* Andres Fabillar
Bartolome Ayhon Ignacio Faduypa
Severo Ayles *Vicario Ferraras
Gabriel Badilla Pablo Flores
Teudocio Bajadi Evangelista Gabornes
Juan Bajar- Patrico Gacos*
Raymundo Bajo* Pablo Gadicho
Isidro Bajo* Laureano Gandia*
Mariano Bajo* Hilario Garcia*
Apolinario Balbuena Vicente Garilla-
Aniceto Balasbas Head of Gavan Family
Nepumeceno Balasbas Dulfino Gemenes
Felino Balasbas* Crispo Germones
Venansio Balabas- Herminigildo Germones
Osep Baldoza Bernabi Gonzaga
Andronico Belaez Andres Hilaria-
Artemio Belaez Augusto Hilarion*
Graciano Balcos* Felipe Jadion
Carlos Baldelomar Aurellano Lavilla
Geronimo Albarina* Bernardo Lavilla
Juan Albarino* Juan Lavilla
Bartolome Amande Marcos Lavilla
Lufrecio Amande Rafael Lavilla
Gervasio Amistad Sergio Lavilla
Felipe Andres* Fecundo Longatang
Lope Angurin Hipolito Longatang
Martin Anistoso- Pablo Longatang
Benito Arica Pacundo Longatang
Augustin Ascidillo* Zoilo Longatang
Juan 'Bogang' Asidre* Isidro Magno
Calixto Asidre Casiana (Geronima) Nacionales
Brijido Ave* Eugenio Nacionales
Pedro Avila Felisardo Nacionales
Danillo Avincula Paulo de Ocampo-
Ceferino Basdante* Simon Osias
Clemente Cabardo Maximo Palana
Rosauro Cabillo* Placedo Quilino
Estanislao Canciller Feliciano Ramasasa
Julian Candilosas Ignacio Sabido
Vicente Candilosas Roman Sabido
Remidios Canilla- Beterio Sajorda
Benito Canillas * Pio Sajorda
Carlos Canillas Custodio Salazar
Guno Canonigo* Simeon Salazar
Benito Carilla Benito de Sur
Patricio Carilla* Honorio Terencio
Crispin Castillo Legaspi Terencio
Ferrer Castillo Victor Terencio
Sofriano Castillo Head of Trajano Family
Vicente Castro- Calixto Vala
Velarde 'Bango' Catalogo* Pablo Valdemoro
Felipe Cebero* Mariano Valdenor
Braullio de Claro- 'Captain Victor'
Notes on Filipino Forces
Most of the names below appear to have been members of attack groups 6 and 7
and thus comprise the majority of the initial attack force.

