CONTROVERSIAL TOPICS

CONTROVERSIAL TOPICS

Friday, August 8, 2014

BALANGIGA MASSACRE: A CENTURY AND THIRTEEN YEARS AGO

 

 

Balangiga Massacre, September 28, 1901

 

Why American occupation troops killed the entire population of a province, because they were surprised and defeated in a battle with the natives. Estimated civilian killed was 50,000 souls including women and children. Plundered and left the place like a howling wilderness. Such cruelty defies the Christian cultures of both sides.

Gregorio Aglipay, the only priest member of the Malolos Congress clearly summarized the Filipino's commitment to the struggle for freedom:
"We are born with the right to govern our person, our family, home and native town; we are born with the right to do freely what we please, provided that we do not usurp the right or liberty of others... Liberty is one of the most precious gifts with which God has favored us..."

On September 28, 1901, Filipinos under the command of Gen. Vincente Lukban launched a surprise attack on U.S. soldiers stationed in the town of Balangiga on the island of Samar. Many had maneuvered into position by disguising themselves as women. The ringing of a church bell signalled the moment for the attack, and Filipinos armed with bolos rushed the unprepared troops of Company C, eventually killing 59 and wounding 23. The battle sent shock waves through American residences in the Philippines, and throughout the United States. It occured seven months after Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, the leader of the Philippine Revolution, was captured by Frederick Funston, and most Americans believed that Filipino resistance to U.S. rule was near its end. Instead, they were faced with the U.S. military's worst defeat of the war. Americans would be even more shocked by the U.S. military's response to its defeat at Balangiga. The U.S. military used it as an excuse to wage extremely brutal campaigns in Samar and Batangas that lasted into 1902.

The “Person Sitting in Darkness” is Mark Twain’s ironic term, borrowed from the Gospel According to Matthew and used by the Christian missionaries when referring to the “savage,” “heathen,” “uncivilized” populations of the lands the imperialists were conquering. The author condemned the casual atrocities of Lord Kitchener’s British troops in South Africa, who routinely bayoneted unarmed surrendering Boers, as well as those committed by the American forces in the Philippines, which did the same to the Filipinos. He also pointed out that the Americans had openly proclaimed they were adopting “Kitchener’s Plan”, ie. concentration camps, for their opponents. (Tens of thousands of Boer women and children and black Africans had perished in these camps.)

At the same time, Mark Twain denounced the multinational plundering and dismemberment of China, which had provoked the Boxer Rebellion?the mismatched attempt of the Chinese people to drive the imperialist murderers, who introduced mass opium production and trafficking, out of their country. (In a November 1900 speech he had already proclaimed “I am a Boxer.”) The author charged the American Board of Foreign Missions with looting pauper peasants in China, and condemned the missionaries as part of the “Blessings-of-Civilization-Trust,” that deals in “Glass Beads and Theology, and Maxim guns and Hymn Books, and Trade Gin and Torches of Progress and Enlightenment (patent adjustable ones, good to fire villages with, upon occasion).” At the end of his essay, Mark Twain proposes a flag for the United States’ new “Philippine Province”: “we can just have our usual flag, with the white stripes painted black and the stars replaced by the skull and cross-bones.”

“To the Person Sitting in Darkness” attracted a good deal of attention, and eventually set off a storm of controversy. Even within the Anti-Imperialist League, reaction to Mark Twain’s essay was mixed. Though the League reprinted it as a pamphlet, it had the widest circulation of any League publication, League censors excised significant passages, included the author’s quotation from the New York Sun on the prevailing squalor in the slums of Manhattan’s Lower East Side, as well as his bitter condemnation of the activities of Christian missionaries in China.

The reaction among the missionaries, generals and politicians of imperialism was swift and predictable; they charged the author with treason. However, Mark Twain had considerable popular support, and he did not budge from his positions, but forthrightly defended them in speeches and articles over the next several years. In 1902, General Frederick Funston spoke at the Lotos club in New York, charging that the American anti-imperialists were encouraging Filipino resistance. He also leveled a deadly threat: “I would rather see any one of these men hanged - hanged for treason, hanged for giving aid and comfort to the enemy than see the humblest soldier in the United States army lying dead on the field of battle” (quoted in Mark Twain’s Weapons of Satire).

Mark Twain’s answer to Funston came in the form of another North American Review essay, called “A Defense of General Funston” (May 1902). He exposed Funston’s vain lies about his battlefield exploits, cataloguing some of the most recent brutalities committed by Funston and his cohorts in the Philippines. These included the capture of Filipino leader Aguinaldo by treachery and deceit, the torture and execution of Filipino prisoners, including the beating of wounded men and the use of water torture (pouring salt water down prisoners’ throats), and most chillingly, the wholesale massacres of Filipino men, women and children, of the kind ordered by General Jacob Smith and carried out by his soldiers. Mark Twain quoted Smith’s command: “Kill and burn, this is no time to take prisoners, the more you kill and burn, the better. Kill all above the age of ten and make Samar a howling wilderness!”

