OTIS, MAY 14, 1900
OTIS ANNUAL REPORT, SEPT 1 1899 - MAY 5 1900
we will present the operations in the Visayan military
district, commanded by Brigadier-General Hughes. This district embraced what is commonly known as the Visayas Islands, with headquarters at Iloilo, Panay. Our last annual report, rendered on August 31, showed that the city of Iloilo, with its outlying villages; the city of Cebu, on the island of that name, with the mountain country within a radius of a few miles; and the important positions in the island of Negros, contained the only territory of the district within the possession of our troops.
These troops consisted of Light Battery G, of the Sixth Artillery, the Eighteenth Infantry, and a battalion of the Nineteenth Infantry, which were stationed in Panay; the Sixth Infantry garrisoned important stations in Negros; one battalion of the Nineteenth and one of the Twenty-third held the city of Cebu. Two battalions of the Nineteenth Infantry had relieved the Tennessee regiment, of which two battalions had been stationed in Panay and one in Cebu. Colonel Snyder, who was commanding at the latter point, reported, early in September, the threatening attitude assumed there by the enemy, when General Hughes reenforced him by a detachment of Battery G, Sixth Artillery, and two companies of the Sixth Infantry. With his battalion of the Nineteenth Infantry, a portion of the Tennessee battalion still remaining, the detachments sent him and a portion of the Twenty-third Infantry Battalion, he moved against the enemy (who now nearly encircled the city of Cebu) on September 22, and reported as a result of his operations, which extended through the following day, that he had driven the enemy off, had captured 7 of his forts and 14 of his intrenched positions, with his cannon and a few small arms, suffering the loss of 1 man killed and 4 wounded; that the loss of the enemy, who had been scattered over the mountains to the southwestward, and whom it was impossible to follow because of lack of transportation, he estimated at 40 men. No further Cebu operations took place for some time, as additional troops and transportation were required to insure any decided and permanent success. On October 21 General Hughes was informed that the remaining battalion of the Nineteenth Infantry and a large amount of transportation would leave Manila for Iloilo on October 24 and would be followed in a few days by an entire regiment of volunteers.
The island of Negros, which had been made a subdistrict of the Visayan military district in March, to the command of which Brigadier-General Smith, then colonel of the California Volunteers, had been assigned, in which the California troops had been succeeded by the Sixth Infantry, and over which, in July, an abridged form of civil government (character and scope of same fully given in my last annual report) had been extended, was about to hold an election for the choice of a civil governor and advisory council. General Smith had made the necessary provisions for the registration of voters, the preparation of ballots, the method of casting votes, and had announced the time of the election for October 2. The inhabitants of Negros had taken very kindly to this feature of experimental abridged civil gov ernment, and the leading citizens had warmly expressed their sense of obligation to the American authorities for this manifested confidence in their ability to conduct in a measure their internal civil affairs. On September 24 one of the leading insurgent chiefs, Gen. Ignacio Lopez, with 64 armed men, surrendered to Captain Byrne at Castellano, and the insurgents at Panay (not Tagalos) applied to know what promises would be given them in case of their formal submission.
General Hughes informed the latter that they must surrender their arms and disband their forces before any terms could be considered or any promises made, but their action seemed to indicate a desire to receive the consideration which had been extended to Negros. However, this fortunate progress of affairs in that island was disquieting to the Tagalos, a few of whom resided there, while a large force of their soldiers, mostly from Luzon, dominated Panay. They, under the influence and general direction of Aguinaldo and of certain agents of the junta at Hongkong, who were sent from that place to foment discord, entered some of the coast towns of Negros, and especially its mountain sections, and were successful in collecting bolo men and mountain robbers, to some of whom they furnished rifles, and with these bands were able to annoy our troops and plunder the inhabitants. They were pursued into the mountains and throughout the island, the native police force of 200 men which we had equipped performing most excellent service in the pursuit. On October 1 Captain Poore, with his company of the Sixth Infantry, attacked one of their intrenched camps, killed 20, including 2 noted robbers, captured 12 rifles, a large supply of ammunition, and all of their stores. His casualties were Lieutenant Grubbs, of the regiment, killed; Assistant Surgeon Shillock and 3 enlisted men very slightly wounded. On October 21 Lieutenant Simons, Sixth Infantry, struck a village of Tulisanes near San Carlos, killing and wounding 9. A few days later Captain Evans, of the same regiment, attacked a band near Castellano, killed 10, wounded many, and captured 20. Captain Byrne, of that regiment, encountered another band, killed 10 and captured 13, while our native troops, who had discovered another small band destroyed 6. This, to them, surprising and destructive activity, drove the Tagalos from the island, for a time at least, and on November 1 General Hughes reported that Negros was "in a better state of lawful submission than for twenty years; that planters were no longer in danger."
