Continuing with the campaign of the United States Volunteers 28th Infantry Regiment in Batangas in the year 1900, we now shift our attention to Company D under the command of Captain Peter Vredenburgh of Jersey City, New Jersey. The other officers in the company were 1st Lieutenant Alpha T. Easton of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania; and 2nd Lieutenant Louis E. Schucher of Rochester Mills, Indiana1.
Readers are advised the primary source document for this article was written from the American point of view. Hence, Filipinos were referred to as “insurgents” or “insurrectos.”
Along with the rest of the regiment, the company arrived in Manila from the United States West Coast on 24 November 1899 and was initially deployed in Cavite. After participating in campaigns against “insurgent” Filipino forces in Cavite, on 17 January 1900, Company D left the town of Dasmariñas with the regiment’s First Battalion for a 4-day hike south.
This 70-mile trek took the company through Silang, Indang and Alfonso in Cavite, on through Nasugbu, Tuy and Balayan in Batangas until it reached the town of Taal on 21 January. There, Company D would be stationed along with Companies A and B until 30 November 1900.
|US soldiers in Batangas in formation. Image source: Sandra Plummer Collection at the Fort Worth Library's Digital Archive.|
While in Taal, Company D was involved primarily with the scouting and mapping of the countryside, while “having a number of skirmishes and destroying large quantities of the insurgent stores and taking over 1,000 prisoners.”
On 9 February, while on patrol of Taal Lake, members of the company discovered a sunken Spanish gunboat at the mouth of Pansipit River. This would likely have been somewhere in present-day San Nicolas, which at the time was still part of the town of Taal.
A fortnight later on 24 February, soldiers of company C joined others from Companies A and D in an encounter with “heavily entrenched” Filipino freedom fighters three miles north of Lemery near the Sinisian River. It took the Americans two hours to drive away the “insurgents” from their trenches. As they withdrew, the Filipinos left behind “a number of killed or wounded.”
On the first of March, Captain Vredenburgh and one Lieutenant Russel2 took 50 men with them to set up a garrison in Calaca. Company D’s records were abjectly short of details, but from those of Company C we are able to ascertain that the mission in Calaca was primarily to map the town and its barrios as well as determine the inhabitants of each house.
While on scouting patrol on 20 June, soldiers of Company D captured 5 “insurgents,” including a lieutenant and a sergeant.
The following month on 6 July, Company D was called into action along with other companies when Filipino freedom fighters attacked the town of Taal. The firefight resulted in “considerable loss to the insurgents, 74 being killed and about 50 wounded, our loss being 6 wounded.”
Four days later on 10 July, while on patrol near the mouth of the Pansipit River, Company D had a skirmish with “insurgent” soldiers, killing five of them. In the next two days, the company marched 45 miles through San Nicolas and Talisay and into sitios named Dita, Baypapayane and Bayananyan3.
They saw action again on 17 July in Barrio Talang, which at the time was still part of Taal but is in the present-day with the town of San Nicolas. This encounter, which lasted three hours, was led by Regimental Commander Col. William E. Birkhimer and also involved soldiers from Companies A and B. The Filipinos lost an estimated 35 killed, with another 50 wounded.
On 31 July, Captain Vredenburgh with 50 men returned to the Calaca garrison for the resumption of mapping duties. They would remain there until summoned back to Taal on 15 November.
On 30 November, Company D boarded the ship USAT Sumner at the port in Taal for redeployment to Mindanao.
Notes and references:1 Along with most other details of the company’s movements in Batangas, taken from “History of the 28th Regiment Infantry, United States Volunteers, from Organization to Muster-Out, with Roster and Records of Events by Companies,” compiled by W. B. Conner, published in San Francisco in 1901, online at Hathitrust.
2 No Lieutenant Russel is included in the members of the USV’s 28th Infantry Regiment First and Second Battalions, which were deployed in Batangas in 1900. However, this could be no more than a case of a clerical error.
3 The names Baypapayane and Bayananyan sound a lot like Americans trying to Anglicize foreign-sounding names in their report. There are no present-day barrios or sitios in Taal, Talisay, Agoncillo and even Laurel sounding like these.