1st Battalion 22nd Infantry
The 22nd Infantry and the Moros - Introduction
The southernmost main island of
Mindanao, and, to the left,
the Sulu Archipelago, containing the island of Jolo.
The 22nd Infantry would see duty in both places during the years 1904-1905.
(Ed., The following
passage is taken from the Regimental History of 1904.
It sets the stage for the second phase of the 22nd Infantry's involvement
in the Philippinesthe war against the Moros, the Muslim inhabitants
of the southern Philippine Islands.)
THE MOROS OF LAKE LANAO
The Moros are descendants of the Musselman
Dyaks of Borneo. For centuries they have been the scourge of sea
pirateswhere they could force a boat, ravaging hordes of warriors where dry land barred their vintas. In their hearts beats
the implacable hatred of the Moslem for the Christian.
Mohammedan feudalism and fanaticism balked all
attempts at Spanish conquest. The pride of Spain landed at many
ports of Mindanao
in the sixteenth centuryfreebooters whose thirst for fame and gold has given the world its most gallant combats; but even these intrepid warriors,
of a time but little later than that of Cortez and of Pizarro, were not able to withstand the frenzied attacks of the Moro. Spanish geographers
have handed down to us maps of a wilderness dotted here with a Puerto, de Isabella, there with a Campo de Ferdinand. For a brief space of time,
the glory of Spain was displayed at many points of Moroland; shortly afterward, bleached bones
and medieval names on the map were all that remained of glory.
Late in the sixteenth century, Spain made one
final attempt to subjugate the Moros of the Lanao district. But
powder and firearms and armor
were no match for the kris and kampilan and wooden shield. Bravery fell before fanaticism; science was routed by overwhelming numbers.
Among the Moros of the present day occasionally one may find an old helmet, or an old piece of mail, or an old blade
these are the relics of Spain's disastrous attempts among the Moros.
The central part of the
The 22nd Infantry
Besides garrison duty
The 22nd fought in
It also participated
For two hundred and fifty years afterward, Moro
supremacy was absolute. Spain was obliged to remit taxes, not
only from Mindanao,
but from nearby islands. There was nothing to tax in the neighboring islands: the Moros took everything. And thirsting for a wider world for conquest,
Moro craft appeared in the bay of Manila early in the nineteenth century; Moros sacked the entire western coast of Luzon; they took into slavery
many Spaniards as well as Filipinos.
All in vain did succeeding governors-general
fit out expeditions to put an end to this piracy. Lured by
inducements of spoil, wealthy Filipinos
equipped expeditions. But all were in vain. Millions of money and rivers of blood only served to increase the spirit of the indomitable marauders.
It was not until 1860 that a fleet of steam launches succeeded in confining the pirates to their own islands.
In 1895, Governor General Blanco, in person,
led an expedition against the Lanao Morosthe first that
Spain had attempted for three hundred years.
Gunboats, in sections, small arms, and great stores of war materials were carried from Iligan, on the coast, to Lake Lanao.
For three months a land force attacked cottas at various points while the gunboats shelled every stronghold that could be reached from the lake.
The campaign was successful to a limited extent; the Spaniards were enabled to hold Marahui at the north end of the lake, and to control,
but not without strong escorts, the road from Iligan to the lake. Moros claim that the Spaniards were never able to force an entrance to Taraca,
the great Moro stronghold on the eastern shore of the lake.
Moro government is a complicated feudalism. The
Sultan of Jolo is the acknowledged head; under him are a
multitude of sultans,
each strong according to his power, his riches, and the number of his wives. Under the sultans are dattos, likewise strong
as they possess wealth and women. Under the dattos are free Moros; under all, sacopes or slaves. Religious rank includes hadjis and panditas.
Civil rank is also established; but the officials of religion and of the civil functions seem to be mere tools in the hands of the sultans.
Each sultan of importance has his own priest, his own lawyer and scribe.
(Ed., Moro chieftains were called Datu's. Period spellings of that title were "dato" and "datto".)
He has a revolver in a holster
The young boy next to the Datu
Photo from the Parker Hitt photograph
The greater part of the Moro territory around
Lake Lanao is swampy. In these swamps, the Moros have built their
ten to twelve feet high, surrounded by ditches, and surmounted by close growths of bamboo. Only mountain batteries can be carried
over the marshy trails. Each cotta is plentifully supplied with lantacassmall brass cannon firing slugs. Their rifles range from flintlocks
to stolen Mausers and Krags. Native powder gives only short range to their bullets, but the nature of the country and the character of the defenses
preclude long range fighting. In addition, each Moro carries a kampilan or kris and one or more daggers; those in authority carry spears
all deadly weapons in a hand-to-hand combat. Cottas fall only when taken by assault, and in this sort of fighting the old armament of the Moro
is vastly more destructful than the modern arm of the American.
In December, 1903, when the regiment was
assigned to station at Marahui, many of the surrounding sultans
and dattos professed friendship,
but in the majority of cases the friendship was of doubtful character. The road between the seacoast and Marahui was declared sacred; along this line
no American forces, however few in number, were to be harmed. In return, Americans were to respect and protect the Moros of this vicinity.
