Edited by Dirk, 03 September 2007 - 04:49 PM.
Stand Gentlemen, He Served on Samar
Posted 03 September 2007 - 03:43 PM
Posted 03 September 2007 - 04:13 PM
Outstanding research! Wonderful to i.d that photo. Now you can locate his medals!
Posted 03 September 2007 - 04:51 PM
Edited by Dirk, 03 September 2007 - 04:57 PM.
Posted 04 September 2007 - 02:26 AM
Posted 04 September 2007 - 08:14 AM
Posted 04 September 2007 - 10:44 AM
Littleton Waller Tazewell Waller was born at York County, Virginia, September 26, 1856, he was appointed a Second Lieutenant of Marines on June 16, 1880 and was promoted through the grades to Brigadier General, August 29, 1916; Major General, August 29, 1918.
Waller participated in the Naval battle, Santiago, Cuba, July 3, 1898 in the Spanish-American War; in charge of recruiting, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Western New Jersey, 1902-03; commander, Provisional Regiment of Marines, Isthmus of Panama, 1904; commander, Expeditionary Force for service in Cuba, 1906; commander, Provisional Brigade of Marines in Cuba, 1911; duty at Marine Barracks, Mare Island, California, 1911-14; and at Philadelphia, 1914; commander, 1st Brigade of Marines for service in Mexico, 1914; commander, Marine Expeditionary Forces in Haiti, 1915-16; appointed commander, Advanced Base Force, Philadelphia, January 8, 1917.
He was breveted Lieutenant Colonel, March 28, 1901 for "distingished conduct and public service" in the presence of the enemy near Tientsin, China, and advanced two numbers in grade for "emminent and conspicious conduct" in the Battle of Tientsin.
He retired from the Marine Corps in June 1920 and made his home in Phildelphia. He died on July 13, 1926 and was buried in Section 4 of Arlington National Cemetery. His wife, Clara Wynn Waller (December 20, 1862-October 15, 1958), is buried with him.
HE SERVED ON SAMAR Hero or Butcher of Samar? Proceedings, U. S. Naval Institute, November 1979 by Captain Paul Melshen, U. S. M. C.
Was Littleton Waller Tazewell Waller the Hero of Samar or the Butcher of Samar? "I wish you to kill and burn," the hot-eyed Army Brigadier General Jacob H. Smith told Marine Major L. W. T. Waller when Waller arrived on Samar. "The more you kill the better it will please me." But Smith had misjudged his man. Tony Waller was a firebrand, not a firebug -- a marine, not a martinet -- who let his own high character and conscience guide him as he led a 60-man expedition across Samar and onto the pages of Marine Corps history.
During the early afternoon of 20 January 1902, First Lieutenant John H. A. Day, U.S. Marine Corps, marched nine Filipinos, natives of the island of Samar, under guard of a detachment of U. S. Marines down the main street of Basey, Samar. Upon reaching the town plaza, Day ordered his detachment of marines to execute the Filipinos by firing squad. The execution of one Filipino had already been carried out earlier that day, and one more was yet to follow. Day had been following orders of his immediate senior, Major and Brevet Lieutenant Colonel Littleton Waller Tazewell Waller.
On 17 March 1902, Major Waller was arraigned in Manila and tried on a charge of murder by a U.S. Army court-martial. Waller's court-martial was to become an ambiguous segment of Marine Corps history.
Marine Corps ground involvement in the Philippines began on 3 May 1898, two days after Commodore George Dewey's victory over the Spanish at Manila Bay, when First Lieutenant Dion Williams and a detachment of Marines from the USS Baltimore planted an American flag at the Spanish naval station in Cavite. The Treaty of Paris, signed on 10 December 1898, ended America's war with Spain, but not its military involvement in thePhilippines. For the next six years, U. S. armed forces fought against Filipino insurrectionists.
From 1898 until the fall of 1901, Marines took part in a number of operations against the insurrectionists, primarily on the island of Luzon, making several amphibious landings.
By the fall of 1901, U. S. military actions against insurrectionists on Luzon had come to an end. General Emilio Aguinaldo, leader of that island's insurrectionists, had surrendered to the American forces on 1 April 1901 and swore allegiance to the United States. Later that same month, he issued a manifesto to his Filipino followers to "lay down their arms for `the complete termination of hostilities.'" The government of Luzon was now in the hands of American civilian authorities. In two provinces, Batangas and the island of Samar, there were still hostilities.
On Samar the insurrectionists were led by Filipino General Vincente Lucban. American supervision of these provinces was under the direction of Army General Adna Chaffee, who had taken over command from General Arthur MacArthur in July 1901.
