War in the Philippines

By Joseph I. Lambert, Major, Second Cavalry
Copyright 1939 Commanding Officer, Second Cavalry, Fort Riley, Kansas
Capper Printing Company, Inc.

PIOrders came in December, 1903, for the regiment to be transferred to the Philippine Islands. The headquarters and all troops except L and M sailed from New York December 18 on the transport Kilpatrick. The route was across the Atlantic to Gibralter, which was reached January 3, 1904. The next stop was the island of Malta, where an opportunity was given to visit the British Mediterranean fleet. Port Said, Egypt, was reached January 17, where those who desired visited Cairo and caught the transport at Suez. The route also included Aden, Colombo, and Singapore, with delays long enough to permit sightseeing. After the arrival February 18 at Manila, P. I., the headquarters and Troops E, F, G, and H remained on board and sailed for Camp Wallace, Union Province, where they disembarked February 25. After landing at Manila, Troop A marched to Pumping Station, Rizal, for duty, Troop B to Marquina, Rizal, Troops C and D to San Mateo, Rizal, and Troops I and K to Pasay Barracks, Manila.

The troops remained at their stations during the rest of the year getting acquainted with the country and natives. Then orders came suddenly in January, 1905, for the third squadron, consisting of Troops I, K, L, and M, to take the field against the ladrones. For a number of years bands of outlaws lived in the more inaccessible parts of Cavite, Batangas, Laguna, and Rizal Provinces, surrounding Manila. Many of these people were remnants of the armies of insurrectionists which had been suppressed since 1902. The Constabulary found it difficult to run them down, as the people of the villages protected them as patriots. The country operated over was both low and mountainous. In northern and central Cavite Province, the land was flat, with much underbrush along the streams. In the rest of Cavite and in Batangas and Laguna Provinces it was mountainous and cut up by deep ravines.

The squadron under Major Frederick W. Sibley, with fourteen officers and 153 enlisted men, left Pasay Barracks, Manila, January 26, 1905, and marched to Imus the next day, where a conference was held with Colonel Baker of the Constabulary and Governor Shanks of Cavite Province. The headquarters and Troops I and K were stationed at San Francisco de Malabon, Troop L at Santa Cruz, and Troop M at Rosario, all in Cavite Province.

During the first two months of this duty the troops operated by sending out large detachments of mounted men. These groups were commanded by officers and took with them rations for the number of days they expected to be out, which were transported on pack mules. They marched to the infested districts and from there sent out small detachments to cover the entire country. Bands of the ladrones were located at once and rounded up and some of them resisted arrest.

Troops L and M left Santa Cruz February 4, 1905, under Captain John H. Gardner and scouted the barrios near San Francisco de Malabon. They rounded up 240 suspects, among whom eighteen were known to have taken part in the raid on San Francisco de Malabon January 24. Lieutenant Edgar N. Coffey with twenty enlisted men of Troop L marched to the vicinity of Buena Vista, Quintaina, and Neunez on February 9 and gained information which led to the capture of several ladrones. This same officer and fifteen men while returning from an expedition to Buena Vista and Silang encountered a band of ladrones and captured four of them February 24. Captain Joseph S. Herron with twenty men from Troop K captured five prisoners on the vicinity of Quintaina on an expedition which left camp February 24 and returned on the 28th.

Lieutenant Coffey and twenty men of Troop L captured a prisoner after encountering a band of outlaws March 10. A detachment of twenty-five enlisted men under Lieutenant Oscar A. McGee left camp at San Francisco de Malabon, Cavite, on March 2 and traveled about 109 miles on an expedition. There was a skirmish with ladrones near Cavmova on March 13, in which Private Seymour was killed.

As a result of the intensive campaign of the third squadron, the ladrones scattered into smaller bands of only a few men. Major Sibley met this change by dismounting the patrols and sending them out more frequently but smaller in size. From now until the campaign was terminated in July, there were a great many native outlaws arrested and several skirmishes with them.

The following from the regimental returns is illustrative of the strenuous service at this time:

April, 1905. Troop L. A detachment of twenty-five men commanded by Lieutenant Edgar N. Coffey left Santa Cruz in search of ladrones on April 3. Private Beissel of this patrol was drowned while crossing the Zapote River. On April 5, while a detachment of seven men were scouting the outskirts of Santa Cruz, they were fired upon by outlaws. The fire was promptly returned, killing two and wounding five of the band. There were no casualties among our own troops. While fifteen men under Lieutenant Coffey were patrolling Cavite Province April 24, they succeeded in locating the supplies and camp headquarters of the ladrone leaders.

Lieutenant Frederick E. Shnyder, with fourteen men of Troop I, encountered Cosme Caro’s band of guerillas April 14, 1905, near Tres Cruces. The leader and three others were killed and the body of the former was brought in to Malabon. The more notorious chieftain, Felizardo, was wounded in this same engagement.

A patrol of ten men, under Lieutenant Timothy M. Coughlan, fired upon a band of ladrones near Quintaina on May 17 and captured their ammunition and supplies. The chieftain, Felizardo, was again wounded in this encounter. When later pursued by a detachment of Constabulary this man killed himself by leaping from a precipice.

The relentless pursuit of these outlaws continued into June when a patrol under Lieutenant James A. Mars came into contact with them on the 2nd. All who kept up their depredations were either killed or captured by early July.

Earlier in the year the other troops of the regiment began to be ordered to Camp Stotsenburg, Pampanga, for station. Troops B, C, and D were sent there in April, Troop A in May, and the second squadron from Camp Wallace, Union Province, in the same month. After the suppression of the ladrones, the third squadron arrived at that post July 26, 1905, uniting the whole regiment once more under the new colonel, Frederick K. Ward, who was assigned June 23.

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