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This year begins the centennial of the Philippine War, one of the most controversial and poorly understood events in American history. The war thrust the U.S. into the center of Pacific and Asian politics, with important and sometimes tragic consequences. It kept the Filipinos under colonial overlordship for another five decades and subjected them to American political, cultural, and economic domination.
In the first comprehensive study in over six decades, Linn provides a definitive treatment of military operations in the Philippines. From the pitched battles of the early war to the final campaigns against guerrillas, Linn traces the entire course of the conflict. More than an overview of Filipino resistance and American pacification, this is a detailed study of the fighting in the "boondocks."
In addition to presenting a detailed military history of the war, Linn challenges previous interpretations. Rather than being a clash of armies or societies, the war was a series of regional struggles that differed greatly from island to island. By shifting away from the narrow focus on one or two provinces to encompass the entire archipelago, Linn offers a more thorough understanding of the entire war.
Linn also dispels many of the misunderstandings and historical inaccuracies surrounding the Philippine War. He repudiates the commonly held view of American soldiers "civilizing with a Krag" and clarifies such controversial incidents as the Balangiga Massacre and the Waller Affair.
Exhaustively researched and engagingly written, The Philippine War will become the standard reference on America's forgotten conflict and a major contribution to the study of guerrilla warfare.
I suspect that the Philippine War is little known outside the USA and I even wonder to what extent it receives attention within America. With the publication of Brian Linn's thoughtful and fascinating study there is no further excuse for neglect of the subject.
— Osprey Military Journal
On 3 May 1898, Maj. Gen. Nelson A. Miles recommended to Secretary of War Russell A. Alger that a small 5,000-man expedition be sent from San Francisco "to occupy the Philippines." Miles was responding to a request from President William McKinley, who was eager to take advantage of Commodore George Dewey's victory over the Spanish squadron at Manila Bay two days earlier. Because Dewey had cut the transoceanic cable, the president had little idea of the magnitude of Dewey's accomplishment and even less of the situation in the Philippines. Moreover, the nation had gone to war with Spain barely a week earlier for the ostensible purpose of liberating Cuba, something that in no way required the dispatch of forces halfway across the globe to Asia. But McKinley was a consummate politician who believed in seizing opportunity. Fully cognizant that war's good fortune could change overnight, he sought to reinforce success but avoid an irrevocable commitment. He thus directed that an expedition be sent, but why, and for what eventual purpose, is still unclear.
The underlying reasons for the United States' involvement in the Philippines is one of the most hotly debated subjects in the history of both nations. Much of this debate stems from the putative influence of such factors as imperialism, social Darwinism, the quest for Asian markets, the "Yellow Press," and domestic concerns. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to trace the effect of any or all of these either on McKinley or on the formation of national policy. In part this is due to thepresident's unwillingness to confide his opinions or plans either to paper or to his advisers. He was a master of listening patiently and giving visitors the impression of complete agreement with their views; but he kept his own counsel and rarely could be pinned down. That McKinley was in contact with imperialists, that he listened to their arguments, that he was concerned with both domestic business and Asian trade—of these there is no doubt. But efforts to prove that the president was guided by an imperial master plan have lacked the documentation sufficient to raise them above speculation.
Moreover, there is an equally plausible, and far better documented, argument that American involvement in the Philippines was accidental and incremental. Under this view, neither the president nor his key advisers sought an empire. Essentially pragmatic and opportunistic, they viewed Manila as a bargaining chip with Spain for Cuba or for securing trade interests in Asia. As the consequences of their actions unfolded, they expanded their horizons from Manila to Luzon, and then the entire archipelago, but each time they were following less a premeditated course than seeking to deal with an immediate crisis. Each decision, in turn, committed them further. Ultimately, a series of plausible misunderstandings—the belief that the Filipinos were incapable of self-government, the illusion that the archipelago was economically valuable, the fear of setting off a war among the Great Powers, and, perhaps most important, the belief that popular opinion demanded it—all led McKinley to decide that the annexation of the Philippines was the only rational course. He was aware that this decision might provoke war with Filipino nationalists, but he sincerely, if naively, believed it could be avoided. The president proved quite prescient in his observation that "while the result of a conflict with our troops could not for a minute be in doubt, yet if such a conflict should break out it would engender jealousy and hatred on the part of the natives which could not be overcome for many years."
McKinley's initial uncertainty, his hesitation to commit himself, or the nation, to a policy in the Philippines would place an enormous burden on his military subordinates. The first to bear this cross was Maj. Gen. Wesley Merritt, who was designated as overall commander of the Philippine expedition. Merritt, who met with McKinley for several hours on 12 May, wired the president the next day that he still did not know "whether it is your desire to subdue and hold all of the Spanish territory in the islands, or merely to seize and hold the capital." A week later, the president responded. Sidestepping Merritt's question of the islands' ultimate fate, he noted only that the defeat of the Spanish fleet and the need to secure peace with Spain "rendered it necessary ... to send an army of occupation to the Philippines for the twofold purpose of completing the reduction of Spanish power ... and of giving order and security to the islands while in the possession of the United States."
The president's ambiguous instructions increased the confusion among the officers charged with the execution of military policy. What did McKinley mean by stating that the archipelago was "in the possession of the United States"? Dewey initially believed all the president planned was the occupation of the naval base at Cavite and perhaps Manila. Persisting in the delusion that he controlled not only the waters of Manila Bay but also the city and its surrounding territory, Dewey maintained that 5,000 troops would suffice as a garrison for Manila. The army's commanding general, Miles, was even more confused. In a two-week period he outlined no fewer than three different missions: on 3 May the expedition's purpose was "to occupy the Philippine Islands"; by the sixteenth it expanded to "possession" of the "Philippine Islands"; but two days later it was only "to command the harbor of Manila," and was "not expected to carry on a war to conquer an extensive territory." Unfortunately, such confusion and misunderstanding would continue to plague relations between civilian and military leaders and between Washington and soldiers in the-Philippines.
However evasive on the army's military goals in the Philippines, McKinley was far more articulate about how Merritt was to establish a military government. With breathtaking complacency, he assumed that Dewey's victory had rendered Spanish authority in the islands null and void. He thus gave top priority to "the severance of former political relations of the inhabitants and the establishment of a new political power." Upon arrival, Merritt was to issue a proclamation declaring that the United States came to protect the inhabitants and their property and to guarantee their individual rights. The general was to follow local laws and procedures as much as possible, and, at his discretion, those civic officials who accepted American authority would continue in office. The army was to open ports and assist the resumption of trade, and was prohibited from appropriating private property except where needed. Nevertheless, the military governor's authority was to be "absolute and supreme and immediately operate upon the political condition of the inhabitants."
