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26 June, 2013
Secretary Root's Record:"Marked Severities" in Philippine Warfare|
The Weir Charges
|On the 10th of April, 1901, Andrew K. Weir, a private in the Fourth Cavalry, wrote a letter to his
uncle, charging Lieutenant Frederick T. Arnold and Sergeant Edwards, of his regiment, with
outrageous cruelty to a Filipino prisoner, a man twenty-one years old, who was stripped naked,
given the water torture in the most revolting way, whipped and beaten unmercifully while he was
down, kicked, strung up by the thumbs, and then his ankles tied and his feet jerked from under
him. Weir was an eye-witness of this cruelty, and complained to Arnold, who told him:
When I give a man to Sergeant Edwards, I want information. I do not know how he gets it; but
he gets it anyway.
He also told him that the Filipinos had
no feelings other than physical, and should not be treated as human beings.
The man so tortured was afterward discharged by Arnold.
Weir charged Arnold also with cutting a strip from a man's ankle, attaching it to a piece of wood,
and then coiling the flesh with the wood; with having an old man held under water until he was
unconscious; with tying several times a man to a saddled horse with a few feet of slack, and then
making the rider gallop, dragging the victim if he could not keep up. For all these charges he
said he had the witnesses.
This letter was brought to the notice of the War Department, and was referred for investigation
to the inspector-general of Northern Luzon.
On August 27, 1901, this officer, Captain P. W. West of the Fifth Infantry, reported a mass of
testimony proving that Weir's charges were true, and concluded,
I believe that a thorough investigation into this matter will substantiate the charges made by
Private Weir, that prisoners were treated in a cruel and harsh manner, and that Lieutenant Arnold
winked at this treatment.
This record was not sent to the senate by Secretary Root, with the thirteen reports which
accompanied his letter of February 17, nor was any action taken on the inspector-general's
On May 22, 1902, Senator Culberson introduced a resolution asking for these papers; but
consideration was objected to by Senator Lodge, who wished to find whether a court-martial had
been ordered. In a few days he said this had been done, but he could not tell when. On May 27
Secretary Root sent a letter stating that a court-martial had been ordered for Edwards, but not for
Arnold, and neither he nor any one else has said when this was done.
The inference is clear that no court-martial was ordered before Mr. Culberson's motion. In spite
of charges so grave as these, and in spite of the inspector-general's recommendation, Arnold and
Edwards were left to ply their hellish trade, and this with full knowledge of the facts by the War
Department. Even when these facts were disclosed, there was no indignation against the officers
who had disgraced the army, but a tempest of wrath at the man who was supposed to have
disclosed the facts.