1st Battalion 22nd Infantry

 

The Datu Ali Expedition -1905

 

Campaign Streamer awarded to the 22nd Infantry for its service in Mindanao 1904-1905

 

 

Datu Ali, brandishing his kris most prominently, in a portrait with one of his wives and son.

Photo courtesy of the website:

MOROLAND
The History of Uncle Sam and the Moros
1899-1920

 

 

Datu* Ali was the last, and most formidable Moro chieftain to oppose American rule
on the island of Mindanao. For nearly two years, operations against Ali were carried out by
several formations of the US Army and the Philippine Constabulary.

* The word "Datu" was used to describe leading members of Moro royalty. The Sultan was
the highest authority in Moro society, followed by the Datu's. Depending upon what level
of prestige an individual Datu occupied, the word could be translated to mean prince,
duke, count or baron. Period spellings of the title included "Datuk", "Dato" and "Datto".

Ali eluded capture all that time, until finally surprised and killed by a Provisional Company
of the 22nd Infantry, led by Captain Frank R. McCoy, the Aide De Camp of General Leonard Wood.

Colonel John White, who spent 15 years as an officer in the Philippine Constabulary,
sets the stage with a description of Ali's home land -- the Cotabato District of Mindanao:

 

EARLY in June, 1904, General Wood called upon Colonel Harbord to organize a Constabulary in the District of Cotabato,
the largest and perhaps least-known division on the Moro Province, where a prominent Moro chief named Datu Ali
had recently started on the war-path. Colonel Harbord relieved me as adjutant for assignment as Senior Inspector of the Constabulary
of Cotabato with instructions to recruit as rapidly as possible among the tribes of friendly Moros and organize a force that could be used as Scouts,
accompanying expeditions of United States troops against the hostiles scattered throughout the length and breadth of the valley of the
Rio Grande de Mindanao. Cotabato District consisted of the valley of this broad, deep, muddy stream, a valley some two hundred miles long
and from ten to fifty broad. This watershed contained large areas of swamp and lakes, with villages of Maguindanaw Moros sparsely scattered
along the banks of the river and its tributaries or amid the almost trackless and impassable swamps. Back of the valley rose forbidding ranges
of mountains, culminating in Mount Apo, eleven thousand feet in height. In the jungles of these mountains were legendary pagan tribes,
rejoicing in the names of Tirurayes, Manobos, Bagobos, Bilanes, and many more such.

The Maguindanaws were the largest tribe of Moros. They controlled practically the whole of the mainland of Mindanao.
Although more agricultural and less piratical than their cousins in Sulu, they held almost as tightly to their ancient privileges of slavery
and control of the pagan tribes, while the situation of their bamboo villages and earthen cottas (forts) on the shores of the mountain lakes,
as in Lanao, or amid the swamps, as in Cotabato, made campaigning against those chiefs who refused to recognize the authority
of the United States both difficult and costly.

The Spaniards had sent many an expedition up the Rio Grande, and with shallow-draft gunboats had shot their way into the heart
of Cotabato District. They obtained concessions from Datu Utu, the Maguindanaw chief who then ruled that swampy land. But the control
exercised by the Spaniards extended little if any further than the range of cannon shot from the toy men-of-war, while the price they paid in men
and blood for even such victory was heavy. Furthermore, every inch of ground wrested from the Maguindanaws must be controlled by stone-fort
or blockhouse. When, in 1899, the Spaniards withdrew before the advancing Americans from the north, anarchy reigned in Cotabato.
Datu Utu had gone to the voluptuous reward of good fighting Moros, and his nephew, Datu Ali, ruled in his stead.

 

The following passages illustrate the problems the US Army was having with Datu Ali.
They are taken from the Annual Reports to the Secretary of War, and indicate encounters
with Ali during the year 1904:

 






 

The following is the short, but official narrative of the operation which put an end to Ali's activities,
as recorded by CPT Daniel Appleton, in the 1922 Regimental History.