Located in the equatorial tropics, Samar was completely engulfed with dense jungles. Not only did American forces have to endure heat, humidity, incessant rain, and dense vegetation, but in addition, they had to contend with snakes, leeches, and malaria-infested mosquitoes. Smallpox was also running rampant on the island. The hellish conditions on Samar in some instances drove men insane. Lucban used the climate and the terrain of Samar to his advantage in his guerilla was against the Americans. He had been on Samar for more than a year before the first American troops arrived. This had allowed him to recruit among the natives intensively, and by the time the American troops did arrive, most of the natives were either in Lucban's command or in sympathy with the insurrectionists. Lucban's control over the natives was pure tyranny. He would shoot anyone who failed to support him, including Spanish priests. He once wrapped the head of a pro-American Filipino in a kerosene-drenched American flag and set a torch to it while the man was still alive.
Most American commanders, Waller included, based their operations on the fact that the majority of the natives were hostile to U. S. actions and could not be trusted, despite pretenses by the villagers to be pro-American, and that many of these supposedly pro-American villagers were, in fact, members of Lucban's command. Because of this support by the populace for the insurrectionists, along with the hellish conditions of the natural environment, the U. S. Army was able to secure only a few coastal towns on Samar, enabling Lucban to control the hinterland.
Company C, 9th Infantry, arrived at Balangiga, Samar, on 11 August 1901, commanded by Captain Thomas W. Connell, U. S. Army. Connell, a strong advocate of President William McKinley's "benevolent assimilation," attempted to establish this policy at Balangiga. Connell's naive assumption that since "benevolent assimilation" seemed to be working on Luzon, it could also work on Samar, proved catastrophic. Samar was populated by an extremely violent, primitive society. Because of cultural differences and the inhabitants' hostility toward the American presence on the island, assimilation was impossible. One officer of the 9th Infantry testified later that he considered the natives ". . . savages; they were low in intelligence, treacherous, cruel; seemed to have no feeling for their families or anyone else."
On 28 September. led by town officials and members of the population of Balangiga, Lucban's forces plotted a surprise attack on Company C. Only 26 of the 74 American soldiers survived the massacre. Most were tortured to death and their bodies mutilated . . . Connell's assessment of the situation on Samar had proved fatal.
The insurrectionists on Samar habitually committed atrocities, such as body mutilation of dead soldiers, during their guerilla warfare against the Americans. Lucban refused to honor any rules of warfare: "The dead were mutilated . . . No prisoners were taken, Noncombatants were put to death. Poison was used. Flags of truce were not respected. The personnel of the insurrectionary forces were composed, in numerous instances of males under military age, who were old enough to assist in military operations, but not sufficiently mature from the point of intelligence and experience to correctly apply or even to understand the rules of civilized warfare."
Under these circumstances, General Chaffee ordered Brigadier General Jacob H. Smith, U. S. Army, to command the 6th Separate Brigade and handle the situation on Samar. Lacking enough soldiers to form a full brigade, General Chaffee requested that Admiral Frederick Rodgers, Commander-in-Chief Asiatic Squadron, lend him some Marines. Rodgers complied by sending Waller, with orders that read, "By direction of the senior squadron commander [Rodgers], you will assume command of a battalion of United States Marines for duty on the island of Samar." The Navy left the conduct of operations to Waller's estimation of the situation. The battalion of 315 marines embarked aboard the USS New York at Cavite on 22 October and landed at Carbalogen, Samar, on 24 October.
Waller, unlike Connell, took a more realistic view of the situation on Samar. The day before debarkation, Waller issued explicit orders to his officers concerning relations with the natives and rules of engagement: "Place no confidence in the natives, and punish treachery immediately with death. . . . Allow no man [marine] to go . . . anywhere without his arms or ammunition. . . . All males who have not come in and presented themselves by October 25th will be regarded and treated as enemies. It must be impressed on the men that the natives are treacherous, brave and savage. No trust, no confidence, can be placed in them. . . . The men must be informed of the courage, skill, size and strength of the enemy. WE MUST DO OUR PART OF THE WORK, AND WITH THE SURE KNOWLEDGE THAT WE ARE NOT TO EXPECT QUARTER. . . ." Waller viewed the situation as open combat governed by the rules of war. The populace would have to register with the Marines or be considered combatants. Waller's orders to his officers were posted and the Naval high command took no exception to them, nor did General Smith, Waller's immediate senior. Waller's orders were within the limitations of General Order No.100 of 1863 dealing with irregular warfare, which stated that if enemy units gave no quarter and became treacherous upon capture, it was lawful to shoot anyone belonging to that captured unit.
General Smith's orders to Major Waller upon arrival at Samar have allowed some historians to give Waller an out. These orders, stated orally and in an unsigned note, were subsequently proven at Smith's own court-martial: "I want no prisoners. I wish you to kill and burn. The more you kill and burn, the better it will please me. . . The interior of Samar must be made a howling wilderness. . . ."
