|Part of Philippine-American War|
Aftermath of the First Battle of Bud Dajo.
Remnants of the Sulu Sultanate
| United States
|50,000 Moro Fighters||25,000 American riflemen|
|Casualties and losses|
|10,000–20,000 killed||United States:
500 died of disease
The Moro Rebellion (1899–1913) was an armed conflict between Moro Indigenous Ethnic groups and the United States military which took place on Mindanao, Sulu, and Palawan (Minsupala) in the Philippines but is unconnected to the Spanish-American War in 1898.
- 1 Background
- 2 Occupation
- 3 Conflict
- 4 Casualties
- 5 Notes
- 6 References
- 7 Further reading
- 8 External links
The United States claimed the territories of the Philippines after the Spanish-American War. The ethnic Moro Muslim population of the southern Philippines resisted both Spanish and United States colonization. The Spaniards were restricted to a handful of coastal garrisons or Forts and they made occasional punitive expeditions into the vast interior regions. After a series of unsuccessful attempts during the centuries of Spanish rule in the Philippines, Spanish forces occupied the abandoned city of Jolo, Sulu, the seat of the Sultan of Sulu, in 1876. The Spaniards and the Sultan of Sulu signed the Spanish Treaty of Peace on July 22, 1878. Control of the Sulu archipelago outside of the Spanish garrisons was handed to the Sultan. The treaty had translation errors: According to the Spanish-language version, Spain had complete sovereignty over the Sulu archipelago, while the Tausug version described a protectorate instead of an outright dependency. Despite the very nominal claim to the Moro territories, Spain ceded them to the United States in the Treaty of Paris which signal the end of the Spanish-American War.
Following the American occupation of the Northern Philippines during 1899, Spanish forces in the Southern Philippines were abolished, and they retreated to the garrisons at Zamboanga and Jolo. American forces took control over the Spanish government in Jolo on May 18, 1899, and at Zamboanga in December 1899.
Settler Insurrectionist forces in the southern Philippines were commanded by General Capistrano, and American forces conducted an expedition against him in the winter of 1900–1901. On March 27, 1901, Capistrano surrendered. A few days later, General Emilio Aguinaldo surrendered in Luzon. This major victory in the war in the north allowed the Americans to devote more resources to the south, and they began to push into the interior of Bangsamoro.
On August 31, 1901, Brig. Gen. George Whitefield Davis replaced Kobbe as the commander of the Department of Mindanao-Jolo. Davis adopted a conciliatory policy towards the Moros. American forces under his command had standing orders to buy Moro produce when possible and to have "heralds of amity" precede all scouting expeditions. Peaceful Moros would not be disarmed. Polite reminders of the America's anti-slavery policy were allowed.
One of Davis' subordinates, Captain John J. Pershing, assigned to the American garrison at Iligan, set out to better relations with the Moros of the Maranao tribes on the northern shore of Lake Lanao. He successfully established friendly relations with Amai-Manabilang, the retired Sultan of Madaya. Although retired, Manabilang was the single most influential personage among the fragmented inhabitants of the northern shore of the lake. His alliance did much to secure American standing in the area.
Not all of Davis' subordinates were as diplomatic as Pershing. Many veterans of the Indian Wars took the "only good Indian is a dead Indian" mentality with them to the Philippines, and "civilize 'em with a Krag" became a similar catchphrase.
Three ambushes of American troops by Moros, one of which involved Juramentados, occurred to the south of Lake Lanao, outside of Manabilang's sphere of influence. These events prompted Maj. Gen. Adna R. Chaffee, the military governor of the Philippines, to issue a declaration on April 13, 1902, demanding that the offending Datu hand over the killers of American troops and stolen government property.
Not compliant, a punitive expedition under Col. Frank Baldwin set out to settle matters with the south-shore Moros. Although an excellent officer, Baldwin was "eager," and a worried Davis joined the expedition as an observer. On May 2, 1902, Baldwin's expedition attacked a Moro Cotta at the Battle of Pandapatan, also known as the Battle of Bayang. Pandapatan's defenses were unexpectedly strong, leading to 18 American casualties during the fighting. On the second day, the Americans used ladders and moat-bridging tools to break through the Moro fortifications, and a general slaughter of the Moro defenders followed.
The expeditionary force built at Camp Vickers one mile south of Pandapatan, and Davis assigned Pershing to Baldwin's command as an intelligence officer and as director of Moro affairs. As director, 'Black Jack' Pershing had a veto over Baldwin's movements, which was an unstable arrangement. This arrangement was tested when survivors of Pandapatan began building a Cotta at Bacalod. Baldwin wanted to move on the hostile Moros immediately, but Pershing warned that doing so could create an anti-American coalition of the surrounding Datus, while some patient diplomacy could establish friendly relations with most of the Moros, isolating the hostile minority. Baldwin grudgingly agreed. On June 30, Pershing assumed command of Camp Vickers, and Baldwin returned to Malabang. A command the size of Camp Vickers would normally have gone to an officer with the rank of Major, and a careful shuffling of personnel would be required to ensure that reinforcements to the Camp did not include officers that were senior to Pershing.
