Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Battles that Changed History; First Manila 1898

Manila (or First Manila) Dates: 25 JUL-13 AUG 1898Forces Engaged: Kingdom of Spain - It is telling evidence of the ramshackle condition that characterized the Spanish Empire by 1898 that an English-speaking reader cannot readily obtain, or be very certain of, the identity and strength of the Spanish imperial maneuver units present in Manila in the summer of 1898. There are several reasons for this.

First is, purely and simply, that the government of Spain had fallen into a sink of desuetude, corruption, and dysfunction. Peculation and graft were endemic, and none more so than in the procurement, personnel, and supply branches of the Spanish Army. Just as the Spanish fleets were armed with projectiles filled with sand and sawdust, the Spanish Armies were "served" by soldiers who had long before died or since deserted, or had never been enlisted.

Second, the imperial territories were badly run, had been for decades, and many of the military records have since disappeared or never existed.

And not least was that the losing side in war seldom frets about the details of the loss. And the Spanish were to lose this war about as badly as a nation, and a people, ever could.So.

That said, the most commonly cited numbers for the defenders of Manila ranges between 10,000 and 15,000.

We know that in October 1897 (because of this invaluable little website) the Fuerzas Armadas Españolas had about 25,000 troops in the Philippines. These included:

7 "Native Regiments" (numbered 68-74) - typical "colonial" units of Filipino troops serving under Spanish officers - about 12 battalions of light infantry [372 officers, 11,368 other ranks).

15 "Expeditionary Battalions" Battalones cazadores expedicionarios (numbered 1 thru 15) - imperial infantry from Spain, about 461 officers, 20,149 troops.1 regiment of imperial marine infantry (45 officers, 1,743 troops)

About 5 troops (company-equivalents) of cavalry in two units: the colonial Caballeria de Filipinas (Regiment 31) with 31 officers, 161 Spanish troopers, 453 native troopers and the imperial Lanceros Expedicionario, No.1 with 11 officers, 162 Spanish troopers.

About 4 battalion-equivalents of artillery: 1,500 coast and fortress artillerymen in the Regiment de la Plaza and the imperial 6th Field Artillery (mountain artillery) battalion (21 officers, 696 gunners).

1 colonial engineer regiment, a battalion of Carabineros (who were described either as volunteer riflemen or border/customs troops, three Guardia Civil Regiments (colonial police), a transport brigade, a "sanitary detatchment", and a maestranza or imperial ordnance detachment for a total of 26,032 Spanish and 17,032 Filipino troops.

But. We know that many, probably most, of the Filipino colonial soldiers had deserted by 1898; either dallied to the revolutionary cause or simply deserted.So the force that were imurred in Manila by early summer of 1898 would likely have consisted primarily of the imperial Spanish infantry and artillery, with a scattering of the hardiest of the Filipino colonials and the remnants of whatever cavalry had survived two years in the tropics.

So the garrison probably consisted of something like 8-12,000 infantry, perhaps 1,000 artillerymen and another thousand or so casuals under GEN Fermín Jáudenes y Alvarez.

Army of the Unang Republika ng Pilipinas (First Philippine Republic) -

If we have little information about the Spanish colonial forces in the Philippines we have almost none about the Filipinos who were fighting for their independence, and less than that in English. The sources I reviewed typically cite a strength of about 30,000 for the Philippine rebels involved in the siege and battle of Manila. One source does break the Independentist forces down into four "columns" under their named commanders; GEN Pio del Pilar, GEN Gregorio del Pilar, GEN Mariano Noriel, and GEN Artemio Ricarte. Even the total is suspect, since it is typically derived from U.S. sources and thus a pure guesstimate.

The Philippine Army would have been almost entirely infantry, including tribal volunteers who would have been armed as that had been in 1598, with bolo knives or cane machetes. Based on later accounts of the Philippine-American War (or "Philippine Insurrection" as it is called in most U.S. histories) the Filipinos would have had some artillerymen from Spanish deserters, although how many, and how the Philippine artillery was organized is anyone's guess. Possibly a handful of mounted troops, if any.So approximately 25,000-35,000 all arms under GEN Emilio Aguinaldo

United States (Army) -The United States forces in the Philippines were organized into a single Corps (VIII Army Corps) of a single division (2nd - and not the same Second Infantry Division that currently exists in the U.S. Army) under MG Wesley Merrit.