Given the uncertainty and conflicting interpretations of the Philippine expedition's mission, it is not surprising that there soon emerged a vigorous debate over its size and composition. The War Department's prewar decision to concentrate virtually all the Regular units for operations against Cuba meant that only the 14th Infantry Regiment, recently arrived from Alaska, was ready for immediate deployment. The bulk of the expedition would have to come from state militia units. In his initial estimate of 3 May, Miles proposed that the expeditionary force consist of a rather large brigade, some 5,000 troops, drawn from the national guards of the western states. Merritt immediately demanded more troops, especially Regulars. In part, this dispute was due to Miles's selfishness; he invariably thought that other commanders could do with far less than he. In part, it was due to Merritt's petulance at being passed over for command of the more prestigious Cuban campaign. But the fundamental difference lay in their justifiable confusion over the expedition's mission. Miles foresaw a limited role for the expedition and believed it would face little opposition. Merritt, more prescient, argued that Spanish power was far from broken and, more important, that millions of Filipinos "will regard us with the intense hatred born of race and religion." On 11 May the War Department compromised by increasing the expedition to 12,000 men, but it denied Merritt's request that the majority of the troops be Regulars. Instead, Merritt's force, later designated the 8th Corps, would be made up primarily of state militia.
Accordingly, even as the United States stood on the threshold of a great leap toward Pacific empire, no one knew what the agents of empire were supposed to be doing. Not the soldiers speeding toward San Francisco, not the harried staff officers at the port, not Brig. Gen. Thomas M. Anderson, appointed to command the first expeditionary brigade, not the 8th Corps commander, Merritt, not the commanding general, Miles, not even the commander in chief. With the benefit of a century's hindsight, their confusion and lack of direction are almost inconceivable. But it was part and parcel of the disordered leap toward empire in 1898. And nowhere was that disorder so apparent as in the mobilization of the nation's armed forces.
By 1898, the U.S. Navy had benefited from over a decade of intellectual ferment and warship construction. In his books and essays, Capt. Alfred Thayer Mahan had provided a carefully integrated argument for a modern fleet by linking economic prosperity and national greatness with sea power. Although he emphasized the decisive fleet action, Mahan also stressed the long-term effects of sea power—particularly the capture of enemy colonies and the slow strangulation of a naval blockade. A series of competent secretaries of the navy steered legislation through Congress to retire the relics of the Civil War and replace them with modern steel warships. That this construction benefited the nascent steel industry only increased its political appeal. At the start of the war with Spain the nation had seven modern warships, including four battleships, which would prove more than sufficient to overcome Spain's poorly maintained squadrons.
The U.S. Navy also boasted a veteran and cohesive officer corps. Most of the senior officers were, like Dewey, veterans of the Civil War, who had begun their service on wooden sailing ships. The junior officers tended to be Annapolis graduates, technically competent and well versed in the intricacies of steam power and iron ships. Navy officers were expected to perform a variety of missions ranging from negotiating treaties to suppressing pirates. Their wide experience tended to make them quick to take action and obtain Washington's approval later.
In the Pacific the navy had maintained a tiny flotilla of warships and gunboats, charged with protecting commercial and religious activities in Asia. As tensions with Spain increased in the 1890s, naval strategists developed a contingency plan for a strike at the Spanish squadron stationed in Manila Bay and for possibly capturing Manila. The planners did not consider annexation. As with similar thrusts at Puerto Rico and the Canary Islands, this was to be a supporting operation designed to weaken Spain's ability to defend the main focus of operations, Cuba. Accordingly, on 25 April 1898, Dewey had received orders to take his Asiatic Squadron immediately to the Philippines, find the enemy warships, and destroy them. Running the batteries guarding Manila Bay on the night of 30 April, Dewey located the Spanish off the naval base of Cavite. The commodore's six warships far surpassed the defenders' vessels in speed, armor, firepower, and the respective skill of their crews. The battle on 1 May was little more than a massacre. Three Spanish ships were sunk, six others scuttled, and there were 371 casualties, including 161 killed in action; the Americans had 9 men wounded. The victory had numerous and momentous results, but the most immediate was that it left Dewey in a difficult position. He cabled to his superiors that his warships' guns could secure the surrender of Manila at any time. But should he do so, he would immediately become responsible for its inhabitants—an obligation he could not possibly fulfill. Ground forces alone had the ability to occupy territory. Much to his annoyance, Dewey had to wait in Manila Bay for a sister, and rival, service to secure the fruits of his victory.
Unlike the navy, the U.S. Army had not planned for a war of conquest in the Philippines and was ill prepared to shoulder the burden of empire. The army was administered by the War Department and subordinated to civilian control; the president was the army's commander in chief, and his deputy, the secretary of war, directed the War Department. Usually inexperienced, the secretary was dependent on the powerful heads of the staff departments, the bureaucrats who handled the army's administrative and supply services. The army's emphasis on its managerial functions was also manifest outside of Washington. The professional standing force—what was called the Regular Army—was not organized into tactical commands but divided among geographic departments and districts. The government assigned generals and colonels to administrative duties, and company officers served as Indian agents, engineers, and teachers.
The Regular Army's combat strength was composed of hard, tough, experienced soldiers led by an officer corps whose upper ranks were dominated by Civil War veterans and whose junior officers—a misleading term as many lieutenants were in their forties—were usually West Pointers. These men had benefited from technological and tactical reforms in the last decade of the century. The field artillery, organized into four- or six-gun batteries, was built around the 1884 heavy 3.2-inch steel breech-loading cannon. With a range of 6,600 yards, it could fire canister, solid shot, or shells, but it lacked a recoil system. For operations against mobile enemies, the artillery used the 1.65-inch Hotchkiss mountain gun, which weighed only 117 pounds and could be disassembled and carried on three mules. After decades of wrangling, the War Department had replaced the dangerously obsolescent single-shot black powder .45-70 Springfield with the smokeless-powder .30 caliber Krag-Jorgensen five-shot magazine rifle. New extended or open order tactics were issued in 1891: as some squads provided supporting fire, others advanced in a series of short rushes, took cover, and then supported their comrades, repeating the process until they closed with the enemy and used their bayonets. The artillery was to provide suppressing fire, pushing forward as close as possible and firing directly at the enemy. Although senior officers still exerted a great deal of authority, these tactics imposed far more initiative on the junior and noncommissioned officers and required far more intelligent, highly motivated, and self-disciplined soldiers. Ironically, the new weapons and tactics would prove themselves not against modern European armies but in the jungles and paddies of the Philippines.