On July 4, 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt issued a proclamation declaring an end to the Philippine Insurrection and a cessation of hostilities in the Philippines "except in the country inhabited by the Moro tribes, to which this proclamation does not apply." Later that month, Davis was promoted and replaced Chaffee as the supreme commander of American forces in the Philippines. Command of the Mindanao-Jolo Department went to Brig. Gen. Samuel S. Sumner. Meanwhile, Pershing settled down to conduct diplomacy with the surrounding Moros, and a July 4th celebration had 700 guests from neighboring rancherias. In September 1902, he led the Masiu Expedition, which resulted in a victory that did much to establish American dominance in the area. On February 10, 1903, Pershing was declared a Datu by the formerly hostile Pandita Sajiduciaman of the Bayan Moros (who had been defeated at the Battle of Pandapatan)—the only American to be so honored. Pershing's career at Camp Vickers culminated in the March Around Lake Lanao during April and May 1903. Dansalan also known as the Marawi Expedition, it included the Battle of Bacolod and First Battle of Taraka but was otherwise peaceful. This expedition quickly became a symbol of American control of the Lake Lanao region and was regarded with dismay by the Moro Maranao inhabitants of that region.
While Pershing was working to the south of Lake Lanao, Major Robert Lee Bullard was working to the north, building a road from Iligan to Marawi. Although never officially declared one, like Pershing, he was regarded as a Datu by the Moros. Because of the Lake Lanao Moros' very personalistic style of leadership, they had troubles seeing them as two officers in the same army. Instead, they saw them as two powerful chieftains who might become rivals. During Pershing's March Around Lake Lanao, one Moro ran to Bullard, exclaiming that Pershing had gone Juramentado, meaning bersek and that Bullard had better run up the white flag (signaling that they had no quarrel with Pershing's troops). Bullard was unable to explain to the Moro why he was not worried about Pershing's approach. On another occasion, a powerful datu proposed an alliance with Bullard, for the purposes of defeating Pershing and establishing overlordship over the entire Lake Lanao region. On June 1, 1903, the Moro Province was created, which included "all of the territory of the Philippines lying south of the eight parallel of latitude, excepting the island of Palawan and the eastern portion of the northwest peninsula of Mindanao." The province had a civil government, but many civil service positions, including the district governors and their deputies, were held by members of the American military. The governor of the province served as the commander of the Department of Mindanao-Jolo. This system of combined civil and military administration had several motivations behind it. One was the continued Moro hostilities. Another was the Army's experience during the Indian Wars, when it came into conflict with the civilian Bureau of Indian Affairs. A third was that the Moros, with their feudal, personalistic style of government, would have no respect for a military leader who submitted to the authority of a non-combatant.
In addition to the executive branch, under the governor, the province also had a legislative branch: the Moro Council. This Council "consisted of the governor, a state attorney, a secretary, a treasurer, a superintendent of schools, and an engineer." Although the governor appointed all of the other members of the council, this body was permanent, and provided a more solid foundation for laws than the fiats of the governor, which might be overturned by his successor.
The province was divided into five districts, with American officers serving as district governors and deputy governors. These districts included: Cotabato, Davao, Lanao, Sulu, and Zamboanga. The districts were sub-divided into tribal wards, with major datus serving as ward chiefs and minor datus serving as deputies, judges, and sheriffs. This system took advantage of the existing structure of Moro political society, which was based on personal ties, while paving the way for a more individualistic society, where the office, not the person holding it, would be given respect.
On August 6, 1903, Major General Leonard Wood assumed his position as the governor of Moro Province and commander of the Department of Mindanao-Jolo. Wood was somewhat heavy-handed in his dealing with the Moros, being "personally offended by the Moro propensity for blood feuds, polygamy, and human trafficking" and with his "ethnocentrism sometimes [leading] him to impose American concepts too quickly in Moroland." In addition to his views of the Moros, Wood also faced an uphill Senate battle over his appointment to the rank of Major General, which was finally confirmed on March 19, 1904. This drove him to seek military laurels in order to shore up his lack of field experience, sometimes leading the Provincial army on punitive expeditions over minor incidents that would have been better handled diplomatically by the district governors. The period of Wood's governorship had the hardest and bloodiest fighting of America's occupation of Moroland.