2nd Division (BG Thomas M. Anderson)

1st Brigade - BG Arthur MacArthur

23rd U.S. Infantry Regiment
14th U.S. Infantry Regiment
13th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment
1st North Dakota Volunteer Infantry Regiment
1st Idaho Volunteer Infantry Regiment
1st Wyoming Volunter Infantry Regiment
Astor Battery

2nd Brigade - BG F. V. Greene

1/18th U.S. Infantry
2/18th U.S. Infantry
1/3rd U.S. Artillery
2/3rd U.S. Artillery
Company A U. S. Engineers
1st California Volunteer Infantry Regiment
1st Colorado Volunteer Infantry Regiment
1st Nebraska Volunteer Infantry Regiment
10th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment
Btry A, Utah Volunteer Artillery
Btry B Utah Volunteer Artillery
2nd Oregon Volunteer Infantry Regiment
California Volunteer Heavy Artillery DetachmentA total of about 10,800 infantry and artillery, with naval gunfire support from RADM Dewey's Asiatic Squadron (4 protected cruisers, 2 gunboats).

The Campaign:The First Battle of Manila was one of the results of the collision between two powers of the Western Hemisphere.The older, and by then in severe decline, was Spain. The oldest European imperial power with colonies in both the New World and the Pacific, Spain had never really recovered from the horrific battering she had taken in the 19th Century. The French invasion and the five years of Peninsular War, then the internal ratissage that we call the Carlist Wars, and finally the loss of most of the American colonies in the South American wars of independence. By the mid-1800s Spain was physically, financially, and emotionally exhausted. Her military had never really recovered from the beatings it had taken from the French, the British (at sea) and the American revolutionaries. The Escurial and the colonial administrations were hives of scum and villainy - but the worst aspect was the gross endemic corruption.

The remaining Spanish colonies loved Spanish rule little better than the newly-free nations of Central and South America, but lacked the financial and military wherewithal to succeed against even the debased soldiery that the Spanish imperial army could field. Still, by the latter part of the 19th Century the major Spanish possessions were ready for rebellion, and the mother country was in poor shape to do anything about them.

The rising new power was the United States. Industrialization was creating a hell of a dangerous nation in the heart of the North American continent, but in 1898 there was little to show the rest of the world just how dangerous it was. Most of the Europeans had taken little note, and had not long remembered, the industrial warfare the U.S. had waged against itself in the 1860's, and the construction of a trim little predreadnought U.S. Navy had gone largely overlooked, as well.

Most Europeans, if they thought of the U.S. at all, thought of it largely as something wild and wooly, a land of savage Indians and rough frontiersmen. The notion that this raw upstart of a land might challenge the old European heavyweights seemed completely ridiculous.

But the Americans themselves were already looking around for a new challenge. The Western frontier officially "closed" in 1890 with the last Sioux War, and there remained no further military or political challengers on the continent. Canada was too cold, and who needed more Mexicans, anyway. The U.S. public wanted to do well for themselves, and the way Great Powers "did well" was by conquering places. The nearby Caribbean and the islands in the Pacific looked mighty tempting to a nation that saw itself ready to join the big European boys at the imperial grownups table.

The real spark for the War was the Cuban wars of independence that flared in one form or another from the late 1860s into the early 1890s. Those wars are a story into themselves, but suffice to say that many Americans, emotions stoked by the "yellow" newspapers ever eager to sell papers by telling lurid stories of vile Spanish atrocities, were ready and more than ready to get stuck into the vile Dagoes. Mind you, many of the atrocity stories were somewhat true - the Spanish used a concentration-camp strategy (an earlier version of our "strategic hamlet" program for Vietnam) and, being 1890-Spanish and thus marginally competent administrators managed to kill a fair number of their prisoners through disease, starvation, and general mismanagement. But some of the more lurid - like the leering Snidleys shown here strip searching a sweetly babe-o-licious little Gibson girl -
were arrant fictions intended to provoke manly American breasts to swell with outrage at the vile and sordid machinations of the swarthy Papist greaser devils.

And they really did talk that way, I'll have you know.

Whilst American breasts were swelling, American businessmen were warning President McKinley that commercial interests would be harmed by war with Spain and the disruption of trade with the Caribbean possessions. Sugar barons wanted sugar harvested, not the bodies of Cuban sugarcane cutters.

The Republicans wanted national greatness, but not at the expense of war; the Democrats wanted "justice" for the Cubans, but not at the expense of war. But somehow, they all managed to get a war, anyway. Funny, how often that happens...McKinley tried to negotiate an end to the Cuban unrest, but the explosion and loss of the armored ship USS Maine in February 1898 forced his hand. Public outrage - much of it fired by the newspapers and the Democratic Party - and a stampede towards war on Capitol Hill led to an ultimatum to Spain in April demanding Cuban independence. The insulted Spanish replied with a declaration of war, the U.S. Congress passed their own, and it was game on.

