February 4, 1899:

The Philippine-American War Breaks out


Posted: February 4, 2010






A Hundred Februaries and More After

by Alexander Martin Remollino:


A hundred Februaries and more
after Grayson fired those fatal shots,
the blood shed by Anastacio Felix
on the pavement at Sosiego and Silencio
refuses to dry.
Liwanag is bound still to the balete,
with gold chains,
as the bald eagle hovers on over the land
with our tattered flag
hanging from its beak.





Philippine-American War, 1899-1902

by Arnaldo Dumindin

First Shot of the War, Feb. 4, 1899




San Juan Bridge: Contrary to common belief that prevailed for over a century, the first shot of the Philippine-American War was not fired on this bridge but on Sociego Street in Santa Mesa district, Manila. The Philippines' National Historical Institute (NHI) recognized this fact through Board Resolution 7 Series of 2003. On Feb. 4, 2004 the marker on the bridge was removed and transferred to a site at the corner of Sociego and Silencio Streets. 

                 Filipino outpost at the Santa Mesa end of the San Juan Bridge

Corner of Sociego and Silencio Streets, Santa Mesa District, Manila. The National Historical Institute placed two plaques (in English and in Filipino) marking this spot as the scene of the first shot that sparked the Philippine-American War. The plaque in English states: "Here at 9:00 in the evening of February 4th, 1899, Private William Grayson of the First Nebraska Volunteers fired the shot that started the Filipino-American War.�

On Saturday night, Feb. 4, 1899, Privates William W. Grayson and Robert Miller of  Company D, 1st Nebraska Volunteer Infantry Regiment, while doing sentry duty, encountered 3 Filipino soldiers on Sociego Street in Santa Mesa, Manila, between Blockhouse 7 (Manila City boundary) and Barrio Santol (Sampaloc district).

Pvt. William W. Grayson (1876-1941):  The Englishman who fired the shot that ignited the Philippine-American War. He acquired U.S. citizenship only in 1900. Previous to serving in the Philippines, he was an immigrant and a hotel worker. Upon his return to the United States from the Philippines, Grayson settled in San Francisco, California  and got married in October 1899. He worked as a house painter or an undertaker.

Grayson said: "About eight o'clock, Miller and I were cautiously pacing our district. We came to a fence and were trying to see what the Filipinos were up to. Suddenly, near at hand, on our left, there was a low but unmistakable Filipino outpost signal whistle. It was immediately answered by a similar whistle about twenty-five yards to the right. Then a red lantern flashed a signal from blockhouse number 7. We had never seen such a sign used before.

In a moment, something rose up slowly in front of us. It was a Filipino. I yelled 'Halt!' and made it pretty loud, for I was accustomed to challenging the officer of the guard in approved military style. I challenged him with another loud 'halt!' Then he shouted 'halto!' to me. Well, I thought the best thing to do was to shoot him. He dropped. If I didn't kill him, I guess he died of fright.

Two Filipinos sprang out of the gateway about 15 feet from us. I called 'halt!' and Miller fired and dropped one. I saw that another was left. Well, I think I got my second Filipino that time...."  [LEFT, front-page report in the Freedom, Feb. 16, 1899, published in Manila by the US Army].

The name of the first Filipino fatality of the war was Corporal Anastacio Felix of the 4th Company, Morong Battalion under Captain Serapio Narvaez. The battalion commander was Col. Luciano San Miguel.

                                             Pvt. William W. Grayson

As they ran back to their post, Grayson shouted, "Line up fellows, the niggers are in here all through these yards."

Filipino troops at San Juan del Monte exchanged fire with the American line at Sta. Mesa. The companies of the Morong Battalion under Captain Narvaez and Captain Vicente Ramos charged the American positions and pushed back Grayson�s unit and even captured an American artillery piece. "By 10 o'clock at night," said American historian James LeRoy "the American troops were engaged for two miles from Pasig river north and west."

                   1899: US troops battling Filipinos. Location not specified.