The Province under Leonard Wood (1903-1906)
Wood instituted many reforms during his tenure as governor of Moro Province:
- On Wood's recommendation, the United States unilaterally abrogated the Bates Treaty, citing continuing piracy and attacks on American personnel. The Sultan of Sulu was demoted to a purely religious office, with no more power than any other datu, and was provided with a small salary. The United States assumed direct control over Moroland.
- Slavery was abolished. Slave trading and raiding were repressed, but slaves were left with their owners. Wood announced that slaves were "at liberty to go and build homes for themselves wherever they like[d]," and pledged the military's protection for any former slaves that did so. Similar actions had been taken by individual commanders in the past, but Wood's edict had the backing of the Moro Council, giving it more permanent weight.
- The Cedula Act of 1903 created an annual registration poll tax. This registration poll tax was highly unpopular with the Moros, since they interpreted it as a form of tribute. According to Hurley, participation in the Cedula was very low as late as 1933.
- The legal code of Moroland was reformed. Disputes between Moros and non-Christians had been left to Moro laws and customs, with Philippine laws only applying to disputes with Christians. This led to a double standard, with a Moro who killed a Christian facing a stiff prison sentence, but with a Moro who killed another Moro facing only a maximum fine of 150 pesos. Wood attempted to codify Moro law, but there was simply too much variance in laws and customs between the different tribes and even between neighboring cottas. Wood placed the Moros underneath the Philippine criminal code, but actual enforcement of this proved difficult.
- Private land ownership was introduced, in order to help the Moros transition to a more individualistic society from their traditional tribal society. Each family was given 40 acres (16 ha) of land, with datus given additional land in accordance with their status. Land sales had to be approved by the district governments in order to prevent fraud.
- An educational system was established. By June 1904, there were 50 schools with an average enrollment of 30 students each. Because of difficulties in getting teachers that spoke native languages, classes were conducted in English after initial training in that language. Many Moros were suspicious of the schools, but some offered buildings for use as schools.
- Trade was encouraged in order to give the Moros an alternative to fighting. Trade had been discouraged by banditry, piracy, and the possibility of inter-tribal disputes between Moro merchants and local customers. When trading with foreign merchants (usually maritime Chinese), a lack of warehousing made for a buyer's market, leading to low prices. Wood handled banditry and piracy by establishing military posts at river mouths in order to protect sea and land routes. Starting with a pilot project in Zamboanga, a system of Moro Exchanges were established. These exchanges provided Moro traders with warehouses and temporary housing in exchange for honoring a ban on fighting within the exchange. Bulletin-boards listed market prices in Hong Kong and Singapore, and the district governments guaranteed fair prices. These Exchanges proved highly successful and profitable, and provided a neutral ground for feuding datus to settle their differences.
Major military campaigns during Wood's governorship include:
- Wood's March Around Lake Lanao during the fall of 1903 was an abortive attempt to replicate Pershing's earlier March.
- In October and November 1903, Wood personally led the Provincial Army to put down the Hassan Uprising, which was led by the most powerful datu on the island of Jolo.
- In the spring of 1904, Wood destroyed or captured 130 cottas during the Second Battle of Taraca.
- Beginning in the spring of 1904 and continuing into the fall of 1905, American forces conducted a lengthy and massive manhunt for Datu Ali, the overlord of Cottabato Valley. Datu Ali had rebelled over Wood's anti-slavery policy. Engagements during this campaign include the Battle of Siranaya and the Battle of the Malalag River.
- The First Battle of Bud Dajo was fought from March 5 to March 7, 1906. An estimated 800 to 1000 Moro men, women and children had taken refuge in a volcanic crater, and after a bloody battle (American casualties, 96) only six survived. Although a victory for the American forces, Bud Dajo became a public relations disaster.
Governorship of Tasker H. Bliss (1906–1909)
On February 1, 1906, Major. Gen. Tasker H. Bliss replaced General Wood as the commander of the Department of Mindanao-Jolo, and replaced him as governor of Moro Province sometime after the First Battle of Bud Dajo. Bliss' tenure is regarded as a "peace era", and Bliss launched no punitive expeditions during his term in office. However, this superficial peace came at the price of tolerating a certain amount of lawlessness. Constabulary forces in pursuit of Moro fugitives often found themselves forced to abandon their chase after the fugitives took refuge at their home cottas. The constabulary forces were outnumbered, and a much larger (and disruptive) expedition would have been required to dislodge the fugitives from their hiding place. However, this period also demonstrated the success of new aggressive American tactics. According to Rear Admiral D.P. Mannix, who fought the Moros as a young lieutenant from 1907–1908, the Americans exploited Muslim taboos by wrapping dead Moros in pig's skin and "stuffing [their] mouth[s] with pork", thereby deterring the Moros from continuing with their suicide attacks.