Now the thing to remember about the Philippines is that very few Americans actually gave a shit about it until 1898.

In fact, the Filipinos had been fighting the Spanish for a good two years, and had managed to get a sort of deal out of it, but one that (sadly, in what would become very typical of Philippine politics) merely paid off the rebel leaders if they would go into exile. This "Pact of Biak-na-Bato" reduced the fighting to mere skirmishing for the next year or so, but the revolutionaries (who had been hoping for something that would break them back into the fray) were revived by the thought of help from the U.S. (which had specified by Act of Congress that it had no territorial ambitions in Cuba, although the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Guam were very specifically not mentioned) and quickly rejoined the fight.

A U.S. vessel transported the best-known Filipino leader, Emilio Aguinaldo, back to Cavite in Manila Bay in late May, 1898.With their golden boy back the Filipino rebels began to go through the Spanish imperials like a does of salts. The Spanish, cut off from reinforcements or supply by RADM Dewey's naval victory at Manila Bay back on 1 MAY, lost the bulk of Luzon and were driven into Manila by June.The rebel armies invested the place, and it's here that things begin to get fairly nasty.

To understand why you have to walk back to the spring of 1898, when the people who counted in Washington D.C. - and you know who they were, they were the same people they are today; politicians and those who own or influence them; think-tankers of the Alfred Thayer Mahan sort, who wanted a powerful naval presence in the Pacific which in turn required coaling and port facilities; the outright Expansionists and Imperialists, who believed that part of the U.S. manifest destiny was to continue the Western frontier across the Pacific to the Asian shores and who saw an independent Philippines as easy prey for rivals like Germany or France; Christian Dominionists, who saw the natives as a rich harvest of souls to be wooed or raped from their Catholic or pagan ways; and the Businessman, who knew that Trade would follow the Flag.Here's President William McKinley in an interview published in 1903, giving full cry to all of these reasons that the People Who Counted - these wealthy white Americans - knew that they knew better than the Filipinos what was good for them;
"When I next realized that the Philippines had dropped into our laps I confess I did not know what to do with them. I sought counsel from all sides—Democrats as well as Republicans—but got little help. I thought first we would take only Manila; then Luzon; then other islands perhaps also. I walked the floor of the White House night after night until midnight; and I am not ashamed to tell you, gentlemen, that I went down on my knees and prayed Almighty God for light and guidance more than one night. And one night late it came to me this way—I don’t know how it was, but it came: (1) That we could not give them back to Spain—that would be cowardly and dishonorable; (2) that we could not turn them over to France and Germany—our commercial rivals in the Orient—that would be bad business and discreditable; (3) that we could not leave them to themselves—they were unfit for self-government—and they would soon have anarchy and misrule over there worse than Spain’s was; and (4) that there was nothing left for us to do but to take them all, and to educate the Filipinos, and uplift and civilize and Christianize them, and by God’s grace do the very best we could by them, as our fellow-men for whom Christ also died. And then I went to bed, and went to sleep, and slept soundly, and the next morning I sent for the chief engineer of the War Department (our map-maker), and I told him to put the Philippines on the map of the United States (pointing to a large map on the wall of his office), and there they are, and there they will stay while I am President!
While the business about France and Germany is a bit of a hum - there is no reason that the U.S. could not have signed a treaty allying themselves with the new Republic of the Philippines that had declared itself that June - the Imperial German Navy did dispatched a squadron in Manila Bay that summer, arriving 12 JUN, the same day the Philippine Republic was declared. They are said to have refused to salute the U.S. ensign (which seems to have been true, at least at first) and were reported by the U.S. newspapers to have been generally acting like Prussian dicks.

Examination of the facts makes this seem to be questionable. The notion that Imperial Germany had designs on the PI and sent a squadron to try and make trouble is based primarily on the so-called "Irene incident", in which the gunboat SMS Irene may or may not have been acting against the Philippine Army...or may or may not have been merely evacuating Spanish refugees in Subic Bay. It is telling to note that the U.S. press was not hesitant to blame the nefarious Europeans.Although I did not have access to the U.S. Official Records of the war, according to Trask's The War with Spain Dewey did not in fact report this incident to either the Navy or the War Departments, and the eventual head-to-head strengths of the German and U.S. naval forces suggest that had the Germans really been looking for trouble they were capable of making it. The "threat" of German interference bellowed in the U.S. press may in fact have been another bit of theatre designed to convince the people sitting in darkness that the U.S. had no other choice than to place its "protection" over the Philippine islands.