Valeriano Abanador - Police Chief, related to Daza and Abayan through the
Salazar family, he was one of the planners and in overall charge of the attack.
Previously he acted as local intelligence officer for Daza. A college dropout, he
studied briefly in Manila at Letran and learned furniture making. He was an expert
in Filipino stick-fighting - Eskrima or Arnis. Contrary to American accounts he
survived - later surrendering with Eugenio Daza and others at Catbalogan to General
Fredrick Grant on April 27, 1902. Subsequently he became mayor of the town. His
house still stands, although in very bad condition. He died on November 8, 1956. He
was subject to a 'loyalty test' in 1908, which involved the capture of Fabillar.
Andronico Belaez - Vice Mayor of Balangiga. One of the organisers. A
descendant may have been Charles Hanning's source of information.
Captain Victor - In the January after the Balangiga Incident, Captain Victor was
one of a number of Filipinos with a marine unit led by Major Littleton Waller
Tazewell Waller trekking across Samar in the wake of orders by the notorious
General Jake 'Hell-Roaring' Smith to kill anyone over ten years old (Waller says that
he ordered his men to disobey the order). One night, Captain Victor was caught
trying to steal Waller's bolo and was later summarily executed. Waller claimed at his
court martial for the execution of eleven Filipinos that Captain Victor - last name
unknown - was one of those involved at Balangiga. It is unknown how this was
determined or whether it was just thrown in to juice up the defence case, which
succeeded. During Waller's trial, General Smith talked himself into his own court
martial but wasn't so lucky. He was found guilty and missed from the service.
Pedro Abayan - The town mayor, related to Daza and Abanador through the
Salazar family, and one of the planners of the attack. Responsible for collecting taxes
for Lukban. A Catholic lay preacher and former secretary to the local Priest. He led
the assault on the convent by attack group 6. He survived, despite American
accounts that describe him being shot by Corporal Hickman. He died on July 2, 1932.
Victor Abon - From Quinapundan. In the fourth attack group.
Fecundo Longatang - From Quinapundan. In the fourth attack group.
Hipolito Longatang - From Quinapundan, a member of the fourth attack group
under Angurin.
Pablo Longatang - AKA Pablo Flores. From Quinapundan, a member of the
fourth attack group under Angurin.
Osep Baldoza - A friend of Mariano Valdenor, he is said to have strangled two
American soldiers to death with his bare hands.
Head of Ecaldre Family - Full name to be determined, From Lawa-an; he was
probably part of attack force 6 at the Church and convent.
Andres Fabillar - From Giporlos, he was involved in a rape case around 1907
and joined the Pulahanes. He was later captured by a ruse of Duran and Abanador
and spent a prison sentence in the Iwahig Penal Colony. He returned home a
reformed person and became head of Giporlos until his death in the 1950s.
Pio Sajorda - From Quinapundan, in the fourth attack group under Angurin.
Head of Trajano Family - Full name to be determined, From Lawaan; he was
probably part of attack force 6 at the Church and convent.
Head of Enciso Family - Full name to be determined, From Lawaan; he was
probably part of attack force 6 at the Church and convent.
Francisco Dadulla - A police Sergeant from Barrio Giporlos, probably a member
of the third attack unit, which stayed on the outskirts.
Casiana (Geronima) Nacionales - A spinster known as Doday Sana, is claimed
to be the only woman in the town during the attack. She is said to have waved her
rosary and urged the attackers on. Amano refers to her as Casiana but an account
collected by Rolly Borrinaga from a Valdenor relative refers to her as Geronima. She
certainly existed and was almost certainly related to Ana Nacionales, who was shot
and killed by American soldiers, probably marines, during the retaliation. It is
understood that she worked in the Church and may have acted as a lay preacher -
she may even have led the prayers of the men in the Church, the 6th attack group.
Eugenio 'Gono' Nacionales - Brother of Casiana Nacionales, Lead the 7th attack
group, which released the Filipino prisoners in the Sibley tents, who were armed
with knifes smuggled in water containers the previous night.
Graciano Balcos (Baleos) - worked as a kitchen orderly with Company C. He
was responsible for several American deaths and may have killed Sergeant Randles.
He was wounded in the stomach by gunfire and later died in the forest east of the
municipal building.
Custodio Salazar - Former town Mayor, or gobernacedillo. Sgt. Markley used his
house as a barracks. He was one of the planners of the attack.
Benito Canillas - Captain, Second group leader.
Artemio Belaez - Lieutenant, or Teniente, Second in command of Group Two.
Sgt. Betron used his family house as a barracks. He is also said to have planned the
Pedro Abit - Captain, commanded the third attack unit, which came from Barrio
Benito de Sur - A farmer from Pinamaut, now called Barangay Sto Nino
Bartolome Ayhon - Lieutenant, or Teniente from Giporlos, second in command
of third attack unit.
Head of Gavan Family - Full name to be determined, From Lawa-an; he was
probably part of attack force 6 at the Church and convent.
Lope Angurin - Captain, led fourth attack group, which came from Sitio Canlara,
Barrio Quinapundan (Now the site of the Balangiga National Agricultural School.
Angurin was one of the founders of Quinapundan town and was in the choir in the
church at Balangiga. He had a brother and a sister. Married twice he had a son and
daughter by his first wife and two sons and a daughter by his second wife and their
youngest son became mayor of Quinapundan.
Pelagio Acosta - Lieutenant or Teniente, second in command of fourth attack
group, which came from Barrio Quinapundan. Surrendered on April 27, 1902, with
Daza and Abanador to General Grant at Catbalogan.
Pedro Avila - Captain, from the town proper, headed the fifth attack group
Andres Hilaria - Lieutenant, or Teniente, second in command of attack group
five, which came from the town proper.
Santos Devanadero - lead unit one of attack group 7, with Pedro Duran and
Gonzalo Abajero, in the attack on the main barracks in the municipal hall.
Devanadero was wounded in the attack, probably died later in the forest.
Pedro Duran Jr.- A Police Sergeant and third in command of unit one of attack
group 7. He kept a journal, and several interviews by journalists and historians give
the main source of Filipino information. He claims to have been the representative
for Balangiga in peace talks that were held in Catbalogan, where an inquiry was held
into the Balangiga Incident. No American records of this inquiry have been found.
He was returned to the town after four days. This may have resulted in the
surrender of a small group of Filipinos at Catbalogan on January 21, 1902; He was
subject to a 'loyalty test' in 1908, which involved the capture of Fabillar.
Mariano Valdenor - second in overall command to Abanador and leader of unit
2 of attack group 7, targeted at the barracks in Custodio Salazar's house, those of
Sgt. Markley. From an account passed on by a descendant, it appears that Valdenor
was the man who fought with John D. Closson on the upper floor of the municipal
Pedro Abajero - Led unit 3 of attack group 7, targeted at the barracks in the
house of Balbino Belays, those of Sgt. Betron. It is likely that he was the 'police chief'
said to have been killed by Corporal Burke.
Bango Catalogo - Shot dead while trying to grab the American flag.
Victoriano Dado - A sacristan at the church killed John Armani, brother of Lito
Armani, who was on guard duty at the convent.
Vicario Ferraras - led a group that is said to have killed 'seven Americans' near
Capines Point when their barroto beached. This appears to be the boat containing
Marak, Buhrer, Bertholf, Lito Armani (who's brother had been killed while on guard
at the convent by Victoriano Dado), and Francisco - Connell's servant, and may also
include an earlier boat containing Charles Powers, whose body was found on shore,
Claude C. Wingo and Driscoll. Of these only Marak and Bertholf survived. It was later
claimed that nine Americans had been killed although the body count appear to be
Evangelista Gabornes - Second in command of the sixth group, which attacked
the officer's quarters.
Pablo Gadicho - Headed the 6th attack group, from Lawaan, which attacked the
officer's quarters.
Patricio Carillo - Captured and tortured - by having a strip of ankle skin
attached to a piece of wood and turned - by American forces then killed.
Rosauro Cabillo - A blacksmith who provided weapons, including the knives
smuggled to prisoners in the Sibley tents in water carriers the previous night.
Believed to have died in the attack.
Vicente Candilosas - A teenage boy at the time, he rang the church bell for the
The Bajo Brothers - Died at the foot of the flagpole trying to lower the American
Benito Abejero - A captain in the Filipino forces.
Searching For
Deaths In Samar
It was American historian, Kenneth Ray Young, who appears to have been the
source for the claim that 50,000 people were killed by American forces in Samar.
Rarely questioned, it has gained currency in history books, in newspaper articles
and on the internet. Yet the figure is demonstrably wrong.
"The population of Samar dropped from 312,192 to 257,715, a drop of 54,477"
wrote Young in 1977575. It is a remarkable figure for many reasons and certainly
worth examination.
Filipino nationalist historian Teodore Agoncillo took the claim further, 50,000
Balangiganons were killed according his book, A History of the Filipino People, now a
standard school text in the Philippines.
Agoncillo's claim is bunkum and can be nothing else since the figure is ten times
the population of the entire Balangiga municipality at the time. Up to six post-
Balangiga Attack deaths are known: Ana Nacionales, Geronima’s mother is said to
have been shot in head by American soldiers while trying to avoid a patrol near
Tadan576. The soldiers are said to have taken gold nuggets from her basket, leaving
her to die three days later in the arms of her daughter, Susanna 577; Patricio Carilla is
reported to have been captured, tortured, then killed; Two seven-year old cousins
were surprised by an American patrol to the east of Balangiga, one of the boys was
shot dead, while the other was caught, tossed into the air several times, then left;
and three unidentified fisherman.
Reprehensible, certainly, but not mass killings of Balangiganons. But what of
Samar itself?


