Page images
PDF
EPUB

CHAPTER VIII.

THE MARCH ON MALOLOS.

7 N the latter part of March, there had arrived at Manila a force

consisting of about 950 officers and 23,000 men, with more on the way, and allowing for sickness and the defense of Manila, Gen. Otis felt strong enough to assume the offensive. Aguinaldo had established his headquarters and the civil capital at Malolos, on the railroad, about twenty-five miles northwest of Manila, where he was maintaining some sort of a civil government, with a Congress and executive departments as prescribed

by the constitution which he had “proclaimed.”* Funds were derived from a revenue system which, including customs and a poll tax, was rigidly enforced in all parts of the territory held by the insurrectos. There were also large donations, voluntary or enforced, from wealthy Filipinos. These funds were used for the purchase of arms and ammunition, which were obtained from foreign sources, our fleet being insufficient to entirely prevent their landing. There was little artillery except some old-fashioned pieces of little use in modern warfare. The strength of the insurgent army was not very well known, but was supposed to be about 30,000 men. It doubtless fluctuated from week to week. The general in direct command of the insurrectos in front of Gen. MacArthur was Gen. Antonio Luna.

It was generally believed that with sufficient force the rebel army could be surrounded and captured, and with this capture of Aguinaldo there was good reason to suppose that the rebellion would come to end. At any rate it would be possible to dislodge and disperse the army and capture the capital, which of itself, and without the capture of Aguinaldo, might end the trouble. Thus Malolos was the obvious objective of the American army as soon as it should be strong enough to move at all, and preparations to that end were accordingly made. Major-General MacArthur, being in command upon the north of the Pasig River, was naturally assigned to the command of the movement.

POSITION OF THE OPPOSING ARMIES. MacArthur's Division lay substantially where we left them at the close of Chapter VII, facing northerly, and extending from a point on Manila Bay, near Caloocan; easterly by La Loma church to the Deposito and water-works; Otis' Brigade on the left, by the bay, occupying about two and a half miles of the line, and Hale's Brigade on the right, occupying, with its extension to the Pasig River opposite San Pedro Macati, about ten and a half miles. The line of the insurrectos extended along the front of MacArthur's Division from Polo, through Novaliches, to the Nanca River, with strong outposts at important points nearer the American line.

* See page 49.

RE-ORGANIZATION OF THE DIVISION. For the purposes of this movement MacArthur's Division was re-organized on March 17th, as follows:

The Wyoming Battalion, the 13th Minnesota, occupying the line from the San Juan River to the water-works, with the 4th and one battalion of the 17th U. S. Inf., were formed into a new 3d Brigade, under command of BrigadierGeneral R. H. Hall, who had arrived on March 10th, and were left upon Hale's old line to guard the water-works and Manila, and make such demonstrations as were found desirable to keep the enemy occupied on its front.

The remainder of Hale's old brigade, consisting of the 10th Pennsylvania, 1st South Dakota, 1st Colorado, and 1st Nebraska Regiments, remained under Hale's command and formed the right of the line in the advance. There were also with

this brigade two Nordenfeldt guns and a detachment of the Utah Light Artillery. At the left of Hale, the brigade of Gen. H. G. Otis, consisting of the First Montana, 20th Kansas, and two battalions, 3d U.S.

Art., (as infantry) AN OLD SMOOTH-BORE CANNON CAPTURED FROM INSURGENTS AT CALOOCAN. occupied a portion of the front hitherto held by this brigade, while to the left of Otis, and next to the bay, was stationed a new brigade transferred from the first division, consisting of one battalion, 3d U. S. Inf., the 22d U. S. Inf., and eleven companies of the Oregon Regiment. This brigade was commanded by BrigadierGeneral Lloyd Wheaton, who had arrived at Manila on February 23d. It was the intention that Wheaton's Brigade should march in the rear as a support to the other brigades as needed. The total number of troops under Gen. MacArthur at the beginning of the movement was 11,578 officers and men, including Hall's Brigade. The total of the three brigades engaged in the movement was 8682. The number of effectives, however, was rapidly reduced.

THE NATURE OF THE COUNTRY. The line of advance to Malolos ran parallel with the shore of the bay, near which the ground was low and marshy and cut up by a large number of interconnecting tidal estuaries called “esteros." From these lowlands there is a gradual rise to a line of foothills which, near Caloocan, are about two and a half miles from the bay shore, but gradually retreat, leaving a broad plain, intersected, however, by frequent rivers and esteros, for the operations of the armies. The natural defenses of the insurrectos were along the lines of the rivers which flow down from the foothills to the bay. These lines were fully utilized, as well as rises of ground, timber, and all other natural points of defense. The country except where it was actual swamp, was densely populated, and in a high state of cultivation. It was mostly ricefields, intersected by low dykes for retaining the irrigating waters. During the rainy season SUPPLY TRAIN ON PONTOON BRIDGE, AT MARILAO RIVER. the rice-fields are flooded, and at that time military movements over such lands are not merely difficult but impossible. There are quagmires with no bottom which the soldiers can reach. In the dry season the earth, thrown up in making the ditches, affords partial protection to troops lying down. There were roads, such as they were, traversing the plain, and the railroad embankment was of course utilized for troops, but as the ground was contested at all points from the start, the army moved forward, for the most part, over the fields, and for much of the way in line of battle. The line of advance at the beginning of the movement covered about eight miles.

