HUGHES, AUGUST 5, 1899
Report of General Commanding Visayan Military District.
HEADQUARTERS VISAYAN MILITARY DISTRICT AND FIRST SEPARATE BRIGADE, EIGHTH ARMY CORPS.
Iloilo, P. I, August 5, 1899.
The Assistant Adjutant General
Department of the Pacific and Eighth Army Corps,
Manila, P. I.
SIR: In compliance with telegraphic instructions of the 24th July, I submit the following report of operations of this command from its origin to June 30, 1899.
The 1st Separate Brigade was organized December 24, 1898, as per par. 1, G. O. No. 39, Headquarters Department of the Pacific and Eighth Army Corp.
Barry, Dec 24 1898, G.O. No. 39
As then organized it consisted of —
Light Battery G, 6th U. S. Artillery,
18th U. S. Infantry,
51st Iowa Volunteer Infantry.
The same order directed that this brigade, under the command of Brigadier General M. P. Miller, U. S. Volunteers, should proceed to Iloilo, Island of Panay, by transports Newport, Arizona and Pennsylvania, and execute special instructions of the Department Commander.
The special instructions were as follows:
Barry to Miller, Dec 24 1898
General Miller and command sailed out of Manila Bay on the night of December 26, 1898.
It appears that General Rios, then commanding the Spanish forces in this District of the Visayas, received instructions from Madrid, December 21, to evacuate Iloilo and transfer himself and troops to Zamboanga Mindanao Island. On these instructions he, on the 22d, sent for the mayor of the city and some of the prominent citizens of the town, together with the foreign consuls, and informed them of his intention to abandon the city on the 24th inst., and that he would transfer the care of the city to the mayor, Sr. Vincente Gay. He recommended the care of the Spanish citizens to the German Consul. General Rios then proceeded to execute his plan of abandoning the city and the garrisions of Molo and Iloilo, together with the civil officers, and General Rios himself embarked on the 24th and sailed for Zamboanga Mindanao. The mayor finding the city on his hands without any means of defense immediately sought the Mammon. He succeeded in arrangng for a meeting with some of the insurgent leaders at Jaro and arranging with them that they would not enter Iloilo until the Spaniards had gone. Molo was occupied on the 24th but Iloilo was not occupied by the insurgents until the 26th. Mayor Gay, to whom General Rios had turned over the city, met the incoming insurgents at the city line, conducted them to the Ayuntamiento, and then, being a Spaniard, transferred his charge into their hands.
On his voyage down General Miller met Lieutenant Colonel Potter U. S. Volunteers, off Mindora island on the 27th. Colonel Potter was returning to Manila to report the situation at Iloilo to
the Department Commander.
He handed General Miller the following report of the situation.
Potter to Miller, Dec 27 1898
General Miller's command arrived in the roads of Iloilo at 10 a. m., December 28. Shortly after arrival General Miller sent the following letter to the commanding officer of the insurgent troops at Iloilo:
Miller to Estado Federal de Bisayas, Dec 28 1898
This letter was considered by a sub-committee of the junto, General Delgado, the military commander, being present. This sub-committee of which Don R. Lopez was chairman, stated that they had no power to act in cases affecting their Federal Government, but that they would meet General Miller on the transport on the following afternoon—December 29 —which they did at 6 p. m., and again asserted their inability to act, and asked to be given time to consult Aguinaldo, which was denied.
General Miller asked this committee: "Should we land would you meet us with armed resistance I" The committee could not answer. He asked: "if they would not have their troops move out of the city and permit us, their friends, to move in without resistance?" They requested time for consultation, promising to return a definite reply at noon of the 30th.
Lieutenant Colonel Potter arrived from Manila on the evening of the 29th with the following new instructions from the Department Commander—based on the new information Colonel Potter had presented:
Otis to Miller, Dec 28 1898
On the afternoon of December 30, the President of the Estado Federal de Visayas, R. Lopez, wrote to General Miller in the following terms:
Translation of the letter from President Lopez, of the Federal Government of Bisayas, to General Miller.
Lopez to Miller, Dec 30 1898
To which General Miller replied on same date as follows:
Miller to Lopez, Dec 30 1898
On the 31st of December the President, R. Lopez, wrote a second letter couched in the following language:
Lopez to Miller, Dec 31 1898
December 31 a petition signed by the leading merchants of Iloilo was presented to General Miller, but the petition itself was forwarded to the Department Commander and its contents is not known at this office, but on the same date letters were written the United States Vice-Consul by Vice-Consul of Great Britain and Vice-Consul of the German Empire, stating to them that it was understood that the revolutionary forces intended to set fire to the whole of the city if the United States troops attempted to land.
