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26 June, 2013
Secretary Root's Record:"Marked Severities" in Philippine Warfare
Root Answered by the Facts


Against the statement of this high official let us put the testimony of a well-known man. Stephen Bonsal, in the Boston Transcript, said:

During my stay in Samar the only prisoners that were made, so far as I know, were taken by Waller's command; and I heard this act criticised by the highest officers as a mistake which they believed he would not repeat when better acquainted with conditions in Samar.... If on their march Waller and his men shot any natives they met, their action would be fully covered by the general orders of General Smith. The truth is the struggle in Samar is one of extermination.


How do these words compare with Mr. Root's assertion that "no non-combatants or prisoners were put to death"? Has Mr. Bonsal ever been asked to testify before any tribunal or committee?

How does the Secretary's assertion that General Smith's orders were not taken seriously compare with the official report of Major Waller, dated Nov. 23, 1901, from which this passage is quoted? --

On the march to Liruan the second column, fifty men, under Captain Bearss, in accordance with my orders, destroyed all villages and houses, burning in all one hundred and sixty-five.


The report describes operations lasting eight days in which the men are said to "have overcome incredible difficulties," but, while the loss of the enemy is stated, there is no indication that any American was killed or wounded.

The report says further:

I wish to work southward a little, destroying all houses and crops, and, if possible, get the rifles from Balangiga. This plan has been explained to the general, meeting his approval.


This with General Smith's indorsement that Major Waller "carries out my wishes loyally and gallantly," and his recommendation that he receive another brevet, was forwarded to the War Department with General Chaffee's approval on December 9, 1901.

Was not Major Waller making Samar "a howling wilderness"?

From the orders to take no prisoners at Caloocan, over the graves of one in every six of the people of Luzon, we have a progress, never checked by any word from Washington, to the orders of General Smith in Samar.

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