Regardless of the actions or lack of same by the Europeans, much of the U.S. public and an overwhelming majority of the power-brokers in D.C. now saw the PI was the new jewel in Columbia's imperial crown. The Philippines would represent the tip of the American empire that reached from the West Coast through Hawaii, Guam, and several of the smaller Pacific islands to the longed-for riches and converts of China.The Spanish, not surprisingly, didn't want to be overrun by the people whose sons they had been conscripting and whose daughters they had been pimping for several hundred years. The Spanish governor-general, GEN Basilio de Agustin y Davila, quickly informed Dewey through the neutral British that he would be quite happy to surrender to the nice civilized Americans if the Yanks would promise to step between them and their former subjects.

Dewey would have loved to. "...I would not for a moment consider the possibility of turning it over to the undisciplined insurgents" he said, "who, I feared, might wreak their vengeance upon the Spaniards and indulge in a carnival of loot." But the only infantry he had available was the marine detachments embarked in the Asiatic Squadron. He cabled to the War Department for ground troops.

Meanwhile, Dewey had to deal with Aguinaldo. They had met on 19 MAY, when the new Filipino commander returned to the archipeligo. But we have a problem; there is no unbiased record of what they said. To make things even more complex, Dewey spoke only English and Spanish, Aguinaldo Tagalog, and his Spanish was poor. There was no interpreter.Aguinaldo seems to have been guilty of wishful thinking. He was quoted later as saying that Dewey told him outright that the U.S. had neither interest in nor capability of annexing the islands. "He (Dewey) said, moreover, that America is exceedingly well off as regards territory, revenue, and resources and therefore needs no colonies, assuring me finally that there was no occasion for me to entertain any doubts whatever about the recognition of the Independence of the Philippines by the United States."

While it may be that Dewey's initial impression was of a Filipino Bolivar his opinions on that score don't seem to have been exceptionally strong. When the Navy Department ordered him to back away from direct support of the rebels in late May he seems to have had no regrets.
"From my observation of Aguinaldo and his advisers I decided that it would be unwise to co-operate with him or his adherents in an official manner... In short, my policy was to avoid any entangling alliance with the insurgents, while I appreciated that, pending the arrival of our troops, they might be of service."
He used the term "Indians" to refer to the Filipinos, and in a communique to Washington promised that he would "...enter the city and keep the Indians out."

How he could do this without an army - since the Philippine Army had, since Aguinaldo's assumption of command, taken or driven in the Spanish garrisons outside Manila, which they had invested with 14 miles of trenches, captured the municipal water works and effectively isolated the remaining Spanish maneuver forces within the Manila perimeter - is questionable at least. The new Republic of the Philippines - without the addition of Americans arms or other material aid - controlled the entire archipelago with the exception of the Muslim areas on Mindanao and nearby islands.So an army was needed, and one was procured. The VIII Corps was organized at the Presidio of San Francisco in May (the U.S. Army of 1898 was a tactical and logistical mess, as the campaigns in Cuba would reveal; for one thing, no permanent tactical organizations higher than the regiment even existed) and its first maneuver element arrived at Cavite on 30 JUN. By 31 JUL the entire Corps was in place, largely south and southeast of Manila. The Philippine Army withdrew from their siege lines here to allow the U.S. forces to directly confront the Spanish defenders.

By 7 AUG VIII Corps was in position and the USS Monterey had arrived - the Navy had been waiting for her additional gun weight - and the joint force commanders, MG Merritt and RADM Dewey sent official notice to the new Governor-General (Fermín Jaudenes had replaced Basilio de Agustin on 4 AUG) to evacuate his noncombatants. The Governor-General responded that he had no place to evacuate them to. With military courtesies satisfied the Battle of Manila could begin.It is worth noting that at this point both U.S. officers ensured that GEN Aguinaldo had not been involved, or even consulted, about either the military or diplomatic operations involving the planned capture of Manila.

This should have been, and in retrospect was, an unmistakable signpost of troubles to come.

The Sources: Not surprisingly, most of the sources available to the English-speaking reader on-line are written in English by Americans.

Spanish sources are difficult to find, and are often spare at best. Filipino sources are even more difficult to obtain, and suffer from the same linguistic problems an English-speaker has with the Spanish.

U.S. Sources:

There's a tremendous quantity out there, but it's pretty easy to cull through the U.S. sources.

First, nearly anything written within the first forty years of the 20th Century can be approached with an extreme and justifiable skepticism where they deal with the Filipino arguments regarding the conduct of the war. It is difficult to understand at this remove the depth and breadth of racism that suffused the U.S., but even histories were affected by it. The tropes of "Little Brown Brothers" and "Tutelary Democracy" affect nearly everything written about the U.S. in the Philippines prior to the 1950s. Many of the websites you encounter continue to cite these sources, and are significantly slanted because of that.