Uncounted thousands of Filipino civilians were butchered by the American imperialists as a result of this order, carried out in retaliation for a Filipino attack on the U.S. garrison at Balangiga, on the large island of Samar in the central Philippines. Theodore Roosevelt, who had become president upon McKinley’s assassination in 1901, and was now organizer-in-chief of this brutal war of extermination, felt pressured enough by the outcry against the Samar massacre to order an investigation into it. A few years later, in 1906, Mark Twain spoke at Princeton University, thundering his denunciation of the outrageous slaughter by the American Army of nearly a thousand Filipino Moros, Muslims living on the remote southern island of Jolo.

Mark Twain struggled against powerful opponents on behalf of humanity and justice, as he understood them. He was not entirely consistent in the views he expressed and he remained mainly insensitive to the oppression of American Indians throughout his life and occasionally expressed discomfort at the rising tide of immigrant workers. Though his criticisms of American capitalism were often astute, he never seriously examined socialism. Nevertheless, in his regard for the humanity of the millions upon millions of Asians and Africans who were just then being victimized by imperialism, he eclipsed even most socialists of his day, owing in part to his profound understanding of racism in America.

Some soldiers of Company C,  9th U.S. Infantry ("Manchus") Regiment, in Balangiga in August 1901. Valeriano Abanador, the native chief of police who would lead the attack on the Balangiga garrison seven weeks later, is standing with arms folded across his chest (sixth from right). 

On Aug 11, 1901, Company C, 9th US Infantry Regiment, arrived in Balangiga on the southern coast of Samar island, to close its port and prevent supplies reaching Filipino guerillas in the interior.

A glamour unit, Company C was assigned provost duty and guarded the captured President Emilio Aguinaldo upon their return to the Philippines on June 5, 1901, after fighting Boxer rebels and helping capture Peking in China.

They also performed as honor guard during the historic July 4, 1901 inauguration of the American civil government in the Philippines and the installation as first civil governor of William Howard Taft, later president of the U.S.

Soldiers of the 9th US Infantry "Manchus" Regiment enjoying a cockfight, somewhere in the Philippines.  Thirteen companies arrived in Manila on April 23 and 27, 1899. The regiment was temporarily deployed to China during the Boxer rebellion and arrived   there on July 6, 1900. Three members were awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism at Tientsin on July 13, 1900, including Pvt. Robert H. Von Schlick of Company C, who was killed in action. Grateful Chinese officials bestowed on the regiment the nickname “Manchu”. Eleven companies returned to Manila on June 2, 1901, and the remaining  two on June 5, 1901. They left the Philippines in batches on June 12 and 20, 1902.

Filipino historian, Prof. Rolando O. Borrinaga, tells the story of the massacre in an article entitled "Vintage View: The Balangiga Incident and Its Aftermath":

CASUALTIES, February 4, 1899 - July 4, 1902:

Filipinos    :     20,000 soldiers killed in action; 500,000 civilians died

Americans :      4,390 dead (1,053 killed in action; 3,337 other deaths)

Photos of the American conquest of the Philippines, an episode also referred to as the Filipino Genocide.
Soundtrack :Campanades a morts, by Lluís Llach.
LETRA (Catalan original)
Campanades a morts
fan un crit per la guerra
dels tres fills que han perdut
les tres campanes negres.
I el poble es recull
quan el lament s'acosta,
ja són tres penes més
que hem de dur a la memòria.
Campanades a morts
per les tres boques closes,
ai d'aquell trobador
que oblidés les tres notes!
Qui ha tallat tot l'alè
d'aquests cossos tan joves,
sense cap més tresor
que la raó dels que ploren?
Assassins de raons, de vides,
que mai no tingueu repòs en cap dels vostres dies
i que en la mort us persegueixin les nostres memòries.
Campanades a morts
fan un crit per la guerra
dels tres fills que han perdut
les tres campanes negres.
II
Obriu-me el ventre
pel seu repòs,
dels meus jardins
porteu les millors flors.
Per aquests homes
caveu-me fons,
i en el meu cos
hi graveu el seu nom.
Que cap oratge
desvetllí el son
d'aquells que han mort
sense tenir el cap cot.
Fotos de la conquista norteamericana de Filipinas, también llamada El Genocidio Filipino.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chimes in deaths
make a cry for war
the three children who have lost
three black hoods.
And the town is collected
when moan about,
are now just three more
we carry the memory.
Chimes in deaths
the three mouths closed,
woe that troubadour
forget that the three notes!
Who has cut all breath
of these bodies so young,
no more treasure
that the reason for crying?
Assassins of reasons, lives,
never have any rest of your days
and in death we pursue our memories.
Chimes in deaths
make a cry for war
the three children who have lost
three black hoods.
II
Open my belly
for his rest,
my gardens
Bring the best flowers.
For these men
caveu my background,
and my body
There engrave his name.
Weather none
Unravel sleep
those who have died
without head bowed.
Photos of the US trade conquest of the Philippines, también llamada The Filipino Genocide.

