Bailey83221 (bailey83221) wrote,


Philippine War Crimes

(Currently I am simply typing in the book, I will reorganize it to be more easier to read later--as the war progresses, the American torture and war crimes become more horrifying)

The rebel leader of the Philippines Aguinaldo was captured by Colonel Frederick Funston writing false documents to Aguinaldo and having American soldiers dressing up as Filipino soldiers. Dressing up in military dress of the enemy was a violation of the Hague convention.

Similar to the Bush administration, the Teddy Roosevelt administration found sympathetic lawyers to justify breaking the rules of war:

[Teddy Roosevelt's] administration...enlisted the aid of Yale's expert on international law, Theodore Woolsey...Woolsey argued that Funston's plan was "well within the traditional 'rules of war'" that are 'as old as warfare itself'. As long as the general 'did not break faith', the forged documents and letters were acceptable, the professor decreed. The use of enemy uniforms, however was not so easily explained, so Woolsey had to repost to the reasoning that since the United States was not at was 'with a civilized power' and 'since the Aguinaldo party was not a signatory of the Hague convention...there was no obligation on the part of the United States Army to refrain from using the enemy's uniforms for the enemy's deception. (Benevolent Assimilation The American Conquest of the Philippines, 1899-1903 p 169)

Captain Matthew A Batson complained to his wife about the conduct of American soldiers, particularly volunteers:

The conduct of the regulars is not so bad, but I am sorry to say that it has not been as good as it should be. However their bad conduct has generally been stopped at killing some chickens and taking what they wanted to eat, and they have gone so far as to desecrate churches and burial places in search of loot.

The volunteer outposts will see some natives--hear a hot and then they loose and fire on everything they see--man, woman, and child. They then report that they have been attacked by the insurgents and have driven them off with great loss to the insurgents....

A few weeks later, Captain Matthew A Batson expressed horror over the senseless destruction of an innocent village as part of a reprisal ordered by General Lloyd Wheaton after two companies under his command had been caught in an ambush:

One of the prettiest little towns we have passed through is Apolit. A beautiful river---the Rio Grande de Pampanga--passes along side it. A nice drive runs along the river for miles and on this drive were picturesque houses set off by tropical plants and tress. I may add that most of the people living in Apolit desire peace and are friendly to Los Americanos.

When we came along the road, the native that had remained stood along the side of the road, took off their hats, touched their foreheads with their hands..."Good morning" The 17th Infantry came into this place the other night and literally destroyed it--looted, ransacked, burned it--and we propose to civilize, Christianize, these people...We come as a Christian people to relive them from the Spanish yoke and bear ourselves like barbarians. (page 182-183)

...Yet, as commander of the newly formed Philippine Scouts six months later, Major Batson had greatly changed his tune:...

When a close friend was killed in an ambush, Batson ordered the nearest town annihilated, explaining that "it helped revenge Boutelle." (page 183)

The lawless spirit made it that much easier to commit atrocities against the Filipinos, who had already been dehumanized by racial hatred. In addition, widespread stories of native mutilation of American captives helped raise the soldiers’ blood lust..."No more prisoners. They take none, and they torture our men, so we will kill wounded and all of them." A Washington volunteer testified. For every soldier who protested that "we came here to help, not to slaughter, these native," or who complained that he had "seen enough to almost make me ashamed to call myself an American," there were dozens who saw nothing wrong with shooting prisoners, enemy wounded, and native women and children. Some even professed to enjoy it, although most seems to accept the slaughter stoically, as a necessary but onerous task.

Anthony Michea of the Third Artillery wrote, "We bombarded a place called Malabon, and then we went in and killed every native we met, men, women, and children. It was a dreadful sight, the killing of the poor creatures. The natives captured some of the Americans and literally hacked them to pieces, so we got orders to spare no one." On the other hand, A. A. Barnes of the same regiment, describing the destruction of Titatia and the slaughter of one thousand men, women, and children, added, "I am probably growing hard-hearted, for I am in my glory when I can sight my gun on some dark-skin and pull the trigger...Tell my inquiring friends that I am doing everything I can for Old Glory and for America I love so well.

Another soldier described the killing frenzy that developed in his Washington regiment:

Soon we had orders to advance, and we...started across the creek in mud and water up to our waists. However, we did not mind it a bit, our fighting blood was up, and we all wanted to kill niggers. This shooting human beings is a hot game, and beats rabbit hunting to all pieces. We charged them and such a slaughter you never saw. We killed them like rabbits, hundreds, yes thousands of them. Every one was crazy.