The election created a good deal of enthusiasm, but passed off very quietly. Over 5,000 votes were polled, and no frauds attempted. The count was so close, however, that it was feared a contested election would result, but the inhabitants accepted the official count, and the inauguration of the newly elected officers was announced for November 6. It took place under the supervision of General Smith, and the newly installed civil governor sent the following cable dispatch through the office of the military governor at Manila:
Melecio Severino to Mckinley, Nov 7 1899
During the remainder of the month all reports from the island were of the most encouraging nature. The chief insurgent leader at the north voluntarily surrendered without asking conditions. The people, assured of security, were apparently cheerful and hopeful, and recommenced in earnest their agricultural and other pursuits. More
planting was being done and more sugar mills were in operation than at any period since the inauguration of the revolt against Spain. The form of government which had been put in operation worked excellently under the wise supervision of General Smith, who retained the confidence of all parties and factions.
Third First Battalion of the Nineteenth Infantry and the Twenty-sixth U. S. Volunteers were sent to lloilo during the last week of October. They had been preceded by a fair amount of quartermaster's transportation and a few small guns from which, together with those already there, a mountain battery might be organized. General Hughes commenced at once his preparations to move against the Panay insurgents. They had constructed intrenched lines of defense within short distances of the city on all roads radiating from it which they had thrown up in part in 1898 while fighting the Spanish troops, and which, with the labor expended upon them since that time, they believed to be unassailable. The insurgent encircling force was estimated at from two to three thousand, mostly Tagalos, the great majority of whom had been sent into the island to assist the Visayans to drive out Spain and to resist the forcible entry into the city of General Miller with his United States troops, which entry was threatened from December 28, 1898, when General Miller took possession of lloilo Harbor, until it was finally consummated on the 11th of February following.
The Tagalos and Visayans have never held any very long continued amicable relations. Birth prejudice, attempted Tagalo direction, and the desire of many influential Visayans to follow the lead of Negros had destroyed all mutual confidence, if any had ever existed, and as a result the Tagalos had appropriated nearly all the guns in the island and held the Visayans in restraint. Their differences were reported to be quite serious, and at one time it was believed that if not interfered with, they, after the manner pursued by the factions of southern Mindanao, would fight out the war in that section among themselves.
Examining the topography of Panay it will be seen that the four provinces into which it is divided have boundaries determined naturally by mountain ranges and high watersheds. The central provinces of lloilo to the south and Capiz to the north are separated from Antique on the west by an almost inaccessible mountain range, and from the small province of Concepcion on the east coast by a range of high land from which the rivers flow northward and eastward. They are separated from each other by the elevated divide extending from the mountains which mark the eastern limit of the province of Antique to the western line of Concepcion province.
The town of Capiz, on the extreme north of the island, is connected with the city of lloilo by a rough wagon road, along which runs the old telegraph line which connected the former cable termini at Capiz and lloilo. A few insurgent troops were maintained at Capiz, but the great majority of them were concentrated in the southern section of lloilo province, south of the town of Cabatuan, where the insurgent capital had been established. General Miller on February 12, 1899, a few days after occupying the city of lloilo, had seized the near villages of Molo and Jaro, and had subsequently reconnoitered the country to Oton, on the coast, and to the north and northwest in the direction of Pavia and San Miguel. In whatever direction he prospected he found a fair force of the enemy to oppose his advance. The instructions
given to General Hughes in June, when he left Manila to take command of the Visayan district, were to limit all his operations in Panay to the secure holding of the city of Iloilo and such of its outlying villages as were then in our possession, "as no additional force could be given him, and as the policy of nonaction in the island other than such as might be considered defensive would result in dissensions between the Visayan and Tagalo, who should we attack would unite for resistance." The policy of waiting, in so far as active war operations were concerned, was resorted to at Iloilo, the insurgents being made to confine themselves to their intrenehments until the October reenforcements of 1,700 men were sent there. Upon the arrival of these reenforcements one of the most severe typhoons that had ever visited that section of country set in and prevailed for several days, but General Hughes commenced his advance on November 9.