"The first month of Company C’s presence in Balangiga was marked by extensive fraternization between the Americans and the local residents. The friendly activities included tuba (native wine) drinking among the soldiers and native males, baseball games and arnis (stick fighting) demonstrations in the town plaza, and even a romantic link between an American sergeant,  Frank Betron, and a native woman church leader, Casiana “Geronima” Nacionales.

"Tensions rose when on September 22, at a tuba store, two drunken American soldiers tried to molest the girl tending the store. The girl was rescued by her two brothers, who mauled the soldiers. In retaliation, the Company Commander, Capt. Thomas W. Connell,  West Point class of 1894, rounded up 143 male residents for forced labor to clean up the town in preparation for an official visit by his superior officers. They were detained overnight without food under two conical Sibley tents in the town plaza, each of which could only accommodate 16 persons; 78 of the detainees remained the next morning, after 65 others were released due to age and physical infirmity. Finally, Connell ordered the confiscation from their houses of all sharp bolos, and the confiscation and destruction of stored rice. Feeling aggrieved, the townspeople plotted to attack the U.S. Army garrison.

"The mastermind was Valeriano Abanador (LEFT, IN OLD AGE), a Letran dropout and the local chief of police; he was assisted by five locals and two guerilla officers under the command of Brig. Gen. Vicente Lukban: Capt. Eugenio Daza and Sgt. Pedro Duran, Sr.  The lone woman plotter was Casiana “Geronima” Nacionales. Lukban played no role in the planning of the attack; he only learned about it a week later. About  500 men in seven attack units would take part. They represented virtually all families of Balangiga, whose outlying villages then included the present towns of Lawaan and Giporlos, and of Quinapundan, a town served by the priest in Balangiga.

"On September 27, Friday, the natives sought divine help and intervention for the success of their plot through an afternoon procession and marathon evening novena prayers to their protector saints inside the church. They also ensured the safety of the women and children by having them leave the town after midnight, hours before the attack. Pvt. Adolph Gamlin observed women and children evacuating the town and reported it, but he was ignored.

"To mask the disappearance of the women from the dawn service inside the church, 34 attackers from Barrio Lawaan cross-dressed as women worshippers.

"At 6:45 a.m., on Saturday, September 28, Abanador grabbed Pvt.  Adolph Gamlin's rifle from behind and hit him unconscious with its butt.  Abanador turned the rifle at the men in the sergeant’s mess tent, wounding one. He then waved a rattan cane above his head, and yelled: “Atake, mga Balangigan-on! (Attack, men of Balangiga!). A bell in the church tower was rung seconds later, to announce that the attack had begun.

"The guards outside the convent and municipal hall were killed. The Filipinos apparently sealed in the Sibley tents at the front of the municipal hall, having had weapons smuggled to them in water carriers, broke free and entered the municipal hall and made their way to the second floor. The men in the church broke into the convent through a connecting corridor and killed the officers who were billeted there. The mess tent and the two barracks were attacked. Most of the Americans were hacked to death before they could grab their firearms. The few who escaped the main attack fought with kitchen utensils, steak knives, and chairs.

"The convent was successfully occupied and so, initially, was the municipal hall, but the mess tent and barracks attack suffered a fatal flaw - about one hundred men were split into three groups, one of each target but too few attackers had been assigned to ensure success. A number of Co. C. personnel escaped from the mess tent and the barracks and were able to retake the municipal hall, arm themselves and fight back. Adolph Gamlin recovered consciousness, found a rifle and caused considerable casualties among the Filipinos. [Gamlin died at age 92 in the U.S. in 1969].

"Faced with immensely superior firepower and a rapidly degrading attack, Abanador ordered a retreat. But with insufficient numbers and fear that the rebels would re-group and attack again, the surviving Americans, led by Sgt.  Frank Betron, escaped by baroto (native canoes with outriggers, navigated by using wooden paddles) to Basey, Samar, about 20 miles away. The townspeople returned to bury their dead, then abandoned the town."

Capt. Edwin V. Bookmiller, West Point Class 1889 and commander of Company G of the 9th US Infantry at Basey, commandeered a civilian coastal steamer from Tacloban, the SS Pittsburg, and with his men steamed to Balangiga. The town was deserted. The dead of Company C lay where they fell, many bearing horrible hack wounds. Bookmiller and his men burned the town to the ground.

Of the original 74 man contingent, 48 died and 26 survived, 22 of them severely wounded. The dead included all of  Company C's commissioned officers: Capt. Thomas W. Connell (RIGHT), 1st Lt. Edward A. Bumpus, and Maj. Richard S. Griswold (the Company surgeon). The guerillas also took 100 rifles with 25,000 rounds of ammunition; 28 Filipinos died and 22 were wounded.