The New York Public Library has a listing of some of the more important works covering the U.S. and the Philippines through this period. Among the more useful appear to be;

Grunder, G. A., and Livezey W.E., 1951, "The Philippines and the United States". A particularly valuable feature of the bibliography is its listing of U.S. and Philippine official publications related to the subject.

Miller, S.C., 1982, "Benevolent Assimilation: the American conquest of the Philippines, 1899-1903". Tremendously valuable bibliography provides links to many primary sources.

Storey, Moorfield, and Lichauco, 1926 "The Conquest of the Philippines by the United States, 1898-1925". One of the first critical interpretations of U. S. policy towards the Philippines. The references provided at the end of each chapter reveal a considerable number of primary sources.

On the web, one of the better websites is "The Philippine-American War, 1899-1902 by Arnaldo Dumindin", which appears to be principally derived from a volume entitled "Never Subdued" by someone named Franklin Hook. Mostly straight reportage but with a tremendous volume of photographs and out-of-print maps.

The "Spanish-American War Centennial Website" contains a large amount of useful information, although it is posted "under construction".

As always, the Osprey campaign series has a very accessible format for anyone interested in the purely military aspects of the campaigns.

Spanish Sources:

Very little is available in translation. One of the earliest sources appears to be Severo Gómez Nunez's "La Guerra Hispano-Americana, Puerto Rico y Filipinas" published in Madrid in 1902. A more recent work is by GEN A.M. Chao, "La Guerra de Filipinas 1896-1898" published in 1998.

The website "1898; El Fin de un Imperio" is a very good introduction to the Spanish sources as well as displaying some pictures not available elsewhere. Extra points for the mournful "The End of an Empire" title...

Filipino Sources:

Finding Filipino sources was the most difficult task of all those I encountered in researching this post. Even the Filipino Wiki ("WikiPilipinas") entry for the Second Battle of Manila is a badly truncated copy of the English Wiki entry. To give you an idea of how difficult finding English-language translations of Filipino history can be, the "Philippine History" page on "PINAS: Your Gateway to Philippine Information" cribbed from the 6th ed. of the Columbia Encyclopedia.

The Engagement: The physical preparations for the taking of Manila began with the arrival of the U.S. infantry in early July. The initial U.S. commander, BG Anderson, surveyed the Spanish defenses and concluded that the best avenue of approach was from the south, through the small suburban town of Pasay and north along the harbor beach to the Spanish citadel of Intramuros, the old walled city of colonial Manila.This was within supporting range of the naval gunfire and easy to reinforce from the units still embarked. With this in mind Anderson chose the little town of Tambo to establish the first land encampment, soon dubbed "Camp Dewey".Aguinaldo's troops initially occupied the siege positions in this area, including earthworks along the Calle Real, the coastal road passing Camp Dewey parallel to the beach which was commanded by the main Spanish fortification on the south perimeter, a genuine masonry Pirates-of-the-Caribbean-type thing called Fort San Antonio de Abad.The Filipino troops also had occupied the approach by the beach proper, the Pasay-Manila road, and their siege lines extended from there about 700 yards east.

The Spanish defenses in this sector included earthworks 7 feet high and 10 feet wide extending from the harbor beach to Fort San Antonio and from there about 1,200 yards east to Blockhouse 14. San Antonio mounted seven artillery pieces of undetermined calibre (but probably as antiquated as the Fort itself) but Blockhouse 14 contained two modern 3.2-inch mountain guns. I could not find the identity of the defending units other than they are identified as "Spanish infantry", so presumably two or three of the battalions of cazadores expedicionarios with strong reserves to the north in Malate as well as the central reserve in the Spanish GHQ at the Intramuros.

On 29 JUL the U.S. expeditionary force commanders persuaded Aguinaldo's staff to withdraw their forces east of the Calle Real. From there Filipino troops occupied unconnected barricades that extended to the rice swamp just east of the Pasay road.Two days later the first Spanish-U.S. engagement took place. It was a desultory affair:
"On July 31, shortly before midnight, the Spaniards opened a heavy and continuous fire with infantry and artillery from their entire line. Battery H, 3rd Artillery, the 10th Pennsylvania Volunteers, and 4 guns of batteries A and B, Utah Artillery were in the trenches at the time and sustained the attack for an hour and a half, being reinforced by 1 battalion of 1st California Volunteers and Battery K, 3rd Artillery. The firing ceased at about 2 A. M. The casualties on the American side were 10 killed and 43 wounded." (Dumindin)
The Spanish made no attempt to sortie, and the siege operations continued uninterrupted.

