1st Battalion 22nd Infantry
The San Isidro Campaign 1899
The Second Northern Expedition - Ballance's Battalion
Campaign streamer awarded to the 22nd
for its service in the San Isidro Campaign
22nd Infantry Soldiers just outside of
Note bugler, center of photo, back row
from a stereoview by Underwood & Underwood,
dated 1899, titled
"22nd U.S. Infantry in Bivouac at Malolos, Philippine Islands"
Ed., Operations by the US Army compelled Emilio
Aguinaldo to relocate his headquarters from Malolos to San Isidro
in the spring of 1899.
In the late spring and early summer of that year, the First Northern Expedition had forced him to relocate once again, and again he moved north,
deeper into the rugged territory of the northern part of the island of Luzon. In order to prevent him from either escaping by sea, through the Lingayen Gulf,
or else reaching the safety of the Bulacan mountains, where he could evade capture for a long period of time, the US command
undertook an attack designed to trap him and his army between two main forces.
Having long ago abandoned the idea of fighting
set piece battles with the American forces, and reverted to a
guerilla style of warfare,
Aguinaldo's army was now broken up into a number of organizations, each headed by its own General, and was scattered throughout
northern Luzon. Carrying out hit-and-run tactics, ambushes, and delaying actions, the insurgents hoped to wear down the US Army,
and break its will to continue the war. As the Americans would capture towns and villages, and then move out to pursue Aguinaldo again,
the insurgents would move back in, and the US Soldiers would find themselves having to fight to regain control of those same towns.
Thus, the aim of the Second Northern Expedition
was to cut off Aguinaldo's ability to receive arms and supplies
occupy the north-south railroad running from Manila to Dagupan, therby preventing Aguinaldo from rapid movement of his forces,
and cutting off his avenue of escape to the mountains in the east. By this broad containment of the insurgent army, it was hoped
the insurgency could be starved of supplies, arms and ammunition, to the point where its surrender would be inevitable.
SECOND NORTHERN EXPEDITION BALLANCE'S BATTALION
Holding the permanent rank
of Captain, and the brevet rank of Major,
The photo at right was taken a
few years earlier,
Photo from the National Archives
John Greene Ballance
It was known that the enemy in the north,
receiving accessions from the southeastern provinces, intended to
retire to the mountains
to the north and east if worsted in the lowlands and on the plains; from the mountains the enemy believed himself able to prolong the war indefinitely.
Secret information numbered insurgent rifles in the north at 25,000. The main part of this army was operating along the line of the railway
from Angeles to Dagupan, throughout the provinces of Tarlac and Pangasinan, and in parts of Nueva Ecija and Bulacan.
The plan of campaign was to hold these forces
in their position until the American army closed the northern and
eastern roads of egress
to the mountains; then to capture or to scatter the insurgents, to take possession of the railroad, and to pursue retreating columns or detachments.
Three forces were used to execute the plan. At Angeles, General MacArthur's command had for its objective the insurgents along the line
of the railway; another force, under General Wheaton, proceeded by sea to San Fabian, with orders to move east and south, closing the roads
to the mountains and eventually making contact with the third forceGeneral Lawton'sthat moved from San Fernando, through Arayat
and San Isidro, thence north through Cabanatuan, Talavera, Humingan, and Tayug, to San Nicolas.
Map of the Northern Luzon campaign.
The three pronged attack by the US Army
was designed to push Aguinaldo's army steadily northward,
until it became trapped by two opposing American forces. The attack consisted of MacArthur's command ( dark blue line ),
moving along the Manila-Dagupan railroad from Angeles to Dagupan, and Wheaton's command ( light blue line ),
steaming from Manila around the northwestern edge of Luzon, coming through Lingayen Gulf and landing at San Fabian,
while Lawton's command, with Young and the two battalions of the 22nd Infantry ( red and green lines )
moving to cut off any possibility of Aguinaldo's army heading east to take refuge in the mountains.