The Akron Daily Democrat, Akron, Ohio, Sept. 30, 1901, Page 1

The massacre shocked the U.S. public; many newspaper editors noted that it was the worst disaster suffered by the U.S. Army since Custer's last stand at Little Big Horn. An infuriated Maj. Gen. Adna R. Chaffee, military governor for the “unpacified” areas of the Philippines, assured the press that "the situation calls for shot, shells and bayonets as the natives are not to be trusted." He advised newspaper correspondent Joseph Ohl, "If you should hear of a few Filipinos more or less being put away don't grow too sentimental over it."

Chaffee informed his officers that it was his intention "to give the Filipinos 'bayonet rule' for years to come." President Theodore Roosevelt ordered Chaffee to adopt "in no unmistakable terms," the "most stern measures to pacify Samar."

Adna Romanza Chaffee (LEFT, in 1898) was born in Ohio in 1842. A veteran of the Civil war and countless Indian campaigns, he served throughout the Spanish-American War, and commanded American troops in the capture of Peking, China, during the Boxer rebellion. He replaced  Brig. Gen. Arthur C. MacArthur, Jr., as military governor  of the “unpacified” areas of the Philippines on July 4, 1901. He appointed Brigadier Generals James Franklin Bell to Batangas and Jacob Smith to Samar, with orders to do whatever was necessary to destroy the opposition--he wanted an Indian-style campaign. Chaffee’s orders were largely responsible for the atrocities that marked the later stages of the war. When the war ended in 1902, Chaffee returned to the States, where he served as lieutenant general and Chief of Staff for the U.S. Army from 1904-1906. He retired in 1906 and died in 1914.


General Jake "Howling" Smith and his staff inspecting the ruins of Balangiga in October 1901, a few weeks after the retaliation by Captain Bookmiller and his troops.

St. Anthony Church: the present structure dates from 1927. The original church was burned down by the Americans on September 29, 1901



Maj. Gen. Adna R. Chaffee (left) and Brig. Gen. Jacob Smith in Tacloban, Leyte in 1902

Colors of the 9th Infantry Regiment, Calbayog, Samar. These same colors entered Santiago (Cuba), Tarlac (Philippines), and Peking (China).

 

LEFT:Survivors of Balangiga Massacre in April 1902 photo taken in Calbayog, Samar

This 1895 Balangiga bell ---the smallest of the three Balangiga church bells---was turned over to the headquarters of the 9th U.S. Infantry Regiment in Calbayog, Samar, around April 1902. This relic is on permanent display at the museum of the 9th U.S. Infantry, stationed in Camp Hovey, Tongduchon, South Korea. It is now considered by most Filipino historians as the one that was rung during the Balangiga attack.

 

The two bigger Balangiga bells:  These were brought to the U.S. by returning 11th Infantry soldiers to their home station at the former Fort D.A. Russell, now the F.E. Warren Air Force Base, in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Both are displayed at the Balangiga Memorial in its Trophy Park.

 

Brig. Gen. Jacob H. Smith's infamous order "KILL EVERYONE OVER TEN" was the caption in the New York Journal cartoon on May 5, 1902. The Old Glory draped an American shield on which a vulture replaced the bald eagle. The bottom caption exclaimed, "Criminals Because They Were Born Ten Years Before We Took the Philippines." The Philippine occupation was the first war, historian Gail Buckley has pointed out, in which “American officers and troops were officially charged with what we would now call war crimes.” In 44 military trials, all of which ended in convictions, including that of General Jacob Smith, “sentences, almost invariably, were light.” The Baltimore American had to admit the U.S. occupation “aped” Spain's cruelty and committed crimes “we went to war to banish.”


This is a video ode to the murdered victims of the American invasion of the Philippines in 1899-1902.



"A good deal of work suffers from failure to take evidence seriously, or to consider basic moral truisms (the most obvious of which is that the standards we apply to others we must also apply to ourselves)." - Noam Chomsky

 

Issue of April 22, 1902

The U.S. Army's retaliation measures included actions that resulted in the courts-martial of two  field commanders, . Brig. Gen. Jacob "Howling Jake" Smith (LEFT, in Tagbilaran in 1901) and Marine Maj. Littleton Waller.

After the massacre at Balangiga, General Smith issued his infamous Circular No. 6, and ordered his command thus: "I want no prisoners" and "I wish you to kill and burn; and the more you burn and kill, the better it will please me." Then he tasked his men to reduce Samar into a "howling wilderness," to kill anyone 10 years old and above capable of bearing arms.

He stressed that, "Every native will henceforth be treated as an enemy until he has conclusively shown that he is a friend." His policy would be "to wage war in the sharpest and most decisive manner," and that "a course would be pursued that would create a burning desire for peace."  [On Dec. 29, 1890, as a cavalryman, Smith was present at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, an incident ---also referred to as a massacre---that left about 300 Sioux men, women and children, and 29 Army soldiers dead.]

An American river expedition in Samar

In Samar, he gave his subordinates carte blanche authority in the application of Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 General Order 100. This order, in brief, authorized the shooting on sight of all persons not in uniform acting as soldiers and those committing, or seeking to commit, sabotage.