Young, Kenneth Ray, Guerrilla Warfare Revisited, Leyte Samar Studies, XI:1 (1977), 21-31
576 Tibe-Bonifacio
577 Duran, p119.
No mass graves have surfaced. There was no 'bodycount'. Even the oral history is
devoid of massacres on a scale large enough to indicate that tens of thousands
died578. The Historical Data Sheets for the province don't support the claims either.
One might suggest that the information was suppressed through some fear-
induced conspiracy. Yet from the 1930s to the late 1950s Filipino participants seem
to be willing enough to talk to historians and journalists and otherwise make a
record of their attempts to kill Americans, so why should they keep silent on
American attempts to kill them?
Allegations of American brutality were made consistently from the middle
period of the Philippine American War, Samar, in particular, came in for
examination. After independence large numbers of participants in the war were
only too keen to put pen to paper to claim their part in the conflict.
There are some accounts, but very few. Typical is one mentioned in the Data
Sheet for Guiuan which tells of a number of farmers, heading out to their fields who
were seen by a heavily American patrol. Fearing aggression from the soldiers, the
farmers drew their bolos, whereupon the American patrol started shooting. Such
accounts are few and far between and, obviously, not on a scale to produce the
figure of 50,000.
The 50,000 figure usually quoted is remarkable in another way. If true, it would
indicate that each of the 300 US Marines killed an average of 167 people, that 10,000
people were killed each month, approximately 333 a day, come rain come shine.
Common sense tells us that something may just be awry, even if one takes into
account the additional numbers of soldiers and Filipino scouts.
Young's footnotes reveal that his figure is derived from Blount's 'American
Occupation of the Philippines'579. Blount gives the 1903 census figure of 222,690 580,
however, not Young's figure.
So where did Young get his numbers? They appear on page 383 of Blount's book,
and are the population figures for Batangas in 1903. And the 312,192 'Samar' figure
is the 1899 figure for the same province, Batangas, according to Blount. Right
figures, wrong island, in both cases.

578 Rosario Narbong-Cabardo cites an anonymous Filipino participant "Everyone they found – even
children, the old, were killed ". The claim is not supported in interviews with participants in Arens,
Loyola and Abletez, nor by oral tradition among this author's interviewees. Narbong-Cabardo, Rosario,
A Revolution Unfolds in Samar – Victory in Balangiga, in Resistance and Revolution – Philippine
Archipelago in Arms, Reyes Churchill, Bernadita (Ed),National Commission for Culture and the Arts,
Committee on Historical Research, Manila, 2002, p100 et seq.
579 Blount, James H., American Occupation of the Philippines 1898/1912, GP Putnam's & Sons, New
York, 1913, also, Filipiniana Reprint Series, Solar Publishing, Manila, Philippines, 1986
580 ibid, page 228.
There was no bodycount in Samar by US authorities, and there are no
contemporary Filipino figures. Nor has there ever been an in-depth study. However,
in 2002 a former USAF Officer, Bruce Gordon looked at crude census figures for the
period from 1884 to 1939, with interesting results581.
The US 1903 Census shows a figure for Samar of 266,237. It is unsafe, of course,
to directly compare Spanish census figures with American census figures because of
their different methodologies but some comparison may be indicative.
The Spanish census for 1896, the latest available before 1903, gives a figure of
244,781. The very low growth rate from 1884 to 1887 reflects a devastating disease
epidemic on the island. The very high rate between 1887 and 1896 is anomalous; a
3.2 per cent increase cannot be accounted for by simple live births alone. It is nearly
twice the growth rate of the Philippines of 1.72 per cent between 1887 and 1903582.
Indeed, from 1918 to 1939 the growth figure is very close to the overall growth rate.
For a growth rate of 0.8 per cent to suddenly become 3.2 per cent is little short of
a miracle, and miracle are in notably short supply. If it was due to a sudden influx of
immigration from some other part of the country, it should have left a perceptible
social impact that seems to be absent. However, if a thriving hemp-based economy
attracted immigration from the southern Bicol region, which shares geographical
closeness, a number of linguistic and cultural similarities, as well as a hemp
industry, then the impact may have been light.
If one simply takes the growth rates in the American census figures from 1903 to
1939 and places them against the 1896 Spanish figure one comes up with a notional
shortfall of 15,336 people. Still high but significantly less than the already
discredited 50,000 figure often bruited about (See chart 1).

581 Gordon, Bruce,

582 May, Glenn Anthony, A Past Recovered, New Day, Quezon City, 1987, page 87
Chart 1

Projecting back, of course, would show an overage in the other direction.

Spanish population records are unreliable and it is generally assumed that
American records were more accurate. But which way does the inaccuracy lay? And
were the American records really more accurate?
There is a natural temptation to assume that Spanish figures erred significantly
on the low side. Those based on church figures were depressed because many
people did not want to go to the expense involved with baptism or burial. Spanish-
era authorities varied widely in their enthusiasm in collecting data. Samar had few
Spanish officials during the period. Figures based on taxpayers would also be
depressed since, in Samar, many people took to the hills to avoid paying taxes.
There is an alternative scenario that seems counter-intuitive: That the Spanish
figures were exaggerated, and that American figures were too low.

