Secretary Root's Record:"Marked Severities" in Philippine Warfare Mr. Root's Statements as to the Humanity of Our Army Examined
With these statistics as a foundation, let us examine, Secretary Root's statement:
The war on the part of the Filipinos has been conducted with the barbarous cruelty common
among uncivilized races,
by the American Army with scrupulous regard for the rules of
civilized warfare, with careful and genuine consideration for the prisoner and the non-combatant,
with self-restraint, and with humanity never surpassed, if ever equalled, in any conflict.
It may be said, in passing, that the very fact that he has made this statement, and thus taken a
strong position on one side of a question, in fact, unfits him to superintend an investigation
which may tend to contradict him.
It is proposed to go further, and show what facts were known to him when he made these
statements, and, since he has spoken of investigations made, to show what charges he failed to
investigate. The department promptly took up some charges of privates still in the service or
other uninfluential persons. How did it deal with charges made by men of another sort?
In the first place, when Secretary Root took office, he was confronted with the statement already
quoted of Mr. Collins, a perfectly responsible man, confirmed by the testimony attributed to
Davis and Bass, two other responsible correspondents, which has already been quoted. These
men stood ready to prove the bayoneting of the wounded by our soldiers, the mutilation of
Filipino dead, and
a perfect orgy of looting and wanton destruction of property, and most outrageous blackmailing
of the natives and Chinamen in Manila.
These were occurrences during the first year, and certainly such statements demanded
What did Secretary Root do?
On the other hand, he had then or soon received General Otis's report for the year ending July
30, 1899, which may be searched from beginning to end without finding any charge that the
Filipinos had been guilty of cruelty to our men, far less that they had conducted the war "with
the barbarous cruelty common among uncivilized races, and with general disregard of the rules
of civilized warfare." How stood the balance of civilization on this evidence at the end of the
Some charges from responsible quarters, never investigated, have already been quoted. Here are
Let us examine first the records of the War Department, so far as they have been published. Here
we find a report of General MacArthur, dated March 16, 1901, submitting a record "as
indicating the difficulty in disciplining native troops." In this he says:
The employment of a large number of natives has been absolutely necessary, in order to relieve
the volunteers and return them to the United States in time. The Macabebes, so far as loyalty to
the United States is concerned, are absolutely reliable. I therefore authorized the employment of
fifteen hundred as an emergency measure of temporary nature to tide over the transitory period,
well knowing at the time that we were taking considerable risk as to their getting out of hand and
The danger of the employment was therefore foreseen and to be carefully guarded against.
The record submitted shows what followed. An anonymous letter signed "An Outraged Citizen"
was addressed to General MacArthur under date of February 26, 1901, beginning:
It is simply horrible what the Macabebe soldiers are doing in some of the towns.... The
Macabebes are committing the most horrible outrages in the towns and the officers say nothing,
but, on the contrary, punish and threaten any persons who make complaint....
Some twelve days ago some Macabebes went into a house, and four soldiers raped a married
woman, one after another, in the presence of her husband, and threatened to kill him if he dared
to say anything.
The war will never come to an end this way, nor will the country be pacified. The people are
compelled to take to the woods.
Major Frank B. McKenna, the inspector-general of the department, was ordered to investigate,
and at once went to San Mateo and Montalban, two towns three miles apart. Montalban was the
station of the Philippine cavalry whose conduct was complained of; but most of the inhabitants
were at San Mateo, having deserted Montalban.
Major McKenna's report is too long to print, but it may be found on p. 1753 of the testimony
before the Senate Committee. In substance he recounts numerous cases of most aggravated rape
with details sickening in character, many cases of beating and robbery, and one or two of
murder. Major McKenna himself saw the marks of violence on the persons of the injured
witnesses; and he says,
At least two hundred people desired to make complaints; and I examined over fifty, until I found
that the evidence was merely cumulative.