The exact number of civilians massacred by US troops will never be known, but exhaustive research made by  a sympathetic British writer in the 1990s put the figure at about 2,500; Filipino historians believe it was around 50,000.

General Smith and Major Waller (RIGHT) underwent separate courts-martial for their roles in the suppressive campaign of Nov 1901- Jan 1902. Although he received the "Kill all over ten" order from Gen. Smith, Waller countermanded it and told his men not to obey it.

However, he was specifically tried for murder in the summary execution of 11 Filipino porters. After a long march,  Marine Lt. A.S. Wlliams accused the porters of mutinuous behavior, hiding food and supplies and keeping themselves nourished from the jungle while the Marines starved. Waller ordered the execution of the porters. Ten were shot in groups of three, while one was gunned down in the water attempting to escape.  The bodies were left in the square of Lanang (now Llorente), as an example, until one evening, under cover of darkness, some townspeople carried them off for a Christian burial.

09-20-2004, 08:03 AM

At Balangiga, on October 23, 1901, Brigadier General Jacob Smith ordered a battalion of 300 U.S. Marines, under the command of then Major Littleton W. Waller, to make Samar "a howling wilderness". "I want no prisoners. I wish you to kill and burn, and the more you kill and burn the better you will please me. I want all persons killed who are capable of bearing arms in actual hostilities against the United States," declared Smith. He set the minimum age limit at ten.
For the next five months, the 6th Separate Brigade killed and burned, fighting several major skirmishes against guerilla bands led by Brig. General Vicente Lukban. The U.S. soldiers also systematically burned villages in the interior, destroying food, slaughtering work animals and killing many of the civilian inhabitants. Samar's population dropped from 312,192 to 257,715. Major Waller's campaign of blood ended with the unwarranted execution of 11 Filipinos, whom he accused of treachery.
This action was the result of was what was to be known as the Balangiga Massacre. The massacre shocked the U.S. public and many newspaper editors noted that it was the worst disaster suffered by the U.S. Army since Custer's last stand at Little Big Horn. Some editors criticized Gen. Arthur MacArthur for hoodwinking the public that the war in the Philippines was over. MacArthur, however pointed out that he had never made that claim. On the contrary, he warned Adna R. Chafee that trouble was brewing in Samar. The Balangiga Massacre infuriated Chafee who assured the press that "the situation calls for shot, shells and bayonets as the natives are not to be trusted."Chafee informed his officers that it was his intention "to give the Filipinos 'bayonet rule' for years to come."
President Roosevelt ordered Chafee to adopt "in no unmistakable terms," the "most stern measures to pacify Samar."
The Balangiga Massacre and the corresponding reprisal was only part of the many years of struggle, heroism and betrayal. History records the Filipinos' constant and bloody fight for freedom. History also exposes the machinations and treachery of the colonial "masters" of the period as money changed hands and the United States paid the "defeated"Spaniards $20 million for the Philippines. A purchase that would disprove itself a bargain, for the U.S. would spend over $200 million in trying to suppress and pacify the islands. In one year alone, the U.S. would have more hostile contacts with Filipino guerillas and suffer as many casualties as it had during the Indian wars from 1865 to 1890.
Shortly after the defeat of the Spaniards - long before the presence of American garrisons throughout the Philippine Islands - Brig. General Vicente Lukban was sent by General Emilio Aguinaldo to Camarines Sur, Lukban's home province. Later he would move to Catbalogan, provincial capital of Samar, where he arrived with 100 riflemen to organize resistance against the American invaders. Aguinaldo had previously given orders, after experiencing defeat in frontal resistance against American advances, to engage exclusively in guerilla warfare. As a result, American casualties doubled.
Gov. William Howard Taft created the Philippine constabulary, composed of nine companies of armed Filipinos with U.S. officers. He believed that a Filipino constabulary would be more effective in countering guerillas than the U.S. Army. Taft's position was seriously undercut when a company of U.S. troops at the village of Balangiga in Samar was massacred.
During the early hours of September 27, 1901, a Filipino force under the command of General Lukban launched a surprise attack on Company C of the 9th Infantry, stationed at the small barrio of Balangiga. Lukban achieved a stunning and dramatic victory.
Prior to this date, there were several incidents that were already shaping up the events of this bloody day. Early in the month of September, Lt. Wallace of the 9th infantry led a platoon up the Gandara Valley to provide security for the local farmers engaged in harvesting rice. In the darkness of morning while most of the soldiers were still asleep, a mob of screaming, bolo-wielding rebels fell upon them. The platoon fought bravely and managed to kill twenty of the attackers with their Krag rifles but ten American soldiers were killed and six more were severely wounded.
This raid, however, was unknown to the isolated garrison at Balangiga. News of President McKinley's death had also, at this time, not filtered through to Balangiga. finally on September 24th, the sad news of the president's death would reach the officers and would bear on their minds, distracting them from noticing developments that would culminate in one of the bloodiest ambushes against the U.S. Army.
On September 25, town presidente Abayan and police chief Sanchez, appeared in the orderly room where First Sergeant Randles, who was left in charge of running the company, was working on his morning report. The two officials presented themselves to the sergeant with their hats in hand and bowed to the officer-in-charge. They announced that it was now possible to bring in as many as eighty laborers from the surrounding countryside to work off unpaid taxes by cleaning up the plaza. The sergeant was elated at the news. His superior, Captain Connell, had always been interested in the sanitation needs of the town and had spoken favorably on several occasions of bringing in extra native laborers to get the job done. Sergeant Randles told the town officials to "Bring in as many as you can."
