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Secretary Root's Record:"Marked Severities" in Philippine Warfare
An Explanation by Private Soldiers


What is the real explanation?

It is found in the statements from the men engaged in the contest, officers and soldiers alike, published in the newspapers of this country; and these statements explain what General MacArthur does not. They are not anonymous.

Thus A. A. Barnes, of Battery G, Third United States Artillery, writes to his brother, March 20, 1899:

The town of Titatia was surrendered to us a few days ago, and two companies occupy the same. Last night one of our boys was found shot, and his stomach cut open. Immediately orders were received from General Wheaton to burn the town and kill every native in sight, which was done to a finish. About one thousand men, women, and children were reported killed. I am probably growing hard-hearted, for I am in my glory when I can sight my gun on some dark skin and pull the trigger.


F. L. Poindexter, of the Second Oregon Regiment, under the same date, describes an attack on a body of natives, and says that on March 18

reports, which afterwards proved to be somewhat exaggerated, came in that two companies of the Twenty-second Infantry had been literally cut to pieces, having fallen into an ambush. After a hasty consultation it was decided to proceed at once to kill or drive into the lake every native possible to be found in the half-moon district lying between the mouth of the Mateo River and the further end of the lake, a distance of twelve miles.


In the first case a single man is found dead; but how killed, whether wantonly or in self-defence, or by whom, no one knows. In revenge a town is burned, and hundreds of men, women, and children are slaughtered.

In the second case, upon a rumor of a military reverse that turns out to be exaggerated, orders are given to kill the whole population of a district twelve miles long.

General Order No. 100, Section I, Chapter 28, provides:

Retaliation will therefore never be resorted to as a measure of mere revenge, but only as a means of protective retribution, and, moreover, cautiously and unavoidably; that is to say, retaliation shall only be resorted to after careful inquiry into the real occurrence, and the character of the misdeeds that may demand retribution. Unjust and inconsiderate retaliation removes the belligerents farther and farther from the mitigating rules of regular war.


Imagine the whole population of a Virginia district put to the sword because Mosby had surprised a detachment, or Winchester burned because a soldier was found dead in the street.

Take the statement made by a correspondent of the New York Evening Post, of whom that paper said, --

The writer has been in a responsible position in Manila ever since the occupation of the island by American troops, [and] his statements can be relied upon to be absolutely accurate and unbiased.


He writes as follows:

In some sections our people have adopted the policy of giving no quarter, and we are getting reports of insurgent bands of from ten to fifty being surrounded and every man killed. Young had one killing of 318 lately, and J. M. Bell a killing of 156, while there have been several ranging from 50 to 100.


Was this charge not true?

The Boston Advertiser is a Republican newspaper, and in its columns appeared this statement:

The time has come, in the opinion of those in charge of the War Department, to pursue a policy of absolute and relentless subjugation in the Philippine Islands. If the natives refuse to submit to the process of government as mapped out by the Taft Commission, they will be hunted down and will be killed until there is no longer any show of forcible resistance to the American government. The process will not be pleasant, but it is considered necessary.


Who has been the person in charge of the War Department ever since the Taft Commission was appointed, and has not this statement been proved to be true by what has happened since?

On May 3, 1901, General James M. Bell, in an interview printed in the New York Times, said:

One-sixth of the natives of Luzon have either been killed or died of the dengue fever in the last two years;


and, as Senator Hoar said,

I suppose that this dengue fever and the sickness which depopulated Batangas is the direct result of the war, and comes from the condition of starvation and bad food which the war has caused.


General Bell is a witness whom the War Department cannot discredit. "One-sixth of the population of Luzon" -- one in every six of men, women, and children -- had either been killed or died in two years. This means 616,000 people. The population of Luzon is estimated by the War Department to be 3,727,488 persons. How many were killed, and how? General Bell gave a suggestive answer when he said as a part of the same statement:

The loss of life by killing alone has been very great, but I think not one man has been slain except where his death served the legitimate purpose of war. It has been thought necessary to adopt what in other countries would probably be thought harsh measures.


A Republican Congressman, who visited the Philippines during the summer of 1901, confirms this answer in an interview published in the Boston Transcript, and in other newspapers, on March 4, 1902:

You never hear of any disturbances in Northern Luzon; and the secret of its pacification is, in my opinion, the secret of the pacification of the archipelago. They never rebel in Northern Luzon because there isn't anybody there to rebel. The country was marched over and cleaned out in a most resolute manner. The good Lord in heaven only knows the number of Filipinos that were put under ground. Our soldiers took no prisoners, they kept no records; they simply swept the country, and, wherever or whenever they could get hold of a Filipino, they killed him. The women and children were spared, and may now be noticed in disproportionate numbers in that part of the island.


Thus did we here protect "the patient ... millions."

It is an officer of historic name, then serving in the Philippines, whose wife, at his request, wrote to the Philadelphia Ledger a letter, which was published on November 11, 1901, and in which the writer said:

The present war is no bloodless, fake, opera bouffe engagement. Our men have been relentless, have killed to exterminate men, women, and children, prisoners and captives, active insurgents and suspected people, from lads of ten up, an idea prevailing that the Filipino was little better than a dog, a noisome reptile in some instances, whose best disposition was the rubbish heap. Our soldiers have pumped salt water into men "to make them talk," have taken prisoners of people who had held up their hands and peacefully surrendered, and, an hour later, without an atom of evidence to show that they were even insurrectos, stood them up on a bridge, and shot them down one by one to drop into the water below and float down as examples to those who found their bullet-loaded corpses.


This statement, among others, was brought to the attention of Secretary Root when a petition, signed by ex-Senator Edmunds, S. L. Clemens, some thirty-six professors of the University of Chicago, and many other men of equal character and standing, was presented in the Senate of the United States on February 4, 1902, quoting this statement among others and asked for an investigation.

Did Mr. Root then take or has he since taken any steps to investigate these charges?

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