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

The actual strength of the US Eight Army Corps as of February 4 was 20,851 (819 commissioned officers and 20,032 enlisted men).  Out of this number, 2,415 officers and enlisted men were assigned in Cavite and Iloilo harbor. After subtracting further the sick, those serving in the civil departments and those belonging strictly to and doing duty in the staff organizations, the effective combat strength of the Corps in Manila was about 14,000. 

Many of the Filipino commanders were on weekend furlough.  General Antonio Luna, commanding general of the Philippine Army, visited his family in San Fernando, Pampanga Province. Gen. Mariano Noriel was in Para�aque making preparations for his wedding. General Artemio Ricarte and Col. Luciano San Miguel, commanding officers of the troops in San Juan and Santa Mesa, were at Malolos meeting with Pres. Emilio Aguinaldo. They stayed the night in Malolos, at the house of Tomas Guison.

Many others were similarly indisposed. The Filipino soldiers were for the most part leaderless.

General Pantaleon Garcia (LEFT) was the only one who was at his post in Maypajo, north of Manila (he was captured by the Americans in Jaen, Nueva Ecija Province on May  6, 1900).

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

An American newspaper in Manila, published by the U.S. Army. The newspaper was founded on Dec. 13, 1898. This issue came out on the fateful day of Feb. 4, 1899.

Battle of Manila, Feb. 5-6, 1899

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

Brig. Gen. Arthur C. MacArthur, Jr., commander of the 2nd Division, Eight Corps,  attacked the Filipinos in the north and captured La Loma ("The Hill"), the ridge overlooking Manila, on February 5. (La Loma is now a district of Quezon City).

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

                                    US artillery in action at Battle of La Loma

       Filipino soldiers killed on La Loma Hill by the 10th Pennsylvania Volunteers

                        10th Pennsylvania Volunteers ambulance at La Loma

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

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

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

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

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

Filipino dead at Singalong, Manila. Photo includes American photographer's original caption.

                                     Filipino dead at Singalong, Manila.

Original caption is 'Insurgent dead just as they fell in the trench near Santa Ana, February 5th. The trench was circular, and the picture shows but a small portion.'   After the Battle of Manila, the members of the U.S. Army hospital corps were startled to discover several women, in male dress and with hair cropped, among the Filipino dead.

                            Americans view Filpino dead at Santa Ana

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

                                           Filipino dead at Santa Ana

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

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

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

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

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

                    Gun and crew of the USS Olympia, photo taken in 1899

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

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

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


                                           Americans in Manila street fighting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                         A wounded Filipino POW at Santa Mesa district

                     US troops carrying their wounded at Santa Mesa district

                         Wounded American soldiers at Santa Mesa district

                                  US battery at San Pedro de Macati

                                US battery near San Pedro de Macati

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

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

                     San Pedro de Macati:  The view from the church tower

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

                            1st Idaho Volunteers at San Pedro de Macati

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

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

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

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


                                  Filipino soldiers marching through Pasay

                 US Sixth Artillery Gatling gun rakes Filipino positions in Pasay

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

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

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

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

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

                                           Filipino dead in Pasay

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

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

Feb. 5, 1899: Negritos in the Philippine Army captured by US troops at El Deposito, Manila Waterworks, San Juan del Monte.

Feb. 6, 1899: 1st Nebraska Volunteers entrenched at the Manila Waterworks, San Juan del Monte

Feb. 6, 1899:  American rapid fire guns at El Deposito, Manila Waterworks, San Juan del Monte.

Feb. 6, 1899: 1st Nebraska Volunteers supervise the burial of dead Filipinos at the Manila Waterworks, San Juan del Monte.  A Nebraskan said: "We came here to help, not to slaughter, these natives�I cannot see that we are fighting for any principle now."

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

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

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

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


         Burial of slain US soldiers at the Presidio, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

Treaty of Paris Ratified, Feb. 6, 1899

When the Treaty of Paris was signed on December 10, 1898, it had to be ratified by the U.S. Senate before it could take effect. It, however, met opposition, mainly against the annexation of the Philippines.

An Anti-Imperialist League was formed to rally American public opinion against the annexation. Many League members felt empires were anti-democratic and a violation of the nation's heritage. Some union leaders argued that overseas empire would only feed the overwhelming power of big business.