On September 26, Friday, forty husky laborers were brought in into Balangiga and the next day another forty more appeared. Sergeant Randles arranged for quarters for the outsiders.
On Captain Connell's return on Saturday, he found the place bustling with activity. After being informed by Randles of the arrival of the workers, the captain hurried to the local church to thank the padre for assisting in this project. The captain was certain that the priest had been instrumental in obtaining this labor force since it was the church that levied most of the taxes. This symbol of cooperation restored Connell's faith in the padre whom he had found lax in enforcing moral matters.
The captain could not find the priest at the church and the old sacristan could only shake his head and could give no idea as to the whereabouts of the priest. Annoyed, Captain Connell returned to the orderly room. Later in the afternoon, he would receive from Lieutenant Bumpus the first mail in months from Basey and with it the shocking news that President McKinley had been assassinated.
This sad news drove all thoughts of the missing priest from Connell's mind. He and two other officers sat in their quarters reading accounts of the assassination and discussing the details. Connell was the officer most upset by the assassination. His main concern was whether the "benevolent assimilation" policy of McKinley for the Filipinos would still be encouraged now that its originator and sponsor, McKinley, was dead. He was concerned for he viewed Theodore Roosevelt as a war hawk who made his reputation leading the Rough Riders in Cuba. The other officers listened as Connell's voice was tinged with contempt as he reported that a reliable source in Washington clearly stated that Roosevelt had lobbied in Congress trying to obtain the Medal of Honor for himself. Speaking as a professional soldier, Captain Connell said he was not impressed with the antics of volunteers no matter how widely publicized they were in the newspapers. He anticipated that Roosevelt will probably go back to the old bullet and bayonet policy.
Captain Connell ordered the flag to be lowered to half-staff in memory of the dead commander-in-chief and ordered all troops to report the next morning wearing black mourning bands. Sergeant Randles issued strips of black crepe to the men to sew on their left sleeves.
hat evening the sentries on guard in the plaza area were surprised by the unusual number of women hurrying to the church. All were heavily clothed, which was unusual considering the weather, and many carried small coffins. Sergeant Charer, sergeant of the guard, suspicious of the activity, stopped one woman and pried open her coffin with a bayonet. Inside he found the body of a dead child.
"Cholera," declared the woman. "El Calenturon!"
The sergeant, taken aback at the sight of the dead child, nailed shut the coffin lid with the butt of his revolver and let the woman pass. He concluded that a cholera epidemic must be carrying off children in large numbers. He did not find it strange that news of such an epidemic had not reached the garrison. If the sergeant had further searched under the dead body, he would have found numerous sharp bolos hidden. All the coffins were loaded with them.
If the guards had disobeyed Captain Connell's orders against relationship with the native women, they might have discovered that the heavily clothed women were not women but muscular and fighting fit native men. But with Captain Connell's edict in mind against physical familiarity which could lead to a court-martial for rape, none of the guards dared to approach any of the women.
Lukban, aware of this edict, had taken advantage of the soldiers' hesitation by sending in his men disguised as women.
The soldiers walked their post unaware of the gathering storm. The officers sat up late supervising the captain's houseboy Francisco in sewing the mourning bands on their uniforms. There was no company tailor so the troops had to do their own sewing. At midnight, Captain Connell left them and went off to bed informing them that he may not get up in time for breakfast. The news of the assassination of his admired President had depressed him greatly.
The next morning most of the soldiers were awake early prior to the reveille busily reading the previous day's mail. Most had used up their monthly ration of candles and had to wait for the morning light to read their mail. Many of them walked along with their mess tins, reading letters or home town newspapers. None of the men going to breakfast were armed.
Sergeant George F. Markley stood by his squad hut and watched Pedro Sanchez, the native chief of police, line up the prisoners for work. Markley found the police chief sullen but admired his ability to control his prisoners with a mere look. Standing orders required that at least one guard remain with each squad hut and it was the sergeant's duty that morning until relieved by one of the other hut occupants. When he saw Private James L. Cain from his unit turn towards their hut, he shouted at the private to relieve him so that he could go to breakfast. Without waiting for Cain to arrive, Markley gathered his mess equipment and walked off towards Cain. Cain mentioned to the sergeant the unusual number of prisoners but Markley did not give it much though and hurried off to breakfast.
Markley passed First Sergeant Randle who was waiting to wash his mess kit in a metal barrel full of boiling water. This would be the last time Markley would see the first sergeant alive.
In Sergeant Betron's hut, police chief Sanchez, in an unusual show of sociability, walked over. Corporal Sylvester Burke, who spoke pidgin Spanish and Visayan, finished eating and went over to speak with Sanchez. They stood talking to each other in the shade of the nipa hut as Private Adolph Gamlin, the sentry of Post No. 2, approached from the direction of the mess tents. He walked stiffly erect, eyes front with his Krag on his shoulder as he passed Sanchez and Burke.
Ending his conversation with Burke, Sanchez turned and walked behind Gamlin. With practiced move, Sanchez grabbed Gamlin's rifle from off his shoulder and forcefully brought the butt down in a crushing blow to Gamlin's head. Then Sanchez fired the rifle, raised a signal and all hell broke loose.