Map from the 1904 Regimental History
Colorized and routes added by the website editor
Samuel Baldwin Marks Young,
Brigadier General of Volunteers,
To General Young was assigned the immediate
command of the third column. Fighting daily, making forced
marches through seas of mud,
on half rations, shoeless, and lacking clothes, the troops of this command performed the task assigned them; they skirted the base
of the mountain ranges and effectually closed every avenue of escape from the lowlands. One battalion of the regimentBallance's
played the leading part in this last campaign of the war; a second battalionBaldwin'smade a march unequalled in Philippine warfare.
The troops assigned to General Young were:
Two battalions 22nd infantry;
two battalions 37th infantry;
one squadron 4th cavalry;
two squadrons 3rd cavalry;
two companies Macabebe scouts;
and two companies American scouts.
During this campaign, the remaining battalion
of the regiment garrisoned the towns of San Luis and Candaba,
keeping the river open and forwarding supplies to the army in front.
The route of
Map from the
General Young's advance from Arayat was begun
on the evening of October 17. Ballance's battalion crossed the
river at dark
and proceeded up the river to Balasin, with orders to clear the way for the main column, which was to move on the following day.
The insurgents were reported strongly intrenched at Maglibutad. Lowe's scouts were ordered to move up the right bank of the river;
the Macabebe scouts were ordered to move up the left bank, and by a night march, to get in rear of the enemy.
Shortly after dawn, October 18, the scouts of Ballance's battalion located the enemy intrenched near Maglibutad.
The Macabebes had failed to gain their assigned position. The first battalion made a direct assault on the works, and after a fierce resistance,
carried these works, and inflicted on the enemy a loss of 104 killed, wounded, and captured. The main body of the insurgents retreated
toward Cabiao, the battalion's objective.
Considerable opposition was expected at Cabiao;
but demoralized by their defeat at Maglibutad, the insurgents
made only a slight attempt
to hold the town. The battalion occupied this place at 10 a. m. During the afternoon, a strong force of battalion scouts
made a reconnaissance toward San Isidro. One mile north of Cabiao, they were fired upon by the enemy. After slight resistance,
the enemy fell back to San Fernando, where from both sides of the river they opened a sharp fire. Due to confusion, the insurgents
on the right bank of the river began to fire upon their own men on the other side of the river. The demoralization produced by this fire
and the efficiency of the scouts' fire, caused them to retreat, although intrenched and in greatly superior numbers.
October 19, the main command moved from Cabiao,
the first battalion acting as advance guard. A small body of
selected from the battalion, preceded the advance guard as an infantry screen. Beyond the barrio of San Fernando,
the scouts were fired upon by a body of insurgents that were destroying a bridge across an unfordable stream.
The scouts rushed the bridge, crossed on the stringers that had not been destroyed, and despite a loss of 25 per cent of their number,
held the bridge against a superior force until the advance guard arrived. The remainder of the battalion came up on the run,
deployed in mud and water on both sides of the road, and drove the enemy back toward Calaba. In this barrio, the insurgents
had strengthened the natural barricade formed by a bamboo thicket. In front of the thicket was an open space,
averaging forty yards in width. The insurgent skirmishers, keeping well concealed, had fallen back until they massed behind the barricade.
Reaching the open space, the battalion, in skirmish line, suddenly received a heavy fire at close range. Without hesitation,
the battalion charged the barricade and drove the enemy out. Had the distance been greater, or the marksmanship of the Filipinos better,
this position could not have been taken without great loss. The ambuscade was well planned; but the prompt charge completely demoralized
the insurgents and forced them, in hurried retreat, toward San Isidro. Continuing the advance, one company was sent
along the river road, the remainder of the battalion on the direct road to San Isidro. At this place, considerable opposition was expected,
and the battalion was reinforced by three troops of dismounted cavalry and six guns. The insurgents were found some distance from the town;
Ballance formed lines on each side of the main road, advanced across the submerged rice fields, drove the enemy through San Isidro,
and pursued them as far as the barrio of San Nicolas.
Killed in action, October 19, 1899:
Corporal Ephraim S. Yoder, company K.