Sporadic Spanish fire attacks - what the British in WW1 liked to refer to as "hates"; random infantry and artillery attacks without a tactical objective other than to kill enemy soldiers - took place in the following night as well as the nights of the 2/3 AUG and 5/6 AUG. Again, the Spanish defenders made no attempt to break out - where would they go? - or leave their entrenchments.We've talked about the messages passed between the Spanish and U.S. commanders on 7 AUG. Two days later the U.S. joint command issued a formal surrender demand. Couched in the traditional 19th Century military phraseology, it reminded Jaudenes that his force was surrounded without hopes of relief, and that a full artillery preparation and ground assault would result in a great loss of life, including among the Spanish noncombatant civilians trapped within the city, without any possibility that the final outcome could be altered.

The Spanish command realized this as well as their besiegers. Their one thought was finding a way to 1) salvage "honor" out of the debacle, and 2) avoid the one thing they truly feared, the fall of the city to the natives they had despised and abused for the past several hundred years.

The Belgian consul - this guy with the terrific mustachios - was employed to carry a proposal to the U.S. commanders, who agreed to carry out the plan, keep it secret, and physically prevent the Filipino troops from carrying the bulk of Manila.

This cunning plan was that the Spanish garrison would put up a token resistance until the U.S. command signaled for surrender. The date for the hoked-up "assault" was set for 13 AUG. The U.S. division moved into the trenches around Pasay on the 9 and 10 AUG; Greene's 2nd Brigade on the left, MacArthur's 1st on the right.

The following day an odd little incident gives us a good idea of how things stood with the Spanish garrison:
"On August 11, a Filipino regiment in the Spanish army was suspected of being about to desert. The Spanish officers picked out six corporals and had them shot dead. Next night the whole regiment went over to Aguinaldo's army with their arms and accoutrements." (Dumindin)
Things inside the siege lines were going rather thoroughly to hell.

But things outside were getting ugly, as well. MacArthur's troops wanted more space on their right flank, and to get it they forcibly pushed some of the leftmost Filipino units out of their field works. The supposed-allies nearly got to shooting over it. The U.S. division commander sent a peremptory command to Aguinaldo's headquarters: "Do not let your troops enter Manila without the permission of the American commander. On this side of the Pasig River you will be under fire."

First call sounded for the U.S. division at 0730. The main forces moved from their cantonment area forward into the assault trenches and were largely in place by 0800.MacArthur's troops were moving largely though woods and swamps, while Green's men moved along the beach or the open grassland along the Calle Real. By about 0945 the 2nd Brigade was within sight of Fort Antonio, at which point the protected cruiser USS Olympia and the gunboat USS Petrel steamed to within range and laid down a preparatory fire to shoot the 1st Colorado Volunteer Infantry (Green's lead element) into the fort.When the Coloradans got in the gates the fortification was empty save for two dead Spaniards and two wounded troops on stretchers.The two brigade columns continued north.

But the Filipinos, remember, weren't in on the joke; they thought that the Big Push had come, and on MacArthur's right GEN Noriel's Philippine units saw the U.S. movements and pushed forwards as well.

The remaining elements of the Philippine Army got word that the gringos were moving forward and attacked as well; GEN Pio de Pilar's unit took the Sampaloc district to the northeast; GEN Gregorio de Pilar's siezed the Tondo district consisting of the neighborhoods of Barrio San Nicholas, Binondo, Santa Cruz, and Guipo in the north and northwest, and GEN Ricarte's units shoved through the Santa Ana district moving directly west, smashed the Spanish defenders there and pursued them all the way to citadel of Intramuros.Greene's troops had a relatively peaceful march north, although a short, sharp exchange of fire with the Spanish second line defenders in Malate killed and wounded several on both side. But the 1st Brigade, having overrun the Spanish first line and Blockhouse #14 without a fight came up against a second Blockhouse, #20, in the Spanish second line within the suburb of Singalong.

Here the comedy fell apart. The Spanish and the Yanks had their little pretend firefight without thinking about the Filipino units nearby. These, hearing what they didn't know were shots not fired in anger, arrived, and in a genuinely angry mood.A genuine firefight ensued, with the unlucky 1st Minnesota caught between the now-terrified Spaniards and the furious Filipinos; the unit took casualties, several of the few that the U.S. infantry suffered during this sham fight. The Astor Battery artillerymen actually made a chage on foot armed with pistols; either their courage or their stupidity convinced the defenders of Blockhouse 20 that they wanted no part of fighting these lunatics and showed a clean pair of heels.This was the end, both of the fighting for MacArthur's brigade and the Filipino advance in the south; Noriel's troops were told bluntly that they would be shot if they continued to advance.