 

Balangiga belfry

Belfry of Balangiga Church at Balangiga, Eastern Samar - without its famous Bells, taken as war booty by the US Army after the famous Balangiga Massacre in 1901.

The church bells carried the alarm and conch shells trumpeted the signal to attack. The church doors burst open and out streamed a mob of bolomen who had been waiting for the signal to attack. The native laborers working the plaza suddenly turned on the soldiers and began hacking at them with bolos, picks and shovels.
First Sergeant Randles was just about to wash his mess in the boiling water in the metal barrel. A native woodchopper in a nearby woodpile stepped up swiftly behind Randles and split the sergeant's skull with an axe. Randles pitched head first into the barrel. The native grabbed the sergeant's feet at the ankles and pushed him all the way in. Only the sergeant's wildly kicking legs protruded from the barrel.
Bugler Meyer was sitting at a table under the hut when he saw Sanchez attack the guard Gamlin. The police chief then turned and fired into the breakfast group hitting Private Donahue in the knee. The police chief then led a group of followers against the unarmed soldiers at the table, yelling and brandishing their bolos and clubs.
Hand-to-hand combat ensued as the soldiers clambered up the ladders to get at their rifles. Blood flowed in streams on the floor and dripped through the bamboo floor of the hut. Meyer had left his service pistol in a shelf behind his bunk and he fought his way towards it. Just he was about to reach it he received a crashing blow on the wrist with a club. As he tried to fend off other attacks with his other arm, he received additional cuts in his arms and body. Unable to reach his weapon, Meyer grabbed one of the attackers in a bear hug and both crashed to the floor. Holding on for dear life, Meyer felt that his life's end was near when he suddenly heard a shot beside him.
Corporal Burke who was wriggling about on the floor on his back, kicking wildly at Sanchez and another attacker, managed to find a revolver under a cot pillow. Grimly holding the big .45 in both hands he let loose several shots. Sanchez, shot squarely in the face, catapulted backwards. He shot another attacker who had his weapon raised. Another saw the revolver in the soldier's hands and fled through a window.
The soldiers in the mess tents were one of the first prime targets of the attack. The bolomen burst in screaming and slashing. A bolo made a swishing sound through the air and a chunking sound as it hit the back of Sergeant Martin's neck, which, severed from the body , plopped into his plate of hash. As the soldiers rose up and began fighting with chairs and kitchen utensils, the attackers outside cut the tent ropes, causing the tent to collapse and envelope the struggling men. The natives ran in from all directions to slash with bolos and axes at the forms struggling under the canvas.
Captain Connell was awake and sitting near a window reading his prayer book when the rebels burst into his room. Armed with a stool, he fought bravely for his life. Forced back by the sheer weight of numbers, he leapt from his window into the street and ran. He was soon overtaken and chopped down with bolos. Later in the day, the bolomen came back and chopped off his head and threw it into a fire. Another rebel bit off his ring finger to get his West Point ring.
The survivors of the attack, some 36 men, boarded five barotos at the beach and set off for Basey. .

In an eleven-day span, Major Waller also reported that his men burned 255 dwellings, slaughtered 13 carabaos and killed 39 people. Other officers reported similar activity.

USS Vicksburg sailors led by Lt. ((later Rear Admiral) Henry V. Butler burning a village church in Samar, October 1901.

US Marines in action in the Philippines; at left, a Marine appears to have been hit. Photo was probably taken in Samar island, where the Marines battled extensively with General Vicente Lukban's guerillas in 1901-1902.  During the Philippine-American War, 50 US Marines were killed in combat while 300 died from other causes, mainly disease. The "Philippine Insurrection" was the basis of the US Marine Corps' Small Wars Manual, which remains its bible to this day.

Smith commanded the Sixth Separate Brigade, which included a battalion of 315 Marines under Waller.  Waller's court martial acquitted him but Smith's found him guilty, for which he was admonished and retired from the service. Gen. Smith was born in 1840 and died in San Diego, California on March 1, 1918.