The plan of operations determined upon was to turn the right of the enemy by marching a column consisting of two battalions of the Nineteenth Infantry, a battalion of the Eighteenth, the mountain battery, and a mounted detachment over the south coast road to Oton, thence north to San Miguel and Almodian, swinging in on Cabatuan, when Lieutenant-Colonel Dickman, with a portion of the Twenty-sixth Volunteers, assisted by men of the Sixth Infantry withdrawn from Negros, should attack at Jaro, and Colonel Carpenter, with Light Battery G, Sixth Artillery, and two battalions of the Eighteenth Infantry, should attack Pavia and Santa Barbara. The excessive rain compelled a modification of the plans. General Hughes, commanding the marching column, reached Oton on November 10, from which he reported as follows:
On November 12 he reported the following from Tigbauan:
He further reported from Tigbauan the following day
On November 20 he encountered the enemy strongly intrenched at the crossing of the Aganao River on the road from Leon to Almodian [Alimodian]. After three hours maneuvering and fighting he drove him from all positions, suffering a loss of four men wounded. He immediately moved on to and seized Almodian [Alimodian] and directed an attack by Carpenter's force on Pavia.
At dawn on November 21 Colonel Dickman with his force, consisting of six companies of the Twenty-sixth Volunteers and one of the Sixth Infantry, attacked near Jaro, captured the strong position of the enemy by a charge on the flank of his works and completely routed him with a loss of 18 killed, 9 prisoners, 4 one-pounder brass field pieces, 2 rifles, and several thousand cartridges. Colonel Dickman's casualties were 6 men wounded. At the same time Carpenter with his
Light Battery and two battalions of the Eighteenth Infantry attacked the insurgent stronghold at Pavia, 3 miles north of Jaro. The fighting continued until noon, with a loss to Carpenter of 5 men killed, 20 quite seriously wounded, who were sent to the hospital at Iloilo, and some 15 others slightly wounded, but who remained with the command. The enemy's loss was very heavy in both men and material. On the morning of the 22d Carpenter advanced to Santa Barbara, which he occupied without resistance. From Cabatuan on November 23, General Hughes reported the results of these operations as follows:
These victories appeared to have greatly scattered, if they did not destroy, for a short time at least, all of the insurgent armed organizations. Three or four days thereafter General Hughes, continuing his march northward, entered Passi, in the northern portion of Iloilo province, Carpenter in the meantime moving eastward into the province of Concepcion without encountering any material opposition. On December 3 the General cabled from Iloilo. to which place he had returned, that he hoped to be able to send very soon into Cebu the mountain battery, the detachment of scouts, and the two battalions of the Nineteenth Infantry, and at the same time to dispatch for the island of Bohol two or three companies of the Sixth Infantry. He returned to middle Panay, prospected with his troops in that section, marched north, occupied the town of Capiz, and, assisted by a naval force, proceeded thence with two companies Eighteenth Infantry to the island of Romblon, from which he reported the following:
The small island of Romblon, north of Panay from which this report was rendered, is situated on what was then the water route of insurgent communication between Luzon and the western Visayas Islands,
and became of great importance to the Tagalos of Luzon, both in dispatching troops for the south and as a point from which to distribute information and issue instructions. From Romblon, Panay was very easy of access, and from Panay correspondence could be conveyed across Negros and Cebu to Bohol with little difficulty. With this latter island, northern Midanao, Samar, and Leyte had frequent communication. The garrison of two companies still remains at Romblon, and nearly all coasting vessels plying the southern Philippine waters touch and report there.
