American involvement in the far-away Philippine Islands began during the Spanish-American War of 1898, a war that began and ended the same year.
American involvement in the far-away Philippine Islands began during the Spanish-American War of 1898, a war that began and ended the same year. But our involvement in the Philippines was far from over.
By this date in 1899 we had troops still there and another conflict had begun. The official start of what is called the Philippine Insurrection was Feb. 4, 1899, after the U.S. had claimed possession of the islands and said its intention was to extend political control over the archipelago.
A Philippine insurgent leader named Emilio Aguinaldo established a provisional republic northeast of Manila and began preparing for battle with American forces. This began the night of Feb. 4 when an insurgent patrol attacked a U.S. outpost near Manila.
Although the Philippine Insurrection was not a war, it had many important activities that affected the Army, and several ties to Fort Leavenworth.
For one, a former and future CGSC commandant played key roles in the Philippines. The initial U.S. commander was Maj. Gen. Elwell S. Otis, who had been the first commandant of the newly formed School of Application for Cavalry and Infantry from 1881 to 1885.
A small force of American and Filipino volunteers under Brig. Gen. Frederick Funston, Medal of Honor recipient and CGSC commandant from 1908 to 1911, captured Aguinaldo in a daring ruse that historians say shortened the insurgency by many months if not years.
And Maj. Gen. Arthur MacArthur, Civil War Medal of Honor recipient who served at Fort Leavenworth as a major and was the first secretary of what is today Armed Forces Insurance headquartered in Leavenworth also served there.
Although he never attended CGSC nor was stationed at the fort, Capt. John J. Pershing began his meteoric rise from captain to brigadier general while serving very effectively as a junior leader during the insurrection.
One account said that when Capt. Pershing left the Philippines, several Moro chiefs against whom his men had fought went to the ship to see him off as a tribute to his prowess in battle.
And one rumor about the mysterious French cannons that have been at the fort for an unknown number of years is that Funston had them sent to the fort as captured military property when he departed the Philippines. Some folks have been searching diligently for years to uncover just when and why the four cannons came to the fort.
On another note, there are more Philippine army general officers in the fort's International Officer Hall of Fame than from any other country. Lt. Gen. Art Ortiz is the latest to be enshrined, which brings the total to more than 30. I think he was number 33 or 34.
President Theodore Roosevelt announced the end of the Philippine Insurrection on July 4, 1902, but unrest among Moros in Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago intensified and the situation was not settled when Roosevelt declared it over.
Later disturbances in the Philippines brought about the development of the venerable M-1911 .45 caliber Colt semiautomatic pistol.
Natives would get high on substances and wrap bandages around vital parts of their body and the .38 caliber pistol would not stop them.
When the M-1911 was used, it would knock the attacker down almost regardless of where the bullet struck him. It was the Army's standard pistol for more than 100 years, and is still the small arm of choice for some special forces units.
There was a lot of history packed into the four years of a non-war that began 114 years and two days ago today.
John Reichley is a retired Army officer and retired Department of the Army civilian employee.