[graphic]

NO GENERAL ENGAGEMENT. While there was constant fighting along the whole line of the army, there was no general engagement between large bodies of massed troops. In a general way the line of advance was marked out for each brigade by the Division Commander, who pushed forward or restrained the different brigades, to conform to his general plan, which was quite carefully supervised by the Corps Commander at Manida; but the actual fighting was under the direction of the Brigade Commanders, who were charged with the duty of fighting their way to the points designated by Gen. MacArthur. The Signal Corps kept the division and brigade headquarters in touch by the field telegraph, so that general directions could be promptly given and received, but all details were necessarily in charge of the Brigade Commanders. The movement began on March 25th, and our army entered Malolos on March 31st, but the details of our operations can be best understood by following the fortunes of the different brigades. The accounts of the movements of Hale's and Otis' Brigades, as here given, are by a member of the staff of this book, who accompanied the column, and are given as written, for the picture they give of the actual work of the troops. The account of the operations of Wheaton's Brigade was written by an officer of the brigade, and, as will be seen, is a concise statement of the military movements and their results. The narrative will be more readily understood, if it is stated here, that on March 27th, Wheaton's Brigade was detached from MacArthur's Division and assigned to protecting the railroad

[graphic]

communications, reporting directly to the Corps Commander. On April 2d, Gen. Wheaton was assigned to the temporary command of the 1st Brigade, relieving Gen. H. G. Otis, resigned, Gen. Wheaton retaining command of the troops on the railroad.

OPERATIONS OF HALE'S BRIGADE. With the 2d Brigade, as stated, were two Nordenfeldt guns and a detachment of the Utah Light Battery, under Lieut. Naylor, accompanied by Lieut. Perry, of the brigade staff. These advanced on March 25th up the Masambong sunken road, under cover of the infantry fire. Very soon the Filipinos, who were well entrenched, opened on the infantry and artillery. The Americans advanced almost on a run, and in less than an hour drove the insurgents from their trenches. The Nebraskas, along the San Juan River, at San Francisco del Monte, rushed into a hand-to-hand fight. The South Dakotas and Pennsylvanias gallantly forced the barricades on the Masambong Road. Naylor's guns did effective work, keeping abreast of the infantry firing line throughout the advance.

[graphic]

CALIFORNIA TRENCHES NEAR CONVENT OF GUADALUPE. As the writer crossed the field that morning, half an hour after the troops, he found that the Americans had thrown away their rations and blanket rolls, and that ambulance wagons were gathering up what could be found of the soldiers' belongings; also, however, they were bringing in the wounded of both forces, and, while the Americans exhibited more tenderness towards their own wounded, yet they did not neglect those of the enemy. A dozen Filipino prisoners had been captured, and these were given stretchers and made to carry their injured companions to the ambulances. Neither were correspondents overlooked. The Hospital Corps gave to us “first aid” bandages, and asked us to do what we could for the wounded rebels, who were scattered through the woods and in the ricefields. Behind the breastworks were appalling sights. Here an old man lay weltering in his blood; there a boy, his strong limbs shattered by Springfield bullets, and yonder in the rice-fields were rebel soldiers in all attitudes of pain—the lifeblood bedewing the land they died to free. Some cried for water, and some for cigarettes, and some for death. The fields were brown and unsown, but the next year, how this red rain would nourish a harvest !

In the woods was an old man from Tarlac, who cried for water and a priest. His leg was shattered by a Springfield bullet, and he said he felt the chill of death. Through an interpreter we listened to his confession. He told us he had a wife and five children at Tarlac, and his last words were, “Forgive me for fighting the Americans, I did not know the kind of people they were.” Meanwhile the brigade kept advancing along the Novaliches Road. After a fierce struggle the insurrectos gave up the villages of Cabataon and Talinapa. The

REFUGEES COMING DOWN THE RIO GRANDE. day was extremely hot, and many men fell out of the march, overcome by the sun. About noon, the advance was ordered in a northwesterly direction along the Tuliahan River. At a ford of this river, where there was an uncompleted bridge, a small body of the 4th Cav. attached to the division, ran into a strong position of the enemy. In a few minutes twelve of the cavalrymen had fallen. Gen. MacArthur immediately sent the Utah Battery to their aid. The rebels were driven out after a short fight, and the brigade bivouacked for the night along the river, the Nebraskas, South Dakotas and Pennsylvanias guarding the ridges. The insurgents came in force towards the rear of our army that night, but were held in check by Maj. Allison's Battalion of the South Dakotas, sent back as rear outpost. At the Tuliahan Bridge in one rail which had been used in an entrenchment, were found ninety-six bullet marks.

On the 26th of March, Gen. Hale marched northwesterly across the country towards Polo, a town on the Dagupan railroad, supposed to contain a strong force of rebels. Near the railroad he effected a junction with the 1st Brigade, and soon after Gen. MacArthur directed him to deploy north of the 1st Brigade and take such action against the town of Polo as circumstances might render advisable. While he was deploying the Pennsylvanias, facing west towards Polo, the Filipinos opened a brisk fire on that regiment from the north, and the South Dakotas were directed to form on the Pennsylvanias' right in a semi-circle around the crest of a hill facing north and east, while the Nebraskas, as a general reserve, were placed in the rear.

By three o'clock in the afternoon, Hale was ready to begin operations on Polo, or rather, on Meycauayan, as it turned out, the enemy having retreated to the strong entrenchments south of the latter town. The insurrectos kept continually harassing the brigade from the right flank, and Maj. Howard's Battalion of the South Dakotas was sent into the woods in that direction to drive them off. The main attack began by the discharge of the Utah Battery guns, followed by the Nebraska Hotchkiss gun, which did effective work on the eastern entrenchments. The Filipinos fought valiantly, and covered their retreat with considerable skill. At four o'clock the Pennsylvanias and South Dakotas advanced on the entrenchments, the Nebraskas following as a reserve. Gen. Hale cleverly placed his men so that the South Dakotas' right flanked the insurgents' left, demoralizing the

[graphic]
« PreviousContinue »