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Secretary Root's Record:"Marked Severities" in Philippine Warfare
Appendix A: General Bell's Orders


[Circular No. 6.]

Headquarters Sixth Separate Brigade,
Tacloban, Leyte, P.I, December 24,1901.

To all Station Commanders:

The brigade commander has become thoroughly convinced from the great mass of evidence at hand that the insurrection for some time past and still in force in the island of Samar has been supported solely by the people who live in the pueblos ostensibly pursuing their peaceful pursuits and enjoying American protection, and that this is especially true in regard to the "pudientes," or wealthy class.

He is and for some time past has been satisfied that the people themselves, and especially this wealthy and influential class, can stop this insurrection at anytime they make up their minds to do so; that up to the present time they do not want peace; that they are working in every way and to the utmost of their ability to prevent peace. He is satisfied that this class, while openly talking peace, is doing so simply to gain the confidence of our officers and soldiers, only to betray them to the insurrectos, or, in short, that while ostensibly aiding the Americans they are in reality secretly doing everything in their power to support and maintain this insurrection.

Under such conditions there can be but one course to pursue, which is to adopt the policy that will create in the minds of all the people a burning desire for the war to cease; a desire or longing so intense, so personal, especially to every individual of the class mentioned, and so real that it will impel them to devote themselves in earnest to bringing about a state of real peace, that will impel them to join hands with the Americans in the accomplishment of this end.

The policy to be pursued in this brigade, from this time on, will be to wage war in the sharpest and most decisive manner possible. This policy will apply to the island of Samar and such other portions of the brigade to which it may become necessary to apply it, even though such territory is supposedly peaceful or is under civil government.

In waging this warfare, officers of this brigade are directed and expected to co-operate to their utmost, so as to terminate this war as soon as practicable, since short, severe wars are the most humane in the end. No civilized war, however civilized, can be carried on on a humanitarian basis. In waging this war, officers will be guided by the provisions of General Orders No. 100, Adjutant-general's Office, 1863, which order promulgates the instructions for the government of the armies of the United States in the field. (Copies of this order will be furnished to the troops of this brigade as soon as practicable. In the mean time commanding officers will personally see to it that the younger and less experienced officers of the command are instructed in the provisions of this order, wherever it is possible to do so.)

Commanding officers are earnestly requested and expected to exercise, without reference to these headquarters, their own discretion in the adoption of any and all measures of warfare coming within the provisions of this general order which will tend to accomplish the desired results in the most direct way or in the shortest possible space of time. They will also encourage the younger officers of their commands to constantly look for, engage, harass, and annoy the enemy in the field, and to this end commanding officers will repose a large amount of confidence in these subordinate officers, and will permit to them a large latitude of action and a discretion similar to that herein conferred upon the commanding officers of stations by these headquarters.

Without warranting in any way carelessness of action or recklessness in the slightest degree, or the relaxation of that constant vigilance which the officer should at all times exercise in the enemy's country, and especially in these islands, officers should be encouraged to bear in mind always that we have the decided morale over the natives of the islands, and that they must not hesitate to attack them boldly on all occasions and to drive home such attacks with vigor; they should bear in mind that mere numbers of insurgents should not warrant any other course, unless and until his command is so outnumbered as to render the loss of a major portion thereof a certainty, which contingency is not likely to arise within this brigade.

In dealing with the natives of all classes, officers will be guided by the following principles:

First. Every native, whether in arms or living in the pueblos or barrios, will be regarded and treated as an enemy until he has conclusively shown that he is a friend. This he cannot do by mere words or promises, nor by imparting information which, while true, is old or stale and of no value; nor can it be done by aiding us in ways that do no material harm to the insurgents. In short, the only manner in which the native can demonstrate his loyalty is by some positive act or acts that actually and positively commit him to us, thereby severing his relations with the insurrectos and producing or tending to produce distinctively unfriendly relations with the insurgents.

Not only the ordinary natives, but especially those of influence and position in the pueblos who manifestly and openly cultivate friendly relations with the Americans will be regarded with particular suspicion, since by the announced policy of the insurgent government their ablest and most stanch friends or those who are capable of mist skilfully practising duplicity are selected and directed to cultivate the friendship of American officers, so as to obtain their confidence and to secretly communicate to the insurgents everything that the Americans do or contemplate doing, particularly with regard to the movement of troops. In a word, friendship for the Americans on the part of any native will be measured directly and solely by his acts, and neither sentiment nor social reasons of any kind will be permitted to enter into the determination of such friendship.

Second. It will be regarded as a certainty that all officials of the pueblos and barrios are likewise officials of Lukban and his officers, or at least that they are in actual touch and sympathy with the insurgent leaders, and that they are in secret aiding these leaders with information, supplies, etc., wherever possible. Officers will not be misled by the fact that officials of the pueblos pass ordinances inimical to those in insurrection, or by any action taken by them, either collectively or individually. The public acts of pueblo councils that are favorable to the Americans are usually negative by secret communication on the part of the parties enacting them to those in insurrection. Therefore, such acts cannot be taken as a guide in determining the friendship or lack of it of these officials for the American Government.