Greene's men, meanwhile, had run into a nasty little surprise on the "Luneta", the promenade ground of the city, where another blockhouse and earthwork were defended by soldiers who, like the Filipinos, appear to have not been let in on the script. A sharp little fight took place before 2nd Brigade could fight through to the Intramuros.This central redoubt was reached by 1100, but the Spanish flag continued to fly; RADM Dewey was concerned that the Spaniards were going to welch on their deal. Between noon and about 1430 the U.S. commanders and that familiar busy body the Belgian consul flurried about trying to figure out what was going on as the Filipino troops tore in towards the Intramuros from the east and north. Finally Dewey's flag lieutenant returned from a palaver with Jaudenes and announced that the Spanish wouldn't stop "fighting" until a U.S. unit was in place at the gates of the walled citadel with instructions to keep Dewey's Indians out.The 2nd Oregon Volunteers were quickly disembarked and posted at the gates of the Intramuros, and at 1745 the big red-and-yellow flag came down and an immense Stars and Stripes replaced it.

The 2nd Oregon had brought it's band with it - God love 19th Century war! - and they laid into "The Star-Spangled Banner" with a will as the U.S. fleet banged out salutes - almost 200 in 10 minutes - and the women of the defeated imperials wept.

The flagship's band even had an entire musical program for the occasion, headed by that immortal march "Victory of Manila" (you MUST have heard it...) written by the ship's bandmaster for the occasion. It must have been perfectly wonderful.

Not surprisingly, GEN Aguinaldo's runners arrived with a demand for a joint occupation plan. MG Merritt cabled his Adjutant-General in Washington, D.C.:
"Since occupation of the town and suburbs the insurgents on outside are pressing demand for joint occupation of the city. Situation difficult. Inform me at once how far I shall proceed in forcing obedience in this matter and others that may arise. Is Government willing to use all means to make the natives submit to the authority of the United States?"
Meanwhile by 2200 more than 10,000 U.S. troops were either inside the Intramuros or fanned out inside the city; 2nd Brigade drew the north side, with 1st California Volunteers to the San Miguel district, including Malacañan Palace, the Spanish colonial residence, 1st Colorado Volunteers to Tondo with the 1st Nebraska Volunteers on the north shore of the Pasig river. 1st Brigade's AO was the Ermita and Malate districts.BG Corbin, the U.S. AG, sent MG Merrit the following on 17 AUG:
"The President directs that there must be no joint occupation with the insurgents. The United States in the possession of Manila City, Manila Bay, and harbor must preserve the peace and protect persons and property within the territory occupied by their military and naval forces. The insurgents and all others must recognize the military occupation and authority of the United States and the cessation of hostilities proclaimed by the President. Use whatever means in your judgment are necessary to this end. All law-abiding people must be treated alike."
Aguinaldo's HQ was informed that any Filipino troop attempting to enter the Intramuros would be shot on sight.We have no idea how many Filipino soldiers or Spanish civilians were killed in what has become known as the "Mock Battle of Manila". A total of six U.S. troopers were KIA on 13 AUG to a Spanish loss of 49 KIA, 100 WIA.

Add in the 11 men killed in the hates of 31 JUL-5 AUG the total U.S. loss in killed to purchase the capital of their newest colony was seventeen.And the strong smell of a new imperial mastery was already in the air.

PVT Hinchman, of the engineers, wrote home in August "We shall now have to disarm and scatter these abominable, semi-human monkeys."The Outcome: Tactical and strategic U.S. victory - albeit really won before the "fighting" even started.

The Impact: The relatively brief, but very sorry history of the U.S. first and most ambitious open colonial experiment can hardly be better illustrated by recounting the events of 24 AUG, 1898, eleven days after the mock "victory".With the new colony's capital secured, U.S. soldiers felt that they were the masters of the land and had the right, and the ability, to come and go where and how they wanted. This freedom apparently was a heady drink for young Trooper Hudson. The incident was reported later in the week by the New York Times under the headline "Filipinos kill our troops".

"Encounter Due to a Trooper’s Firing a Revolver in Fun in the Streets of Cavite

On Wednesday a Corporal and two troopers of Battery B of the Utah Artillery, after disembarking at Cavite, were sent on an errand.

While passing through the streets Trooper Hudson discharged his revolver. It was all mere fun; but the natives in the immediate locality were much alarmed for the time.

The natives immediately began firing. Dismounted cavalry were sent to quell the disturbance; but the natives misunderstood the movement and the firing became general.

Trooper Hudson was killed and Corp. Anderson mortally wounded. Troopers Laydon, Nachbar, Conolly, and Doyle of the Fourth Cavalry were wounded. Four natives were killed and several wounded.

