Page images
PDF
EPUB

battalion of Nebraskas, whose camp was nearest the Quingua Road, and that they were already on the way out. A little later another battalion of Iowas and one of Nebraskas went out to re-inforce their comrades. About this time Capt. Lockett, Gen. MacArthur's Aide, who had ridden out to investigate, reported that the morning skirmish had developed into quite a serious situation, and that artillery would be required to drive the Filipinos from their strong position. Gen. MacArthur ordered four guns to the post.

Gen. Hale at once took the field in person, and reached the firing lines to find that the Nebraskas were deployed behind a rice-ridge in the field, at the right of the road; that the Iowas had taken a position on their right and the cavalry were posted on the left. The Filipinos were pouring a fierce and deadly fire on our lines. The General waited for our guns, which were rapidly coming up the road, placed them at the edge of the woods, ordered the Nebraskas, who were between his cannon and the enemy on the right, to withdraw to the woods as soon as the artillery began firing on the left, thus permitting the shelling of the insurgent trenches in front of the Nebraskas before they advanced, and then opened with the artillery.

The Nebraska firing line, however, began to advance under a terrific musketry discharge. Thinking that his instructions had been misunderstood, Hale ran down the road towards the Nebraskas and discovered that Col. Stotsenberg, who had just come out and was not aware of the General's plan and orders, had gone to the front, and, with his characteristic, impetuous bravery, had given the order to advance. It was too late to recall the men who had by this time almost reached the enemy's trenches and were fighting with the courage and spirit of Napoleon's Old Guard. The Filipinos in this fight delivered a very effective fire, and within a few hundred yards Col. Stotsenberg, Lieut. Sisson and two enlisted men were killed, and thirty-one men wounded, out of not over 200 men actually on the firing lines. But the charge of this “thin, brown line" was irresistible, and the Filipinos were beaten back from their position and driven through the town only after they had made several stands behind the barricades.

When the artillery fire was about to begin, Capt. Brooks, Adjutant-General of the brigade, had been sent above the line, to the right, to direct the Iowa troops to advance with the Nebraskas, which they did, meeting strong resistance from the enemy, entrenched around the southwest side of the town, but gallantly carrying these works and entering the town GUNS OF THE UTAH BATTERY TRAINED ON MALABON. with the Nebraskas. The unexpected events of the day having put our troops in possession of Quingua, it was considered better to hold it, and effect a crossing of the Quingua River at that point, and march from there against Calumpit

[graphic]

instead of carrying out the former plan of advancing north from Malolos and forcing a passage at a new place which would probably be strongly defended. The events of the next day proved the wisdom of this judgment, and showed that the battle of Quingua was a blessing in disguise. Accordingly, the South Dakotas, and the remaining companies of the Nebraskas and Iowas were marched to Quingua.

Rations and ammunition were distributed, and everything put in readiness to force the passage of the river on the following morning. During the night the enemy made an attempt to destroy the bamboo bridges, but was frustrated by the American outposts. Sergeant-Major Coleman of the Nebraskas succeeded in reconnoitering the ford, although the enemy on the opposite bank fired on everyone approaching the river, and found that it was shallow enough for troops to pass.

After a busy and anxious night the infantry and artillery were placed, at 5 A. M., along the south bank of the river, the guns being located in such a way that they could partially enfilade the Filipino trenches. At 5:30 the firing began. Twenty-five minutes later Company B of the Nebraskas, under Lieut. Osborne, advanced through the ford, and Company F, of the South Dakotas, under Capt.

[graphic]

IN THE TRENCHES AT THE PUMPING STATION. Brockway, dashed across the frail bambooo foot-bridge. This boldness of the Americans, which was not down in the books, and which Spain had not taught them, seemed to paralyze the insurgents, and they left their trenches forthwith. After four hours' hard work, owing to the rickety condition of the bridge, and the steep approach to the ford, and the soft bottom of the river, transportation and army were all taken across, and a northwesterly march on Pulilan began. Pulilan lies on the north bank of the Pulilan River, about two miles northwest of Quingua and six miles east of Calumpit. The thick jungles rendered the maintenance of an extended line extremely difficult, but by hard riding up and down the line and constantly passing of signals, the continuity of the brigade was preserved as it forced its way through the dense, thorny brush. The artillery was kept within 100 yards of the firing line, to be ready for quick action in an emergency.