The American shortfall

Batangas had a population similar to that of Samar. By 1903, the war in Batangas
was over and the province relatively quiet. Census takers went from house to house
counting heads and still managed to miss around 10,000 people583.
Samar was far from easy territory. Its challenging terrain and climate alone had
accounted for two thirds of the marine dead on the island during the war. It also had
a large part of its population that did not want to be found. Under such
circumstances an undercount at least of the order of that in Batangas, and possibly
much higher, is to be expected. That would bring the number to be accounted for
down to a little more than 5,336.
Another influence is Pulahanism. By the middle of July 1905 there were a
reported 7,000 Pulahanes, semi-religious raiders, in Samar584. This number did not
appear overnight, some already existed on Samar prior to the end of hostilities on
March 15 and their numbers grew after the April 27 surrender as former
revolutionaries took to the hills and came to terms with the Pulahanes there 585.
It would take a reckless census taker indeed to try and count Pulahanes heads
without losing their own and it's fairly safe to say that they are not included in the
1903 census. Indeed, the Provincial Census supervisor's report curiously makes no
mention of conditions in the hills of Samar, where a significant part, around 25 per
cent, of the population lived. They alone could account for the remaining shortfall.
A similar situation arose at the same time in the Cordilleras. The same 1903
census provided a count of just 135 Mayayao people in Eastern Ifugao, a figure
regarded as ridiculously low. "The probably is that the enumerators have been
afraid to go among them" said one observer. The low count was also ascribed to fear
among the Igorottes that the figures were being collected as part of a plan to attack

The Spanish Numbers

The astonishing population growth between 1887 and 1896 is so anomalous in
comparison to later figures that one is tempted to ask whether it is possible or
reasonable to suggest that the Spanish figures were an overestimate or indicated
some strange and unusual phenomenon.

583 May, Glenn Anthony, A Past Recovered, New Day, Quezon City, 1987, page 79
584 Arens, page 71
585 Arens page 66
586 Jenista, Frank Lawrence, The White Apos, New Day, Quezon City, 1987, p34. Co-incidence spotters
will note that the legendary Lieutenant Jeff D. Galman, who successfully administered the Ifugao
region with some pizzazz, was aboard the USS Liscum as a member of Company M, 9th US Infantry,
during Company C's journey to Balangiga. Company M. was offloaded at Santa Rita.
'Yes' is the quick answer. The Spanish imposed taxes and a significant number of
the Samar population was not inclined to pay them. Their tax avoidance scheme was
simple – take to the mountains where the Spanish were not inclined to go. This
resulted in establishment of communities, which Cruickshank refers to as
'remontados' in the Samar hinterland.
Towards the end of the 19th century, Spanish authorities devised a scheme to
encourage such remontados to return 'under the bells'. This scheme involved a tax
holiday for such returnees and their families. In this unique situation, the
relationship between the population estimates and tax returns was decoupled – a
population increase did not have to be matched by an increase in tax collections.
Spanish administrators could demonstrate their efficiency simply by padding the
figures and not have to worry about an audit. Given what we know about the
'Spanish practices' of the time, it would be surprising if they did not, indeed, do so.
What else happened during the Spanish period under review that may have
affected population figures? One influence may well have been a typhoon in 1897,
the year after the Spanish census, which devastated the island's coconut plantations.
This destroyed economies particularly along the southern coast and even as late as
1903 it was still very far from recovery587.

Back to the Americans

So, we have good reason to suppose that Spanish figures were an over estimate
and American figures an underestimate. One of the first things the Americans did, of
course, was to impose taxes. Given the already observed behaviour of taking to the
mountains to avoid payment. Is it unreasonable to suppose that Samarenos did the
same as their forebears to avoid paying it?
Another influence on the figures was disease. Small epidemics of smallpox and
cholera broke out which caused high mortality among children. Beri-beri, a disease
related to malnutrition also took its toll, especially on the poor588.
As American administrative penetration into Samar became more effective, one
would expect to see an unusually high growth rate. In fact, this is observed in the
1903-1918 figures of 2.4 per cent, with subsequent population growth roughly
following the norm of the time – 1.74 per cent.
Note that the 2.4 per cent figure is suggestively close in order of magnitude, to
the Spanish era 3.2 per cent, and possibly for the same reason.

587 Llorente, Julio, Samar Province, Census Supervisor Report, Paper 120, Otley Beyer Collection, The
National Library.
588 Llorente, Julian, Samar Province, Census Supervisor Report, Paper 120, Otley Beyer Collection, The
National Library.
Post War Conditions on Samar
To say that Samar was devastated by the war is something of an understatement.
What few roads and bridges that once existed were destroyed. More than half of the
province's 44 municipalities were raised to the ground. What few coconuts stands
hadn't been flattened by the 1897 typhoon were also largely gone. The abaca crop
had fallen so much that even two years later it was nearly 75 per cent below
production. Some 85 per cent of draft animals, essential to the recovery of the abaca
industry, had died, a small number due to rinderpest, the vast majority because of
the war. The same applied to food animals. There were food shortages, and what
was available was beyond the purse of many. There was malnutrition589, although
not famine, according to the census supervisor.
There was little reason for anyone to stay in Samar who could afford to leave.
Combined with yet another typhoon during the war and a locust plague, both
reported by Lukban, and an effective blockade of the island that stopped food
imports for two years, it is remarkable that the drop in population through
emigration, temporary or permanent, is as small as it appears to be.
This does not, of course, show that no atrocities took place in Samar, they
certainly did. What we don't know is the scale.
The 1903 figures themselves are revealing if confusing. One would expect to see
more male than female casualties represented in the table. They show 1,634 fewer
males in the 18-44 years old age group than females. In the younger-weighted 15 to
29 group there were about 5,000 fewer males. But in the total population there
were 4,903 more males and 2,873 in the upper age bracket. Fritz suggests that the
possible combat casualties on Samar might be calculated by 5,000-2,873 = 2,127 "or
some other figure"590.
The figure of 4,903 is intriguingly close, in order of magnitude to the 5,336
mentioned earlier. But they represent less than 1.9 per cent of the population and
one has to ask whether, given the conditions on the island at the time, the count
could have been sufficiently accurate to outweigh any inaccuracies.

We can establish a) that the 50,000 figure is drawn from a false basis, b) The
methodology was based not on deaths but a general population shortfall c) given the

589 Llorente, Julian, Samar Province, Census Supervisor Report, Paper 120, Otley Beyer Collection, The
National Library.
590 Fritz, David L. Before "The Howling Wilderness": The Military Career of Jacob Heard Smith,
Military Affairs, November-Decmber1979 p186,
uncertainties of the available population figures no worthwhile estimate can be
made from them, d) there was a variety of known causes of disease and death that
could account for a population shortfall equal to greater than those resulting from
direct military action and e) Samar inhabitants had every reason to leave the island
in large numbers at the end of the war.
Nothing suggests that the conflict death rate in Samar was especially high for a
combat zone, and no evidence at all of 'genocidal' activities.
Further work is certainly needed on this issue and examination of municipal and
parish records, rather that crude population, may hold the key591.