The effect of these letters and the petition was to delay action on the Department Commander's instructions of the 28th until further instructed.
On January 1, General Miller transmitted to Sr. Lopez the instructions of His Excellency, the President of the United States, of December 28, relative to the administration of affairs in the Philippine Islands. In transmitting this proclamation General Miller wrote as follows:
Miller to Lopez, Jan 1 1899
In transmitting the President's instructions to General Miller, the Department Commander wrote as follows:
"Should there be strong and very decided opposition to your entry, backed by considerable force, do not be in haste. It will not do to bombard the city, nor will it do to let the natives loot and burn it. Foreigners have
large possessions there and a great deal of money in the hanks. You can remain in the harbor with your force. If you meet with decided and strong opposition, await then further instructions, and, if necessary, I can direct a portion of your force to other ports in the southern islands, where you will not meet much, if any, opposition. I trust in your discretion,"
On January 6 General Miller received the following copy of cablegram :
Corbin to Otis, Jan 1 1899
On January 9 General Miller received the following letter from Sr. R. Lopez in reply to his of January 1:
Lopez to Miller, Jan 9 1899
On January 6 General Miller submitted the following report to the Department Commander:
Miller to Otis, Jan 6 1899
Another report was submitted January 8, as follows:
Miller to Otis, Jan 8 1899
On January 11, General Miller replied to the letter of Señor R. Lopez of the 9th, as follows:
Miller to Lopez, Jan 11 1899 (first letter)
Also as follows:
Miller to Lopez, Jan 11 1899 (second letter)
On the same date Acting Assistant Surgeon Henry Du R.
Phelan, appeared before the general committee of the so-called
Estado Federal de Bisayas, Iloilo, and concerning which he submits the following report:
Phelan's meeting with Estado Federal de Bisayas, Jan 11 1899
On the 15th of January the following letter was sent by the Department Commander:
Otis to Miller, Jan 15 1899
On the 20th of January, the commanding officer 51st Iowa
Volunteers, reported that his regiment had then been on board ship
for seventy-six days and sanitary considerations demanded that it
should be landed. It was ordered to Cavite, and left the Roads
of Iloilo on January 29.
On February 8, the Governor sent the following letter to General Miller:
Barry to Miller, Feb 8 1899
The 1st Tennessee Volunteer Infantry, which was withdrawn
from Manila and Cavite to replace the 51st Iowas, arrived off Iloilo
during the night of the 10th of February and morning of the 11th.
On the 10th of February the following communications were
sent by General Miller and delivered at their addresses on the same
Miller to Estado Federal de Bisayas, Feb 10 1899
Miller to Consulates, Feb 10 1899
Upon receipt of this information ways and means were taken by the insurgents, then in occupation and control, for burning the city. Large quantities of petroleum were secured and stored in the Ayuntamiento, Calle Rosario, Calle San Pedro, etc. In the early
morning of February 11, before any shots had been fired or any immediate action was evident, these supplies of oil were distributed about the city and placed in dwellings, shops, stores, etc., so as to make the work of the incendiaries easy, swift and sure. The statement is made that the local President and other officials in uniform assisted in the distribution of the petroleum, and the mayor of the city, Sr. Leon, is said to have followed the example of the mayor of Moscow, by setting tire to his own house before abandoning the city, which had been confided to his care.
On the morning of the 11th the insurgents were discovered putting guns in position on the beach for defense, and, as this was in violation of the conditions specified by General Miller in granting time for non-comhatants, etc., to make their dispositions for what might occur, the naval gunboat Petrel fired two warning shots, upon which, the land battery being put in position opened fire on the Petrel, which opened an action that had not been contemplated or expected, on the part of either the troops or their commands, until the following morning.
Firing having opened between the hostile forces, the incendiaries in the city immediately began their assigned work and the city was soon in flames. Meanwhile the troops were being landed on the beach and the right bank of the river, and working their way through and around the fire succeeded in reaching and securing possession of the bridge across the Iloilo River leading to Jaro, and also the bridge across the estuary on the road to Molo. Possession of these points assured General Miller's possession of the city. In submitting the fact to the Department Commander, General Miller remarks, "It was not contemplated to make an attack before the hour named to the consuls, but the insurgent forces having begun acts of hostility, military necessity required that action should be taken and followed up. Such action certainly made no difference regarding the destruction of property, as it was a matter of common report that every preparation had been made by the forces of the insurgents at Iloilo to set fire to the city at the first hostile shot."
