Friday, August 12, 2011

Amigo 113: The American Volunteers in the fall of Manila on 13 August, 1898


It's interesting to note that the California Volunteers Monument featuring the goddess of war Belladona mounted on Pegasus, and two soldiers, one fallen and the other bravely prepared to face the enemy, is the first to catch attention as one gets off the outbound Muni train at the Castro, San Francisco's gay district.  We suppose that the bronze statues merit at least a passing glance from first-timers there.  An extra effort to check what the monument represents seems highly unlikely.

Douglas Tilden did the sculptures in 1904 to commemorate the Californians--many of them from San Francisco--who were in the first three steamships of volunteers and regular U.S. Army contingents of the Philippine Expeditionary Force dispatched from San Francisco to the Philippines. 

"First to the Front" was something the 1st California Volunteer Infantry shared with the 2nd Oregon Volunteer Volunteer Infantry because both were in the first expedition to leave on 25 May.  They were on board the City of Sidney, City of Pekin (Peking) and Australia under the command of General Thomas M. Anderson. 

The Charleston convoyed them from Honolulu, Hawaii to Manila. Its commanding officer received instructions through the Peking from the Secretary of the Navy "to stop at the Spanish Island of Guam ... use such force as may be necessary to capture the port of Guam, making prisoners of the governor and other officials and any armed force that may be there ... also destroy any fortifications on said island and any Spanish naval vessels that may be there, or in the immediate vicinity", all to be done in a day or two.

On 20 June, Guam surrendered peacefully. The troopships arrived in the Philippines on 30 June with the Sidney carrying their prisoners of war - the Guam Spanish officials, soldiers and their families.

This first batch of regular soldiers and volunteers comprised such a large troop that General Thomas M. Anderson had to ask Aguinaldo, when they have landed in Cavite, to transfer his army so that they can move in.  Aquino moved to Bacoor where he would set up the provisional government.

"Transports Australia, City of Sydney and City of Peking departing San Francisco with troops and supplies, en route to Manila, 25 May 1898. Reproduction of an artwork by P.N. Boeringer, 1898" -  Photograph from the U.S. Naval Historical Center Website.
The second expedition came on board the transport ships China, Colon and Zeelandia (Zealandia). It was under the command of General Felix V. Greene, and included the 1st Colorado Volunteer Infantry, the Utah Volunteer Light Artillery and the 10th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. They left port on 15 June, and reached Manila on 17 July. 

The third expedition were carried by the transports Senator, Morgan City, City of Para, Indiana, Ohio, Valencia and Newport.  The contingents included the 13th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry, the North Dakota Volunteer Infantry, the 1st Idaho Volunteer Infantry, and the 1st Nebraska Volunteer Infantry.  They were under the command of General Arthur MacArthur. 

On board the Newport was General Wesley Merritt, head of the Philippine Expeditionary Force who would command all the U.S. troops in the Philippines. Their group left San Francisco on earlier on 27 June and landed in Cavite on 25 July.  The rest of the expedition arrived later at the end of the month.  
“General Merritt arrived at Cavite in the Newport on the afternoon of July 25," wrote Greene (1899), "and after examining the ground the following day, promptly decided two points:  first, that the attack would be made along the shore; and second, that it was necessary to get the insurgents off to one side, so as to give us the right of way." 

Following that, Merritt had two battalions of the 1st California, two battalions of the 10th Pennsylvania and one company of the 3rd Regular Artillery relieving each other in building the trenches fronting Fort San Antonio de Abad in Malate, a far more advance position than that of the Aguinaldo forces. Of course, the Spaniards wanted to drive their enemies out of the trenches, and so on midnight of 31Jul-01Aug, the Americans had their first taste of Spanish fire (Greene).

The "First to the Front" could also have been attributed to the fact that the 1st California was the one sent forward in this incident, one battalion to the trenches, the second in reserve behind them, and the third at the rear of the second, out of range of Spanish fire.

Before 13 August, we all know that the Merritt and Dewey put their heads together to map out the battle plans just in case they can not convince the Spanish authorities to surrender Manila peacefully.  But we also know that the Spaniards acceded only on condition that there should be a semblance of battle.   

The American battle plan divided the Army into two brigades.  

General Greene's 2nd brigade would be strung along the extreme right extending to the beach with the Utah light artillery, the 1st Colorado and a battalion of the 3rd artillery in the advance fighting line. Behind them would be the support of the 2nd battalion of the 1st California, 1st Pennsylvania, 1st Nebraska, the 18th US Infantry and a battalion of engineers (Stickney, 1899).   