Some historians feel that Waller was only following the direct orders of his immediate seniorofficer. But, as testimony in General Smith's court-martial pointed out, Waller did not execute Smith's orders. Instead, Waller applied the rules of civilized warfare and the rules provided under General Order No. 100.
Waller testified that he did not kill women or children and that he treated prisoners according to the rules of civilized warfare. "Always when prisoners came in and gave themselves up they were saved, they were not killed."
In essence, Waller disobeyed Smith's direct orders, which refutes any claim that Waller was "just following orders." Instead, Waller's interpretation of Smith's orders demonstrated Waller's high moral courage and his effort to apply the rules of civilized warfare.
The Marines' tactical area of responsibility was the southern half of Samar. Waller was relentless in his pursuit of the insurrectionists. He ran patrol after patrol, amphibious operations, a combined land and river attack on the insurrectionists' camp on the Sohoton Cliffs, and small raiding operations. The keys to Waller's successes were the flexibility of his tactics, his endurance, and the stamina of his men. Within a few months, the operations were beginning to take effect, but Marine casualties were also frequent. The insurrectionists, armed with the Krag-Jorgensen rifles taken from Company C, bamboo cannon, and bolo knives, were a formidable foe for his Marines. While running combat operations, Waller, always alert for any treachery, at the same time attempted to register the natives and pacify the towns.
Waller's successes on Samar were heralded through the military command in the Philippines.
General Smith, desiring to get better communications on Samar, ordered Waller to scout a telegraph route from Lanang on the east coast to Basey on the west coast. On 28 December 1901, Waller, with 60 Marines, two native scouts, and 33 native bearers, started from Lanang and headed into the interior of the Samar jungles, an area where few natives and no foreigners had ever gone. Within a few days, almost all the men were suffering from fever and other afflictions, as cited by Waller: "Water sores [which] began to form where the clothing bore on the skin were developing rapidly . . . we suffered from sores caused by being constantly wet; also from the cuts made by the thorns and from bites of leeches. All these places festered and made very uncomfortable sores. . . ." The terrain was exceedingly difficult. The Marines were running out of food and began to starve. By 3 January 1902, Waller decided to split his unit. Leaving behind with Captain David D. Porter, U. S. Marine Corps, the bulk of the unit who were unable to march any further, Waller set out for Basey with 14 marines and arrived there on 6 January 1902. With total disregard for his own health, Waller personally led a relief column the next day in an attempt to reach Porter. For nine days he searched for Porter without success. Porter, in the meantime, had three options: to attempt to follow Waller, whose trail was unsure; to stay where he was and perish; or to attempt to backtrack to Lanang. He chose to backtrack. Leaving the sick and dying Marines with First Lieutenant A. S. Williams, Porter headed for Lanang with seven Marines and six natives. Hampered by torrential rains, Porter arrived at Lanang on 11 January. He immediately sent out a relief column to pick up his own stragglers and to rescue Williams' command.
Williams's fate was disastrous. Realizing that if he stayed where he was, he and his command were sure to die, he decided to head back to Lanang. His men, "so nearly dead from starvation and exposure that they began to crawl,"slowly perished along the way." One Marine went insane. By 18 January, when the relief column reached Williams, ten Marines had died. In addition, the natives had mutinied.
Waller had used the natives as bearers of food and supplies on the march, but had no confidence in the allegiance of the natives to the Marines and kept ever mindful of an attempted attack, which he and his officers had taken precautions to prevent. Natives could use a bolo knife only to help the marines hack through the jungle; every evening the knives were collected and counted. The natives were kept spread along the column with the Marines and away from the rifles. At night and during rest periods, the natives were huddled in one area and watched over by Marines. The natives were apparently playing a waiting game; they would wait until the Marines were in a weakened state, steal their weapons or overpower them one at a time, and kill them. First a native called Victor stole Waller's bolo at night while Waller was asleep. Before the native could turn on him, Waller awoke, drew his pistol, and seized the bolo.
Upon reaching Basey, Victor was imprisoned and became the first native to be shot by the firing squad on 20 January. Waller testified that Victor was revealed to be the "Captain Victor" that notorious and infamous captain of insurrectos, who was of the detail from Basey in the Balangiga massacre." Second, the natives with Lieutenant Williams' group became rebellious. Williams testified that "the mutinous demeanor of the natives caused me daily fear of massacre." Third, the natives were hiding food and supplies from the Marines while keeping themselves well nourished and securing food for themselves on the march.
Finally, there was open rebellion against Williams' party. Three of the natives, armed with a bolo knife, attacked and wounded Williams. The other natives watched while Williams managed to fight off the attack. These natives were put under arrest when the Marines reached Lanang. It was this group of natives that was shot by the firing squad on 20 January, charged in Day's words, with "treason in attempting to kill Lieutenant Williams, with treason in general, theft, disobedience and . . . general mutiny."