While General Hughes was absent in the north, Negros again experienced social and political difficulties. On December 18, General Smith cabled from Bacolod, the capital of the island, that—
General Smith was promptly informed that he could have all the troops for Negros he wanted, and was asked how large an additional force he required. A battalion of the Forty-fourth Volunteers, which had just arrived in Manila harbor, was directed to proceed to Negros, and it was intended to send to the Visayan district the headquarters
and two remaining battalions of the same as soon as points at which they were most needed could be determined. In the meantime General Hughes had returned to his headquarters at lloilo, whence, on December 20, he cabled the following:
The General was informed on December 23 that Major Hale's battalion of the Forty-fourth had sailed from Manila for Negros that morning, and that headquarters and the remaining battalions would sail by transport Hancock for lloilo on the evening of the 25th. He was also informed that no movement on either Samar or Leyte had yet been inaugurated, but would be made in conjunction with his troops if he might nave any to spare for that purpose—he sending them to the western and southern coast of Leyte. He was requested to report as soon as practicable what dispositions he could make to carry out this suggestion, and at the same time to keep all country already covered by his troops efficiently policed. On the 25th he reported that the insurgents had attacked Captain Brownwell's company of the Twenty-sixth Volunteers the 22d instant at the town of Sara, Concepcion province, had been repulsed with heavy loss in men, and 26 rifles had been taken from them; also that the insurgents of Romblon were reporting and surrendering their arms to Captain McFarland.
At the time of the attack on Sara the General was about to rearrange the locations of his troops, intending to station the entire Eighteenth Infantry in the country north of the southern line of the province of Capiz, the Twenty-sixth Volunteers in the southern and central portions of lloilo province, and the entire Sixth Infantry in Negros. A battalion of the Nineteenth Infantry, intended for Cebu, with the mounted detachment, a portion of the mountain battery, and the mule train, was then en route for lloilo from Capiz by the Mambusao and Tapaz trail. The Forty-fourth Infantry upon arrival might be available for the islands of Bohol and Leyte. The insurgents who attacked the town of Sara were evidently Tagalos, who had partially reunited after they were driven into northern Panay. Some of them had escaped to their homes by the Romblon route, but the majority had retreated to the mountains of the northwestern and western portions of the island, through which our troops soon after pursued them with varying success.
Friction between the Negros people of divergent opinions again caused excitement and gave the troops renewed activity. General Hughes on January 13 repeated a dispatch he had received from Lieutenant-Colonel Byrne, of the Fortieth Infantry, which stated briefly the origin of some of the difficulty. The repeated dispatch is as follows:
On January 16, the day General Hughes departed for the western Panay coast, his adjutant-general at Iloilo telegraphed a report he had received that morning from General Smith. It reads:
This prompt action brought to a speedy termination the threatened Tagalo activity and reproduced the accustomed quiet in Negros. In Cebu, to which had been sent the second battalion of the Nineteenth Infantry and part of the Forty-fourth Volunteers, the efforts of the enemy had received a severe check. On January 9 report was received from Iloilo that Colonel Snyder at Cebu had wired the complete success on the previous day of certain operations conducted by detachments of the Nineteenth and Twenty-third Infantry, the Forty-fourth Volunteers, and a section of Light Battery G, Sixth Artillery,
against insurgents in Sudlon mountains, on main mountain chain northwest of Cebu. The enemy's entire position and many forts and intrenchments were taken and 11 smoothbore cannon and 33 rifles were captured. Our casualties were 5 men wounded. Eight of the enemy's dead were found on the field. The insurgents were completely scattered and native laborers destroyed all of their intrenchments. Three companies of the Forty-fourth Volunteers and one of the Nineteenth Infantry were dispatched on reconnoissances towards Toledo and Balamban in western Cebu. The troops captured successively the important towns and cities on the east ot the island, meeting with considerable difficulty at the south of the city of Cebu, near the towns of El Pardo and Talisay. They passed over the mountain trails to the westward, in which they met with frequent opposition from small bands of insurgents, and garrisoned the principal points on the west coast. Our casualties were few, but the enemy, always worsted, suffered largely in men and property.