General MacArthur's 1st brigade would be farther inland distributed similarly as Greene's with firing lines and reserves.  At the front would be the Astor battery, the 13th Minnesota and 23rd Infantry; battalions from the 1st North Dakota, 1st Idaho, 1st Infantry and the 1st Wyoming would provide the reserves and support.

General Greene was to attack the entrenchments and Fort San Antonio in Malate (the strongest strongholds), and General MacArthur would take care of Blockhouse No. 14 and the fortified English cemetery. 

We know what happened during the mock battle of/for Manila.  The Spaniards did not fire their guns at the US ships providing support for the US soldiers and volunteers in their assault of Manila.  

"First U.S. flag is hoisted over the fort, which had been bombarded by U.S. warships, including USS Olympia, and captured by troops of the U.S. Army First Colorado Volunteer Regiment. Note extensive damage from shellfire. Donation of Rear Admiral Ammen C. Farenholt, USN(MC)." -- Photograph from the U.S. Naval Historical Center Website.

At ten minutes after eleven that day, the men of the 1st Colorado raised Old Glory on Fort San Antonio (White, 1899). The defeat of the Spaniards at the trenches and the capture of the fort was said to be the ‘most brilliant and spectacular’ (Stickney).   

“By twelve o’clock, therefore," wrote Greene, "the entire Spanish line from Fort San Antonio to blockhouse No. 13 [14?] had been carried, and the navy, of course, had ceased firing some time before.  The First Colorado, and the First California, which had followed rapidly up the beach, were in the houses and gardens at the southern end of the Malate suburb ... The houses in Malate from which [they were fired upon] were stormed by parties of volunteers from the First California, who rushed into the houses and killed or captured their defenders." 

There were also the Filipino "insurgents" aiming to defeat the Spaniards and enter Intramuros.  They never had the chance.  The Californians took care of them.  Here's Stickney describing incidents of  American intervention:  

“The four companies of the 1st California proceeded through the Calle Real in Malate, Colonel Smith dropping guards at every house flying the English flag, to protect it from the insurgents, who were scrambling along in the wake of Californian’s victorious advance. The insurgents were firing as they came along.  It was here that Major Jones of the transportation department and Interpreter Finlay distinguished themselves.  The insurgent firing had become hot for even the Americans, and Major Jones took an American flag, planted himself in the middle of the road and with drawn revolver stopped the entire advance of the insurgents. ...

“The Californians advanced to the road leading around the walled city and intercepted the insurgents who were flocking in along the road from Santa Ana.  The latter were firing on the retreating Spaniards, and the Californians came in direct line of the fire.  The Spaniards were returning the insurgent fire, and the Americans were between the two forces. ... The California men held their fire ... The insurgent advance was stopped. Colonel Smith then advanced to the roads leading from Paco and stopped another troop of insurgents who were attempting to enter the walled city.  One pompous insurgent insurgent in a gorgeous uniform announced that they were going on, but when Major Bell drew his revolver and threatened to kill any one attempting to pass, the insurgent officer became submissive and polite.  The Americans then formed in line and forced the insurgents up the street and into a side street. They next attempted to get in by another street, but were forestalled.” 

By late afternoon, Manila fell/surrendered.     

"General Greene came up under a scattering fire with his staff and met a Spanish official who awaited him at one of the gates of the city," described Stickney.  "The general entered the city alone with the Spaniards and the arrangements for the occupation were made."  

The time had come for General Merritt to enter the city.  

Douglas White (1899) had the best description of the formal taking over of Manila.  He was on board the transport Qong Hoy, which bore the seven companies of the 2nd Oregon, detailed as guard to enter Manila with General Merritt.  He wrote:   

“The launch of the Belgian consul, which, with the Zafiro, bearing Merritt and his staff, had been hovering behind the fleet, was employed to carry Flag-Lieutenant Brumby and a representative of General Merritt to the beach nearest this sign of submission, and their arrival there was the beginning of the end.  One hour was enough for Lieutenant Brumby to roughly shape the conditions of the surrender, and the return of the launch told the fleet that the Spaniard’s rule in Luzon was at an end.”   

When he got off the Qong Hoy, White found a Father Dougherty and a Colonel Crowder at the Paseo de Sta. Lucia, and all of them rode the carriage of ex-Gov-Gen Agustin along the Luneta into the walled city. 

