May 6, 2020

“At the Capture of Rosario:” an Account of the US Army’s 1900 Incursion into Batangas

The US Army stationed in front of the Cathedral of San Sebastian.  Image souce:  Hoosiermarine on Flickr.
The US Army stationed in front of the Cathedral of San Sebastian.  Image souce:  Hoosiermarine on Flickr.
This article contains a transcription of an article that appeared in a 12 January 1900 issue of “The American1,” an English-language newspaper published in Manila at the turn of the 20th century, apparently for the benefit of United States military personnel as well as representatives of the fledgling American colonial government in the Philippines.

The article, which chronicled the incursions into Batangas by the 38th and 39th Infantry Regiments under the commands of Colonels Geo Anderson and Robert Bullard, respectively, was understandably written with not just a bit of American hubris. For readers who wish to gain a more scholarly perspective on the same event documented by the article, you may click on these links:

• “The Capture and Looting of Lipa by US Troops in 1900 during the Fil-American War

• “The “Rescue” of Spanish Prisoners in Rosario, Batangas by American Soldiers in 1900

Below is the article, with annotations from Batangas History where necessary:

At the Capture of Rosario


* * * * *

Colonel Bullard’s Daring Adventure


* * * * *

The 38th and 39th Doing Gallant Work

Lipa, the large handsome town in the southern district of Luzon, was captured on January 13th by the commands of Colonel Bullard, 39th Infantry, and Colonel Anderson, 38th. The move was from Santo Thomas [Santo Tomas] directly southward and was so unexpected by the rebels that they abandoned the town after but a small skirmish and fled to Rosario. They forsook 300 Spanish prisoners which fell into our hands but got away to Rosario with eight American prisoners. [There were, in fact, no American prisoners.]

Although it was late in the afternoon when Lipa fell, that doughty warrior, Colonel Bullard, conceived the idea of dashing on to Rosario after the rebel horde. An hour or two later, there took place one of the most picturesque and brave captures to be recorded in the annals of military doings in Luzon. Colonel Bullard, riding at the head of a band of nine officers and men, led a whooping, yelling and shooting charge on the village of Rosario [even in 1900, Rosario was already a town or municipality, not a village] that would have done credit to a pack of wild western cowboys on one of their expeditions called: “shooting the town.”



Brandishing their revolvers and with steeds spurred up to a nervous pitch, the little band of Americans appeared on the outskirts of Rosario, and then with a dash and a clatter, a banging of guns and shrill din of yells, they canvassed the town for insurgents. This pandemonium had the desired effect. Although the place was full of rebels, they supposed the whole eighth army corps was after them. Every Filipino became his own general and tore madly out of the town, the members of the attacking party at their heels. An insurgent colonel, almost pale with fright, got fairly tangled among the legs of Colonel Bullard’s horse. The colonel tried to down him with a Krag rifle he carried, but in the excitement of the moment, the fellow got away.

The fugitives were chased several miles away from town and then the mounted party returned to search the place and to find inside a church boxes containing 20,000 Mexican pesos, funds of the insurgent army. This money had been all ready for transportation but had to be left behind by the Filipinos in the rush of events. It was loaded aboard two carromatas [a horse-drawn vehicle] which the insurgents had evidently intended for it and hauled to Lipa.

In the advance on Lipa, the 38th regiment had a man killed and the 39th one badly wounded.

The Spaniards who were liberated were overjoyed at beholding their saviors. From them, it was learned that the Filipinos had laid out their retreat to Rosario instead of Batangas as was supposed, and they said they had with them eight American enlisted men as prisoners, and their headquarters effects.

In the short consultation between Colonel Bulalrd and Colonel Anderson, it devolved that the latter considered it unwise to push farther on that day, owing to the weariness of the men.

Colonel Bullard pictured to himself the escaping enemy, the American prisoners, and the rumored treasure. Calling for his horse, bugler and orderly, he announced:

“I am going to Rosario.” Colonel Anderson mounted his horse and agreed to accompany him. In a few minutes, the party, consisting of nine mounted men, including some officers of the 38th and a Spaniard, impressed as guide, was pushing out along the Rosario road. A proof of the fact that the bold coup was unexpected was forthcoming when, like a thunderbolt, the fearless riders precipitated themselves into the town. Dividing into twos and threes, the riders scattered through the place, chasing every rebel in sight.

Six-shooters were emptied of their loads so fast that it sounded like the fire of an infantry column. The cowardly Filipinos waited not to count the numbers of the invaders. Panic stricken, they [blurred line, page fold] look. After thus emptying a town of several hundred rebels, the band of nine proceeded to gather up spoils of war in the shape of money and several carabaos and carts and return to Lipa. A battalion was left to hold Lipa on the 14th. General Schwan2, proceeding from Silang, through Santo Thomas [Santo Tomas], reached Lipa yesterday and established headquarters there. Colonel Bullard with the 39th has taken station at Santo Thomas [Santo Tomas].

A peculiar feature of the present campaign is the fact that Colonel Bullard has attacked and taken many of the positions of strength in this lake region, just in advance of General Schwan, with his big flying column. Bullard took Binang [probably Biñan] and few days before the arrival there of General Schwan, and also Santo Thomas [Santo Tomas]. On January 12, becoming impatient by much inactivity, he endeavored to reach General Schwan [who] could not be reached, so on the day following, Colonel Bullard and Colonel Anderson started southward without orders.

In spite of the fact that much of the anticipated hard fighting for the Schwan column at Lipa and vicinity has been taken care of by the 38th and 39th regiments, General Schwan will push on Southward. The insurgents probably returned to Rosario after the raiders left and will have to be driven out again.

The road from Calamba is now open to Lipa and the scattered and disrupted rebel forces are being brushed towards the end of the island.

* * * * *

On January 18th, Lieutenant Welch, with a detachment of Company M of the 39th Infantry, cautiously approached an insurgent outpost about three miles from Santo Thomas [Santo Tomas], and cleverly surrounded the rebels before they knew that there was an American anywhere near. The insurrectos were so surprised that they surrendered without firing a shot.

On the same day, Captain Long with Company L of the 39th. Infantry went to the relief of the pack train of the 39th infantry, about eight miles from Santo Thomas [Santo Tomas].

The 50 men from the 29th Infantry who were guarding the wagon train were worn out with their hard day’s work. In the fight in which the escort had so bravely stood off the insurgents, two men of the 300th infantry were killed and five wounded. The opportune arrival of Captain Long made it possible to recover the American dead and wounded.

The country was full of insurrectos who had been somewhat encouraged by the capture of a pack train of 20 ponies from the 30th infantry. Carrying the disabled and slain on litters made of bamboo, and assisting along the exhausted pack train, Captain Long and his men got into Santo Thomas [Santo Tomas] about 10 p.m. greatly fatigued but conscious of having done a very good day’s work.

On January 20th, Lieutenant Smith and Lieutenant Shelton, who were out with scouting parties from the 39th infantry South of Tunuwan [Tanauan] to the East and West of the road to Lipa, struck the enemy on both sides of the road. In the fighting that ensued, one insurgent was killed, quite a number were captured and the rest scattered in every direction. General Bates is much pleased with the work of the 39th infantry and has congratulated the regiment for the good work it has done of late.

[Original scans below.]



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Notes and references:
1 “The American,” Volume III No. 401, published 1900 in Manila, online at the National Library of the Philippines Digital Collections.
2 General “
Theodore Schwan” was the Commander of one US Army brigade then venturing into Cavite, Laguna and Batangas. Wikipedia.

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