From its experiences in the Civil War and the Indian campaigns, the Regular Army had derived an informal but widely accepted pacification doctrine that balanced conciliation and repression. Officers sought to separate the noncombatants from armed opponents, to restore order, and to make such reforms as to ensure against further outbreaks. Those who continued to resist were dealt the hard hand of war: their crops and homes were destroyed and their persons subject to imprisonment, expulsion, and death. This informal doctrine had a legal justification in General Orders (G.O.) 100, or "Instructions for the Government of Armies of the United States in the Field," which imposed strict limits on the occupying army. Issued during the Civil War and widely recognized in Europe, G.O. 100 emphasized the occupier's obligation to restore order, protect property, and treat civilians with justice and humanity. But such restraint on the occupier's part must be met by reciprocal restraint in the subject population. Continued resistance—through guerrilla warfare or assisting the enemy—was a crime and was subject to immediate retaliation. Guerrillas and those who supported them could suffer the confiscation or destruction of their property, imprisonment, and even, under certain circumstances, summary execution. Armed with G.O. 100, efficient small-unit tactics and weapons, managerial experience, and a long tradition of frontier fighting, the U.S. Army brought impressive, if unrecognized, strengths to the problem of irregular war.
Limited by Congress to 28,000 soldiers, the Regular Army was a peacetime organization. For its wartime manpower the United States relied on volunteer citizen soldiers. In theory, all male citizens between sixteen and forty-five were liable for military service in the state militia and could be called into federal service to repel invasion and suppress insurrection. In practice, by the 1890s the term "militia" applied to an estimated 115,000 volunteers in the various state guards. There was a wide divergence in the state units, ranging from well-equipped and drilled military organizations to fraternal societies to strikebreakers. Like the Regulars, by 1898 the militia was uncertain of its mission in the next century. Disliking riot duty, the National Guard Association sought recognition as the federal reserve, but only if units kept their state identities and officers. As war with Spain approached, state militiamen descended on their congressmen and governors, demanding a part in the glorious struggle against the hated "Dons."
Political constraints, and its own obtuseness, frustrated the War Department's mobilization efforts against Spain. Given the small size of the army and the navy's early primacy in operations involving Cuba, the Regulars resigned themselves to a supporting role. Congressional regulations and the conservatism of bureau officers hampered any stockpiling of weapons and supplies, but far more pernicious was the consensus that 50,000 to 100,000 Regulars would be sufficient for any contingency. But to the War Department's shock, its proposal was rejected by Congress, in large measure because it contained no role for the militia. After consultation with the militia lobby, a compromise was speedily hammered out and passed by Congress on 22 April 1898. This act created a Volunteer Army organization to serve alongside the Regular Army, the soldiers to enlist for one year or the duration of the war with Spain. Together with the 1899 Army Act, it ensured that the Philippine War would be one more American conflict fought with two distinct organizations, Regulars and Volunteers.
In the weeks following, President McKinley made a number of decisions on manpower mobilization. The War Department, aware that the Regulars had barely enough equipment and facilities to handle their newly authorized strength of 67,000, wanted a slow and controlled mobilization of the Volunteer Army. It planned for a Volunteer force of 60,000 that would be thoroughly trained and equipped before it was deployed. But this was politically unacceptable, for it was only half the estimated strength of the National Guard. No sensible governor wanted the responsibility of deciding which units would have a chance for glory and which would stay at home. Nor were the state units willing to make this choice. Some voted that if any one of their units was not mustered in, none would go. McKinley did not wish to confront the state governors or turn away eager soldiers. On 23 April, the president announced that instead of 60,000, he would ask for 125,000 Volunteers. This call was politically sound, but for the War Department, already stretched by the demands of concentrating the Regulars, McKinley's decision destroyed the slim hope of an orderly, efficient mobilization.
The declaration of war with Spain on 25 April and the subsequent call-up of Volunteers was greeted in most communities with an enthusiasm that appears almost unbelievable a century later. A decade of economic convulsion and social turmoil had left many eager for any noble cause that would take the nation's mind off its internal problems. The Yellow Press portrayed Spain as fanatical, merciless, wicked, and corrupt, and it reinforced American views of their nation's role as the great liberator, destined to bring freedom and civilization to the oppressed peoples of the world. "We go to the far away islands of the Pacific," thundered Lt. Col. Edward C. Little of the Philippines-bound 20th Kansas Volunteer Infantry Regiment, "to plant the Stars and Stripes on the ramparts where long enough has waved the cruel and merciless banner of Spain." For others, the war offered a chance to heal the wounds of sectional conflict. Nationalists took pride in the fact that both Northerners and Southerners rushed to serve against the common foe. McKinley's appointment of a few hoary Confederate officers, however questionable as a military experiment, shrewdly played on this theme of reconciliation. So, too, did a flood of sentimental doggerel in which figured the theme of two volunteers, one a son of the blue and the other a son of the gray, mingling their dying blood under Old Glory. Indeed, the Civil War was a powerful inspiration for young Americans determined to prove they had the courage and manliness of their fathers. Politicians, clergymen, teachers, and relatives bombarded recruits with exhortations to match the exploits of the heroes of Gettysburg and Shiloh, and veterans lined the march route, tearfully calling, "God bless you boys."
McKinley's call for 125,000 volunteers threatened to expose the hollowness of the National Guards' claim that it was the nation's reserve. In order to avoid any legal challenge to militiamen fighting overseas, the War Department hit upon the expedient of requiring them to take a new oath of enlistment. Governors would call out the militia, which would assemble in camps where they could be sworn into federal service as individuals for the duration of the war: if a sufficient number from a Guard regiment took this dual oath, they would be reconstituted in federal service and keep their state identity. Although it sidestepped the constitutional question, and threw the burden of mobilizing the Guard on the states, this expedient created a number of problems. The War Department wanted a balanced force, but the overwhelming number of state companies were inexpensive infantry; as a result, most cavalry, artillery, and staff units had to come from other sources. The department's demand that infantry regiments be organized along wartime lines—some 1,212 officers and men in three battalions of four companies each—rendered a number of militia officers superfluous, required others to accept lower rank, and placed soldiers from one company under "outsiders" from another town. Internal factions and feuds fragmented regiments, politicians lobbied for commissions for their friends and allies, and soldiers and officers refused to serve under their new superiors. Determined to make their quotas and ensure they would qualify for service, state militias adopted an elastic definition of Guard membership. As the 1st Wyoming's scattered companies moved toward the state capital, their officers had the trains stop at every station so they could sign up eager volunteers until the regiment was filled. When Company B, 13th Minnesota, mustered 112 officers and men into service on 7 March, all but 12 of its enlisted men were new volunteers. Thus despite their Guard affiliation, the majority of the Volunteers who served in 1898—and especially in the Philippines—were inexperienced and untrained recruits who signed up in a burst of martial spirit.