Two Historians,
Two Preconceptions, One
"Some people distort things consciously, others just don't take the trouble to check
their sources."
Alexsandr Solzhenitsyn,"Russia's Prophet In Exile," Time (July 24, 1989), Page 60.

A preconception is a dangerous beast if it seduces one into accepting, or even

misreading data which may itself be unreliable in an unreliable way. Gore Vidal, for
instance, claimed that three million people died in the Philippines-American War
and cited a source which he did not, in fact, read. The original source, which Vidal
cited, actually gave a figure ten times less but Vidal apparently 'borrowed the
citation from a different book, which happened to have misprinted an extra zero. 592
It's a sneaky animal that too often causes us to accept data at face value without
confronting its veracity. That it can catch even the most respected historians
unawares and gently lead them into the bungie pit of error is illustrated by two
Balangiga related papers by two well-qualified and influential historians, Rey
Imperial and Louis Gleek.
Both are traditional 'nationalist' historians. Louis Gleek is a former US Foreign
Service Officer whose history books on the American experience in the Philippines
are an impressive body of work and required reading. For many years he was
curator of the American Historical Collection, AHC, first at the Thomas Jefferson
Library and later at the Rizal Library at Ateneo University and editor of the Bulletin
of the AHC Foundation, a publication well worth its modest subscription. His
credentials as a historian and commentator on historical issues are impeccable, as is
his American patriotism. Gleek is a man of forceful views – he regards the Anti-


Gates, John M., Letter, Death In The Philippines, New York Review Of Books, Volume 28, Number
20 · December 17, 1981
Imperial League as traitors and many nationalists as 'over heated' would-be
Marxists. He is sometimes regarded as an apologist for American intervention in the
Professor Rey Imperial of the School of Social Sciences, of the University of the
Philippines, is one of the country's foremost historians. He has taken a special
interest in Samar and Leyte during the Philippine-American War, has published a
book on Mojica on Leyte and plans to publish a companion work on Lukban on
Samar. He regularly presents papers at conferences and symposia, among them the
one discussed here. He is a nationalist historian in the mould of Agoncillo and
It should be emphasized that the criticisms of these papers does not imply their
general application to these authors' other works, only to the specific papers

The Balangiga And After That Wasn't

Let us deal with Professor Imperial's paper, Balangiga And After, presented at a
conference in 1998 and available online593. His thesis is that the 'water cure' was
used by Company C., 9th United States Infantry, in Balangiga and prior to the attack
of September 28, 1901.
The Water Cure, a cure for silence, also referred to as the Water Torture
although some American senators believed there was a difference, involved laying
the victim on his or her back, held or strapped down, with mouth forced open.
Water was then pumped or poured, using a syringe or a rifle barrel, into the victim's
stomach until it was swollen. Then, using a rifle butt, or by simply jumping on the
victim's stomach, the water was forcefully expelled. The sensation was one of being
drowned and among its dubious benefits is that it left few marks and was rarely,
though sometimes, fatal.
It appears to have been adopted from the Macabebes who practiced it during he
Spanish regime and joined with the US forces during the Philippine-American
War594. Its best-known American adherent was Captain Edwin Glenn of the 5th US

593 Imperial, Reynaldo, Balangiga And After, Balangiga Round Table Conference, UP Tacloban,
November 27-28, 1998.
594 The original Macabebes were a separate cultural group occupying a large part of Pampanga, Luzon
and distinct from the Tagalogs who occupied the provinces around them. The term was later loosely
applied by US soldiers to all Filipinos who were recruited into the US forces as scouts. There is some
evidence that the Macabebes played a key role in the island's international trade in pre-Hispanic times.
After several failed attacks on the Spanish, the Macabebes submitted to Spanish rule quickly, which
probably has as much to do with protecting their trade interests as in seeking Spanish defensive against
the surrounding Tagalog majority. The US 'inherited' the Macabebe forces from the Spanish.
Infantry, who operated both on Luzon and Samar. Glenn was eventually court-
martialled, fined and finally ended his career as a Brigadier General.
The claim that the water cure was carried out in Balangiga has appeared in
various forms. Charo Narbong-Carbardo made the claim in the Philippine Daily
Inquirer, September 29, 1996595 then in a later book, but without any guide to its
origins596. Imperial, however, does cite a source, the transcript of the US Congress
committee of inquiry into Affairs In The Philippine Islands. It would appear that
both used the same source, but neither seems to have actually referred to the
transcripts themselves, even though it appears as a reference in Imperial's paper.
As will be shown, Imperial evidently depended upon an, at best, secondary or
tertiary source rather than the transcript. That source, deliberately or otherwise,
severely misrepresented what was said in the transcript. It would be utterly
improper to suggest that Imperial himself deliberately misrepresented his evidence,
which cites a British-born piano tuner, William Gibbs, from Springfield,
Massachusetts who joined the Army at a recruiting station in Boston.
Imperial writes:
” Some of the prisoners were suspected of supporting the revolutionary
movement by aiding the insurrectos. They were tortured to extract
information. Gibbs recounts the torture sessions thus:
We heard moans from the men which was [sic] getting the water cure and could
see a sickly [sic] expression on a man's face after coming out. The water that was
used in Balangiga was not usually [sic] clean. The torturers preferred dirty water to
inflict a more insidious and emasculatory punishment. In more cases than one, the
tortured prisoners told their stories or had to tell one [albeit] fictive. 28 “
Imperial cites, as a source, Affairs In The Philippines, page 2286. That page
contains no reference to water torture in Balangiga, but the water torture is covered
on page 2303-2305. In order that there should be no misunderstanding, here is
what Gibbs actually said:

Q. You said yesterday that you had not seen the water cure administered, but
you had seen the water brought in. – A. Yes, sir.
Q. (Senator Patterson) What did you know that indicated that the water cure was
being administered to soldiers?