Governorship of John J. Pershing (1909-1913)
On November 11, 1909, Major General John J. Pershing, the third and final military governor of Moro Province assumed his duties.
Pershing enacted the following reforms during his tenure as governor:
- In order to extend rule of law into the interior, Pershing stationed the Philippine Scouts in small detachments throughout the interior. This reduced crime and promoted agriculture and trade, at the cost of reduced military efficiency and troop training. The benefits of this reform outweighed the costs.
- The legal system was streamlined. Previously, trials had started with at the Court of First Instance, which convened every 6 months, and appeals to the Supreme Court in Manila often took more than one year. Pershing expanded the jurisdiction of the local ward courts, which were presided over by the district governors and secretaries, to include most civil cases and all criminal cases except for capital offenses. The Court of First Instance became the court of last resort. This reform was popular with the Moros, since it was quick, simple, and resembled their traditional unification of executive and judicial powers.
- Pershing promised to donate government land for purposes of building Muslim houses of worship.
- Pershing recognized the practice of sacopy – indentured servitude in exchange for support and protection – as legitimate, but reaffirmed the government's opposition to involuntary slavery.
- Labor contract law reform of 1912. Defaults on contracts by workers or employers were no longer punishable unless there was intent to defraud or injure. Moros, unused to Western notions of work, were prone to absenteeism, which could lead to breach of contract suits.
- The economy of Moro Province continued to expand under Pershing. The three most important exports – hemp, copra, and lumber – increased 163% during his first three years, and Moros began to make bank deposits for the first time in their history.
- The Moro Exchange system was retained and was supplemented by Industrial Trading Stations. These stations operated in the interior, where merchants seldom went, and bought any non-perishable goods the Moros wished to sell. The stations also sold goods to the Moros at fair prices, preventing price gouging during famines.
Surrender of Arms
Law enforcement in the Moro Province was difficult. Outlaws would go to ground at their home cottas, requiring an entire troop of police or soldiers to arrest them. There was always the danger of a full-fledged battle breaking out during such an arrest, and this led to many known outlaws going unpunished. In 1911, Pershing resolved to disarm the Moros. Army Chief of Staff Leonard Wood (former Moro Province governor) disagreed with this plan, stating that the move was ill-timed and that the Moros would hide their best arms, turning in only their worst. Pershing waited until roads into the interior had been completed, so that government troops could protect disarmed Moros from holdouts. He conferred with the Datus, who mostly agreed that disarmament would be a good idea – provided that everybody disarmed.
Six weeks before putting his disarmament plan into action, Pershing informed Governor-General William Cameron Forbes, who agreed with the plan. Pershing did not consult or inform his commanding officer, Major. Gen. J. Franklin Bell. On September 8, 1911, Executive Order No. 24, which ordered the disarmament, was issued. The deadline for disarmament was December 1, 1911.
Resistance to disarmament was particularly fierce in the district of Jolo and led to the Second Battle of Bud Dajo (which, while involving roughly equivalent forces as the first battle, was far less bloody causing only 12 Moro casualties), and the Battle of Bud Bagsak.
Transition to Civil Authority
By 1913, Pershing agreed that the Moro Province needed to transition to civil government. This was prompted by the Moro's personalistic approach to government, which was based on personal ties rather than a respect for an abstract office. To the Moros, a change of administration meant not just a change in leadership but a change in regime, and was a traumatic experience. Rotation within the military meant that each military governor could serve only for a limited time. Civil governors were needed in order to provide for a lengthy tenure in office. Until 1911, every district governor and secretary had been a military officer. By November 1913, only one officer still held a civil office – Pershing himself. In December 1913, Pershing was replaced as governor of Moro Province by a civilian, Frank Carpenter.
During the Moro Rebellion, the Americans suffered clear cut losses, amounting to 130 killed and 323 wounded. Another 500 or so died of disease. The Philippine Scouts who augmented American forces during the campaign suffered 116 killed and 189 wounded. The Philippine Constabulary suffered heavily as well, more than 1,500 losses sustained, half of which were fatalities.
On the Moro side, losses were remarkably high, with several thousand killed and wounded. Estimates range from 10,000 to well over 20,000 killed, with an unknown number of wounded.
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- Hagedorn 1931, p. 14, Volume 2
- Bacevich, Andrew J. (March 12, 2006). "What happened at Bud Dajo". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2007-12-02.
- Birtle 1998, p. 164
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- Byler 2005
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- Kolb, Richard K. (May 2002). "'Like a mad tiger': fighting Islamic warriors in the Philippines 100 years ago". VFW Magazine.
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- Arnold, James R. The Moro War: How America Battled a Muslim Insurgency in the Philippine Jungle, 1902-1913 (Bloomsbury Press; 2011) 306 pages, the standard scholarly history
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