Wounded in action, October 19, 1899:
Private Griffin Andrews, company F;
Private Charles H. Pierce, company I;
Private Handy B. Johnson, company K;
Private Bland B. Day, hospital corps.
Medal of Honor ( of the type awarded in 1899 )
Ed., The group of scouts who held the
bridge just beyond the barrio of San Fernando
The 1904 Regimental History made special mention of Private Pierce's actions:
"Private Charles H. Pierce,
company I, continuing to fire after he had been severely
Rank and organization:
Private, Company 1, 22d U.S. Infantry.
Citation: Held a bridge
Photo courtesy of Tracy Morrow
Henry Pierce" was born February 22,
1875 in Cecil County, Maryland, the son of Charles W. Pierce.
Pierce left his father's farm near Chesapeake City, Maryland and joined Company M, 1st Delaware Infantry on May 17, 1898
at the age of twenty-three to help his country in the war with Spain which had broken out on April 25th of that year.
At the time of his enlistment he was described as 5' 6" tall, blue eyes, brown hair and a fair complexion.
was basically no contest and ended in a matter of months. Pierce was
discharged on December 19, 1898,
and less than a week later he enlisted in the regular US Army. He was assigned to the 22nd US Infantry and sent to Fort Crook, Nebraska.
consequence of the short-lived war, the United States not only
got control of Cuba, but the Philippine Islands as well.
An insurrection was being led in the Islands by Emilio Aguinaldo. Thus ensued a three year guerilla war
involving 70,000 American soldiers at a cost of 175 million dollars.
October 19th Major John Ballance, 22nd Infantry, was placed in
command of an advance guard of troops.
Out in the front 500 yards was a group of scouts led by Sergeant Charles W. Ray. One of the twelve scouts was Private Charles Pierce.
approached the Rio Grande River the scouts saw a bridge which had
had its planks removed to slow down
the advancing Americans. On the other side of the bridge were about 200 enemy soldiers. Sergeant Ray led his scouts in a mad dash
for the bridge as they attempted to cross on its stringers. The insurgents let loose with a volley of fire.
Private Pierce was hit by a Remington bullet in the left thigh but refused to be taken to the rear.
He insisted on staying with his buddies in defending the bridge.
scouts were compelled to hold the bridge for quite some time
before the main body arrived. By the end of the year
Philippine resistance had finally been broken. On March 10, 1902, Pierce and Sergeant Ray were awarded the Medal of Honor.
Pierce appears to
have made a career out of the Army and ended his career as a
Lieutenant. He retired in the late 1920's
or early 1930's. He died March 2, 1944 and was interred in Valhalla Memorial Cemetery in North Hollywood, California.
Biography of Charles Pierce by Russ Pickett
Rank and organization:
Photo courtesy of :
As they fought their way toward San
Isidro, Ray led 12 advance scouts ahead of the main U.S. force.
His orders were to report any enemy activity and await further orders.
Before long, Ray encountered Filipino insurgents a few miles from the town of San Isidro as they began sabotaging a bridge
on the Rio de la Pampanga, one the Americans needed to cross to continue with their operations. Ray realized
that if the bridge was to be saved he could not wait for orders, so he sent one scout to request reinforcements,
then proceeded to the bridge. On arrival, Rays unit crossed the stringers, or horizontal support beams,
because the insurgents had removed the bridge planks to slow their advance. Complicating Rays tenuous situation,
about 200 Filipinos were positioned on the other side.
According to one source, Ray led his scouts in a mad dash for the bridge. The insurgents let loose with a volley of fire.
Three Americans were wounded, and Ray ordered them to stay back for treatment, but Charles Pierce refused to take cover
and continued to fire his rifle. Ray and his fellow scouts held the bridge until U.S. reinforcements arrived an hour later
to drive away the insurgents. The bridge was saved from demolition, and Pierce and Ray earned the Medal of Honor.