The survivors did not reach Basey until early next morning. Forty-seven men of Company C were killed in the assault, 10 severely wounded, 12 slightly wounded and only 5 uninjured. Captain Edwin V. Bookmiller, commander of Company G of the 9th Infantry at Basey, boarded a gunboat with his company and steamed to the site of the massacre. There he found the that dead of Company C had been stripped and many were horribly mutilated.
It was after this incident that Waller issued his "kill and burn" directive. Chafee also instituted harsher policies in the other remaining guerilla stronghold, located in Batangas province in southern Luzon. On November 30, 1901, he sent his best field commander, Brig. Gen. Bell, to take command of the area, directing him to use whatever means necessary to end the rebellion in the area. Similar to Samar, the army burned villages and herded the population of Batangas into the major cities or concentration camps. Noncombatants were forced and restricted into designated zones, where they were ordered to remain as long as fighting continued. All areas outside the camps were labeled "dead zones"and the U.S. Army operated under minimal restraint and pursued the enemy relentlessly. According to Glenn May, "Freed from most of the prohibitions under which they had earlier operated and pressed by Bell to get quick results, many officers and enlisted men appeared to feel that, as long as they were successful, their actions were likely to be condoned. " The water cure as well as other forms of torture were used extensively on captured Filipinos. Death rates soared in the province of Batangas as many civilians perished in the concentration camps. Glenn May estimates that 8,344 people died in Batangas in the short period of January to April 1902

The San Francisco Call, April 29, 1902, Page 1

USS Vicksburg sailors led by Lt. ((later Rear Admiral) Henry V. Butler burning a village in Samar, October 1901.

Outcry in America over the brutal nature of the Samar campaign cost Waller his chance at the Commandancy of the US Marine Corps. Liberal newspapers took to addressing him as "The Butcher Of Samar".

Waller was born in York County, Virginia on Sept. 26, 1856. He was appointed as a second lieutenant of Marines on June 24, 1880. He rose to Major General, retired in June 1920 and died on July 13, 1926.  He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. In 1942, the destroyer USS Waller was named in his honor.

In April 1902, Abanador accepted the general amnesty offered by the Americans. He died sometime in the 1950's.

Balangiga Plaza in front of the municipal hall with a monument to Valeriano Abanador. An annual event, “Balangiga Encounter Day”, was made possible by the passage into law on February 10, 1989 of Republic Act. No 6692, “An Act Declaring September Twenty-Eight as Balangiga Encounter Day and a Special Non-Working Holiday in the Province of Eastern Samar.” The original bill was filed by Eastern Samar Rep. Jose Tan Ramirez.

Dec. 27, 1901: Atrocity in Panay Island

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In the April 18, 1902 issue of the New York World, Richard Thomas O'Brien, formerly a corporal in Company M, 26th U.S. Volunteer Infantry Regiment,  based in Miag-ao, Iloilo Province, Panay Island, described how his birthday went on Dec. 27, 1901 at Barrio Lanog: [LEFT, Miag-ao Church, late 1890's]

"It was on the 27th day of December, the anniversary of my birth, and I shall never forget the scenes I witnessed on that day. As we approached the town the word passed along the line that there would be no prisoners taken. It meant that we were to shoot every living thing in sight—man, woman, and child. The first shot was fired by the then first sergeant of our company. His target was a mere boy, who was coming down the mountain path into the town astride of a caribou. The boy was not struck by the bullet, but that was not the sergeant's fault. The little Filipino boy slid from the back of his caribou and fled in terror up the mountain side. Half a dozen shots were fired after him. The shooting now had attracted the villagers, who came out of their homes in alarm, wondering what it all meant. They offered no offense, did not display a weapon, made no hostile movement whatsoever, but they were ruthlessly shot down in cold blood—men, women, and children. The poor natives huddled together or fled in terror. Many were pursued and killed on the spot.

"Two old men, bearing between them a white flag and clasping hands like two brothers, approached the lines. Their hair was white. They fairly tottered, they were so feeble under the weight of years. To my horror and that of the other men in the command, the order was given to fire, and the two old men were shot down in their tracks. We entered the village. A man who had been on a sick-bed appeared at the doorway of his home. He received a bullet in the abdomen and fell dead in the doorway. Dum-dum bullets were used in that massacre, but we were not told the name of the bullets. We didn't have to be told. We knew what they were.

"In another part of the village a mother with a babe at her breast and two young children at her side pleaded for mercy. She feared to leave her home, which had just been fired—accidentally, I believe. She faced the flames with her children, and not a hand was raised to save her or the little ones. They perished miserably. It was sure death if she left the house—it was sure death if she remained. She feared the American soldiers, however, worse than the devouring flames."

Company M was commanded by Capt. Fred McDonald.

In a testimony before the U.S. Senate, William Howard Taft denied that U.S. rule in the Philippines was harsh and cruel. He acknowledged "that cruelties have been inflicted; that people have been shot when they ought to not have been; that there have been... individual instances... of torture.. all these things are true." but despite these occasional outrages, Taft asserted that the military and civilian officials did everything in their power to prevent atrocities.
The Filipinos had lost more against the Americans that they did against the Spaniards in the number killed and property lost. Such was the price they paid and would keep on paying in their struggle to be free.


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