 

The Datu Ali Expedition

Just as the regiment had completed preparations for the return to the United States, and the officers and men were beginning to anticipate
the joy of being once more in their native land, affairs took a sudden turn in the other direction, and the following order, quoted in full
on account of its intense interest, again placed the regiment in line for further active service in the Philippines.

HEADQUARTERS, DEPARTMENT OF MINDANAO, Zamboanga, Mindanao, P. I.,
October 5, 1905. Strictly Confidential.

The Department commander is preparing an expedition to surprise and capture Datu Ali. In view of the excellent service
and experience of the 22nd Infantry, he has selected it to furnish the major portion of the expedition, which will be commanded
by Captain F. R. McCoy, A. D. C., he being the only officer in the department who has been over the route decided on.
He directs that for this hard and important work, one first lieutenant, two second lieutenants and one hundred picked men be selected
as were those forming the original provisional company, armed and equipped as at the end of their tour in the Rio Grande valley,
and be prepared to board the Sabah on the morning of the 13th inst, at Camp Overton. The necessary medical attendance and supplies
will be furnished, the supplies to be put in packages not exceeding forty pounds. One hundred rounds of extra rifle ammunition (1,903) per man,
and forty rounds of pistol ammunition will be taken. Field and travel rations will be prepared for you at Camp Overton or Zamboanga.
Squad boxes with extra clothing, etc., may be taken aboard ship to leave at base.

Bring, if possible, one hundred picked cargadores; if not, wire deficiency and it will be made up here. Tomas Torres,
civil interpreter, will accompany. The destination of these troops, further than Camp Overton, will not be made known
to even the officers with them. Acknowledge receipt by wire.

Very respectfully,
DANIEL, H. BRUSH, Lieut. Colonel, Inspector General,
Acting Military Secretary.

In accordance with this confidential memorandum, a provisional company of the 22nd Infantry was again organized on October 9, 1905.
Following are the names of the officers assigned to this company:

First Lieutenant Solomon B. West, Commanding.
Second Lieutenant Philip Remington.
Second Lieutenant B. B. McCroskey.

The provisional company left Camp Keithley at 4:30 p. M., October 11, 1905. At this time nothing definite was known of Datu Ali's whereabouts,
though he was generally thought to be on his ranchiera on the Malola river.
In order to avoid any possibility of encountering Ali's spies, the expedition proceeded to Digas, on the gulf of Davao, landing at Digas on October 16.
At this point a detachment of ten Filipino scouts, under Lieutenant Henry Rogers, P. S., joined the Americans; and before proceeding further,
all footsore and sick men were weeded out and left behind.

On the morning of October 22 the advance guard of the column, under Lieutenant Remington, reached Datu Ali's ranchiera. The main body,
under Lieutenant McCoy, followed along closely, while flank patrols were sent out under West and Johnson.
Perceiving Datu Ali on the porch of his house, with some ten or twelve of his followers, Lieutenant Remington with the advance guard of two squads,
rushed forward, hoping to capture the unarmed party by a complete surprise. However, the movements of Remington's men were quickly discovered,
and the enemy disappeared inside the house, Datu Ali, himself, firing point blank at Lieutenant Remington as the latter reached the entrance.
The shot missed Remington, but killed Private L. W. Bobbs, Company G, 22nd Infantry. At almost the same instant Lieutenant Remington
returned the fire from his pistol, shooting the Datu through the body and bringing him to his knees. Struggling to his feet the Datu made a desperate effort
to escape, but was shot dead by the men of the advance guard, two of whom were wounded in the course of the fight.
Private Morton L. Bales, Company K, subsequently died of his wounds, and Private John J. Rorke, of Company G, was less seriously wounded.

This second provisional company of the regiment acquitted itself as splendidly as had the first, accomplishing its mission in the quickest time
and with the minimum loss of life, and unquestionably added another lustrous page to the regiment's history. Following the action
recommendations were submitted for the award of a certificate of merit to Sergeant, First Class, J. C. Gunn, Hospital Corps;
Sergeant Louis A. Carr, Company K, Corporal Barry Smith, Company G, and Private William B. Hutchinson, Company K, all of the 22nd Infantry.