Ray received his medal by mail in Democrat, North Carolina, where he was living in 1902
Ray was born to Newton and Rachel Elizabeth (McPeters) Ray on August 6, 1872, in Yancey County, North Carolina.
The family worked as farmers and the children were raised on wild meat, according to Rays brother.
Charles received an elementary school education and tried a number of jobs as a young man, including toiling as a steel handler
at a quarry in West Virginia, a roustabout in a circus, and a hired farmer in Iowa, probably in Delta for an unknown time period.
Ray began his military service with the 22nd Infantry in St. Louis during the autumn of 1898. In Manila by December,
when the insurrection broke out, he participated in 22 skirmishes.
After his Medal of Honor action, Ray and 1,000 other soldiers contracted malaria. Placed on the hospital ship Relief
to recuperate in Hong Kong, he then returned to duty and was assigned to accompany a wagon train back to his unit.
Impatient with the slow pace of the wagons, he received permission to hike ahead on May 15, 1900. This proved a costly mistake
when he was ambushed, beaten and stabbed severely by insurgents, who hearing the advance of U.S. troops,
dragged the nearly dead soldier to hide him in a hut. He had suffered 22 wounds on his back, neck, arms and hands.
Luckily, Ray heard a mail hack rolling by and cried out for help. Doctors reported that had he been discovered a few minutes later,
he would not have survived. A tourniquet was applied to his arm, but not soon enough to prevent amputation.
Following his second recuperation, Ray briefly returned to bid farewell to his unit. Prior to his discharge that December,
one-armed Ray participated in one last skirmish. For his efforts, the Scouts gave him a mahogany cane with a Spanish silver-dollar top,
a collar including his name, and a silver ferule at the bottom.
A pension claim Ray filed in 1900 documents his post Medal of Honor service, during which he suffered a number
of excruciating wounds before retiring in December 1900. The claim lists his physical characteristics as standing five-feet nine,
with brown hair and blue eyes. He reported his injuries at Barrio San Fernando in Luzon that March. In addition to the bolo
(a sword-like weapon) wounds resulting in the loss of his left arm, the malaria impaired his digestion, and ulcers caused him
to suffer (at least temporary) blindness.
Ray returned to North Carolina after his military service. In 1905, he bought land during the Oklahoma Territory land rush.
While living out his life as an Oklahoma homesteader, he once went back to North Carolina to find a wife.
Settling into farm and church activities, Ray and his wife, Myrtle, had seven sons and one daughter.
In 1951, he became a founder and was elected president of the Oklahoma Chapter of the Legion of Honor.
He died at the age of 87, on March 23, 1959, in Grandfield, Oklahoma.
Narrative on SGT Charles Ray from:
the State Historical Society of Iowa
Iowa Medal of Honor Heroes
General Young's command remained at San Isidro
until October 27, when at five o'clock in the morning the advance
by the first battalion of the regiment, reinforced by Lowe's scouts, six guns, and one dismounted troop of cavalry.
At the Tombo river, the insurgents had destroyed the bridge and built intrenchments commanding the crossing. Leaving the artillery
to come up with the main column, the infantry crossed on bamboo floats, drove the enemy from the trenches, and pushed rapidly forward.
A mile beyond, a company of the famous Manila battalion was seen hurrying toward the Rio Grande to attack a gunboat;
company F promptly engaged them, scattering them to such an extent that, in their gaudy red trousers, straw hats, and fancy blouses,
they were never again seen as an organization.
Several miles beyond, the advance guard
encountered one of the enemy's outposts near the Taboatin river.
that the bridge at this point had been completely destroyed, that the river was unfordable near the crossing on account of recent rains,
that the banks were very steep, and that the insurgents occupied a line of trenches, 800 yards long, on the opposite bank. Lowe's scouts
and company A were sent to make a long detour to the right, and to cross the river two miles above the trenches in order to get in the insurgents' rear.
The battalion scouts and company K crawled through the high grasses until they were separated from the trenches by only the width of the river.