Some prominent Americans, such as former President Grover Cleveland, the writer Mark Twain and industrialist Andrew Carnegie, also opposed the ratification. The latter even offered to buy the Philippines for US $20 million and give it to the Filipinos so that they could be free; he believed the U.S. should exercise global economic power but avoid annexing colonies.

One of the reasons why the United States should not acquire the Philippines was that the Filipinos themselves were fighting the Americans in the Philippines. Such an act, they said, showed that the Filipinos did not want to be under American rule. They also reasoned that it was inconsistent for the United States to disclaim�through the so-called Teller Amendment�any intention of annexing Cuba and then annex the other Spanish colonies, such as the Philippines.

Attitudes about race divided the anti-imperialists. Some opposed annexation because they did not want a "primitive race" to join the U.S. Others,  including many African Americans, suggested that U.S. talk of "uplifting" the Filipinos was hypocritical; at home, they argued, the U.S. was not even trying to protect the rights of black citizens.

There were also many in the United States who saw the advantages of taking over the Philippines. Many Protestant missionaries, for instance, favored annexation. So did people who feared that Germany or another European power might get the Philippines if the United States did not. Some favored annexation to give America a �foothold� in the populous markets of Asia.

President William McKinley controlled all the information coming from the Philippines. On Feb. 6, 1899, after he reported to the American people that the Filipinos had attacked US troops in Manila, the U.S. Senate ratified the treaty by one vote more than the necessary two-thirds. The American public tacitly endorsed the ratification by reelecting Mckinley in 1900. 

The Anti-Imperialist League had supported William Jennings Bryan, the Democratic candidate for President, who opposed the annexation of the Philippines. But rising prosperity and patriotic support for U.S. soldiers helped McKinley to victory.

Feb. 9, 1899: Battle of San Roque, Cavite Province

San Roque (now a district of Cavite City) was a town separated from Cavite Nuevo (now Cavite City) in mainland Cavite Province by a narrow artificial causeway about six hundred yards in length. Beginning Feb. 1, 1899, Filipino troops poured into San Roque.  

                            51st Iowa Volunteers in the Philippines, 1899

Immediately thereafter sentries and outposts were established at the outskirts of San Roque by a battalion of the 51st Iowa Volunteer Infantry Regiment under the command of Col. John T. Loper.

American outpost at the causeway separating San Roque and mainland Cavite Province

Batteries were placed opposite the approach from the causeway separating San Roque and Cavite Nuevo. Gatling guns were placed on bastions, and field pieces were trained on the blockhouses of the Filipinos, while the gunboats Manila and Callao were anchored close inshore in readiness to lend assistance to the Americans in case it was needed.

On the afternoon of February 8,  the Americans sent 2Lt. John A. Glass, of the 1st  Battalion of California Heavy Artillery (California National Guards), with a flag of truce and an escort to the Filipino commander, General Salvador Estrella, and presented him with Commodore George Dewey�s  demand that the Filipinos evacuate San Roque; unless the demand was complied with before nine o'clock of the following morning, the town would be bombarded.


                                                      San Roque burns

On February 9, at 7;30 a.m., a party of three, headed by the Mayor of San Roque, came over the American line and asked for further time. Commodore Dewey, who was ashore, refused, and the delegation immediately returned. A white flag was then hoisted over a Filipino blockhouse, but it was a bluff, intended to draw the advance of American troops into a trap. Shortly thereafter the town was set ablaze by the Filipinos.


                                   American troops in San Roque fighting

Two battalions of the 51st Iowa Volunteer Infantry Regiment, the Wyoming Light Battery and the Nevada Cavalry, with Batteries A and D of the California Heavy Artillery were dispatched across the causeway. Every passage through San Roque was a seething mass of flames, and in order to gain entrance to the town it was necessary for the Americans to flank it by moving along the seashore. The Americans fought their way through the flames of the burning town in pursuit of the retreating Filipinos, dragging their heavy guns by hand, and skirmishing whenever the opportunity afforded.