The troops destined for the Philippines quickly discovered that enthusiasm carried armies only so far. They were assigned to San Francisco's chilly, damp Camp Merritt, a place that one soldier summed up: "Of all the bum campgrounds this takes the pie." Located near Golden Gate Park, the former racetrack was one mile from the coast and constantly swept by cold winds, rain, and fogs so dense that soldiers could not see or hear their officers. Facilities were rudimentary. Sand clogged the toilets and water supply and sifted into tents, weapons, clothes, and food. The soldiers' miseries were compounded by an absence of tents, shoes, mess kits, canteens, and other necessities. Clothing scarcely warranted the name uniform: soldiers dressed in an assortment of blue wool, brown canvas, and white linen. A regimen of hard training further added to their complaints. Recognizing the inexperience of their troops, officers drilled their men relentlessly. Packed with 14,000 soldiers, many of who were physically unprepared for army life, Camp Merritt soon came to resemble a pesthole. In late July Company G, 1st Tennessee, had 59 out of its 106 soldiers on sick call or in the hospital.
The few Regular Army officers in San Francisco worked mightily to overcome the myriad problems, but they were hampered by the lack of supplies, competition from the Cuban theater, and the tremendous pressure to get troops onto transports as rapidly as possible. The navy had bought up most of the available shipping, and army officers had to secure contracts with the owners of the few remaining oceangoing vessels. The absence of transports meant that the 8th Corps would have to be broken into smaller commands and dispatched weeks apart. Compounding their problems was the complete lack of information. The War Department's small intelligence office, the Office of Military Information, was already overextended, and it took several months to compile and distribute its valuable source book Military Notes on the Philippines. In the meantime, Washington provided what data it could: on one occasion, Merritt's aide received a highly confidential War Department dispatch consisting of an encyclopedia article on the Philippine Islands.
Because Merritt was occupied in arrangements with Washington and did not arrive in San Francisco until after the first expedition sailed, most of the work was done by his highly competent subordinate, Maj. Gen. Elwell S. Otis. Born in 1838, Otis was a graduate of Harvard Law School who, as an officer in the 140th New York Infantry, had helped close the gap in the Union line at Little Round Top during the Battle of Gettysburg. His exceptional combat record, intelligence, and obvious ability won him a commission in the Regular Army. In the next three decades, Otis published several articles on military law, wrote a highly regarded work on Native Americans, supervised the new infantry and cavalry schools, chaired the board that selected the excellent Krag-Jorgensen rifle, and revamped the army's recruiting service. In San Francisco his superb skills as an administrator were obvious. He supervised training, secured supplies, and imposed discipline on the troops. The timely dispatch of troops to the Philippines—when contrasted with Maj. Gen. William B. Shafter's chaotic Cuban expedition—owed more to him than to any other officer. Unfortunately for his reputation, Otis carried out his duties with a brusque efficiency that did little to endear him to either the soldiers or the press.
The commander of the first expedition, Brig. Gen. Thomas M. Anderson, was a courtly, patient, and courageous officer. In the Civil War he had participated in most of the great battles of the eastern theater and later had fought the Kiowa and Cheyenne. Like Otis, he was a skilled lawyer and an advocate of army reform, and duty in the South during Reconstruction and in the West putting down race riots had given him ample experience in civil affairs. To their credit, both McKinley and Secretary of War Alger recognized that Anderson must "be governed by events and circumstances of which we can have no knowledge," and they gave him the "fullest discretion." Anderson later summarized these instructions as "Do the best you can."
On 25 May, Anderson led the 1st California and 2nd Oregon regiments and a battalion of his old regiment, the 14th Infantry—a total 115 officers and 2,386 enlisted men—through a "mob of howling, struggling, cheering friends" to the San Francisco docks. One soldier was almost blinded when a well-wisher, moved by patriotic spirit, rolled up the flag he was waving and hurled it into the marching columns. As the troop transports steamed out of the harbor, hundreds of boats sounded their horns and an assortment of bands played patriotic airs.
No sooner had the shoreline disappeared than Anderson's men learned that war was not all parades and cheering. The three transports were ocean packets that had been hastily converted into troopships. The officers' quarters were comfortable staterooms, and their dining facilities were excellent. In these pleasant surroundings, Col. James F. Smith of the 1st California held classes for his officers and senior sergeants on discipline, regulations, posts and guides, sanitary duties, patrolling, and hygiene. In contrast, his 980 enlisted men and their supplies were crammed into a space 10 feet high, 425 feet long, and 60 feet wide. Their bunks stacked four high, some men had to crawl over a half dozen bodies to get to their sweat-soaked, moldy straw mattresses. The transports heaved and pitched, there were too few toilets, and soon the lower decks were almost awash in vomit. The fresh meat spoiled within a week, and thereafter the men received little but fatty canned bacon, potatoes, coffee, and hardtack bread, wretchedly prepared and served so inefficiently that by the time a soldier had made it through the chow line the food had congealed to a cold, slimy, gray mass known as "slum." The citizen soldiers chafed in poorly fitting uniforms, made all the more uncomfortable when their shoddy underclothes disintegrated after a few washings. During their brief two-hour turn on the upper decks, the troops worked off some of their considerable anger with calisthenics and boxing matches. Discipline was poor. Unable or, in their soldiers' eyes, unwilling to alleviate the miserable conditions of the enlisted men, the officers kept to themselves. By the end of the voyage most of the soldiers had been transformed into malcontent "cranks and growlers" who wished they had never enlisted.
On 30 June, after more than a month at sea, the expedition finally arrived at Manila Bay, still guarded by Dewey's small but proud squadron, and anchored off Cavite. The troops clamored for a chance to show the "Jack Tars" what they could do, but instead of leading them against Manila, Anderson put them to work as stevedores. They had to unload 440,000 rations, roughly 1,000 tons of food, and hundreds of boxes of ammunition, commissary stores, camp equipage, and cooking supplies. Since Cavite's docks could not accommodate the transports, everything had to be loaded onto cascos—large, narrow, flat-bottomed barges of 50 to 125 tons capacity—towed by steam launches to the docks, and then dragged through the mud from the dock into decrepit warehouses. The troops toiled in monsoons and sweltering heat; when their work details were over, they collapsed in their tiny shelter tents, sleeping with their heads and feet out in the rain. Poor diet and exhaustion took their toll: just three days after arriving, over 100 men in the 2nd Oregon had fever and diarrhea; within the week roughly a third of the regiment was on sick report. Morale, severely damaged by the long voyage, sank even further.