Waller erred at this point by not putting the charge in writing. Williams' men were in such a weakened condition that they could offer little assistance at the time of the incident. Soon after the incident, Williams formulated several plans to kill the natives, but doubted the strength of his weakened men. He also felt that it was better to refer the incident to his commanding officer, Major Waller.
On 20 January, the U. S. gunboat Arayat arrived at Basey from Lanangmand offloaded the native prisoners. After being briefed by his officers and non-commissioned officers, all of whom recommended execution, Waller ordered the natives to be shot. Waller stated: "The reports of the attempted murder of the men and other treachery by the natives, the whole plot being unmasked, caused me to hold an inquiry and consult with my officers. The population of the town was hostile at the time . . . Using my own judgement, and fortified by the opinion of the officers and men, I had the guilty men shot, releasing the innocent. The power exercised was mine by right as commanding the district. It seemed to the best of my judgement, the thing to do at the time. I have not had reason to change my mind." Thus the technical reason for Waller's court-martial was no so much that he shot the natives, but that the shootings were summary. This leads one to believe that Waller was charged with the wrong offense.
Waller felt that he had acted within the framework of General Order No. 100, which did not call for a trial of the accused, and within his authority as a district commander, although this was disputed by the Judge Advocate General. The real issue was that the responsibilities of a district commander in the Philippines were never clearly defined and that the tactical situation necessitated his actions. On 22 January, Waller, seeing no wrong in his actions, sent this message to General Smith: "It became necessary to expend eleven prisoners. Ten were implemented [sic] in the attack on Lieutenant Williams and one who plotted against me."
On 19 February the Marine battalion on Samar received orders to return to Cavite and arrived there on 29 February. The unit returned to a welcoming home salute and party, but there was something else in store for Major Waller -- a murder charge. Waller tended to place much of the blame for the court-martial on Lieutenant Day, although not during the trial or in public; during the trial he assumed full responsibility for his actions. Day, who was the battalion's adjutant and had not gone on the expedition, had boasted about his part in the execution. It was a bit of "action" for him. Waller stated after the trial in an after-action report ". . . The charge was largely instigated by the vail boastfulness of one of the officers of my battalion."
Waller's court-martial lasted from 17 March to 12 April 1902. The court consisted of seven Army officers and six Marine Corps officers and was headed by Army Brigadier General William H. Bisbee, "a stalwart old Indian fighter." Waller argued that, because he had never been detached from his Marine unit, an Army court had no jurisdiction over him. The court denied Waller's lack of jurisdiction claim, then proceeded to the specific number of natives executed and the issue of Waller's guilt or innocence. General Smith was called to testify concerning the orders he had issued to Waller prior to the Samar campaign. (His testimony later instigated his own court-martial.)
Waller could have made excuse for his actions by saying that he was injured and lying in a hospital when he issued his orders. But instead, he stood committed to his actions: "As the representative officer responsible for the safety and welfare of my men, after investigation and from the information I had, ., . . I ordered the eleven men shot. I thought I was right then, I believe now I was right. Whatever may happen to me I have the sure knowledge that my people know, and I believe the whole world knows, that I am not a murderer."
The court voted eleven to two for acquittal. Headed by an old troop leader and field officer, General Bisbee, it must have weighed the tactical situation and the mitigating factors involved in the case. Many of the court's officers had been through guerilla warfare in both the Philippines and the American West. It seems that they, as Waller's peers, realistically assessed the factors influencing Waller's decisions. Later, in the United States, the Army Judge Advocate General dismissed the entire case as illegal, agreeing that a Marine Corps officer was not subject to an Army court.
The type of combat fought on Samar was some of the most brutal of the Fil-American War. When his native bearers turned on him and his officers, Waller guided his actions on doctrinal orders, the rules of civilized warfare, and an estimation of the tactical situation as he saw it. Upon consultation of his officers and non-commissioned officers, Waller had the natives executed.
The decisions and conduct of men during war or in trying environments may seem questionable to outside observers, but seldom questionable to the participants at the time. The purpose of court-martial is to obtain justice by one's military peers. The officers of the court were little affected by public opinion and high-level politics. The overwhelming majority of the court agreed with the opinions of Waller's officers and the accused, and acquitted Waller for his actions.
Waller's court-martial had effects on its participants and on the country as a whole. It informed the American public as to the type of warfare that was taking place in the Philippines. Even to its most ardent supporters, "benevolent assimilation" had its limits. The trial frustrated American civilian authorities and their attempts to implement their policies in the Philippines.
On 21 April 1902, General Smith was brought to trial on the charge of "conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline" for orders issued to Waller at Samar. He was found guilty and was eventually forced to leave the service. Lieutenant Day was also court-martialed but, like Waller, was acquitted.