Third. The taking of the oath of allegiance by officials, presidentes, vice-presidentes, consejeros, principales, tenientes of barrios, or other people of influence, does not indicate that they or any of them have espoused the American cause, since it is a well-established fact that these people frequently take the oath of allegiance with the direct object and intent of enabling them to be of greater service to their real friends in the field. In short, the loyalty of these people is to be determined only by acts which, when combined with their usual course of conduct, irrevocably binds them to the American cause.

Neutrality must not be tolerated on the part of any native. The time has now arrived when all natives in this brigade who are not openly for us must be regarded as against us. In short, if not an active friend, he is an open enemy.

Fourth. The most dangerous class with whom we have to deal is the wealthy sympathizer and contributor. This class comprises not only all those officials and principales above mentioned, but all those of importance who live in the pueblos with their families. By far the most important as well as the most dangerous member of this class is the native priest. He is most dangerous; and he is successful because he is usually the best informed, besides wielding an immense influence with the people by virtue of his position. He has much to lose, in his opinion, and but little to gain through American supremacy in these islands.

It is expected that officers will exercise their best endeavors to suppress and prevent aid being given by the people of this class, especially by the native priests. Wherever there is evidence of this assistance, or where there is a strong suspicion that they are thus secretly aiding the enemies of our Government, they will be confined and held. The profession of the priest will not prevent his arrest or proceedings against him. If the evidence is sufficient, they will be tried by the proper court. If there is not sufficient evidence to convict, they will be arrested and confined as a military necessity, and held as prisoners of war until released by orders from these headquarters.

It will be borne in mind that in these islands, as a rule, it is next to impossible to secure evidence against men of influence, and especially against the native priests, so long as they are at large. On the other hand, after they are arrested and confined, it is usually quite easy to secure abundant evidence against them. Officers in command of stations will not hesitate, therefore, to arrest and detain individuals whom they have good reason to suspect are aiding the insurrection, even when positive evidence is lacking.

Fifth. Presidentes and officials of the pueblos generally, including the police, will be especially watched by the troops; and whenever sufficient evidence can be found to warrant their conviction before the proper court of the violation of their oaths of office, by reason of their acting as agents of the insurrectos, or by aiding or assisting or protecting these insurgents in any way, they should be arrested and tried by military commissions or provost courts. In all cases where evidence will warrant conviction, charges will be preferred, and duly forwarded for action by these headquarters.

Sixth. In the treatment of natives the officers of this brigade will bear in mind that the ordinary "tauo" is regarded by the native influence and standing as but little more than a piece of machinery to be manipulated as may suit his fancy. He is the ignorant tool who follows but too blindly the lead of the men of influence. But little attention will be paid therefore to the ordinary offences against the laws of war that may be committed by this class. Their minor offences can and will be safely and properly disregarded. Their services may be utilized wherever practicable or desirable in operations against their leaders.

In the selection of guides, however, officers will bear in mind that the more intelligent the native selected the greater the chance of success in the particular undertaking. Guides from the "pudientes," or influential class, should be impressed freely and in numbers sufficient to accomplish the object in view. They should be informed of their duties and responsibilities as such, and be held to a strict compliance therewith. This class can at all times communicate with the insurgents when they wish to do so, and this desire can and should be cultivated in them. Even though they may not know any given trail, their facilities for acquiring knowledge thereof are unlimited. Besides, it is quite well established that this class are good barometers, and as such will afford ample protection against the bamboo trap and similar pitfalls placed in the trails, if they occupy their proper position in the command.

Seventh. Special efforts will also be made to prevent contributions of all kinds to the enemy. Natives living in the pueblos will be informed that they can secure protection from forced contributions whenever they really desire such protection. To secure it, however, reports of attempted collections must be promptly made to the nearest American officials and in time to be of value. Presidentes of pueblos can at all times prevent the collection of contributions within their pueblos if they really wish to do so. Any failure to do this on the part of any official, when known, should be carefully investigated; and, unless it is clearly established that he is not at fault, he should be promptly confined and punished.

It is quite common for natives of all classes to claim that they are afraid of the insurgents; that, if they assist the Americans or give any information to them, they will be killed. There may be some isolated cases in which such claims have a foundation, but they are very rare indeed, and it is quite certain that in all cases this fear may be promptly removed by an honest effort on the part of the party possessing it. This myth of so-called fear will disappear with the first honest effort of the possessor to suppress the insurrection. Officers will furnish protection against all real dangers directed against those natives who seek such protection within their commands, provided they are friends of the established government, and to no one else. All collectors of these contributions will be promptly arrested and proceeded against.

By command of Brigadier-general Smith.

W. E. Ayer,
Captain, Twelfth Infantry, Adjutant-general.

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