He notes that Captain Cameron, the commanding officer, believes that the greater part of the
fabricated by reason of their intense hatred for his soldiers, and because on the night of February
25 a number of the friends and relatives of the principal people were among the alleged
insurgent recruits discovered.
He continues: "There may be something in this, but I hardly think it would cause over three
hundred families to leave town, as the presidente of San Mateo declared to me was the case."
In passing, we may note that General Wheaton concurred with Major McKenna; for he said in an
indorsement on the complaint:
I do not agree with the district commander (Colonel J. M. Thompson) in the opinion that these
crimes are the result of the bitter feeling between Macabebes and Tagalos. All native troops,
when they can escape the immediate control of their officers, are liable to commit murders; and
many will rob and ravish whenever they will have the opportunity.... The necessity of affairs
here obliges us to employ native troops, and these Malay savages will always be liable to
commit crimes alike disgraceful to our service and an outrage upon humanity.
Returning to Major McKenna's report, his conclusion is thus stated:
In conclusion, I find, if the almost unanimous testimony of the natives is to be considered, that
the Macabebe garrison at Montalban has committed numerous outrages against them; that these
acts of violence commenced almost with the arrival of the Macabebes, and occurred at intervals
until the night of February 25, when, on that night, they must have indulged themselves in a
saturnalia almost of rapine and violence, under the guise of looking for insurgents; that the
responsibility for the acts on the night of February 25 belongs to First Lieutenant Dennis P.
Quinlan; that the subsequent responsibility for not making searching investigation and bringing
to punishment the guilty is due to Captain Cameron, Philippine cavalry.
Before Major McKenna had begun his investigation, notice had been given to Captain Cameron
from the district commander, who, under date of February 28, says:
At twelve noon today the district commander was called upon by a delegation of natives with
complaint of ill-usage at the hands of your men at Montalban. As some of these natives are
personally known to the district commander, he has reason to believe that their complaint is well
Captain Cameron is directed to investigate and report the facts, and the writer adds,
Your men should be made to know that a garrisoned town under protection of United States
troops, cannot be treated as one in open insurrection.
From which it appears that the people of Montalban and San Mateo did not belong to the
"bandits " or "guerillas."
Captain Henderson, in command at San Mateo, adds his confirmation, saying,
he has known the people about here for some time, and believes their statements in this respect.
But it throws a flood of light on the value of the testimony relied on in contradiction of private
soldiers, when it comes from commanding officers who are or may be held responsible, that
Captain Cameron and Lieutenant Quinlan, the officers of the Macabebes, Second Lieutenant
Lloyd, Sergeant Malone, and Corporal Brown, of the artillery stationed at that place, each
severally say that they knew nothing of these crimes. Lieutenant Quinlan was on the street on
February 25, and saw no case of ill-treatment. Lieutenant Lloyd, "stationed there for about a
the Macabebe soldiers had conducted themselves becomingly towards the people of the town
and said that he was present during the raid on the night of February 25, but saw no acts of
violence. The statements of these officers were evidently not believed by General MacArthur,
General Wheaton, or Major McKenna, and were obviously untrue.
These hideous acts of barbarity were committed under our flag by men wearing the uniform of
the United States, and commanded by American officers.
It would appear that after the investigation some of the Macabebes were punished, but how many
does not appear. These facts, however, seem to be clear:
1. That the Macabebes were employed with full knowledge of what they were likely to do.
2. That the officers in command were blind and deaf to their crimes, and that no movement to
control or punish them came from these officers.
3. That, so far as the record shows, neither Cameron nor Quinlan was tried or punished in any
way, though held responsible by Major McKenna.
Where was the Secretary's zeal to punish the guilty when this record reached the department?
Did he disclose these facts to President Roosevelt before the latter in his annual message singled
out the Macabebes for especial praise?
How does his claim as to the "careful and genuine consideration for the ... non-combatant" read
in the light of this record?
Why were not Cameron and Quinlan court-martialled?