Waller continued to serve in the Marine Corps with distinction. In 1910, the "outstanding troop leader of the period" was passed over for Commandant, probably because of his one blemish, the court-martial. Another result was Marine respect. For many years afterward, Marine messes would stand whenever a "Samar battalion" officer was present and toast, "Stand, gentlemen, he served on Samar."
Edited by teufelhunde.ret, 04 September 2007 - 10:53 AM.
Posted 04 September 2007 - 12:29 PM
this tradition continues today at mess nights. However, it has branched into all completed operations. For instance, at a mess night, a Marine officer may stand and say "Gentlemen stand for the Marines who served in the Gulf War", and all Marines present who did not participate in that action would stand and toast, whereas the veterans would remain seated. This does not apply to Iraq or Afghanistan of OIF/OEF for they are ongoing engagements
Posted 04 September 2007 - 01:35 PM
Posted 04 September 2007 - 02:37 PM
Below is what I was going to add until I read Darrell's fine narrative.....
Thanks guys for your kind comments. I was just lucky I had the right research material at hand and the time over the weekend to study them. It is always nice to give a identity back to a photo. Interestingly, most Marines of this period exchanged picture postcards of themselves with each other...a much cheaper form of photograph. However, this image by a Japanese photographer working in Peking was placed upon a hard stock cardboard frame that would have cost a bit more. This makes me wonder how Henry and Flavin interacted while with the Legation....yes, they were in the same company when the detachment split in Oct 1911. But given the legacy of Samar, was Pvt Flavin afforded special status among his fellow men...and therefore looked up to by a first time recruit like Henry. As I said above, another image in the grouping shows a number of Marines outside their barracks, cocky, with trenched EGAs, cigars in their mouths, but down in front is Flavin, wearing just his China ribbon and looking a bit glum....a man clearly older then those around him and by this time far more experienced in combat then anyone else in the group.
Edited by Dirk, 04 September 2007 - 02:40 PM.
Posted 04 September 2007 - 04:49 PM
Posted 04 September 2007 - 04:52 PM
Posted 05 September 2007 - 06:21 AM
By the way, I would love to see some of those other images you mentioned with Pvt Flavin and his fellow Marines.
Posted 05 September 2007 - 07:25 AM
Posted 07 September 2007 - 07:33 AM
It is also notable that good men get crapped on occasionaly by the behind the lines administration types and politicians I guess things will will never change. But I am always encouraged by the stalwart determination of individuals to serve to the best of their capacity and bring honor to themselves and their comrads.
Semper Fi gentlemen.
Posted 07 September 2007 - 09:37 AM
Posted 07 September 2007 - 10:25 AM
STAND, GENTLEMEN, HE SERVED ON SAMAR! Prepared by Joel D. Thacker, Historian, USMC
For a period of some two years following the cessation of hostilities with Spain, some of the wild pagan tribes of the Philippines (about five per
cent of the total population of about seven million) kept the armed forces of the United States busy maintaining order. Although there had been practically no demonstrations by organized insurgents, the U. S. Marines in the district of Subig and Olongapo, Luzon Islands, did good work in ridding the area of various roving bands of ladrones.
The island of Samar had for some time been a veritable hotbed of insurrection. On September 28, 1901, the soldiers of Company C, Ninth
Infantry, stationed at Balangiga, while in the mess hall eating dinner, were massacred by the insurrectos. It was this tragedy of Balangiga that caused
Brigadier General Jacob M. Smith, U.S.A., who was in command of the military district which included the island of Samar, to call for reinforcements,
which brought the U. S. Marines into action on Samar.
On October 20, 1901, a battalion of marines, consisting of Major L. W. T. Waller (commanding), Captains David D. Porter, Robert H. Dunlap, A. J.
Matthews and Hirim I. Bearss, First Lieutenants J. T. Bootes, H. J. A. Day, C. C. Carpenter, A. S. Williams and Harry R. Lay, Second Lieutenants J. P. V.
Gridley, Frank Halford and M. C. Rogers, Surgeon G. A. Lung, Assistant Surgeon J. M. Brister, and 300 enlisted men, U. S. M. C., was detailed at Cavite
(Luzon, P.I.) for duty on the island of Samar, the easternmost of the Visayan group, by Rear Admiral Frederick Rodgers, U.S. Navy, senior squadron
commander of the Asiatic station. Although the marines were placed under the command of Brigadier General Smith, U.S.A., to reenforce and cooperate with the U. S. Army troops on Samar, it was also contemplated that Major Waller's movements
should be supported, as far as possible, by a vessel of the fleet, to which he should make reports from time to time, and through which supplies for his
battalion were to be furnished.