Gen. Hale is a strong advocate of this departure from the text-book rules for location of artillery, when applied to warfare with the Filipinos. On account of the high fire of the Filipinos, it was fully as safe on the firing line as farther back. The guns did not have to come up under fire, and a few shells and shrapnel promptly administered at the very outset of an attack, exert a wonderful influence. At 10:20 A. M. the line was met by a heavy fire from the dense bamboo thickets in its front, where the enemy was strongly entrenched in a line of earthworks built across the road, and in the woods. One field gun opened immediately to the

front, and a few well directed shots from another put to flight a party of the enemy wło had attack

ed our right and TRENCHES AT SAN FERNANDO.

Photo by Darcey. rear. The South Dakotas and Nebraskas charged the enemy's earthworks, and, as a longer resistance than usual was made, a large number were killed. In one barricade thirtyeight dead were counted, at another, twenty-eight, and at a third, fifteen, while many more were seen along the lanes and in the woods. The brigade halted at Pulilan, resuming the march at 3 P. M.

As the sun was sinking towards the horizon, and the weary skirmish line was plodding along past the ford of the Quingua where the crossing would have been made if the plan had been carried out, and thinking that the enemy would probably not make another stand before the final and crucial conflict at the stronghold of Calumpit, they were rudely awakened by the crackling of Mausers from a line of invisible trenches extending perpendicularly to the river along the entire front of the brigade for a distance of nearly a mile. The left battalion of the Nebraskas and the artillery took up some earthworks which had been vacated by the Filipinos, and which made a splendid defense at this time. Lieut. Webber's company was sent up the road on the left to turn the enemy's right flank. The right battalion of the Nebraskas, under Maj. Eager, in company with the South Dakotas, under Col. Frost, charged across the intervening space. When they were half way across, the Filipinos retreated, leaving twenty-five dead. This ended the third fight of the day. Without counting those scattered through trees and jungles, over one hundred of the enemy were found killed and wounded in four groups alone during the day, and it is a conservative estimate to place their dead at two hundred. The Americans lost in the day's fight six killed and fourteen wounded, one of whom afterwards died. The command camped on the battle-field during the night. Under the cover of the darkness supplies were brought from Malolos and taken across the river on the men's backs. The dead, wounded and sick were carried across and sent back to Malolos in ambulances, and in the wagons and buil-carts which brought out the supplies. The next morning, April 25th, after a practically sleepless night, making forty-eight hours of almost continual fighting, marching and handling supplies, the advance upon Calumpit was resumed. The order of battle was for the main body to march in an extended line, leaving one battalion of each regiment in reserve. When within a mile of the Calumpit River, Gen. Hale, by means of the compass, established a new line, forty degrees west of north, and swung his brigade around, so that it would be parallel with the river, before he made his final advance on the town. Maj. Mulford, of the Nebraskas, and the General made a reconnaissance, locating the Bagbag railroad bridge, the west span of which had

[graphic]
[graphic]

PENNSYLVANIAS SKIRMISHING JI'ST AFTER DAYBREAK

IN THE MARCH ON MALOLOS.