But south of Marahui, all around the lake,
there was not a place where Americans in small bodies were free
from attack. Taracaand this included
almost the entire eastern shore of the lakewas openly hostile. To Maciu, the head man of Taraca, also the name of the tribe of Moros
inhabiting this district, had flocked all the bad characters of the lake region, all renegades from other districts, all men that had succeeded in stealing rifles.
These characters were bound together by oaths upon their Koran; they were imbued with the fanatical and piratical enthusiasm of the boldest
of their ancestorsthe issue was between Moslem and Christian.
Spain's attempts at conquest in the Lanao
district had merely strengthened the Moro's belief in his own
superiority. A circuit of the lake by Americans,
in which the rear guard had been constantly fired upon, had not decreased this belief. The pride of sovereignty, centuries old, was not to be humbled
by promises of better conditions. It could not be abased by a mere showing of arms. Spaniards had come, had gone. After hundreds of years,
when their advent had become a myth, Spaniards had come again, and again they had gone. They had been followed by Americansin time,
why should not they, too, go?
This was the condition that confronted the regiment upon its arrival at Marahui.
The 22nd Infantry camp at Marahui, island of Mindanao, the Philippines.
This photo appeared in the 1904 Regimental history
passages were written by Colonel John White, who spent 15 years
as an officer in the Philippine Constabulary. His descriptions of the people and places
of the southern Philippines during those times are still some of the best ever done.
He paints a good
picture of what the 22nd Infantry faced in Mindanao and Sulu
and indeed, he and his men sometimes worked with the 22nd on operations.
In the Christian-Filipino provinces of Luzon
and the Visayas, the American Government had at least the
wreckage of Spanish administration
out of which to construct a government; but in Mohammedan Mindanao and Sulu the Spaniards had left little or no heritage of constructive government;
they had held but a few fortified towns on the fringe of Moro populations still steeped in piracy, slavery, and superstition.
On the coast and on the lakes and rivers of
Mindanao, on every island of the Sulu Archipelago, strung like a
necklace of emeralds
from Mindanao to Borneo, were Moro sultans, rajahs, mflharajahs, datus, panglimas, or hadjis, each ruling his little band of gaudily dressed
and weapon-adorned fighting men. There were chiefs whose followers could be numbered on the fingers of one hand; there were others
who mustered thousands of retainers armed with modern rifles in addition, of course, to the sharp kris or barong thrust in the sash
of every Moro gentleman. But the leader of five men was as touchy as the lord of five hundred; as quick to defend his ancient prerogatives
of life and death over his dependents, and especially over the pagan hillmen who inhabited, side by side with the Moros, the jungles of Mindanao
and the larger islands; as ready to die to defend his right to keep slaves and exact tribute from Subanuns, Bilanes, Manobos, Bagobos, or Bukidnon.
Those are the names of a few of the dozens of pagan tribes that inhabit the Mindanao mountains.
Mindanao, an island about the size of Ireland,
was almost a land unknown. Its rugged ranges of mountains
culminating in peaks
8000 and 10,000 feet high, its inaccessible and swampy lakes, its rivers flowing through trackless jungles, its shores fringed by mangrove swamps
and coral reefs, its gloomy forests and its glorious sunlit grassy plateaus were mapped only in outline or by Spanish draftsmen with vivid imaginations.
Here and there a Jesuit priest or a captain with some flickering flame of conquistador spirit had journeyed into the interior to return with tales
of magnificently retinued Moro chiefs or tribes of man-eating savages. One thing the Spaniard had doneand there were not lacking gallant pages
in the doing of it. They had stirred up the nest of human hornets that inhabited the archipelago south of the eighth parallel of latitude.
And now we were to persuade those hornets to return to their burrows. But, despite fumigatory legislature, patience, and constructive administration,
a good many Americans were to be stung to death before the buzzing Mohammedan swarms calmed down; while even now an occasional hornet escapes
and the American public reads, over its breakfast coffee, or more often fails to notice, that "some renegade Moros in Sulu have been subdued
by the Constabulary with the following casualties ..."
About the time that Christian missionaries were
starting west, Arab priests of the other great missionary
religion of the world, the Mohammedan,
started east from Mecca, through India, through the Malay Peninsula, through Sumatra, Java, the Celebes, and Borneo, and so on to the Sulu Islands,
Mindanao, and the Philippines. Upon the Malay seafaring folk of the southern Philippines, the Mohammedan emissaries washed an even thinner veneer
than that with which the Spaniards coated the northern Filipinos. Another racial distinction must be borne in mind. The Filipino of the North,
whether Tagal, Ilocano, Visayan, or Bicol, is of more mixed blood than the Moro of the South, who is of pure Malay strain, the leading families alone
having some of the blood of the Arab missionaries with a very occasional infusion of Chinese. The Filipino, even at the time of the Spanish Conquest,
was of mixed race, Malay and Indonesian diluted with Chinese and other blood; and since the Spanish Conquest, the Filipino of the North
has further attenuated the Malay strain. But the Moro is almost pure Malay. His leading characteristics are those of the Malay: fierce personal independence,
lack of respect for life and property, combined with much dignity, pride, and courage.
