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:
The History of Uncle Sam and the Moros
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.
Ali eluded capture
all that time, until finally surprised and killed by a
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. ¹
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.
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.
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
January 14, 1906, after an uneventful voyage on the transport Sherman.
Captain Frank R. McCoy
Personal Aide De Camp
Photo from the
Left is a letter from
Letter courtesy of Robert A. Fulton,
MOROLAND The History of Uncle Sam
Tumalo Creek Press, Bend, Oregon 2007, 2009
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
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:
¹ BULLETS and BOLOS Fifteen Years In The Philippine Islands
by John White
The Century Company, New York & London 1928
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