                            Fortifications at San Roque built by the Filipinos


                                        Americans in San Roque battle

                                           Filipino POWs at San Roque


                                                  Ruins of San Roque

Burr Ellis, of Frazier, Valley, California, narrated what he did in San Roque, Cavite. He wrote:

"They did not commence fighting over here for several days after the war commenced. Dewey gave them till nine o�clock one day to surrender, and that night they all left but a few out to their trenches, and those that they left burned up the town, and when the town commenced burning, the troops were ordered in as far as possible and said,  'Kill all we could find.'  I ran off from the hospital and went ahead with the scouts. And you bet, I did not cross the ocean for the fun there was in it, so the first one I found, he was in a house, down on his knees fanning a fire, trying to burn the house, and I pulled my old Long Tom to my shoulder and left him to burn with the fire, which he did. I got his knife, and another jumped out of the window and ran, and I brought him to the ground like a jack-rabbit. I killed seven that I know of, and one more, I am almost sure of: I shot ten shots at him running and knocked him down, and that evening the boys out in front of our trenches now found one with his arm shot off at the shoulder and dead as h____. I had lots of fun that morning...."

American troops in possession of Teatro Cavite�o in Cavite Nuevo (now Cavite City). The theater was Emilio Aguinaldo's first military headquarters upon his return from Hong Kong on May 19, 1898. It was here that the Philippine national flag was hoisted for the first time on May 28, 1898 after the Filipinos defeated the Spaniards in the battle of Alapan, Imus, Cavite. The town of San Roque was merged into Cavite Nuevo in 1903. 

Battle of Caloocan, Feb. 10, 1899

After capturing La Loma, Brig. Gen. Arthur C. MacArthur, Jr. pushed toward Caloocan. General Antonio Luna together with a Belgian-trained engineer, Jose Alejandrino had constructed trenches to defend the town.

    20th Kansas Volunteers digging trenches just before the engagement at Caloocan

Original caption:  "Gun mounted by insurgents to control the railroad near Caloocan."

1st South Dakota Volunteers and a section of a light battery behind entrenchments just before the battle of Caloocan

Original caption:  "The Montana Regiment Waiting The Order To Advance On Caloocan."

  Original caption: "Idaho volunteers near Caloocan, waiting to be called to the Front"

Edward Stratemayer in his article entitled UNDER OTIS IN THE PHILIPPINES described the capture of Caloocan: "On to the town! was the next cry and into the city they advanced, the Filipinos contesting every step stubbornly but unsuccessfully. A stand was taken at a church and at several public and private buildings; but the blood of the Americans was not up and they forced the rebels out, in many cases at the point of the bayonet. Compelled to give up the city, the Filipinos tried their best to burn the main portion of the town, and soon the smaller houses were a mass of flames. An attempt was also made to burn the church and the city hall, but here the Americans interferred and many of the rebels were caught and taken prisoner. The general advance had begun at one o'clock in the afternoon. At half past five, Old Glory was swung to the breeze from the flagstaff of the city hall and rebel sway in Caloocan became a thing of the past. When the smoke of war cleared out, the inhabitants of the town found their homes in ashes, the buildings razed to the ground and only the Casa Tribuna, the church, and the convent remained standing."

Original caption:  "The trenches before Caloocan afforded the best test of soldierly nerve under the strain of constant expectation of attack. The guns are here being placed in position for the coming battle. The defense is admirable."

                                             US Battery at Caloocan

1899 painting, drawn from eyewitness accounts, by G.W. Peters. Title:  "The Battle Before Caloocan, February 10, 1899--View from the Chinese church".  Maj. Gen. Arthur C. MacArthur, Jr., is the khaki-clad officer with binoculars; the battery of Utah Artillery is on the middle foreground, while the 10th Pennsylvania Volunteers occupy the ground  behind the wall. This print came from the book, "Harper's Pictorial History of the War with Spain", published in 1899.