On January 16 General Hughes sailed for the west coast of Panay with a battalion of the Nineteenth Infantry commanded by Major Huston, two companies of the Sixth Infantry under Captain Walker, a battalion of selected men from the Forty-fourth Volunteers commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Scott, and Captain Gordon's scouts. He landed one of these battalions on the southwestern coast of the island, which marched northward across the jutting point of land which forms its extreme southern boundary, and proceeded with the remainder of his troops to San Jose de Buenavista, the capital and principal city of the province of Antique. He occupied the city and moved up the coast, marching detachments to the main interior towns of the province, which met with only slight resistance from a few small bands, composed principally of Tagalos. The mass of the people deserted their places of abode and fled to the mountains. A native priest accounted for the fear exhibited on the part of the inhabitants by the fact that they knew nothing of the Americans except what had been told them by the Spanish clergy during or just preceding the Spanish war; that they were thoroughly impressed with the belief that all Americans were a cruel and godless lot and had come to rob and destroy them. The Tagalos had looked upon this coast as a place of comparative safety for the landing of troops and the concealment of their boats. A schooner of considerable size, which had received a part of its armament, was captured in one of the rivers quite a distance from its mouth, and a small amount of war material was obtained.
Leaving Major Huston, with his battalion of the Nineteenth Infantry, to look after the affairs of the province, General Hughes sent two companies of the Sixth Infantry and Captain Gordon's scouts to the northern coast of the island by the route from Pandan to Ibaiay, and directed the battalion of the Fourty-fourth Infantry to march across the mountains into the upper Aclan Valley, thence to proceed over the rough trail to the north in the direction of Calivo. He reported this movement from his headquarters at Iloilo, to which point he had returned, in the following cablegram:
Three days thereafter the following message was received from Iloilo:
The insurgents evidently had reunited in small bands and returned from the mountain country, determined to annoy our troops by surprise and ambush, if not destroy them in part, scattered as our companies now were among the more important towns of the island. They drew their subsistence, of course, from the inhabitants, whom they compelled to contribute of their scant food and also of their money and treasures. Secure concealment by the people of their personal property alone made it safe, and by furnishing information to our officers they would, if detected by the robbers, forfeit their lives. These bands committed their depredations not only in northern and central Panay, but visited the southern portions of Iloilo province. They, however, gradually tired or became dissatisfied with their occupation, as it was attended with great risk and little recompense, for our men were active, were more than a match for them at brush tactics, and caught them continually either at a disadvantage or under circumstances where their superior marksmanship and intelligence were abundantly rewarded. About the middle of February 167 Tagalos, with 100 rifles, surrendered to the commanding officer of the troops at Capiz, and were sent at Government expense to the town of Taal, on the southern Luzon coast, from which place they were permitted to go to their homes in different sections of that island. Occasionally an insurgent band scored a slight success, one of which, and one quite unfortunate for our troops, occurred on February 28, which was reported by Lieutenant McBroom, of the Eighteenth Infantry, commanding a company of that regiment at Mambusao, Capiz province. His report was as follows:
The above is an exceptional case, as in the great majority of these minor affairs our troops suffered no losses. A few days previous Lieutenant-Colonel Dickman surrounded and captured at Dingle, in the Iloilo province, without casualty, a band of 46 insurgents, and later, in the month of March, Lieutenant Brooks, of the Eighteenth Infantry,
struck a band near Pontevedra and Pilar, on the northern Panay coast, which left 14 dead and 5 wounded on the field of battle, together with 19 rifles. His loss was 1 man killed and 2 wounded. This character of warfare will doubtless continue for some time. The Spaniards never held central Panay in subjection. It has always been at the mercy of ladrone bands, and the experience which they are now receiving is their first severe lesson in imposed individual restraint. The coast cities of Panay were opened to the coasting trade of the islands as rapidly as they were occupied by our troops. Until the capture of Capiz, on the northern boundary, the only outlet for outside trade was the city of Iloilo; then San Jose de Buena vista and Calivo followed. The merchants and inhabitants quickly availed themselves of trade privileges, and Panay is in about as flourishing a condition as during Spanish domination prior to the native revolt of 1896.
By the middle of March the progress made in Panay, Negros, and Cebu enabled General Hughes to look after affairs in the more eastern islands of his district. Major Hale, of the Forty-fourth Infantry, landed in Bohol on March 17 without opposition. He was hospitably received by the inhabitants, who had suffered greatly from the depredations of the Cebu, Leyte, and northern Mindanao insurgents. Major Hale quickly distributed his troops throughout the island, and by his judicious and conservative action in protecting the rights of the people and in opening up the former avenues of trade won their confidence to such a degree that he or any of his men were able to journey through the island in comparative personal security without guard or escort. While awaiting the time when the United States could take active possession of the island the inhabitants had established a crude form of government. This peaceably gave way to United States military control, which the people desired and for which on several occasions they had importuned.