Clearly these soldiers had been ordered to take no prisoners and to kill the wounded, and again ranking officers set the example. Funston not only ordered his regiment to take no prisoners, but he bragged to reporters that he had personally strung up thirty-five civilians suspected of being insurrectos. Major Edwin Glenn did not even deny the charge that he made forty-seven prisoners kneel and "repent of their sins" before ordering them bayoneted and clubbed to death. Private Fred Hinchman recorded with some scorn seeing "a platoon of the Washingtons, with about fifty prisoners, who had been taken before they learned how not to take them." But it would be an error to believe that most, or even many, American soldiers only reluctantly obeyed unlawful orders. One soldier declared, almost joyously, that "when we find one that is not dead, we have our bayonets." Sergeant Leman reasoned that because a Filipino "is so treacherous," even "when badly wounded," he has to be killed. It was considered an uproarious joke when "some Tennessee boys" were ordered to escort "thirty niggers" to a hospital in the read and "got there with about a hundred chickens and no prisoners." A private in the Utah Battery, reporting on "the progress of this 'goo goo' hunt" to the "home folks" explained that

the old boys will say that no cruelty is too severe for these brainless monkeys, who can appreciate no sense of honor, kindness or justice...With an enemy like this to fight, it is not surprising that the boys should soon adopt "no quarter" as motto, and fill the blacks full of lead before finding out whether they are friends or enemies.

The most damning evidence that the enemy wounded were being murdered came from official reports of both General Elwell S. Otis and General Arthur MacArthur that claimed fifteen Filipinos killed for every one wounded. In the American Civil War five soldiers had been wounded for every one killed, which is close to the historical norm. Otis attempted to explain this anomaly by citing both the superior marksmanship of the Americans, largely rural Westerners and Southerners who had hunted all their lives, and the tendency of the Filipinos to drag of their wounded with them. MacArthur, under cross-examination by a senate committee, added a racial twist by asserting that men of Anglo-Saxon stock do not succumb as easily to wounds as do men of the "inferior races". (p 188-189)

Why do they hate us?

Journalist George Kennan (a staunch imperialist):

We (Americans) have offered them (the Filipinos) many verbal assurances of benevolent intentions; but at the same time, we have killed their unresisting wounded; we hold 1,500 to 2,000 of them in prison…and we are resorting directly or indirectly to the Spanish inquisitional methods…that they present generations of Filipinos will forget these things is hardly to be expected. (p. 154)

An editor admitted to being greatly confused by the continued conflict:

The United States at the present moment is not, technically, engaged in any war. But it is engaged in…putting down…and insurrection—a large baffling one. It seems strange to Americans that Filipinos…are bitterly opposed to our sovereignty. They must know it is likely to be a great improvement over former conditions…Nevertheless they fight on.

The more things change…the more things stay the same…

Rumors of draft and a low volunteer rate for the military.
A better index of war-weariness than poor protest turnouts might have been the low enlistment rate for a third wave of volunteers as the second one approached its eighteenth month of service. The rate was low enough to foster rumors of pending conscription (a draft)…the Reverend…Berle, a pacifist and anti-imperialist, actively spread the alarm of peacetime draft…(p. 155)

Flip flop democratic candidate
[1900 Democratic presidential candidate] Colonel William Jennings Bryant anti-imperialism was never very convincing, and as the campaign unfolded, the issue [of imperialism] was increasingly ignored. (p. 137)

Traitor accusations
Critics characterized the Anti-imperialists League leaders as “unhung traitors” The New York Times suggested that the League “send rifles…guns and ammunition to the Filipinos”…The commander of the New York chapter of the Grand Army of the Republic demanded that all League members be stripped of their citizenship and “denied the protection of the flag they dishonor.” (p 107)

Irreverent speeches at League-sponsored rallies evoked embarrassing boos, hisses, and cries of treason. (p 109)

Military/Corporate fraud
Rumors of misused commissary funds had been chronic during the war. One veteran had charged that “high class wines were being purchased as hospital supplies, and another outlined how commissary personal received kickbacks from civilian suppliers…

One reporter charged General Otis with selling favors and claimed to have seen personally a letter from Otis to John D. Rockefeller offering oil concessions for a percentage of the profits. Lieutenant Colonel J.W. Pope, the chief quartermaster under General Otis, confessed that his former boss had granted special favors to businessmen.

MacArthur scoffed at the “exaggerated charges” in the press. MacArthur [later] faced damning evidence uncovered by a…reporter. MacArthur was forced to indict eight men, two which were convicted. (p 172-173)

Rhetoric of Republican President
President McKinley called upon American to forget their past difference over the Philippines and unite in peace to carry out the task assigned them by Providence: to bring the benefits of American civilization to the Filipinos. (p 173)

President McKinley gazed upon the pacific and claimed the vast ocean for “American Freedom.” (p 174)

Lies of administration
In order to give the impression that the war was winding down, the Administration made misleading claims of reductions in the number of American troops on the islands. (p. 148)

Republicans recklessly pledged that the fighting would die [down]…within sixty days of McKinley’s reelection. Secretary Root…had to know that this guarantee was a deliberate deception, for he was sitting on General Macarthur’s more realistic assessment which he did not release until after the election. (p. 143)

Only the atrocities of the enemy were mentioned. It was charged that after the capture of Filipino leader Aguinaldo, General Cailles, who took his place, ordered the execution of eight American prisoners. But Cailles had long enjoyed a good reputation with American field commanders. A Colonel Cheatham once praised him for returning American dead with all their personal property. When Cailles surrendered a few months later, no charges were made against him, indicting that this widely reported execution of prisoners probably had been invented for purposes of propaganda. (p 172)

