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At 8:30 P. M. on the night of February 4, 1899, a squad of four armed Filipino soldiers, attempting to pass the American line near block-house No. 6, and refusing to halt when challenged, was fired upon by Private Grayson of the Nebraska Regiment, and war with the Filipinos was begun. Before the echo of the Nebraskan's Springfield rifle had died away, volleys were pouring from the Filipino earthworks, and a call to arms was ringing through the Nebraska camp. The Tagalos had intended to draw our fire and they drew it.
The action began at three principal points on our lineblock-houses Nos. 1, 2, and 3 on
SIGNAL CORPS IN THE JUNGLE. the north, Santa Mesa on the northeast, and Santa Ana on the southeast of the city.
The fighting thus begun, while at first having the character of a general engagement, which might have had a beginning and end, with certain definite results immediately following, degenerated, after February 5th, into a series of detached combats and independent operations which cannot well be described as a whole, except to say that the rebels were not successful in breaking our line at any point, but were promptly defeated everywhere, and immediatlly put upon the defensive.
Our lines were constantly pushed outward as the rebels retreated, and the fighting continued on some part of the line almost continuously for weeks, and can best be understood by following the operations of the different divisions or brigades, until one by one they reached a period of rest.
OTIS' BRIGADE OF MACARTHUR'S DIVISION. Of the second division, the 1st Brigade, under Gen. H. G. Otis, was more or less under fire during the night of the 4th, but it was the 20th Kansas and the 1st Montana Regiments chiefly which replied to the enemy's volleys before daylight. On the 5th, an advance of the entire line was made, the 10th Pennsylvania on the right, the 3d U. S. Art. next, the Montana next, and the 20th Kansas on the left, all pressing gallantly forward under fire. The losses sustained were considerable, but the Filipinos were driven out at every point, with a much larger loss. In this advance the 3d Art. suffered more heavily than the other regiments of the 1st Brigade, having five killed and nineteen wounded.
Col. Kessler, with the 1st Montanas, advanced to and captured the Chinese hospital and the adjacent walled cemetery, both of which were occupied as military posts. The position of the 20th Kansas, on the extreme left, near the bay, was covered by a thick wood in front, which concealed the Filipinos, to dislodge whom Col. Funston resorted to volley firing. The 10th Pennsylvania with the 3d Art advanced upon La Loma church. As the artillery approached the church-yard walls, Col. Hawkins divided his small command, throwing one wing to the right and the other to the left of the walls, which his men passed on the run, driving the enemy before them, and occupying the block-house in front. The new position was immediately entrenched, three guns of the Utah Battery taking position at the northeast corner of the churchyard, and two at the stone blockhouse. A company of the 20th Kansas was sent by Gen. MacArthur to this point to strengthen the 3d Art. line, and two companies of the 10th Pennsylvania to the churchyard, where they remained until the 7th, and two companies of the Montanas under Maj. Drennen, from the city, to fill the gap in the 10th Pennsylvania made by the withdrawal of two of its companies.
When the first advance was made on the afternoon of the 5th from the position where the left of the line rested on the block-house peninsula at the mouth of the Vitas Creek, one Kansas company was left to occupy this entrenched position, and guard details of about sixty men continued to hold this blockhouse.* Later, this point was held by a company of the 23d Inf., taken from the Provost Guard.
During the forward movement of MacArthur's Division on the afternoon of the 5th, the Kansas Regiment advanced beyond the line intended for it by the Division Commander, and captured two strong earthworks thrown up across the
VIEW OF AMERICAN TRENCHES. road to Caloocan, and two adjacent block-houses. In this operation the Kansas lost several men, but inflicted much greater loss on their opponents. When Gen. MacArthur became apprised of this action, fearing that the regiment would come into the zone of firing from the fleet which had been agreed upon, he immediately recalled it. It was, however, ordered forward again on the 6th, when the earthworks and the block-houses were found unoccupied. A position still further to the front, about on a line with block-house No. 1, on the railroad was then taken up, and a new alignment was perfected with the other regiments of the 1st Brigade, running from the stone block-house No. 2, westward, across the ravine adjacent, an intervening plain, and through a wood near the shore of the bay, all promptly and strongly entrenched.
The Kansas did no more fighting until the evening of the 7th, when a captain of that regiment who had entered the woods with about half a company, near block-house No. 1, came unexpectedly upon the enemy, and Col. Funston with
* This block-house is not numbered. It was on the bay shore to the left, and west of block-house No. 1 which was on the railroad.
three companies was directed to go to his assistance. A severe but brief engagement followed, the Kansas losing one officer killed, and six enlisted men wounded. The Filipinos left thirty dead upon the field.