“Before the Governor’s Palace we found the Royal Guard drawn up, their halberds and heavy helmets giving them the appearance of warriors belonging to another century.  Passing up the grand staircase, we entered the executive chambers, where General Merritt, Flag-Lieutenant Brumby and the dignitaries of the island government were discussing the terms of surrender.  I was the first American correspondent to make an entrance into the walled city, and the first civilian to gain access to the palace where this exclusive conference was being held.

“Here, indeed, the difference between the two warring races was plainly evident,  Our representatives towered head and shoulders over the men who were, point by point, contending for more lenient terms of surrender.  General Merritt seemed like a giant beside the diminutive Jaudinez, upon whose shoulders the gubernatorial mantle had fallen by the sudden resignation of Agustin. 

At 5.30 P.M. the last detail of the surrender was complete, and to Lieutenant Brumby fell the joyful work of raising the colors upon the walls of Manila.  Incidentally it became necessary for the lieutenant also to haul down the Spanish colors, which had for weeks been floating as a defiance to the fleet. ... "
Raising the "Old Glory" after the fall of Manila.  Source: White, Douglas (1899).

Other chosen flag raisers:  Lt G.W. Povey of the Second Oregon to represent the army, American civilians Barry Baldwin, former US Marshal of California, and William Wiley, an owner of the Quong Hoy 

"There was no trumpeter for the flag raising, but Lt. Brumby said, “he can not afford to wait for one, so we must do the best we can and raise her with a cheer.”  With that the order was given, and the Old Glory started on it ascent over the walls of Spain’s Oriental stronghold.  Our party broke into a rousing shout, when up from Luneta came the strains of the “Star-Spangled Banner,” played by the band of the Second Oregon, which had been marching from the landing into the walled city.  Seeing that we were about to fly the colors above them, they halted to perform the musical honors of the occasion. ... " 

Let's have Greene conclude events of 13 August 1898:   

“It was part of General Merritt’s plan to bring the Second Oregon Regiment, which had been stationed at Cavite, up on a transport, and to land it in the walled city, as soon as the place should be taken, for the purpose of preserving order there. These troops came into the Pasig River in boats and launches at about five o’clock, and at the same time or earlier General Merritt... came ashore, proceeded to the ayuntamiento, and accepted, with certain modifications, the preliminary articles of capitulation submitted by the Spanish captain-general.  Immediately after doing this he sent a detachment of the Second Oregon to haul down the large Spanish garrison flag, which floated over the northwest bastion, and run up the American flag in its place. ... General MacArthurs’s brigade was distributed through the southern suburbs of Ermita and Malate, and my brigade through the northern suburbs of Tondo, Binondo, Santa Cruz, Quiapo, San Sebastian and San Paloc (sic). ... "

Source:  Harden, Edward (1899).

That evening, Admiral George Dewey hosted a "musical concert" on board his flagship Olympia.  

The Filipinos stood outside the gates of the city, uninvited, broken-hearted and forlorn, attending to their own casualties. They've been robbed.

When peace time set in, streets in the Ermita and Malate districts of Manila would be named after the Volunteers of 1898 and later years; hence, there was a California,Colorado, Dakota, Nebraska, Oregon, Pennsylvania of the first three expeditions, but there was no Minnesota and Wyoming (Rosenstock's Manila City Directory, 1917). 

We may understand the case of the Wyoming.  They were reserves marching so far behind that Spanish fire could not even reach them.  They didn't stay long in the Philippines.

In recent times, those streets were renamed after Filipinos with distinctions, politicians mostly.

  • Greene, Francis V. (1899, Apr).  The Capture of Manila. II. The Manila Campaign. The Century [Illustrated Monthly] Magazine.  52(6):915-935
  •  Harden, Edward W. (1899, May).  Dewey at Manila. One Year’s Retrospect.  Frank Leslie’s Popular Monthly.  48(1): 21-38.  
  • Stickney, Joseph L. (1899).  Admiral Dewey at Manila and the Complete Story of the Philippines / Life and Glorious Deeds of Admiral George Dewey including a Thrilling Account of our Conflicts with the Spaniards and Filipinos in the Orient.  Chicago, Ill.:Imperial Publishing Company.
  • White, Douglas. (1899, May).  The Surrender of Manila. Frank Leslie's Popular Monthly. 48(1):38-48. 

    No comments:

    Post a Comment