Early in April General Hughes made a personal inspection of the eastern section of his district, over which General Kobbe had been exercising supervision, looking particularly into the affairs of Leyte and Samar, to the former of which he took from Cebu two companies of the Twenty-third Infantry. The result of that inspection was submitted April 17 from lloilo, and appears on page 204 of this report. Therein he briefly sums up the conditions then existing in Panay and Cebu, remarking that the insurgent general, Fullon, of the province of Antique, Panay, had applied for permission to visit Iloilo and was then supposedly en route for that point; that one of the generals in Occidental Cebu had been killed a few days before, and that matters wore progressing slowly; that the commanding officer in that island had dismissed "The Junta Insular and Municipal," formed before the advent of the army, and had taken charge of the government, which would simplify matters very much, as the junta had given constant annoyance. This junta had been in charge of municipal affairs of the island during our entire occupation. It had not been disturbed for reasons given in my report of last year, wherein I remarked that:
After the capture of lloilo the navy visited the city of Cebu and took quiet possession of the place—the commanding officer of the force assuming direction of the business of captain of the port and collector of customs, and entering into an arrangement with the more prominent citizens to permit them to conduct their own internal affairs. * * * The battalion of the Twenty-third Infantry which was sent to Cebu
This junta proved to be nothing more nor less than an insurgent body which failed to give any protection whatever to friendly-disposed inhabitants. In fact, the ablest man of that section of country, Judge Llorente, a present member of the supreme court of the Philippines, has been unable to visit his home in Cebu without placing life in jeopardy. It therefore became an absolute necessity to overthrow this so-called civil establishment, and any future government of a civil character must await a manifested, more pacific disposition on the part of many of the influential natives.
the latter part of February had not taken any action in civil matters but had preserved order in the community. The citizens had looked after their own local interests, and officers of the navy had continued to conduct harbor and customs affairs, from which they were now relieved by army officers detailed to perform the duties of those positions. Shortly thereafter the dissensions between the well-disposed and hostile-intentioned natives became bitter and culminated in the assassination of one of the most prominent citizens simply because he advocated United States protection, and attempts were made upon the lives of others who favored United States occupation.
The topography of all the Visayan Islands is very advantageous for defense. In all, the greater proportion of the territory is rough and mountainous. The people who inhabit the mountain country are densely ignorant, superstitious, easily influenced by the abler natives, and many of them still hold to their ancient gods and heathen ceremonies. This class has always robbed its lowland neighbors, and from it the insurgent Tagalos have drawn their principal assistance, especially the bolo contingent, which has in many instances been induced to viciously attack our troops, and has in consequence suffered severely. To reduce this class of people to submission or to entirely check its forays on the coast towns—an occupation acquired from or existing in heredity—must necessarily be a labor of time; but our troops, unlike those which were maintained by Spain, pursue them to their mountain concealments, and inflict punishments they neither anticipate nor think possible. In the islands of Panay, Negros, and Cebu over fifty military stations are maintained; consequently the majority of the inhabitants are comparatively secure, and are gradually gaining confidence, so much so that in many instances they have given us assistance without fearing the vengeance of their adversaries, which would surely visit them were our protection withdrawn.
Prior to reporting the operations on the north Mindanao coast of the troops sent there from Manila on March 20, under the command of Major-General Bates, a brief review of our military experience within the district of Mindanao and Jolo should be presented. At the date of our last annual report the only troops stationed within the dis trict were the two battalions of the Twenty-third Infantry, of which six companies were stationed at the port of Jolo, one at Siassi, and one at Bongao on the Taui Taui group of islands. The Moros of the Jolo Archipelago, through their datos, professed friendship which their actions indicated. The Sultan, however, continued to keep some what aloof, pressing his money claim for the maintenance at our expense of the police force at Siassi, which he had established before American occupation. He was distinctly informed by General Bates that the claim could not be favorably considered, and he refused to accept the monthly compensation allowed him for services, a compen sation which Spain had paid and which we concluded to continue.
- o -