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26 June, 2013
Secretary Root's Record:"Marked Severities" in Philippine Warfare
The Smith Court-Martial


The disclosures of these trials forced the trial of General Smith; but he was tried not for murder, nor for any violation of the laws of war, but for "conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline." He admitted that he gave the orders, and justified them. He did not excuse them on the ground that his words were reckless talk, not understood as an order and not intended to be obeyed. On the contrary, months after the act, when on trial for an offence which shocked the moral sense of mankind, his counsel deliberately admitted that General Smith "wanted everybody killed capable of bearing arms." It was not a reckless phrase used in excited conversation, but the expression of a deliberate wish that was then admitted.

No inquiry, so far as appears, was made as to whether this order was given to others or what action was taken under it, though the article from the Manila News already quoted shows that it was a general order, and was obeyed. The solitary question tried was whether he gave the order to Major Waller, and that was admitted.

Upon this record a court composed of representative officers of high rank found him guilty, but sentenced him "to be admonished" by the reviewing authority. This sentence is described in the Boston Transcript, a strong supporter of the administration, as

the very lightest penalty that could be awarded for such an offence against humanity and the laws of war,



and adds that, had the President done no more,

the proceedings of the court-martial would have been about as effective as firing a blank cartridge against an armed enemy.


Yet the representatives of the army upon the court-martial were satisfied with this blank cartridge.

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