595 Charo Narbong-Cabardo, ‘Filipinos Dealt US Worst Single Defeat', Philippine Daily Inquirer,
September 29, 1996
596 Narbong-Cabardo, Rosario, A Revolution Unfolds in Samar – Victory in Balangiga, in Resistance and
Revolution – Philippine Archipelago in Arms, Reyes Churchill, Bernadita (Ed),National Commission
for Culture and the Arts, Committee on Historical Research, Manila, 2002
Senator Beveridge
Q: Do you speak of the water cure in Samar?
The Witness (Gibbs): Yes, Sir

By SenatorPatterson:
Q. What did you know that made you come to the conclusion that it was being
administered to the Filipinos? – A. I have seen the men brought down to the place
where I knew it was going to be administered.

By the Chairman:
Q. Was this at Balangiga? – A. No, sir, it was at Catbalogan.
Q. Before you went to Balangiga? – No; After the massacre.

By Senator Paterson:
Q. Go ahead. – A. Some of my comrades and myself have tried to peep in the
windows and see what was going on. We could hear a great many things.
Q. What did you hear? – A. We heard moans from the men which I expect were
getting the water cure, and then we could see a kind of a sickly expression on a
man's face after coming out.
Q. Did you see them carrying in water? A. Yes, sir.
Q. Before you heard the moans and before they came out? A. Yes, sir.
Q. What do you know of the results? A. One man died in Catbalogan.
Q. Who was that? – A. I don't know.

(They discuss whether or not hearsay testimony can be introduced. Patterson

takes up the questioning)

Q. How frequently did you see evidences of the administration of the water cure
such as you have described, the carrying in of water and things of that kind? – A.
Three times
Q. Was it commonly reported or understood that the administration of the water
cure was usual or common? – A. Yes, sir.
Q. Did you see any other form of torture inflicted? – A. No. sir.
Q. Was there any general report among the soldiers of any other form of
punishment or torture, or efforts being made to induce confession or secure
information? – A. No, sir.

By the Chairman:

Q. Who were the soldiers engaged in these forms of water cure that you believe
were administered? – A. Usually the interpreters and the American scouts.
Q. Who were the American scouts? – A. Men that had been discharged from the
service and re-enlisted as American scouts.
Q. Were they regulars? – A. No, sir. They were regulars previous to their being
scouts, or some of them were.
Q. Were some of them volunteers? – A. I believe so.
Q. Were any of the men in your regiment engaged in it? – A. I could not say.

(Discussion of location of the water cure activities. Patterson continues

Q. What was the character of the water they used for this purpose, and where did
they get it? – A. Dirty water was preferable to the cleanest water.
Q. What do you mean by that? A. They would go to the shore and take a tin pan
and dish up sand with water, with the salt water, and if that could not be found they
would get something else that was dirty.

By Senator Beveridge:
Q. They would always get sea water? A. Yes, sir, they could always get sea water.
By Senator Patterson:
Q. Did you hear the question discussed or talked about as to why they used any
particular kind of water? A. Simply to inflict a more severe punishment upon them.
That was the reason hey got the dirty water.
Q. And why they mixed sand with the water? – A. Yes, sir.

To say the least, there are significant differences between what Professor
Imperial writes and what Gibbs actual said. In particular, Gibbs clearly states that
the water torture was done not in Balangiga but in Catbalogan and after, not before,
the attack and by American Scouts, not Company C. men. Further more, the
transcription of Gibbs's actual testimony has been edited to become less
grammatical that it actual was, presumably by his actual original source to give it
more apparent veracity.
None of the published accounts by Balangiganon participants such as Duran and
Dadulla, or the Daza Affidavit, refer to the Water Cure, nor, according to their
descendants interviewed by myself, spoke about it, although they did talk about
other matters, some reflecting poorly on certain Filipino participants.
Professor Imperial's preconceptions, one suggests, led him to accept as accurate,
a source that clearly was not. In doing so, he created yet another myth about the
Balangiga Incident.

Gleek and In Memoriam

I met Lewis Gleek in 1997 at the AHC premises and discussed Balangiga with
him. He was kind enough to give me an unpublished paper, "Balangiga Was A
Massacre" which had been written in response to a newspaper item which argued
otherwise.. This paper was subsequently printed, in some minor editing, in the
Bulletin of the American Historical Collection under the title 'Bloody Samar'597.
Gleek's premise is that the attack plan was long pre-conceived and that there
was no abuse. He bases this mainly on EC Bumpus's In Memoriam, published around
1902 and, by implication, the attack was unprovoked.
He writes 'Occupation was invited by the town authorities". There is no evidence
at all that any such invitation was made. The claim first surfaces in George Meyers's
account in The Massacre at Balangiga, which was later regurgitated in Joseph
Schott's Ordeal Of Samar'. It is also mentioned in Imperial's paper, covered above.
The only communication ever to come to light implicating the town in a long-
term plot is the letter of May 30, 1901, which is dealt with elsewhere. The letter is
more ambiguous than an American reader innocent of the ways of the Philippines
would assume although Gleek's extensive experience in the country should have
caused him to at least consider the alternatives.
Since all that remains of the letter seems to be a translator's 'true copy', the
original is neither in the PRR/PIR files nor on the microfilms of the PRR/PIR given
to the Philippine National Archives by the US National Archives in the 1950s,
questions such as who actually wrote the letter remain unanswered, and there is
room, albeit a small one, for doubt regarding its true provenance. It did not come to
light until after the Balangiga Incident.