Gen. Aguinaldo has expressed his regret at the encounter and promises to punish the offenders.

No further trouble is expected."
The Philippine-American War - which lasted three years, cost the Philippine people perhaps as many as 200,000 dead and their American occupiers more than 4,000, and a legacy of fear and hate that lasted until the Japanese arrived to show both sides what a truly bestial occupier could do - broke out less than a year later.

Touchline Tattles: As much as I understand my own country's history, there's something about the way the U.S. dealt with their Little Brown Brothers that combines a sort of Boy's Life naivete with a very different sort of childishness; the hearty juvenile enjoyment - the "kick their ass and take their gas" sort of chest-beating we've heard recently - of the brutality that we as a nation have shown in our very worst moments.William Eggenberger described how he and a fellow private had terrorized the native inhabitants of a nipa hut by sticking their bayonets through the side of the house; he wrote this little entertainment up as a real knee-slapper, the funnest thing he'd done in a month of Sundays...and then ended the letter with a sentimental sigh; "Don't you and the old man work so hard all the time… hoping these lines will find you all in the best of health, a kiss for you all."

It's all there, isn't it? The perfect tribesman - all tender concern for his own tribe, but the others? They might as well be beef cattle. All that supposed civilization and talk of freedom and liberty? Of course they don't the animals.

Here's another example, from a letter by Leonard F. Adams, of the 1st Washington Volunteers, about the counterinsurgency campaign in Luzon he took part in a year later:
"In the path of the Washington regiment...there were 1,008 dead niggers and a great many wounded. We burned all their houses. I don't know how many men, women and children the Tennessee boys did kill. They would not take any prisoners. One company of the Tennessee boys was sent to headquarters with thirty prisoners, and got there with about a hundred chickens and no prisoners."
And back home the demand was not just to support the troops but to support their methods.
"We do not want the Filipinos. We want the Philippines."
wrote the editors of the San Francisco Argonaut;
"The islands are enormously rich, but unfortunately they are infested with Filipinos. There are many millions there, and it is to be feared their extinction will be slow."
The three years it took to convince the Filipinos that their notions of independence from the home of the Declaration of Independence and freedom from the Land of the Free are among the darkest in our history.The nasty little trickery that lies at the heart of the "Mock Battle of Manila" is a beautifully appropriate beginning to that relationship.

Our defense of all this colonial savagery is a shambling one; we did make our colonial period brief. Which is true. But lessens our eagerness to abandon our supposed principles only in degree and not in nature.

It is difficult to say whether anf how much the current ramshackle kleptocracies that characterize modern Philippine politics and economics owe much to our little flirtation with Empire; the record of most former Spanish colonies is as typically bad or worse. But our casual racism and slapdash colonialism didn't do them any favors, either.We had a choice, and it's hard not to think that we made a bad one.

We could have become the principal guide, the strongest ally, the most prosperous trading partner with a new state that might have been an example for all of South Asia. We might have become an example of our best ideas, that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness applied to all peoples, not just the ones in our tribe.

But we didn't.Like any nation - like every nation - the U.S. is an inextricable mixture of good and evil, bright and foolish, strong and weak, and insightful and deluded. We have accomplished much and done much good. We do well to look back on those great and good things we as a nation have done and remind ourselves of the best we can be.

But we would do well to remember our evils - both the great evils as well as the sordid little evils like the First "Battle" of Manila - to remind ourselves of the worst we can be, as well.


Pluto said...

Nicely done, as usual, Chief.

What are you going to do next? I was just reading an old history of a very minor but interesting little battle occurred at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War at an old military academy, the Alcazar. You might enjoy researching it.

FDChief said...

Interesting bit of nasty Francoism; I especially like the part where the defending CO tells his captive son to die like a good unflinching youth.

I'm still thinking about September...

Don Francisco said...

I'm a bit late to comment on this one chief - been up to my ears in work past few weeks. Firstly, another great post. Your American Imperial adventures posts at some point come to the issue of the Land of the Free kidding itself it does not behave like the European Imperial powers it so despises. If you are looking for suggestions, perhaps a post or two on some of the European powers Imperial adventures might be interesting, by way of a contrast.

Anonymous said...

First off, I'd like to extend my respect and admiration for a well written and researched piece on the Mock Battle of Manila. Very nicely done.

Second, I'm wondering if you spotted the plethora of online sources available - War Department histories, journals, theses.

There's a survey by the US Army I think of all the Spanish forces in the Philippines circa 1898, I was surprised you didn't use that. It has deployment info and officers lists.

The Native (indigenas) regiment that mutinied was, I believe the 68th Regimento Fijo.