Describing the Caloocan battle, Charles Bremer, of Minneapolis, Kansas, wrote:

"Company I had taken a few prisoners, and stopped. The colonel ordered them up in to line time after time, and finally sent Captain Bishop back to start them. There occurred the hardest sight I ever saw. They had four prisoners, and didn�t know what to do with them. They asked Captain Bishop what to do, and he said: 'You know the orders', and four natives fell dead.�

Capt. David S. Elliot, of the 20th Kansas Volunteers, said: "Talk about war being 'hell,' this war beats the hottest estimate ever made of that locality. Caloocan was supposed to contain seventeen thousand inhabitants. The Twentieth Kansas swept through it, and now Caloocan contains not one living native. Of the buildings, the battered walls of the great church and dismal prison alone remain. The village of Maypaja, where our first fight occurred on the night of the fourth, had five thousand people on that day�now not one stone remains upon top of another. You can only faintly imagine this terrible scene of desolation."

Original caption:  "The Advance On Caloocan --- On The Firing-Line Of The Kansas Volunteers."

                         Volley firing by the 20th Kansas Volunteers, 1899

                  20th Kansas Volunteers advancing across an open field, 1899

Arthur Minkler, of the 20th Kansas Volunteers: ""We advanced four miles and we fought every inch of the way;... saw twenty-five dead insurgents in one place and twenty-seven in another, besides a whole lot of them scattered along that I did not count.... It was like hunting rabbits; an insurgent would jump out of a hole or the brush and run; he would not get very far.... I suppose you are not interested in the way we do the job. We do not take prisoners. At least the Twentieth Kansas do not".

During the battle, the Kawit Battalion from Cavite refused to attack when given the order by Gen. Antonio Luna. Because of this, he disarmed and relieved them of their duties. Soldiers from this same Cavite battalion later assassinated Luna in Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija on June 5, 1899.

                                                          Igorot POWs

The Igorots sent a contingent of men to fight the Americans at Caloocan. The warriors were armed only with spears, axes, and shields.They were commanded by Maj. Federico Isabelo "Belong" Abaya (LEFT), a native of Candon, Ilocos Sur Province. He was a member of the Espiritu de Candon, a revolutionary group in Candon. On March 25, 1898, he led the so-called Ikkis ti Kandon (Cry of Candon), drove away the Spaniards from the town and beheaded the Spanish parish priest (Fr. Rafael Redondo) and two visiting friars. He served in the Philippine Army under General Manuel Tinio, and later became guerilla commander in southern Ilocos under Col. Juan Villamor of Bangued, Abra Province

Abaya was born in 1854 to a well-to-do family and died in battle on May 3, 1900. He and 10 men were at the mountain village of Guilong, Galimuyod, 11 miles east of Candon, when they encountered a 30-man patrol of Company G, 33rd Infantry Regiment of United States Volunteers (USV). The Americans were led by 2Lt. Donald C. McClelland. Abaya died with 2 of his men and 3 were captured. There were no casualties on the American side. [Guilong has been renamed "Abaya" in honor of the hero].

The Igorots soon fell out with the Philippine army and became U.S. allies, acting as guides for American troops in the rugged highlands of northern Luzon.  A Tingguian Igorot, Januario Galut, led U.S. troops to a position where they could surround and defeat the forces of Gen. Gregorio del Pilar at Tirad Pass on Dec. 2, 1899.

Many of the Igorots who served in Aguinaldo's army later joined the colonial Philippine Constabulary

The mortal combat at Caloocan killed Luna's Chief of Staff, Major Bautista of the Territorial Militia, and Captain Licero of Malolos.

The Annual Report of the U.S. War Department listed 5 American dead and 45 wounded; 200 Filipinos killed and 800 wounded.

          10th Pennsylvania Volunteers atop captured Filipino blockhouse

                   Original caption: "Flags of truce in the streets of Caloocan"

(LEFT) Caloocan Church after bombardment by Admiral George Dewey's fleet.  (RIGHT) Americans set up a field telegraph station inside the church

Caloocan Church, after the battle.  The American photographer wrote:  "Caloocan, six miles north of Manila, bombarded by guns of the 'Charleston' and 'Monadnock' and leveled to the ground by fire, was a sorry sight as the Twentieth Kansas regiment advanced. The insurgent dead lay in great numbers for it was here that the Kansans won their first great victory. What was a prosperous town was in a few moments wiped out of existence. The church was afterwards used as headquarters."