Meanwhile the artillery, brought forward again, was posted, loaded, and aimed at the trenches. These preparations were made so secretly
that the insurgents were in complete ignorance concerning them. Filipino sentinels, on the opposite bank, watched the river and main road,
wholly unconscious of the attack. At a signal, fire was opened by the infantry and the artillery. It did good execution and kept down
the fire of the enemy, but failed to drive them from their trenches. Unforeseen difficulties had prevented the scouts and company A gaining
their flanking positions; two other companies were sent up the river, with orders to cross about half a mile above the trenches and take them
in the flank. Wading, swimming, and floating on bamboo, the companies succeeded in crossing the river; the insurgents discovered the movement,
and after firing a few volleys at the troops in the water, abandoned their trenches and retreated through the tall grasses beyond
Santa Rosa. The remainder of the advance guard built a raft and crossed the river; in the evening the command entered and occupied Santa Rosa.
Killed in action, October 27, 1899:
Private Herman H Stone, company K.
Wounded in action, October 27, 1899:
Corporal Charles F. Sparger, company K.
Private George J. Marks, company F.
The crossing over the Taboatin River.
Two pack mules are being brought across on a raft.
Part of the bridge destroyed by the insurgents can be seen in the extreme right.
Photo from the 1904 Regimental History
October 30, the battalion advanced and captured
Cabanatuan, containing an insurgent arsenal.
October 31, General Young's headquarters moved into Cabanatuan.
November 7, the battalion was ordered to Talavera. The river at Cabanatuan was a raging torrent; while the engineer corps were building
a permanent ferry, the battalion constructed a temporary ferry that was eventually used to cross the entire division. The construction
of this ferry was attended with great dangers; during the work one man was drowned; four men were rescued from the torrent by heroic efforts
of their comrades. The ability of men and officers of this battalion to march, to fight, to do the work of other corps, and to risk life for each other,
won for it the admiration of all troops of Young's army.
From Arayat to Cabanatuan, Ballance's battalion
had been constantly in advance. Beyond Cabanatuan it became
necessary to cover the roads
with slough grass and brush in order to drag the carts over them. For two miles, the bulls could pull only the empty carts; soldiers carried the supplies
until a better road was reached; finally one company was left with the train; the other companies pushed forward and occupied Talavera, November 9.
At Talavera an order was received for part of the battalion to act as escort to the division train. Subsequently this order was changed,
and on November 10, the battalion occupied Munoz; on the 11th, San Jose; 12th, Lupao; 13th, Humingan. By this time, the shoes and clothing
of the men were in a deplorable condition; the number of men marching barefooted became greater daily. At San Jose orders had been received
to leave all impediments behind; the battalion had left this town, carrying nothing but rifles, 100 rounds of ammunition per man, one day's field ration,
and three emergency rations. Two miles out from San Jose, the battalion had passed a troop of cavalry, which left San Jose twenty-four hours
before the battalion, hopelessly stuck in the mud.
November 14, leaving one company to hold
Humingan, the remaining three companies cut loose from the main
command, with orders
to proceed to Resales, thence to attack the insurgent army at Urdaneta, reported 2000 strong. So great was General Young's confidence
in the ability of this battalion, that he ordered three companies, accompanied by only two pieces of artillery, to get in rear of the main insurgent army,
variously reported to be from 5000 to 24,000 strong. Moving with great caution, unimpeded by wagon train, the battalion outflanked
a strong intrenchment of the insurgents at Bulango, the demoralized enemy retreating without firing a shot. At the Matablan river, swollen by rains,
the insurgents had destroyed the bridge, taking up the flooring, cutting the stringers, and dropping them into the river. On the opposite bank,
they occupied strong intrenchments, from which they opened fire. Friendly natives stated that the river in its present condition could not be crossed.