597 Gleek, Lewis, Balangiga and Bloody Samar, Bulletin of the American Historical Collection
Foundation, Vol. XXVI No.1(102), January-March 1998, pp 14-15.
Nationalists on both sides have failed to question the claim that Balangiga Mayor
Pedro Abayan invited a military presence. For American nationalists it confirms the
'treacherous' character of the Balangiganons, while Filipino nationalists accept it
because it places the letter firmly within the nationalist cause.
Gleek writes 'there was some resentment of the military's orders that the town
be cleaned… but no abuse as alleged by some contemporary nationalists'. This
would certainly be the impression gained from a reading of In Memoriam, but In
Memoriam is, by its nature a tainted source.
In 1901, Everett Cephas Bumpus was devastated by the deaths of his son
Chauncey, a promising, and blind, lawyer, in January and the death of Edward Avery
Bumpus in the Balangiga Incident. In 1902 he held a memorial service for both sons.
To immortalize his dead sons he produced a book, In Memoriam, in which he
reproduced many of Edward's letters home, including several written in Balangiga,
the last exactly a week before the attack took place.
By the time of the memorial service the newspapers had excoriated the Army for
its actions on Samar, in particular, Jacob Smith's 'kill and burn' policy to be applied
to everyone of ten years old and upward. There was, therefore, already a cloud over
the memory of Edward, as well as that of Thomas Connell and Richard Griswold,
both of whom rate a short biography in the book.
The book, in particular Edward's letters, is a valuable and often overlooked
source for the Philippine American War. Its importance goes beyond Balangiga,
giving us the contemporary thoughts of a young American officer of the period
devoid of the usual American and Filipino stereotypes or post-war rationalisation. It
deserves wider circulation.
Everitt Bumpus is remarkably honest about his son's strengths and failings.
Nevertheless, it is beyond reason to expect a grieving father to rehash the
allegations of post-Balangiga atrocities and, indeed, they are irrelevant to Edward's
death anyway.
The book, naturally enough, does not mention the imprisonment and forced
labour of the town's menfolk, the denial of matting to the prisoners and the seizures
of food mentioned by William Gibbs in his testimony, confirmed by other Company
C. survivor accounts, and what Balangiganons saw as the abuse of their women.
Gibbs says "There were some men who tried to make improper advances by
speaking to them and that sort of stuff, but the natives would have nothing to do
with them at all; they would simply chase them out, tell them to go on, or something
like that." To the Americans it may have been little more than mischievous teasing,
but to the Balangiganon such things were abusive. More serious was the horseplay
by American soldiers at a tuba stall run by Catalina Catalogo. Balangiganon
participants, as well as Daza consistently refer to abuse of women, as does the
writer of the 1953 Balangiga entry in the Historical Data Sheets.
Gibbs himself appears to have considered the conditions of the menfolk's
imprisonment abusive.
Hence, it was not merely the giving of orders that caused resentment, but those
activities which Balangiganons and, to some extent, Gibbs regarded as abusive 598. To
say, rather archly, as Gleek does, and flatly that there was no abuse whatsoever,
with the implication that there was no perceived abuse, really isn't justified.
Again, it is unreasonable to expect a grieving father to include such data in a
book the purpose of which was to memorialise his dead sons and, indeed, it would
have been inappropriate to do so.
Gleek also claims 'Details of the plan itself were worked out in the weeks
proceeding the attack on Sunday morning, September 28, 1901, despite plentiful
evidence to the contrary in both contemporary reports and later reminiscences by
Filipino participants which points to the first planning meeting taking place on
September 23.
It takes little enough effort to check a day-date combination, but since only a
savage would attack on a sacred day, an almost blasphemous act, it must have
happened on a Sunday. Which also makes Company C. look even more vulnerable
than it actually was. Since there has been considerable discussion over the years as
to which day and date the attack happened, to verify the day and date seems and
obvious step and look at a calendar.
It happened on a Saturday, and there is plentiful documentation to that effect.
Including, of course, calendars.
It is of note, considering the foregoing, that Gleek wrote his original paper in the
1980s and said in 1998 that he "would not seriously modify anything if he were
writing today"599.

It would appear that both writers felt that, since the evidence they had to hand
satisfied their preconceptions, there was no need to delve further. Imperial accepted
an almost fictitious secondary source for Gibbs's testimony without referring to the
original transcripts. Gleek accepted a book prepared by a father grieving for his

598 Gibbs is said to have been confronted by Cephas Bumpus and to have changed certain aspects of his
testimony. No further details are available to this writer at the present time (Personal communication,
Jean Wall to Bob Couttie, November 18, 2003)
599 Gleek, Lewis, Balangiga and Bloody Samar, Bulletin of the American Historical Collection
Foundation, Vol. XXVI No.1(102), January-March 1998, p93
dead son as the last word on whether or not perceived abuse occurred in Balangiga
and, again, delved no further into the issue.
No-one is immune from preconceptions. We are all victims of our culture, our
education, our experience, our language and our political preferences. It is a beast to
be kept on a leash. When our data fits our preconceptions we should beware of our
own confidence in our conclusions. We must tame it with a firm and critical hand.
It is a salutary lesson to all of us who dive deep into this dark and turbid pool
called Philippine history.
The Law Rings Bells For
In 2003, US Senator Robert Filner filed a bill 'urging the (US) president to
authorize the transfer of ownership' of one of the bells taken from Balangiga and
now on display at FE Warren Air Force Base, Cheyenne, Wyoming 600. Part of the
resolution reads: "Whereas the United States holds supportable legal title to the
bells recognizable under international law and the United States Government has
final disposition over the bells of Balangiga…" Does the United States in fact have
such title? Who owns the bells and cannon of Balangiga?
There have been several legal reviews by the US State Department, The Justice
Department and the Judge Advocate General's Office of the United States Army,
confidentiality precludes them being printed here. There are also concerns among
museum curators and specialists in the legal/cultural questions surrounding looted
artifacts. All come to the conclusion that the bells and cannon still belong to
Balangiga Parish and should be returned; that the President of the United States, the
Secretary of Defense, and others have the legal right to return them without the
approval of the United States Congress.
More generally relevant in the field of international diplomacy, retention of the
bells and cannon arguably represents a unilateral abrogation of responsibilities
under mutually agreed treaties between the United States and the Philippines.
Balangiga itself does not have the funds to pursue the issue through the US
courts and the Philippine government does not have the will, but perhaps some
study of the situation might provide some moral suasion of sorts.