The battalion, composed of Companies C, D and H, First Regiment, and Company F, Second Regiment, equipped in heavy marching order,
embarked on the U. S. Flagship NEW YORK at Cavite, October 22, 1901. The battalion arrived at Catbalogan, Samar, on October 24, and the men and supplies were transferred to the U.S.S. ZAFIRO. Preceded by the U.S.S. FROLIC, carrying Rear Admiral Rodgers and staff and Brigadier General Smith and his aides, the ZAFIRO proceeded through the straits between Samar and Leyte to Tacloban, Leyte, and then to Basey, Samar, where Major Waller disembarked his headquarters and two companies and relieved some units of the Ninth Infantry. The remainder of the battalion took aboard a 3-inch gun and a Colt automatic 6-millimeter gun and proceeded to Balangiga, on the south coast of Samar, where Captain David D. Porter was left in command with 159 men, relieving the 17th U. S. Infantry, with instructions to begin operations as soon as possible. Major Waller then
returned to Bray.
The area assigned to the marines embraced the entire southern part of Samar. Active operations were immediately begun, both at Basey and
Balangiga; small expeditions were sent out almost daily to clear the country of General Vicente Lukbam's guerrillas, who usually operated in small, roving bands. The situation in the vicinity was very tense because of the Balangiga massacre and other recent happenings; hence the measures prescribed for crushing the insurrection were somewhat retaliatory. On November 5, Major Waller took a detachment to the Sohoton River and drove the guerrillas from their trenches there; two marines were killed. A number of small expeditions were sent up the Cadacan River; several of these parties were fired on, but the skirmishes were slight. In an engagement, November 8, at Iba, several insurgents were killed and captured. An expedition under Captain Porter, sent out to scout in the vicinity of Balangiga, killed one insurgent and captured seven, and
found many relics of the massacred men of the Ninth Infantry.
As a result of the continual harassing by the marines along the southern coast of Samar, the insurgents fell back from that region and occupied their fortified defenses on the Sohoton cliffs, along the Sohoton River. About the middle of November three columns of marines were sent into the Sohoton region to attack this stronghold, which had been reported to be practically impregnable. Two of the columns, under the command of Captains Porter and Bearss, marched on shore, while the third column, commanded by Major Waller, went up the river in boats. The plan of attack was for the three columns to unit on November 16 at the enemy's stronghold and make a combined assault.
On November 17, the shore column struck the enemy's trail and soon came upon a number of bamboo guns. One of these guns, emplaced to command the trail, had the fuse burning. Acting corporal Harry Glenn rushed forward and pulled out the fuse. The attack of the marines was a complete surprise, and the enemy was routed. After driving the insurgents from their positions the marines crossed the river and assaulted the cliff defenses. In order to reach the enemy's position, the marines had to climb the cliffs, which rose sheer from the river to the height of about 200 feet and were honeycombed with caves, to which access was had by means of bamboo ladders, and also by narrow
ledges with bamboo hand rails. Tons of rocks were suspended in cages held in position by vine cables (known as bejuco), in readiness to be precipitated upon people and boats below. The marines scaled the cliffs, drove the insurgents from their positions and destroyed their camps. Major Waller's detachment, coming up the river in boats, did not arrive in time for the attack, which fact probably saved it from disaster; instant destruction
would have undoubtedly been the fate of the boats had they undertaken the ascent of the river before the shore column had dislodged the insurgents.
Further pursuit of the enemy at this time was abandoned because the rations were exhausted and the men were in bad shape. The volcanic stone
had cut the men's shoes to pieces, many of them were barefooted, and all had bad feet. The men had overcome incredible difficulties and dangers in their heroic march. The positions which they had destroyed must have taken several years to prepare. Reports from old prisoners said they had been there years working on the defenses. No white troops had ever penetrated to these positions, and they were held as a final rallying point.
The insurrectos of Samar had spent years of labor on the defenses, and considered the cliff fortifications impregnable.
In a communication dated December 5, 1901, Major Waller refers to General Smith's desire that the marines make the march from Basey across the island of Samar to Hernani, for the purpose of selecting a route for for a telegraph wire to connect the east and west coasts. General Smith also asked Major Waller to run wires from Basey to Balangiga, and left to the major's discretion the point of departure from the east coast, either from Hernani or
On December 8, two columns left Basey for Balangiga, one, under command of Major Waller, proceeding along the shore line, and the other, under
Captain Bearss, marching about two miles inland. Stores were sent by the cutter which was kept abreast of the beach column. Although the marines did not encounter any organized resistance, the obstacles of nature which they encountered proved far more deadly than the natives and their many contrivances. Major Waller decided to start his ill-fated march across Samar from Lanang, work up the Lanang River as far as possible, then march to the vicinity of the Sohoton cliffs, which his marines had recently captured.
On arriving at Lanang, Major Waller was urged not to make the attempt, however, he says in his report:Remembering the general's (General Smith's) several talks on thesubject and his evident desire to know the terrain and run wires across, coupled with my own desire for some further knowledge of thepeople and the nature of this heretofore impenetrable country, I decided to make the trial with 50 men and the necessary carriers.