Religions blessing of the war
Bishop Keene…brought from Rome the pope’s blessing for the American conquest of the Philippines. (p. 138)

President McKinley continued to enjoy the status of an evangelical hero in the Protestant establishment. He was widely cheered at a missionary conference in New York just before the election…As far away as England, the London Missionary Society hailed McKinley as the answer to the prayers of all evangelists around the world. (p. 139)

Black leaders, particularly ministers, endorsed the conquest of the Philippines. (p. 127)

Americanism, religion, and imperial bloodlust

The Call newspaper expressed wonder over the ease with which Senator Beveridge thrilled and audience with…repetitive nonsense about “God’s preparation of the English speaking…people for 1,000 years” not for “vain and idle contemplation and self admiration,” but for the “mission of our race, trustee under God, of the civilization of the world.” Beveridge neither recoiled from the word “imperialism” nor felt any need to invent euphemisms. (substituting a vague or mild term for one considered blunt or offensive) “If this be imperialism, the final end will be the empire of the Son of Man.”

…What the Call’s editor failed to appreciate was that this combination of patriotic and religious appeals struck deep into the heart of a populace in a highly nationalistic mood and in the midst of an evangelical revival. (p 131)

Senator Carl Schurz…himself a refugee from German militarism…attempted to sober a jubilant population with warning that the success [in the Philippines] might lead to a formal American empire. Such foreboding was lost in the wave of self-congratulatory hysteria sweeping the nation. (p 104)

[Most candidates who were anti-imperialists lost their elections] …On the other hand, Vice-President Teddy Roosevelt and Senator Beveridge whose nationalism featured overseas expansion, were joyously received wherever they spoke. (p 148)

Above all soldiers complained about the lack of any combat. They had enlisted to fight, had missed the action in Cuba, and were standing garrison duty in Manila…the most common assertion of the volunteers in the months proceeding the war was that they were “just itching to get at the niggers.” After the fighting had erupted, these soldiers wrote jubilant letters home describing easy victories. (p 176)

[Soldiers’ comments about the anti-imperialists were scornful]. The bombastic Senator Beveridge was wildly cheered by soldiers in the combat zones. War critics were also vilified in song. Any mention of the election of 1900 in the soldiers letters and diaries indicated overwhelming support for the Republican ticket of McKinley and Roosevelt. McKinley and Roosevelt received [wildly enthusiastic] receptions from soldiers. (p 186-187)

Racial hatred
If a soldier arrived in the islands without a degree of racial hatred for the Filipinos, he was not very long in acquiring it. Three soldiers’ humanistic views of the Filipinos made them exceptions among their comrades. They were not long in the Philippines before their comrades…branded them “nigger lovers.” But in each case, sympathy for the Filipinos and their cause expressed early in their tours gave way to increasing contempt for the natives the longer they remained in the islands. (p 182)


The French had published theories about colonial warfare based on their experiences in Indochina and Algeria, which General Young had recommended as required reading at West Point…in 1901, Young praised…[current] British [colonial] techniques in South Africa as the model for America [in the Philippines]. (p. 162) British General Kitchener…constructed concentration camps and executed prisoners and hostages. He defended these measures by accusing the Boers of savagery and of disregarding the laws of civilized warfare. Several English journalists smugly suggested that Kitchener would soon teach the Americans how to quell colonial rebellion. (p. 164)


[Despite calls from Anti-imperialists not to become like imperial Spain before America]…General MacArthur…had several Filipino prisoners of war executed for the “murder” of American prisoners. (p. 163)

Other world atrocities at the same time as the Philippine War
South Africa and the Philippines were not the only sites of brutal slaughter at the time….Newspapers were full of incredible tales of atrocities in the Belgian Congo, and it appeared that the Mexican government was bent on exterminating the troublesome Yaqui Indians. British and French naval commanders were constantly shelling costal villages in Africa as though for target practice. In the Pacific an American squadron under Admiral Kautz teamed up with the Royal Navy to shell villages in Samoa, and the skipper of H.M.S. Porpoise told a reporter that shore bombardment relieved the boredom of tedious patrols in the middle of nowhere….American Consul Osborne…protested to Washington that Kautz was firing on villages “in which there were only inoffensive old men, women, and children.” (p. 164)

Treatment of soldiers
The war department, in order to avoid combat pay, reasserted their was no “war” in the [Philippines] (p. 165)

Alternatives to Imperialism
Andrew Carnegie argued that formal empires were obsolete because economic penetration could achieve control over foreign lands without the cost and conquest of administration. Edward Atkinson argued that the English controls over Egypt could be the basic model for the United States, rather than [Britian’s] military conquest of India. (One historian of the anti-imperialist movement, Robert Beiser, concluded that only “in their advocacy of free trade and opposition to direct control over foreign territories” can these critics of annexation of the Philippines be accurately labeled “anti-imperialists”.)
Tags: america, war, war crimes
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