While Anderson's men were undergoing this ordeal, the military authorities in San Francisco were pressing forward. On 15 June the second expedition sailed, consisting of 158 officers and 3,404 soldiers under Brig. Gen. Francis V. Greene, a prominent New York Republican. This expedition suffered from the same horrible shipboard conditions as its predecessor with the added excitement of a fire in the coal hold, which caused one transport to list so heavily that on one side passengers could see nothing but sky and on the other nothing but sea. Even more dangerous was the quantity of highly explosive gas the fire generated. Only on arrival in Manila Bay on 17 July was the fire extinguished. Twelve days after Greene's departure, a third expedition of 198 officers and 4,642 men under Brig. Gen. Arthur MacArthur, accompanied by Merritt, set forth, arriving on 25 July. These three expeditions, a total of 10,946 officers and men, were all that arrived before the First Battle of Manila.
The Philippine archipelago comprises over 7,000 islands, which cover an area of 500,000 square miles. Three major island groups stretch north to south: Luzon, which at 44,235 square miles is the largest and most populous island and the site of the capital city of Manila; the 25,302 square miles of the Visayas Islands, which include Cebu, Leyte, Negros, Panay, and Samar; and Mindanao Island and the Sulu archipelago, a string of small islands that extends to Borneo. Within individual islands, mountains, swamps, jungles, and bodies of water further separate the inhabitants: on Luzon alone the Ilocanos, Pampangans, Pangasinans, Tagalogs, and Bicols all speak different languages. As geographers have noted, the term "Filipino" is no more accurate in describing a people of one race and culture than is the term "American." Relations among the tribal groups are often strained; the Muslim, or Moro, population of Mindanao and Sulu continues to resist incorporation into the Christian Filipino polity, often by force of arms.
With the exception of the Moro areas, the Philippines were colonized and Christianized by Spain in the sixteenth century. In many respects, the Filipinos became Hispanicized: educated people learned Spanish; the population became devout, if somewhat syncretic, Catholics; and the forms of Spanish administration were copied. But although Spain dominated, it did not replace the indigenous local cultures. Indeed, until the mid-nineteenth century, its rule remained concentrated in Manila, with policies focused on trade with Mexico and China. In the countryside, the poor and undermanned imperial government ruled by confirming the authority of local chieftains. Together with landowners and prominent businessmen, these evolved into the principales, which effectively controlled local politics. Although American witnesses were appalled at the exploitation of the peasantry and the almost absolute authority of the principales, the patron-client relationship could benefit both parties. Generations of taos (peasants) relied on their patrons for land and seed, for protection against both the state and the lawless, and for numerous essentials such as religious fees and support after a bad harvest. In return, the rural elite extracted not only a portion of the crops and the performance of numerous small chores, but also public homage and respect. This deference was reinforced by folk religion, wherein the powerful were imbued with supernatural powers or anting-anting (talismans), which secured divine protection. More prosaic powers derived from closely restricting access to political power. Under the Spanish a municipality might have several thousand inhabitants in the main town and even more in the surrounding villages and barrios, but less than a dozen qualified to vote. Accordingly, civic office—be it barrio head, town councilor, or presidente/alcalde (mayor)—was limited to the principale class. Even so, elections were bitterly contested. Then, as now, "Philippine politics [were] plagued by electoral bribery, violence, intimidation, and dynastic rivalries."
In the nineteenth century, competition from other European powers in Asia and the loss of much of their American empire led to increased efforts by Spain to make the Philippines profitable. The imperial authorities sought to impose more control on the provinces, a goal that threatened the principales. Commercial agriculture and internal trade were promoted: land values increased; new areas were opened to cultivation; and traditional agriculture, based on custom and personal relations between patron and client, no longer proved as profitable. In some areas, landlords concentrated their holdings, forcing their workers into debt peonage. The displaced often became ladrones (brigands) or joined militant religious sects. In some provinces, such as Batangas, new alliances cemented by fictive kinship, school ties, and business connections consolidated power among a very few. In other areas, turf wars over land, trade, or political rank pitted family against family, clergy against laity, town against town. In the midst of this socioeconomic turmoil, the islands were struck by a series of natural and epidemic disasters: drought, floods, and insects devastated crops; malaria, smallpox, cholera, and typhoid ravaged humans; rinderpest debilitated livestock. By the 1890s much of the Philippines was in severe distress, plagued by social tension, disease, hunger, banditry, and rebellion.
The late nineteenth century also witnessed the emergence of a Filipino national consciousness. The writings of Jose Rizal publicized abuses in the imperial system and advocated the inclusion of talented Filipinos in the government and clergy. He was especially critical of the Catholic Church and the friar orders, which controlled enormous estates and also acted as government agents. Rizal and his supporters sought modest change, not revolution, but his writings articulated a collective sense of grievance among educated Filipinos, or ilustrados. It is still not clear whether this movement represented an emergent Filipino nationalism or merely ethnic identity, class consciousness, an estrangement from Spain, and a desire for local autonomy. But, when combined with the deterioration in living conditions, it represented a potent threat to Spanish rule.
Bankrupt, torn by faction, and embroiled in an expensive and bloody war in Cuba, the imperial government was ill prepared to deal with the unrest in the archipelago. Unwilling to grant reforms, in part because to do so would antagonize powerful economic interests and force a confrontation with the Church, Spain also lacked the capacity for effective repression. Its army numbered only some 18,000 regulars, including 2,000 Spaniards, and was already overextended pacifying Moros and bandits.
In late summer 1896 the Manila authorities uncovered a conspiracy by a small and obscure nationalist organization, the Katipunan. As they began arresting its members, its leader, Andres Bonifacio, issued a call to arms. Initially the Spanish military response was characterized more by indiscriminate violence than effectiveness, and the Katipuneros were able to seize control of most of the Tagalog area south of Manila. But the Katipuneros could not consolidate their gains; personal and regional animosities were so great that participants drew knives and revolvers at councils of war. At a conference on 22 March 1897, a faction from Cavite province replaced Bonifacio with one of their own, Emilio Aguinaldo y Famy. The deposed supremo was quickly arrested, tried, and executed by Aguinaldo's supporters; Aguinaldo's personal responsibility for the killing is still controversial. Having frittered away their temporary success on internal squabbles, the Katipuneros were ill prepared to meet the counteroffensive. By February 1897 the Spanish, assisted by thousands of Filipino volunteers, had recaptured every rebel-held town. Much of Cavite was devastated: using the notoriously unreliable Spanish figures, one correspondent concluded the province's population had dropped from 135,000 to 97,000. Many Katipuneros scattered and returned to their civilian occupations; others began guerrilla warfare in the hills. Aguinaldo trekked into the mountains of Bulacan province and established a stronghold at Biak na bato, 125 miles from Manila. His forces numbered some 600 soldiers and perhaps 1,400 civilians, far more than the area could support, and they soon suffered from malnutrition and disease.