November 3, 1905, the provisional company returned to Camp Keithley and was disbanded.
At this point the active service of the 22nd Infantry in the Philippines came to an end; the regiment engaged in no further field service,
and spent the following month in making extensive repairs to some Spanish gunboats which had sunk, and in consequence had first to be raised.
This in itself constituted an engineering project of considerable proportions.

The 22nd Infantry left Manila for the United States via Nagasaki on December 15, 1905, and arrived at San Francisco,
January 14, 1906, after an uneventful voyage on the transport Sherman.

The San Francisco Call newspaper reported the 22nd's killed in action as:

Llewellyn W. B. Bobb of Company C 22nd Infantry
Martin L. Bales of Company A 22nd Infantry

 

 

     

Captain Frank R. McCoy

Personal Aide De Camp
to Gen. Leonard Wood,
McCoy commanded the
Provisional Company of the
22nd Infantry which finally
put an end to Datu Ali.

Photo from the
George Grantham Bain Collection,
Library of Congress

Left is a letter from
Captain Frank McCoy,
sent to Major John J. Crittenden
of the 22nd Infantry,
presenting Datu Ali's Mauser rifle
to the 22nd Infantry Regiment.

Letter courtesy of Robert A. Fulton,
author of

MOROLAND The History of Uncle Sam
and the Moros 1899-1920

Tumalo Creek Press, Bend, Oregon 2007, 2009

ISBN 978-0-9795173-0-3

 

A week after Ali was killed the event made the US newspapers:

 

     

 

Left and above: article from
the
San Francisco Call,
Sunday, Ocotber 29, 1905

CDNC California Digital Newspaper Collection

 

 

 

 

 

     

Left and above: article from
the
Los Angeles Herald
Sunday, October 29, 1905

CDNC California Digital Newspaper Collection

 

Incredibly, within a few months, a report originating in Manila, that Ali was not killed,
but was still alive on Mindanao, appeared in US newspapers:

 

From the San Francisco Call, Saturday, May 26, 1906

CDNC California Digital Newspaper Collection

 

 

Within two days, the following article was published,
to contradict the report that Ali was still alive:

 



Article from the Los Angeles Herald, Monday, May 28, 1906

CDNC California Digital Newspaper Collection

 

 

Since the 22nd Infantry was now stationed in San Francisco, a newspaper in that city was able to get a more
detailed account from the two officers of the 22nd Infantry who were part of the mission, and had seen Ali's body.
1st Lieutenant Solomon B. West and 2nd Lieutenant Philip Remington were interviewed for the following article.
At the end of the article Remington, ..."who fired the shot that brought Ali to the ground", remarked that Ali
had been shot ..."in fifteen different places, three bullets having entered vital organs."

 




Article from the San Francisco Call, Monday, May 28, 1906

CDNC California Digital Newspaper Collection

 

 

 

 

Annual Reports of the War Department for the Fiscal Year ended June 30, 1906,
included this description of the Datu Ali episode:

Brigadier General Tasker H. Bliss Commanding Department of Mindinao for the period July 1, 1905 to April 12, 1906

 

 

 

 

In 1923 the Army awarded the Distinguished Service Cross to LT Philip Remington,
for his actions on October 22, 1905, during the expedition which finally brought an end to Datu Ali.
The citation for that award is below:

 

 

For an account of one of the 22nd Infantry Soldiers who was part of the Provisional Company
which tracked down and killed Datu Ali, go to the following link on this website:

SGT Grover Hart - Going after the Datu Ali

 

For an extremely detailed account of the hunt for Datu Ali, see the book:

MOROLAND The History of Uncle Sam
and the Moros 1899-1920

by Robert Fulton

Tumalo Creek Press, Bend, Oregon 2007, 2009

ISBN 978-0-9795173-0-3

Robert Fulton, the author of the book above, has many photos, maps, and much information
on the pursuit of Datu Ali on his website. Click on the following link to visit the website:

Morolandhistory

 

 

 

BULLETS and BOLOS Fifteen Years In The Philippine Islands

by John White

The Century Company, New York & London 1928

 

 

 

 

 


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