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Battle of San Mateo
Part of the Philippine-American War
Death of Major-General Henry Lawton during the battle
DateDecember 19, 1899

Initial Filipino victory

  • Death of General Henry Ware Lawton
  • American's 29th Battalion successfully crossed the river at 11 am
  • Filipino forces retreated from San Mateo.
 Philippine Republic  United States
Commanders and leaders
Pio del Pilar
Licerio Gerónimo
Henry Ware Lawton 
James R. Lockett
3,000 2,500
Casualties and losses
40 killed
125 wounded[1]
11 killed
13 wounded

The Battle of San Mateo was a battle during the Philippine-American War between the United States and the Philippines. It was fought on December 19, 1899, near San Mateo in what was then Manila province (now Rizal) between the forces of General Henry Ware Lawton, and General Licerio Gerónimo's Morong Command battalion and the Tiradores de la Muerte.[2] Lawton was killed in the battle, making him the highest-ranking American commander to die in the Philippine conflict.[3]

On December 18, Lawton and his men were en route to San Mateo along the Marikina River in a punitive expedition against Brig. Gen. Pio del Pilar's 1,000 force, which threatened the Marikina waterworks and the Manila wagon road to the north.[4]:160 Lawton's force included Col. James R. Lockett's squadron of the 11th Volunteer Cavary and Lt. Col. H.H. Sargent's 29th Battalion.[4]:160 A monsoon flooded the river and muddied the trail.[4]:160


On December 19, the 11th captured Montalban, while Sargent's squadron made for San Mateo, approaching the Filipinos in rain and mist.[4]:161 The Filipinos forced Lawton's troops to scramble for cover in the rice fields.[4]:161

Lawton walked up and down the line in a white rain coat and pith helmet,[5] rallying his men even after his aide was struck.[4]:161 Lawton died from a bullet to the chest from a Filipino sniper by the name of Bonifacio Mariano.[1][4]:161

Sargent located a ford allowing his men to cross the river and drove the defenders from San Mateo.[4]:161


The death of General Lawton proved to be a terrible blow to his soldiers' morale and the U.S. public.[4]:161[6] Lawton's body was taken to Manila's Paco Park[7] before his final burial at Arlington National Cemetery.[8]

Before his death, Lawton had written about the Filipinos in a formal correspondence, "Taking into account the disadvantages they have to fight against in terms of arms, equipment and military discipline, without artillery, short of ammunition, powder inferior, shells reloaded until they are defective, they are the bravest men I have ever seen..."[1]


  1. ^ a b c Dumindin, Arnoaldo (2006). "Dec. 19, 1899: General Henry Lawton dies at San Mateo". Philippine-American War, 1899-1902. Retrieved May 4, 2016.
  2. ^ 112th Anniversary[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ "Major-General Henry Ware Lawton, U.S.Volunteers". Retrieved 3 May 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Linn, B.M., 2000, The Philippine War, 1899–1902, Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, ISBN 0700612254
  5. ^ Steven L. Ossad
  6. ^ Steven Ossad (19 January 2016). "Henry Ware Lawton: Flawed Giant and Hero of Four Wars, Army History, Winter 2007 - Steven L. Ossad". Retrieved 3 May 2016.
  7. ^ Samuel Culbertson Mansion Collection Archived September 24, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Michael Robert Patterson