By now, what had begun as an insurrection by a secret society had evolved into a revolution. Aguinaldo now called for reforms that all Filipinos—or at least the elite—could agree on: the expulsion of the friars; representation in the Spanish Cortes; and an end to discriminatory laws. Escalating the political stakes, on 5 November, Aguinaldo declared the Philippines independent, assumed the title of president, and called upon all Filipinos to rise against Spain. That same month, he ordered the abandonment of position warfare and the adoption of a strategy of protracted war. From now on municipal councils would serve as the de facto government in each town, appointing military and civil officials, raising militias, and establishing ties to other town councils. The militia would live in or near the town, gathering to raid isolated Spanish detachments, root out spies and traitors, and collect taxes.
Although sometimes cited as the birth of a sovereign Philippine nation, Aguinaldo's grandiose pronouncements were in stark contrast to the realities of his situation, driven from his province, besieged in the mountains, and supported only by ragtag guerrillas ravaged by disease and hunger. Nevertheless, the Spanish were too weak to destroy him. Some of their units had lost 40 percent of their strength; the rest were exhausted, and the prospect of forcing the remaining revolutionary diehards out of their mountainous stronghold promised only further casualties. The government recognized no help could be expected from Spain, where attention was increasingly focused beyond the Cuban imbroglio to the far more ominous specter of a war with the United States. As a result, both Aguinaldo and the authorities were receptive when Pedro de Paterno, an ambitious Manila attorney, offered to negotiate a truce. The ensuing pact of 14 December 1897 is still controversial. Aguinaldo claimed that he secured a Spanish promise for extensive political and social reforms, an amnesty, reparations, and a large payment (which could buy weapons when he resumed the struggle). A less charitable explanation is that the imperial government bribed him—and that he did not stay bought. Certainly it is difficult to reconcile this capitulation with his proclamation of an independent republic barely a month earlier. Whatever the deal, Aguinaldo and several key followers soon left for Hong Kong.
By the time of his departure, Aguinaldo had emerged as the most important leader of Luzon's nationalist movement, and, for better or worse, he would continue to shape the course of the anticolonial resistance. His admirers depict him as a gallant, steadfast patriot whose primary failing was believing that others, particularly the Americans and his ilustrado advisers, were as honorable as he. To his critics he was an opportunistic warlord, a treacherous and prevaricating military incompetent who was "little more than a tool in the hands of active and more or less reliable advisors." The "real" Aguinaldo is difficult to discover, for like his opponent McKinley, he seldom revealed his thoughts. Conscious of his limited education, he wrote little, and much that is attributed to him, including his three somewhat contradictory autobiographical publications, was largely the work of others.
Aguinaldo was born into a relatively modest principale family in Kawit (Cavite Viejo), Cavite, in 1869. His father, who died when the boy was nine, held a number of civic offices and owned several farms and a sugar factory. Aguinaldo quit school in his early teens to further the family interests and engage in interisland trade, and by the 1890s had become involved in Kawit politics, served in several civic offices, and formed close connections with other Cavite politicians. Among his civic responsibilities was leading local militia against bandits, which gave him quasi-military experience with weapons and small-unit tactics. By 1896 he was a man of influence in his province, chafing under a government that refused to grant him the political and economic power he felt he deserved, and he made common cause with other rural elites against the Spanish. When he joined the Katipunan is still uncertain, but in 1896 he rallied Kawit behind the rebels. Aguinaldo soon proved a poor general—both as a field commander and as a strategist—but a consummate coalition builder. By the end of the year he had emerged as the only person who could hold together the alliance of ilustrados, warlords, and local politicians that made up the nationalist leadership.
Once having left for Hong Kong, Aguinaldo found himself increasingly cut off from events in the Philippines. By taking his most loyal military leaders into exile, he had lost much of his personal influence over the resistance in the archipelago. Those who remained, such as Francisco Macabulos in Luzon, or the clandestine revolutionary councils that sprang up on the islands of Panay and Negros, had little connection, and even less loyalty, to Aguinaldo. Indeed, many outside of the Tagalog region espoused a federalist form of nationalism wherein each island and tribal group had virtual autonomy. For their part, the exiles engaged in mutual recriminations, culminating in a lawsuit against Aguinaldo for back wages. To avoid litigation, in April he departed for Europe, a move that, as his critics note, displayed a complete lack of understanding of the imminent Spanish-American conflict. It was not until he arrived in Singapore on 21 April, the date on which Spain and the United States broke off relations, that he became aware of the situation, and then only when Howard H. Bray, an English fortune hunter, introduced him to the American consul, E. Spencer Pratt.
The exact nature of the discussions between Pratt and the exiled president are still controversial. Aguinaldo later claimed Pratt promised the United States "would at least recognize the independence of the Philippine Islands, under a naval protectorate." Pratt maintained that all he had done was urge Aguinaldo to return to Hong Kong and meet with Dewey, whose squadron was about to undertake operations against the Spanish in the archipelago. Bray, who served as interpreter, corroborated Aguinaldo's explanation, but since Aguinaldo paid him $5,000 and promised him a lucrative government appointment, he is a questionable source. A charitable interpretation is that Pratt's use of words such as "liberty" and "freedom," intended to refer to American traditions of civil and property rights, were mistranslated to indicate United States support for Filipino independence. Whatever the precise nature of the agreement, Aguinaldo had everything to gain and nothing to lose by accepting assistance. His colleagues in Hong Kong concurred. As Jose Alejandrino wrote to a sympathizer, "Even without our help the Yankees could take over the country ... and the only manner to counteract their intentions is that we be sufficiently armed. It is with this idea that we help them." It was only much later, after the Spanish had been defeated and the United States had announced its plans to annex the archipelago, that charges of promised independence and betrayal arose.
Aguinaldo, who missed Dewey's departure, was transported to Cavite by an American steamer, disembarking on 19 May. He met with Dewey immediately, but again the conversations become a source of much debate. Aguinaldo later claimed that Dewey confirmed Pratt's assurance of independence. Dewey insisted he made no such pledge and that, far from seeking to free the Philippines, Aguinaldo's first request was to be sent to Japan. And indeed, Aguinaldo's repeated success in securing verbal commitments—coupled with his inability to support any of them with documentary evidence—must render his veracity, if not his intelligence, suspect to any but the most uncritical supporter. For his part, Dewey was an irascible man of limited political skills who regarded the Filipino revolutionaries as annoyances and Aguinaldo as no more than "the rebel chief." If Dewey was using Aguinaldo, he was being used in return, and the evidence indicates that Aguinaldo got the better of the bargain. In addition to transport and prestige, Dewey turned over about 100 rifles, and the United States consul in Hong Kong purchased another 2,000—more than enough for Aguinaldo to reassert his claims to leadership of Luzon's independence movement.