[graphic]

THE ADVANCE ON MALOLOS. been broken down, and the enemy's entrenchments across the river. The 1st Brigade was working up the railroad, on the south side of the Quingua River in conjunction with the 2d Brigade on the north side. When sure that the 1st Brigade was up, the guns, which had been placed to command the bridge and trenches, opened fire. The enemy replied with much vigor. When the artillery had sufficiently shaken things up, the infantry advanced, firing, until they came to the east bank of the Calumpit River, where they engaged with the enemy only fifty yards away, defended by the strong entrenchments already mentioned, and with a deep and apparently impassable stream. The brigade staff and the artillery came forward, Lieut. Fuller, Aide-de-camp, going back to hurry up the last piece. Lieut. Fleming, with great coolness, placed his guns on the bank and poured death into those wonderfully constructed trenches. Not in the whole Filipino war have our troops occupied more dangerous ground, and it is only owing to the fact that the insurgents were obliged to fire without aiming, that our men escaped a heavy slaughter. The conduct of the men was gallant, and so heavy and accurate was their fire that the frame of the covered and loopholed earthworks was afterwards seen to be cut in shreds by bullets passing through the loopholes themselves. The insurgents were afraid to raise their heads above the ramparts, but their hands and guns could be seen rising over the edge, firing and dropping back to load. Consequently, their sheet of bullets flew over the prostrate forms of the Americans, lying on the opposite bank, and delivering a cool and aimed fire that played like a garden hose along the top of the enemy's parapets. After half an hour, when the enemy's fire was practically silenced on our left, it seemed feasible to Hale to get a line of troops across, near the junction of the Calumpit and Quingua Rivers, and put an end to the agony. He therefore told Maj. Mulford to take Company K of the Nebraskas, which was on the left, and make the attempt. Mulford and Lieut. Webber waded in with their men, but were soon beyond their depth. A second attempt farther out on the Quingua showed the water to be only shoulder deep, and at this point the line was sent across.

Gen. Hale and his staff intrepidly plunged through with the first fording party, at the same time hurrying about fifty more men across, and formed them in line to sweep through Calumpit and take the river trenches in flank. The Nebraska men at once marched through the town, and the Iowas and South Dakotas were told not to fire across the river while this move was going on. Several times Aguinaldo's men rallied, but at each stand they were routed and left their slain in the blood-stained trenches. Forty dead, and fourteen wounded, were found as the result of this movement through the town. The number killed and wounded in the earlier part of the fight can not be estimated, as they were removed before our troops crossed the river.

When the Americans approached Calumpit church, which the insurgents had fired before retreating, a reconnoitering party went forward and discovered that the insurrectos had left the district south of the Rio Grande, and were in strong force on the north bank. Soon afterward the Filipinos opened fire with artillery as well as infantry. It was one of the few instances in which they used artillery. A shrapnel burst over the heads of our men. Receiving no reply, the insurgents soon tired of their artillery and rifle practice, and stopped firing. The Nebraskas bivouacked on the Calumpit and Bagbag Rivers, with their left on the railroad track. The Adjutant-General of the brigade, Capt. Brooks, was sent up the railroad with a detail of ten men, to ascertain the condition of the track and the Rio Grande Bridge. He found that the road-bed had been stripped of ties and converted into a breastwork for resisting the American advance, either along or across the road, but that the trusses of the railroad bridge were apparently uninjured. As he approached within 400 yards of the Rio Grande Bridge, he had been fired on by infantry and artillery. The total number of our losses during these engagements at Calumpit, were three killed and thirty-three wounded, of which one, later, died. During the rest of April, the command remained at Calumpit, guarding the bridges over the Bagbag and Rio Grande Rivers.

On May 2d, Gen. Hale took the South Dakota and Iowa Regiments with a

[graphic]

Photo by Lilie.

MINNESOTA FIRING LINE IN THE ADVANCE ON SAN ISIDRO. platoon of cavalry and three guns to a point on the Pulilan-Quingua Road, east of Pulilan, holding them there as a re-inforcement for Gen. Lawton's Division in the movement, then proceeding against Baliuag, in case assistance should be required. Baliuag, however, was captured with little resistance, and the next morning the command was ordered back to Calumpit, and in the afternoon moved north of the Rio Gronde in preparation for the advance on San Fernando the following day. The total distance marched in the two days was twenty-one miles.

« PreviousContinue »