The detachment started from Lanang onthe morning of December 28, 1901, and was composed of the following personnel: Major Littleton W. T. Waller, Captain David D. Porter, Captain Hirim I. Bearss, First Lieutenant A. S. Williams, Second Lieutenant A. C. DeW. Lyles, U. S. Army (Aid sent by
General Smith), Second Lieutenant Frank Halford, 50 enlisted U. S. Marines, 2 native scouts and 33 native carriers. The start was made in boats but when Lagitao was reached, it was found impossible to use them further on account of the numerous rapids; the remainder of the distance was made on foot. One of the most trying features of the march was the necessity for crossing and recrossing the swollen river many times, which kept the men's clothing wet continually. On December 30, it was necessary to issue reduced rations, and the next day the rations had to be cut down to one-half and the number of meals per day to two. The march was continued across the rugged mountains on January 1 and 2. On January 3, the rapidly vanishing food supply and the serious condition of the troops made the situation very critical. The men were becoming ill, their clothing were in rags, their feet were swollen and bleeding, and the trail was lost. After a conference with his officers, Major Waller decided to take Lieutenant Halford and thirteen of the men who were in the best condition and push forward as rapidly as possible and send back a relief party for the main column, which was placed under the command of Captain Porter with instructions to go slowly and follow Major Waller's trail.
The advance column was afterwards joined by Captain Bearss and a corporal, the former carrying a message from Captain Porter. A message was sent back to Captain Porter, directing him to follow the advanced column to a clearing which had been found where there was a quantity of sweetpotatoes, bananas and young cocoanut palms, and to rest there until his men were in condition to continue the march. This message did notreach Porter, however, as the native by whom it was sent returned two days later, stating that there were so many
insurrectos about that he was afraid.
On January 4, Major Waller's party rushed a shack and captured five natives, among whom were a man and a boy who stated that they knew the way to Basey. After crossing the Sohoton River, the famous Spanish trail leading from the Sohoton caves to the Suribao River was discovered and followed. The party crossed the Loog River and proceeded through the valley to Banglay, on the Cadacan River. Near this point the party came upon the camp which Captain Dunlap had established to await their arrival. Major Waller's party went aboard Captain Dunlap's cutter and started for Basey, where they arrived on anuary 6, 1902.
Concerning the condition of the men of his party, Major Waller says:The men, realizing that all was over and that they were safe and once more near home, gave up. Some quietly wept; others laughedhysterically....Most of them had no shoes. Cut, torn, bruised and dilapidated, they had marched without murmur for twenty-nine days.
Immediately after the arrival of the detachment at Basey, a relief party was sent back to locate Captain Porter's party. The following day Major Waller joined this relief party, and remained out nine days searching for signs of Captain Porter without success. The floods were terrific and several
of the former camp sites were many feet under water. The members of the relief party began to break down, due to the many hardships and the lack of food, and the party had to return to Basey. Upon returning to Basey, Major Waller was taken sick with fever.
Meanwhile Captain Porter had decided to retrace the trail to Lanang and ask for a relief party to be sent out for his men, the most of whom were
unable to march. He chose seven marines who were in the best condition and with six natives, set out January 3 for Lanang. He left Lieutenant Williams in charge of the remainder of the detachment with orders to follow as the condition of the men would permit. Lieutenant Porter's return to Lanang was made under difficulties many times greater than those encountered during the march to the interior. Food was almost totally lacking, and heavy rains filled the streams making it almost impossible to follow down their banks or cross them as was so often necessary. On January 11, Captain Porter reached Lanang and reported the situation to Captain Pickering, the Army Commander at that place. A relief expedition was organized to go for the remainder of the marines but it was unable to start for several days because of the swollen Lanang River. Without food, yet realizing that starvation was certain if they remained in camp, Lieutenant Williams and his men slowly followed Captain Porter's trail, leaving men behind one by one to die beside the trail when it was no longer possible for them to continue. One man went insane; the native carriers became mutinous and some of them attacked Lieutenant Williams with bolos. After having left ten marines to die along the trail, Lieutenant Williams was finally met by the
relief party on the morning of January 18 and taken back to Lanang.
Lieutenant Williams, left in charge of the weakest men of the xpedition, undoubtedly had the most trying task of the whole unfortunate affair. The full circumstances of his attempt to extricate these exhausted men from the midst of that wild tropical jungle is one of the most tragic yet the most heroic episode in Marine Corps history. The entire march across Samar was about 190 miles. Major Waller's march, including his return with the party
searching for Captain Porter, was about 250 miles.