The Customs and Rules of War

Given the reluctance by modern United States administrations to be answerable
to non-domestic jurisprudence, such as the International Criminal Court, it is rather


H. RES. 268, 108th CONGRESS, 1st Session, 2003

a surprise to discover some of the progressive aspects of military jurisprudence
arising from courts-martial in the wake of the Philippine-American War,
Mettraux points out "…the Judge Advocate General noted that the responsibility
of an individual who is alleged to have breached the laws of war was to be assessed
not by domestic law, but from the standpoint of international law and that his
crimes must be defined by that same body of rules." 601
These findings extend the responsibilities of American military personnel of the
time far beyond the Civil War-era General Order 100, also known as the Lieber Code
issued by Abraham Lincoln in 1863, which was re-issued by General Arthur
McArthur during the conflict, and into international law, an area relevant to the bells
issue and the rights of ownership over them.
'International Law' is a misnomer. There can be no international law without
international law enforcement, judiciary and courts. There is no globally recognized,
trans-jurisdictional international law enforcement agency independent of a nation-
state. All that exists are mutual agreements between states to recognize particular
laws by absorbing them into their own body of law.
An example is the issue of the return of the bells and cannon looted from
Balangiga by the 11th US Infantry on or about October 25, 1901 and United Nations
treaties regarding cultural artifacts. Since, at the time of writing, neither the
Philippines nor the United States are signatories to the relevant treaties, they cannot
be invoked to return the bells. Since the United States declines to recognize the
jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court there is no civil or intra-state 'field of
battle'. Or is there?
The courts-martial of Waller, Smith, Day et al. set a precedent that the actions of
US servicemen are bound to behave within international customs and rules of war.
This may be a fruitful avenue to explore.
The 'rules of civilized warfare' is a set of 'customary laws' established by
tradition rather than legislation, very similar to 'common law' established in the
Middle Ages, in the United Kingdom which is parallel and equal to Statute Law.
In the days before the phrase 'live-in partner' and 'palimony' were coined a
common, and misused, English term was 'common-law wife/husband". Before the
establishment of true centralized government and, in particular, the
communications revolution created by the railway, many community relationships
were governed not by statutes created by a legislature but a code of local practice
and custom which were recognized as legally binding, even though not committed to
statute books nor applicable nationally, known as 'common law'.

601 Mettraux, Guénaël, US Courts-Martial And the Armed Conflict In The Philippines (1899-1902), Their
Contribution to National Case Law on War Crimes, Journal of International Criminal Justice, 1,1,
Oxford University Press 2003
In such communities a marriage rite might involve the couple jumping over a
broomstick or a fire and giving the appropriate pledges with regard to duties and
responsibilities. These marriages were recognised as true marriages under common
law with all appropriate privileges and responsibilities, including legitimacy for
offspring, thus the term 'common law wife/husband'. Once Registry Offices became
easily available throughout Britain the term lost legal meaning and was retired 602.
The 'Customs and Rules of War603' bear a similar relationship to Statute Law.
Though one may regard 'civilised warfare' as an oxymoron, over centuries a body of
custom law, principles assumed to be held by contending states, has been assembled
in an attempt to codify and formalise what is and is not acceptable and recognizably
appropriate behaviour in warfare in an attempt to maintain some sense of
Rules and guidelines for combat, may to a greater or lesser extent, draw upon
this body of custom law, as in the case of General Order 100. This is domestic
military legislation that applied to American forces on American territory and thus
had legal force limited only to situation involving those forces on that territory.
Customs and rules of war have also been integrated into various treaties and
conventions, the most famous being the Geneva Convention, others are the 1899
Hague Convention, to which the United States was not a signatory, and the 1907
Hague Regulations, to which signatories undertake to adhere but do not necessarily
apply to non-signatories. In World War 2, Germany was a signatory to the Geneva
Convention but Japan was not.
Case law is another way by which customs and rules become part of the body of
national law, by setting a precedent in judgment of a case which acts as guidance in
other, similar cases. The 1902 courts-martial set a case law precedent that enables
one to invoke international customs and rules of war and apply them to the bells
It is widely assumed, erroneously, that the victor has a right to dispose of any
and all private and state property of the enemy at will, whether as a government or
as an individual soldier- 'To the victor go the spoils'. This does not apply to private
property and Church property, under General Order 100, is a 'special case' of private
Church property has been subject of commentary for centuries. Says Professor
Patrick J. Boylan, Professor of Heritage Policy and Management, City University,
London and consultant to the European Union: "…The taking of civilian property as
opposed to military materiel or items taken as war reparations has not been

602 In recent years the concept of common law marriage, although not the term, has returned and a number
of jurisdictions now recognize long-term relationships to a greater or lesser extent.
603 Sometimes, also 'customs and usages of war'.
regarded as legal since the early 19th century (Paris/Vienna 1815), if not earlier
(Westphalia 1648)."604
This indeed was a factor in the return of a temple bell taken by Admiral Perry
from Japan and which was kept by Annapolis Naval Academy for many years before
being returned, with some congressional action, to Okinawa605.
A rusty 16th century cannon can hardly have been regarded as anything other
than a curiosity, as opposed to a weapon of war, three centuries after its
manufacture. If the bells were rung to initiate the attack and their presence
presented some immediate danger to the 11th Infantry Company there may have
been cause to seize them, but seizure of property does not automatically transfer
the rights of that property.
Hugo Grotius, one of the most respected writers on 'just war' theory and the
international customs and rules of war, commented on such seizures: "For this is a
right resulting not properly from the crime of another, but from the privilege of self-
defence, which nature grants to every one. Besides, if any one has SURE and
UNDOUBTED grounds to apprehend imminent danger from any thing belonging to
another, he may seize it without any regard to the guilt or innocence of that owner.
Yet he does not by that seizure become the proprietor of it. "
Put simply, even if the 11th Infantry, as an agent of the US government acted
properly in seizing the bells, such as fearing that they might be taken by insurgents
and converted into ammunition, or might be used to signal another attack, the
United States Government did not acquire property rights in the bells and is
therefore in breach of international customs and rules of war by now denying them
to the owner, the parish of Balangiga.

General Orders
During the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln asked a Dr. Francis
Lieber to pre