In another letter written by General Miller on the 21st of February, the following remark occurs, "I have no doubt it is owing
to the premature attack that any of the buildings are saved. The plan was one of total destruction by fire."
On the following day the suburb of Jaro was taken by Major Keller with a battalion of the 18th Infantry and a battery of machine guns. General Miller reported as follows:
Miller, Feb 12 1899
On the 14th of February, Major Keller made a reconnoissance in the direction of Santa Barbara, and four miles from Jaro he encountered the enemy — about 500 strong- - and drove them back some distance. His loss was one non-commissioned officer killed, and one wounded.
On the 19th of February a reconnoissance was made to Oton by a battalion of the 1st Tennessee Volunteers, but no enemy found.
A battalion of the 1st Tennessee Volunteers made a reconnoissance in the direction of San Miguel via Mandurriao on the 25th of February. The enemy was found a short distance beyond Mandurriao and driven back without loss to our troops.
On the 1st of March a "Military District," comprising the Islands of Panay, Negros and Cebu, and such other Visayan islands as may be hereafter named, was formed and designated as the Visayan Military District.
The City of Cebu, Island of Cebu, was at that time occupied without resistance by a battalion of the 23d Infantry under the command of Major Goodale.
The 3d battalion of the 1st California Volunteer Infantry was ordered to the island of Negros. Colonel.- now Brigadier General James F. Smith, 1st California Volunteers, was assigned to the command of the Sub District of Negros and supplied with necessary material and means to organize a corps of two hundred native police for the island of Negros. The troops landed in Negros without resistance, and the native corps of police was duly organized.
On the 14th of March the Island of Cebu was created a sub-district of the Visayan District, and Lieutenant Colonel T. R. Hamer, 1st Idaho Volunteers, was assigned to that command.
On the 16th of March the enemy were discovered advancing on Jaro from the direction of Pavia along the left bank of the Jaro River. Colonel Van Valzah took measures to meet them, and General Miller finally assembled seven companies of the 18th Infantry, one battalion of the Tennessee Volunteer Infantry and four guns, with which force the enemy was driven back with loss. Our losses being one killed and fourteen wounded.
Owing to a state of uneasiness in Negros a second battalion of the 1st California Volunteer Infantry was ordered to that Island on the 21st of March.
General Miller was retired on the 27th of March, and the control of the affairs was left to Colonel Van Valzah, 18th Infantry, the senior in command, who maintained command until the 5th of
May, when Brigadier General James F. Smith (lately promoted) assumed temporary command of the District.
On the 5th of May, Captain George H. Tilly, U. S. Volunteer Signal Corps was killed by natives at Escalante Bay while engaged in the work of taking up the old cable in order to secure the material for use elsewhere. A company (Captain Shanks's) of the 18th Infantry immediately proceeded to the site of the scene and pursued the criminals into the mountains, and succeeded in killing some of them and in destroying their village.
On the 21st of May the tinal battalion of the 1st California Volunteer Regiment was ordered to the island of Negros, where it took station on the east side of the Island at Dumaguete, Bais, Tanjay and San Carlos.
The undersigned was assigned to the command of the Visayan District, May 25, per G. O. No. 29, Headquarters Department of the Pacific and 8th Army Corps, and assumed command on the 4th day of June.
On the 19th of June the suburb of Molo was occupied by a battalion of the 1st Tennessee Volunteer Infantry, and a light bridge thrown across the Iloilo River connecting Molo with Jaro via Mandurriao.
On the 9th of June telegraphic information was received here of the assasination of Sr. Pablo Mejia in Cebu and stating that the civil government was liable to go to pieces if a stronger military force was not provided. On the 12th a battalion of the 1st Tennessee Volunteer Infantry and a platoon of "G" battery, 6th Artillery, were sent from here to strengthen the garrison in Cebu.
On June 16 the town of San Nicholas was occupied, and on June 26 El Pardo was taken possession of without incident.
No further changes occurred up to and including the 30th of June last.
The reports of the sub-district commanders are forwarded in a separate enclosure.
R. P. HUGHES,
Brigadier General, U.S. Volunteers, Commanding