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Secretary Root's Record:"Marked Severities" in Philippine Warfare
The Waller Court-Martial

Major Waller was tried for murder. He admitted that he had ordered eleven Filipinos, not hostile nor in arms against the United States, but acting as "cargadores," or carriers, for his expedition, -- active allies, in fact, -- to be shot without trial, because they were suspected of not having got food for our men when they could.

At his trial, Waller pleaded that he had acted under General Smith's orders, and, testifying in his own defence, justified his acts by referring to what had been done by the troops in China, Americans as well as others, saying: "I shot them. I honestly thought then that I was right, and I believe so now." He did not plead sickness, mental excitement nor any like excuse, but openly justified his acts.

The judge advocate, in addressing the court, said, as reported in the despatches, that

according to the evidence the natives acted in many instances in a highly commendable manner, and maintained that their faithfulness, and not their treachery, had been disclosed before the court.

As reported in the press despatches he said the prisoners

were lined up for the raffle of death at the sole will and pleasure of Private Davis, a marine who was judge and prosecutor, and professed many arms.

Upon the issue thus presented the court-martial found him not guilty, thus deciding that such killing of allies was not only no murder, but no crime.

General Chaffee, in dealing with the finding, said: "The sending of the natives in question to their death partook more of unlawful retaliation than a justifiable act of war."... He points out that Waller, when he gave the order, "was sick, prostrate from fever, suffering acute pain of body ... and mental anguish concerning the fate of his men," and then says:

Giving heed to the mental attitude of Major Waller, as much of the findings of the court as are to the effect that Major Waller is not guilty of murder is approved. But the reviewing authority is at a loss to understand why the court did not find against Major Waller in the minor offence.

It will be observed that Major Waller's acquittal of murder is approved on account of his physical condition and mental anxiety, -- a defence which he does not seem to have made, and a defence which could not be set up for General Smith, whose orders he claimed to have obeyed.

Lieutenant Day, who executed Major Waller's orders, was also tried and acquitted; and the finding was disapproved on the ground that, owing to Major Waller's condition, he should have disobeyed orders.

These findings throw a flood of light on the attitude of the army, when acts like these are found deserving not even of censure by a court-martial sitting in cold blood months after the event.


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