Once in Cavite, Aguinaldo moved quickly to consolidate his power. On 23 May he declared himself dictator for the duration of the crisis. On 12 June he proclaimed the independence of the Philippines, and on 23 July he announced the formation of the Revolutionary Government complete with an executive, congress, and courts. His constitutional adviser, Apolonario Mabini, developed a plan for local government, which Aguinaldo promulgated on 18 June. Recognizing that with the collapse of Spanish authority, power had devolved upon municipalities, the decree required all local governments to hold elections and elect a presidente, town council, and barrio chiefs. This new government, having taken an oath to the newly independent Philippine state, would then elect a provincial assembly, which in turn, would elect a governor. The provincial government would then select two or three delegates to attend a constitutional convention in preparation for the implementation of a republican government. Extensive property qualifications limited the electorate, effectively putting, or keeping, political power in the hands of those "most characterized by their education, their social position, and their honorable conduct." Aguinaldo's revolution was political, not social. He and his followers were determined to secure power for the principales; they had no intention of sharing it with the peasantry.
Aguinaldo also sought to assert his control over the scattered military forces that were harrying the Spanish. On 20 June he promulgated a two-tier military organization, the regular troops (later the Army of Liberation) and the Revolutionary Militia, which consisted of all who wished to assist in the fight for liberation. To assure order in the areas freed from Spanish rule, he ordered that each province be divided into zones, each under a commanding officer, who, in turn, would be subordinate to the provincial jefe superior politico-militar. In practice, where local military chiefs already wielded power, he conferred rank and titles on them, but he also sent loyal officers, often with a cadre of experienced soldiers, to represent his interests or appointed trusted supporters to the top political and military positions. Despite these efforts, the revolution spread beyond Aguinaldo's control. On the Visayan island of Panay, local revolutionaries under Martin Delgado orchestrated a revolt among the militia and drove the Spanish into Iloilo City. On Mindanao, rebels, Spanish, and Moros engaged in a vicious three-sided civil war.
Aguinaldo was much helped by his Spanish opponents, who bungled their slim chance of uniting the Filipino population against either the Americans or the rebels. The imperial authorities could either concentrate in Manila against the 8th Corps' attack and risk losing the provinces, or trust in Manila's fortifications and keep most of their troops on internal security duties outside the city. They chose the latter, with the result that the isolated and unsupported garrisons were soon besieged by Filipino irregulars. The government made another mistake by establishing a militia and placing former Katipuneros in command positions. The militia did little to oppose either Aguinaldo or the Americans, but it provided weapons and rudimentary training to those most committed to Spain's overthrow.
As local forces were mopping up Spanish resistance in the provinces, Aguinaldo's relations with the Americans underwent a profound transformation. He had enjoyed (he claimed) good relations with Dewey, in part because there was no reason for the two men to have much intercourse. But with the disembarkation of Anderson's expedition at Cavite on 30 June, two days after the proclamation of the republic, a new factor was thrust into the equation. On his first visit Aguinaldo inquired into America's intentions; Anderson responded that he was a soldier with no authority to make policy or recognize Aguinaldo's government, but that he hoped both sides would cooperate to fight the Spanish. Anderson added somewhat elliptically that the United States had no colonies, and Aguinaldo declared himself satisfied. But the interview left both men suspicious—a feeling that intensified in the following weeks. Anderson reported not only that Aguinaldo was passively resisting his efforts to obtain transport and supplies but also that the rebels had increased their efforts to capture Manila before the rest of the expeditionary force arrived.
By the time Merritt landed on 25 July, the situation had developed into what one scholar has termed a "curious triangular contest" among the Spanish, Americans, and Filipino revolutionaries. The Spanish condition was desperate. There were 70,000 people in Manila, most of them crammed into the old walled city (Intramuros). Food was in short supply, and the ever-present fear of either insurgent attack or uprising, both of which were assumed to be the prelude to a general massacre, terrified the defenders. Aguinaldo also faced severe problems. Although his forces had invested the city, they proved unable to break through the Spanish line of blockhouses. Both sides were of roughly equal strength—some 13,000 soldiers—and the fighting consisted largely of Spaniards and Filipinos skirmishing from their trenches. In view of this protracted stalemate, it is interesting to speculate on whether Aguinaldo could have concentrated his forces and assaulted the city in late June when the Spanish were demoralized and their defenses weak. Had he done so and captured the city, or even occupied the suburbs up to the Walled City, he might well have thwarted American efforts to exclude his forces from occupation. But, in what in retrospect appears a serious military mistake, Aguinaldo sent many of his best military commanders and most dedicated soldiers to expand his control over the provinces.
The 8th Corps' problem was essentially to take Manila in such a way that the revolutionary forces were excluded. This would be very difficult, for the rebels stood between the Americans and the Spanish lines. Through adroit diplomacy, Greene convinced Gen. Mariano Noriel to move his soldiers aside, so that on 29 July the Americans took up a narrow front facing north, their left flank anchored on Manila Bay and their right on a swamp. Conditions were appalling: rain alternated with baking heat; the trenches filled with water and mud; shoes and clothes rotted; snipers made any exposure dangerous; and Spanish raids killed fifteen and wounded fifty-three. Equally disheartening, a daring reconnaissance by the 8th Corps' intelligence officer, Maj. J. Franklin Bell, revealed no easy way to overcome the city's defenses. Sandwiched on a narrow front between Manila Bay and Noriel's forces, Merritt had little choice but a frontal assault north against the strongpoints of Fort San Antonio Abad and Blockhouse 14. Complicating matters was Dewey, for contrary to his earlier claims that he could take the city by himself, he now professed to lack sufficient firepower even to support the assault.
By now it was clear that the shared interest of the Spanish and Americans in keeping Aguinaldo's forces at bay had become a stronger concern than whether Merritt's soldiers could take the city at all. Through the good offices of the Belgian consul, Dewey and the Spanish governor struck a deal that if the city's waterfront batteries did not fire, the navy would not shell the city. The admiral believed the agreement ensured that the Spanish would resist only enough to satisfy honor—and avoid court-martial. Merritt took the more literal view that the agreement was limited to the enemy batteries facing seaward and did not inform his subordinates that the Spanish intended to surrender.