Just as the American of the Western frontier in
the nineteenth century expressed the quintessence of the
Anglo-Saxon racial characteristicsindividuality,
adventurousness, and the desire to build from fresh material so the Moro was the Malay frontiersman of the Far East; in him the Malay traits blossomed
into a virile race with a leaning toward warfare and piracy as national professions. ¹
The first part of
the 22nd Infantry's service in the Philippines ( 1899-1902 ) was
spent on the island of Luzon,
where Spanish influence had reigned supreme. The enemy was reasonably conventional in its organizations
and tactics. The countryside was, for the most part, quite civilized under Spanish rule for centuries.
And, in most of the major engagements , the battlefield consisted of villages, towns and cities,
all connected by a network of railways and roads.
For the second part
of the 22nd's service in that region ( 1904-1905 ) , the areas of
for the most part, just the opposite. Facing the Regiment was wild and uncivilized country,
inhabited by a primitive and medieval people. Little or no railroads existed. Main roads were often
nothing more than small jungle trails. Engagements were fought in thick jungle, and at Moro cottas,
the earthen and bamboo forts built along the rivers, mountain tops, or carved out of the jungle.
The enemy was unconventional in its organizations and tactics, skilled in guerrilla warfare,
and unmatched in the ferocity of its attacks.
The environment was totally hostile to human life, as the following passage written by Colonel White illustrates:
Julian ran over to where a giant bamboo drooped
gracefully outward from the forest wall, and with a well-directed
slash of the talibong bolo
cut down a thirty-foot stem, while with a few more strokes he made a sharp-edged stick about two feet long. I asked him for what it was intended.
"Limatuk, po!" (Leeches, sir), he answered. We were to enter a belt of forest infested with these blood-sucking pests, so the soldiers and cargadores
also cut bamboo scrapers with which to remove them from bare limbs. Then we dived into the forest.
The hard dry trail of the cogon was ended, and
now underfoot was dank leafy mold with rattan and other vines
crisscrossing the path,
festooning trees, climbing up toward the life-giving sun that never penetrated the forest depths; and in the mold, on every twig and leaf underfoot,
alongside or hanging from above, were the wretched limatuks, which, though scarcely longer and thicker than a pin, would after a few minutes' adhesion
to human skin swell to the size of a man's little finger. Every little while I called a halt, to let the cargadores scrape limatuks from their skin,
while the soldiers and myself removed our shoes, often to find leeches that had wormed through eyelet holes or between folds of clothing.
That is, some of the soldiers removed their shoes, for others were still barefooted. Nothing kept the leech pests entirely out,
though when the Constabulary adopted woolen puttees we found them almost complete protection. I discovered, too, that salt liberally rubbed on socks
was a specific; but as mountain hiking involved wading of rivers the salt soon washed off.
If the leeches got into nose, eyes, or ear, they were really dangerous. Their bite anywhere on the body, if not rendered aseptic,
might result in a frightful tropical ulcer as big as a dollar and eating to the bone. ¹
The Soldiers of the
22nd Infantry faced an enemy who was brave, and determined to
any rule in their lands, apart from their own. Perhaps the most formidable foe encountered by the Regulars
was the Maguindanaw chieftain, Datu Ali, who fought many battles with the Americans, yet eluded capture
for two years, until a special company from the 22nd surprised and killed him in his mountain hideout.
passage written by Colonel John White illustrates the savagery
Datu Ali could visit upon
intruders to his part of Mindanao. Colonel White picks up the narrative at the time when he first
came to the Cotabato Valley with his Constabulary forces:
Datu Ali was then some distance along the trail
which ultimately led to his grave. From his point of view a good
beginning had been made
when in May, 1904, he ambushed a company of the Seventeenth Infantry and killed two officers and seventeen men. It was a bloody little affair,
typifying the difficulty of campaigning against hostile Moros in that part of Mindanao. The small company of about forty soldiers
had hiked through the almost trackless swamps at the mercy of a faithless Moro guide, the officers ignorant of the terrain and language,
yet gallantly leading their men into the heart of a hitherto unexplored country. Mile after mile the trail led through the high tigbao grass,
impassably interlaced on either side and often overhead, while underfoot was the vicious black mud of a churned-up trail with occasional holes
where the men sank to their waists. Then there was a sudden spurt of rifle fire from ahead, from either side, from an invisible enemy
secure behind the maddening wall of matted, canelike grass. The men in advance fell dead and dying in the stinking mud.
The officers pressed forward, and, in like manner, were mown down without seeing the foe. The remnant of the expedition
withdrew in disorder while the victorious Moros with vicious kris and barong completed their work by beheading
and disemboweling the dead and dying Americans. ¹
¹ BULLETS and BOLOS Fifteen Years In The Philippine Islands
by John White
The Century Company, New York & London 1928
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