A detachment, sent above the bridge to fire on the insurgents if they retreated, swam the river, contrary to native belief, and opened a fire
on the enemy's right; a company, sent to get in rear by way of the Agno fords, opened fire on his left. These flanking fires, combined with fire
from the remaining troops in the direct front, forced the insurgents to abandon their trenches, after which, in two hours time and with only
one ax and one hatchet, the bridge was repaired sufficiently to cross the two pieces of artillery. The bridge over the river in front of Resales
had been completely destroyed; by making a wide detour through the swamp, the command entered Rosales at dark; the insurgents retreated
as the battalion entered the town; but as the command had eaten nothing since daylight, further pursuit was not made.
A great quantity of insurgent stores and records was captured in the town.
On the following morning, in a furious
rainstorm, the command proceeded to Carmen, where a raft was
built to ferry men and artillery
across the Agno, too high to ford and too swift to swim. By eleven o'clock at night all except company F had crossed; the river had become a torrent,
so full of floating debris that it was impossible to cross. The part of the command that had crossed the river proceeded to Villasis, arriving there
at midnight and sleeping in the mud, supperless. During the night an order was received directing the command to march to Binalonan,
the insurgents having abandoned Urdaneta. Entering Urdaneta, the command was welcomed by a brass band and escorted to the plaza
by the principal men of the town. The departure of the insurgents and the subsequent arrival of the Americans were marked with great rejoicing
on the part of the non-combatant natives. Fruit, tobacco, and meat were freely distributed among the soldiers; a din of ringing church-bells
proclaimed the news far and wide.
After this novel reception, the command
proceeded to Binalonan. Three miles of the way was through two
and a half feet of running water,
causing great suffering to the scantily-clothed men already suffering with colds, fever, and bleeding feet. The insurgents evacuated Binalonan
before the arrival of the American troops, and the command was directed to occupy the town until ordered elsewhere.
November 20, the battalion was sent back to Villasis, to scout all roads leading from there in order to learn the whereabouts
of General MacArthur's advance. Through a messenger it was ascertained that General MacArthur had arrived at Bautista, November 19,
five days after the battalion had occupied Resales.
November 23, 24, 25, the battalion marched to
San Fabian. Here rations, clothing, and shoes were expected;
rations alone were received.
The battalion was willing and anxious to push on in pursuit of the remnants of Aguinaldo's army, but orders directed it to remain at San Fabian.
Then came the relax. Through sheer effort and American grit, the men had kept to their work. They were sick with fever and dysentery;
they suffered with dobie itch and bruised and bleeding feet; they had lived on half rations and on no rations; they had walked through mud and water;
swimming, wading, rafting, bridging, they had crossed fifty streams and rivers; invariably wet, they had been exposed to the cold nights
without blankets or covering of any kind; they had covered the advance of General Young's army from Arayat to San Jose, fighting almost daily,
at times making several fights a day; beyond Talavera, they had pushed alone into the insurgent strongholds, with orders to get in rear
of an insurgent army that three separate American armies had been sent to conquer; they had never failed to accomplish a task assigned them.
Gallantly led by an officer of indomitable will, and who by the ill-fortune of promotion no longer serves with the battalion he loved,
these men won the admiration of commanding generals; throughout campaigning privations unsurpassed in American history,
they showed the grit and heroism of their race.
Upon receipt of the order for the battalion to
remain at San Fabian, the necessity of further mental effort
ceased. Tired nature,
held so long in check, assumed control. In one day, three hundred men collapsed with fever and dysentery contracted during the arduous campaign.
December 3 to 7, the battalion returned to its former station, Candaba.
Three facts attest the efficiency of Ballance's
battalion: with engineer troops accompanying the expedition and
working upon a ferry
at Cabanatuan, the battalion, under rush orders, constructed a second ferry that was used to cross the entire army; with twelve troops of cavalry
accompanying the expedition, the battalion formed the advance guard from Arayat to San Jose, the battalion scouts forming an infantry screen;
with many excellent organizations accompanying the command, with many more in the United States army, General S. B. M. Young
made the following statement in his official report of this campaign:
"Without reflecting in the least on
the many other excellent battalions in the army, I consider this
as the finest and most efficient one I have ever seen in the American army."
The destroyed bridge over the Tombo river.
Photo from the 1904 Regimental history
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