Nothing further of importance from a military point of view occurred on this brigade's front for several days. Reconnaissances were made by the various commands, and the usual outpost and trench duty performed with the alacrity of professional soldiers, until the 10th, when by order of Gen. MacArthur, a general advance was made upon the Filipino position in and about Caloocan. The action was preceded by firing from the fleet, and also from field guns planted near La Loma church, lasting for thirty minutes, after which the infantry advanced, making a broad sweep to the right by a half turn, begun by the 20th Kansas on the left, followed by the 1st Montana on their right, and the 3d Art. in the open. During this operation the 10th Pennsylvania stood fast to the right of the blockhouse No. 2, the pivotal point. The line was supported by two battalions of the 1st Idaho Inf. under Maj. Figgins, one of which was placed in the Montana, and one in the rear of the Kansas Regiment. These troops advanced with those of the 1st Brigade, remaining on the line throughout the action. The movement resulted in placing, by night, the left in advance of Caloocan, with the new line extended to block-house No. 2. Five guns from the Utah Battery, and two from the 6th U. S. Art. one rifled mortar, and a Nordenfeld, constituted the artillery force acting in conjunction with the infantry in the advance on Caloocan.
HALE'S BRIGADE OF MACARTHUR'S DIVISION. Gen. Hale in his report says: “About 8:30 P. M. a patrol from Nebraska outposts on the water-pipe line, opposite block-house No. 7, was compelled to fire on insurgents who advanced this side of their line and refused to halt. The fire was returned, and the exchange of shots for a few minutes continued and then ceased. Sometime afterwards the insurgents renewed the attack all along the line." "Firing,” he says, "continued at intervals during the night, the insurgents always taking the initiative.” But no definite plan of battle could be adopted before daylight. Soon after daybreak the two Utah guns on Sampaloc Hill opened fire on block-house No. 5, the earthworks and the villages in the vicinity. At 8:10 A. M. Companies B, K and L, 1st Colorados, under Maj. Anderson, with Col. McCoy in general command, charged and captured the places just mentioned; and immediately afterwards a battalion of the 1st Colorado, composed of Companies E, F and G, under Lieutenant-Colonel Moses, advanced and captured the line between block
FEBRUARY 5, 1899. houses Nos. 5 and 6. About the same time the Nebraskas, with Colorado Companies D and I attached, all under Col. Stotsenberg, captured block-houses Nos. 6 and 7, advancing afterwards to and across San Juan Bridge, taking the powderhouse and Deposito on San Juan Hill, the entire movement being completed by a little after 12 o'clock noon. A Tennessee Battalion co-operated with the Nebraskas
and Colorados in the capture of San Juan Hill, afterwards exploring and occupying San Filipe and Mandalayan between San Juan and Pasig Rivers. About 9 o'clock A. M. the 1st South Dakota Regiment under Col. Frost charged and took blockhouse No. 4 and vicinity, and about 3 o'clock P. M. they co-operated with troops of the 1st Brigade in the capture of La Loma church, about two and a half miles west of the block-house. In all these brilliant charges and captures the various regiments were greatly assisted by the Utah guns.
The casualties in the 2d Brigade during the night of February 4th and the day of February 5th, were twelve enlisted men killed, and twenty-eight enlisted men and one officer, Lieut. Haughwout of the 1st Colorados, wounded. Lieut. Haughwout was hit by one of the first shots, while dressing to go to the front, at the Colorado headquarters in the city, more than a mile from the Filipino lines.
The staff officers of Gen. Hale, Capt. Brooks, ARY 5, 1899.
Capt. Krayenbuhl, Lieut. Perry, and Lieut. Connor of the Engineers, who volunteered his service, had three miles of firing line with which to keep in touch, and this they gallantly did, being under fire most of the time. On Monday morning, February 6th, Gen. Hale applied for some additional troops to assist in holding his long line so that he could make an advance on the water-works, the immediate capture of which he urged before the enemy could destroy them. One battalion of the 23d U. S. Inf., and one battalion of the 2d Oregon were attached to the brigade to co-operate with the Nebraskas, and two attached companies of the Colorados and the Utah guns—all of which were placed under the direct command of Col. Stotsenberg. The Tennessee Battalion had been ordered by the Department Commander to rejoin the Provost Guard in the city, but when Gen. Hale reached the firing line they had taken the field on the extreme right, and he was unable to communicate the order to them until after the capture of the water-works, when they were returned to the city.
Col. Stotsenberg moved on the water-works, three and a half miles east of the Deposito or reservoir, with the following troops: Two companies of the Colorados, as advance guard; one battalion of the Tennessee in extended order on the extreme right; one battalion of the Nebraska as a reserve, and four Utah guns to follow the advance guard and clear the woods and roads to the right and left. The Oregon Battalion guarded the Deposito, while the 23d Battalion proceeded along the road from the Deposito toward Mariquina, about a mile north of the water-works, to cover the attack on the latter place from a flank movement from the north.