Major Waller's detachment of marines was withdrawn from Samar and returned to Cavite on March 2, 1902, after having been relieved by troops of
the U. S. Army.For many years, thereafter, officers and men of the United States Marine Corps paid a traditional tribute to the indomitable courage of these marines by rising in their presence with the following words of homage: "STAND, GENTLEMEN, HE SERVED ON SAMAR!"
Posted 07 September 2007 - 06:19 PM
Gentlemen I have enjoyed this thread so much. THANKYOU.
Posted 12 September 2007 - 11:22 AM
David Dixon Porter Major General, United States Marine Corps.Born on April 29, 1877, the son of Lieutenant Colonel Carlile Patterson Porter and the grandson of Admiral David Dixon Porter, he was the sixth generation of a military family. As a Captain, he earned the Medal of Honor in the Philippines when at Samoa, he led his men up a 200-foot cliff using bamboo ladders, and drove the enemy from nearly impregnable positions. He then cross the river and did the same thing on the other side, destroying positions that it took the enemy three years to construct.
He later served in Panama, Haiti, Santo Domingo and World War I. Upon his retirement he was promoted to Major General on the retired list.
He died at home in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on February 25, 1944 and was buried in Section 2 of Arlington National Cemetery, not far from his famous grandfather.
Medal of Honor Citation:For extraordinary heroism and eminent and conspicuous conduct in battle at the junction of the Cadacan and Sohoton Rivers, Samar, Philippine Islands, 17 November 1901. In command of the columns upon their uniting ashore in the Sohoton Region, Col. Porter (then Capt. ) made a surprise attack on the fortified cliffs and completely routed the enemy, killing 30 and capturing and destroying the powder magazine, 40 lantacas (guns), rice, food and cuartels. Due to his courage, intelligence, discrimination and zeal, he successfully led his men up the cliffs by means of bamboo ladders to a height of 200 feet. The cliffs were of soft stone of volcanic origin, in the nature of pumice and were honeycombed with caves. Tons of rocks were suspended in platforms held in position by vines and cables (known as bejuco) in readiness to be precipitated upon people below. After driving the insurgents from their position which was almost impregnable, being covered with numerous trails lined with poisoned spears, pits, etc., Col. Porter led his men across the river, scaled the cliffs on the opposite side, and destroyed the camps there. He and the men under his command overcame incredible difficulties and dangers in destroying positions which, according to reports from old prisoners, had taken 3 years to perfect, were held as a final rallying post, and were never before penetrated by white troops. Col. Porter also rendered distinguished public service in the presence of the enemy at Quinapundan River, Samar, Philippine Islands, on 26 October 1901.
Posted 12 September 2007 - 02:59 PM
Posted 24 September 2007 - 09:51 AM
Hiram Iddings Bearss (13 April 1875 – August 28, 1938) was an officer of the United States Marine Corps who was awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism during the Philippine-American War and the Distinguished Service Cross for his valor in World War I. Bearss was born 13 April 1875 in Peru, Indiana. His nickname was "Hiking Hiram"
During World War I, Bearss served in France with the 4th Marine Brigade, and commanded the 102nd Infantry at Marcheville in 1918, for which he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. Colonel Bearss died in 1938 in an automobile collision. In 1943, the destroyer USS Bearss (DD-654) was named in his honor.
HIRAM IDDINGS BEARSS
Rank and organization: Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps. Born: 13 April 1875, Peru, Ind. Appointed from: Indiana. Other Navy award: Distinguished Service Medal. Citation: For extraordinary heroism and eminent and conspicuous conduct in battle at the junction of the Cadacan and Sohoton Rivers, Samar, Philippine Islands, 17 November 1901. Col. Bearss (then Capt.), second in command of the columns upon their uniting ashore in the Sohoton River region, made a surprise attack on the fortified cliffs and completely routed the enemy, killing 30 and capturing and destroying the powder magazine, 40 lantacas (guns), rice, food and cuartels. Due to his courage, intelligence, discrimination and zeal, he successfully led his men up the cliffs by means of bamboo ladders to a height of 200 feet. The cliffs were of soft stone of volcanic origin, in the nature of pumice, and were honeycombed with caves. Tons of rocks were suspended in platforms held in position by vine cables (known as bejuco) in readiness to be precipitated upon people below. After driving the insurgents from their position which was almost impregnable, being covered with numerous trails lined with poison spears, pits, etc., he led his men across the river, scaled the cliffs on the opposite side, and destroyed the camps there. Col. Bearss and the men under his command overcame incredible difficulties and dangers in destroying positions which, according to reports from old prisoners, had taken 3 years to perfect, were held as a final rallying point, and were never before penetrated by white troops. Col. Bearss also rendered distinguished public service in the presence of the enemy at Quinapundan River, Samar, Philippine Islands, on 19 January 1902.
Posted 24 September 2007 - 07:57 PM
Posted 25 September 2007 - 01:39 AM
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