                    Original caption: "View of Caloocan, showing burned district"

                      Conveying wounded American soldier, February 1899


                     Trainload of dead and wounded Americans at Caloocan

Original caption:  "On the road to Caloocan --- the aftermath. Photograph by Lieut. C.F. O'Keefe, U.S.A."

                                     Dead Filipino soldier at Caloocan


Filipinos killed by the Utah Light Battery at Caloocan.  Fred D. Sweet, of the Utah Light Battery:  "The scene reminded me of the shooting of jack-rabbits in Utah, only the rabbits sometimes got away, but the insurgents did not."

Theodore Conley, 20th Kansas Regiment:  "Talk about dead Indians! Why, they are lying everywhere. The trenches are full of them...There is not a feature of the whole miserable business that a patriotic American citizen, one who loves to read of the brave deeds of the American colonists in the splendid struggle for American independence, can look upon with complacency, much less with pride. This war is reversing history. It places the American people and the government of the United States in the position occupied by Great Britain in 1776. It is an utterly causeless and defenseless war, and it should be abandoned by this government without delay. The longer it is continued, the greater crime it becomes�a crime against human liberty as well as against Christianity and civilization..."

              Americans with captured Filipino smooth-bore cannon at Caloocan

Train captured from the Filipinos at Caloocan. The Photo was actually taken shortly before the Battle of Quingua, Bulacan Province, on April 23, 1899

The Atlanta Constitution of Georgia reports on the capture of Caloocan, issue of Feb. 11, 1899

Feb. 17, 1899: Founding of Philippine National Red Cross

Emilio Aguinaldo's first wife was Hilaria del Rosario  (LEFT, 1898 photo) of Imus, Cavite Province, whom he married on Jan. 1, 1896.  She was born in 1877. They had five children: Miguel, Carmen, Emilio Jr., Maria and Cristina.

Hilaria organized the Hijas de la Revolucion (Daughters of the Revolution), which later became the Asociacion Nacional de la Cruz Roja (National Association of the Red Cross), considered a kind of precursor of the present Philippine National Red Cross.

On Feb. 17, 1899, the Malolos Republic approved the Constitution of the National Association of the Red Cross. The Republic appointed Hilaria del Rosario Aguinaldo as President of the Association. In its first five months it had thirteen chapters. She and others helped to organize and distribute the needed food and medicines to wounded Filipino soldiers.

On Oct. 5, 1899, Mrs. Aguinaldo spoke to the soldiers assembled in Tarlac: 

"...Were it not a shocking thing for us to wear trousers and to carry rifles ... we [the women] members of the Philippine Red Cross -- would aid you in the struggle and die by your side, for what would our lives amount to if we should still have to live in slavery? Though I am a weak woman, I can assure you that my prayer is for all the Filipino people..."

She accompanied her husband in his long and arduous trek to northern Luzon, from Nov. 13, 1899 in Bayambang, Pangasinan, until Dec. 25, 1899 in Talubin, Bontoc, Mountain Province; on that Christmas day, Emilio Aguinaldo, wishing to spare the 5 women in his entourage from further hardships (Hilaria, Aguinaldo's sister, Col. Manuel Sityar's wife and Col. Jose Leyba's 2 sisters) ordered Colonel Sityar and another officer to accompany the women and surrender to the Americans in Talubin. Hilaria was reunited with her husband soon after his capture by the Americans on March 23, 1901. 

                              Hilaria and son Miguel.  Photos taken in 1901.

Hilaria del Rosario Aguinaldo died of tuberculosis in Kawit, Cavite on March 6, 1921.

A view of the native hut used as a hospital during the Philippine-American War by the International Red Cross Society

Francis A. Blake, of California, in charge of the Red Cross, wrote after a battle:

"I never saw such execution in my life, and hope never to see such sights as met me on all sides as our little corps passed over the field, dressing wounded. Legs and arms nearly demolished; total decapitation; horrible wounds in chests and abdomens, showing the determination of our soldiers to kill every native in sight. The Filipinos did stand their ground heroically, contesting every inch, but proved themselves unable to stand the deadly fire of our well-trained and eager boys in blue. I counted seventy-nine dead natives in one small field, and learn that on the other side of the river their bodies were stacked up for breastworks."