What might be called the First Battle of Manila on 13 August resulted in more than enough casualties to satisfy honor. Merritt's soldiers moved up through a blinding rain into the muddy trenches shortly after six in the morning. Despite the miserable conditions, morale was high. At 9:35 A.M., the navy cruisers and gunboats and the 3.2-inch guns of the Utah Battery began to shell the enemy trenches and Fort San Antonio Abad. Other warships took up stations menacing the city's seaward batteries. At 10:25, Greene's brigade began its attack, the troops advancing out of their trenches, then lying down while the navy fired its big guns into the Spanish positions. After a short bombardment, the troops moved forward along Manila Bay, approaching within 100 yards of the enemy trenches and then awaiting another bombardment. An eight-inch shell tore into the rear of the fort, and the defenders retreated up the road to Intramuros. Greene's brigade followed them through the suburb of Malate, crossed the Pasig River, and swept north and west around Intramuros, seizing the suburb of Binondo. To Greene's right, MacArthur's brigade had a tougher time, running into sharp resistance at Blockhouse 14 and losing five killed and thirty-eight wounded before it reached the Walled City and discovered the Spanish commander had already raised the white flag. The weary soldiers, lashed by a tropical rainstorm, immediately turned their attention to disarming their recent enemies and keeping Aguinaldo's furious soldiers out of the city.
To some observers, the entire affair was a "sham battle" in which, in correspondent John F. Bass's words, "the gloves were padded." Indeed, it seemed as if almost as much fire was exchanged between the army and the navy as between the Americans and the Spanish. Correspondents watching from his flagship accepted Dewey's claim that he had succeeded in negotiating the surrender of the whole city and that the army's attack was both inefficient and unnecessary. One newsman wrote the navy had all but taken the city, "but the ill-considered haste of the army in advancing cost the lives of a score of men." Another opined that the soldiers "were of use simply to police the city after it was reduced to submission by our gallant fleet." Perhaps in response, Anderson published an account that claimed the army took Manila by storm, with no help at all from the navy.
Predictably, the First Battle of Manila created a crisis in Fil-American relations. On the evening before the attack, Merritt had informed Aguinaldo that his forces were forbidden to enter Manila. American commanders were instructed to first overcome the Spanish, then shift to block Filipino incursions: "Forcible encounters with the insurgents in carrying out these orders will be very carefully guarded against, but pillage, rapine, or violence by the native inhabitants or disorderly insurgents must be prevented at any cost." The unexpected Spanish resistance prevented the split-second timing required by such a complicated plan, and thousands of armed insurgents entered the suburbs, where they were confronted by soldiers demanding that they leave. In several places angry Filipino and American soldiers almost came to blows, and Anderson recalled that for several hours "conditions were critical," but the Filipinos "maintained good discipline." Late in the afternoon Merritt, who had observed the battle from afloat, almost provoked a battle when he ordered the suburbs cleared. Anderson convinced him this was impossible; all the Americans could do was keep armed insurgents out of the city proper, bring up artillery for support, and request that Aguinaldo recall his troops. Tensions remained high the next day. A 1st Colorado outpost was fired on by some 300 insurgents. Rushing up reinforcements with fixed bayonets, the Colorado's colonel confiscated the Filipinos' weapons. Fortunately, negotiations defused the situation and secured a temporary arrangement: the 8th Corps controlled the Walled City, and Aguinaldo's soldiers remained in the suburbs. For the time being, both sides were content to await developments.
In retrospect, Aguinaldo may have made a crucial mistake on 13 August. Some Filipino officers, most notably Antonio Luna, believed that he should have joined Merritt's attack. Had he been able to coordinate his forces so that all participated, they might have broken into the Walled City. Even if they were stopped, they would almost certainly have prompted stiffer Spanish resistance and thus kept the Americans out. Given that the peace protocol between Spain and the United States had already been signed, a delay of even a few days might have had enormous consequences for McKinley's efforts to claim the islands. A Filipino attack would almost certainly have provoked a war with the United States, but it would have been war on conditions far more favorable than those that existed five months later. Aguinaldo, however, apparently never considered such action. Ins tead, believing the Americans planned to capture him, he remained in Bacoor and took no part in the battle. As was to happen again and again, at critical times Aguinaldo hesitated, allowing events to overtake him rather than seizing the moment.
List of Illustrations
Part One: Conventional Operations, 1899
1. The Americans Arrive
2. A Difficult Situation
3. The Battle of Manila
4. The Visayas
5. The Spring Campaign
6. Summer Stalemate
7. The Northern Offensive
8. The Occupation of the Archipelago
Part Two: The Archipelago, 1900-1902
9. The Guerilla War
10. Moroland and the Eastern Visayas
12. Northern Luzon
13. Southern Luzon
Posted November 6, 2002
Linn's work provides an extremely detailed (almost to an excruciating degree) and meticulously researched accounting of the U.S. war with the Filipino rebels from 1899 to 1902. For the serious historian interested in U.S. policies and military operations in southeast Asia the book is a must read. The text is well written though somewhat tedious and dry in areas, but the author is not given to including excessive personal opinion in the documentary. There is a somewhat annoying lack of detailed maps to assist the reader less informed on Phillipine geography in understanding the various campaigns; if the author can describe in verbage the route of a march, certainly a map can be drawn to better illustrate the operation. Almost no attention is paid to the reactions of other world powers to the U.S. actions, which I found to be a curious omission. All in all I would recommend the book to only the most serious historian.
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Posted April 24, 2014
One of the best books I have read on the Philippine/American war. The history is told from the American military side but it does not ignore the errors and abuses committed by both sides. Some books on the Philippine War written during the Vietnam War/post Vietnam War period try to make their history a commentary on a different war. This book sticks to the subject. The best book on this forgotten war has yet to be written. A book that would look at both sides objectively and report the facts would be a welcome addition to the history of our nation.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 23, 2006
just when i thought a book that will finally explain in detail what happened during those years, well, turned out to be a big disappointment. for one thing, if the author did spent 20 years researching this interesting period, he forgot to research the side of the filipinos. too much superlatives are tacked on american exploits, while the atrocities that happened were downplayed into mere allegations. to make the book sounds like it's fair, the author would every now and then pepper phrases like 'brave and courageous filipinos'. what the author keep forgeting is the fact that the americans went to the philippines and not vice versa. for the life of me, i can't understand how all of a sudden, the filipinos are the bad guys. with this type of mentality, our invasion of iraq suddenly is justified. if you like to read stories were americans are always the good guys and could never do any wrong, perhaps you'd like this book, but if you're searching for the truth, keep searching...
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Posted November 6, 2009
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