Read THE BATTLE OF MACIU of The Battle of Bayan and Other Battles , free online book, by James Edgar Allen John J. Reidy, on ReadCentral.com.

A MUCH NEEDED REST.

The troops were given five days in which to rest and recuperate, for the reader can easily imagine the hardships, privations, and sufferings which are undergone by soldiers while on the march, especially where there are no roads of any description, save the narrow, rugged, and, in many places, impassable trails, which are met with all through the island of Mindanao.

Therefore it was practically necessary that, after six days of continual marching through the thick brush of this island, they should be given ample time in which to attain that standard of physique which is the most characteristic mark of the American soldier.

It was the morning of the 28th of September, the bright sun had risen gorgeously over the white tented plain, the azure blue sky was now clear, save a few clouds that still rested lazily on the hill-tops, and all nature’s splendors and attractions were everywhere to be seen.

To the inexperienced observer it would seem that the Moros and Americans were living together in happy unison with each other in this, the most remote of American garrisons. But this was not so, for ere another hour had dragged itself lazily into the dim, misty past, the sons of fair Columbia were in complete readiness to march from the camp over many a weary mile to measure the cold steel with the defiant, haughty, and semi-savage Sultan of Maciu, and proud to state, under command of Captain John J. Pershing, to whom is justly attributed the success, the achievements, and all conquering abilities of the brave soldiers under his command at Camp Vicars.

THE EXPEDITION STARTS.

The expedition is complete and after being inspected by the Commanding General is not only complimented by him on their general uniformity and appearances, but are also pronounced fit to compete with the most sanguineous and daring adversary.

At 8 a.m. the command “Forward March” was heard by every anxious soldier who was to be a participant in the coming event, and amid the cheers, farewells, and good wishes of our comrades, we advanced in single file from the camp over the now well known trail leading to the territories of the Sultan of Maciu.

The expedition was composed of the same troops as that of the preceding campaign, except in addition there was Troop “A,” 15th Cavalry.

The men were by this time beginning to grow accustomed to this singular style of marching from previous experiences, and that, together with the impatient anxiety they had to meet Maciu’s tribe in battle, added new strength and vigor to every man as onward they pressed over high hills, through deep ravines and swift-flowing rivers until, with the fire of military and true national determination written on every face, the column arrived and halted once again on the hill-top overlooking the now fallen stronghold of Bayubao with which the reader is already familiar.

ENCAMPED FOR THE NIGHT.

No time was lost until we were again encamped at the foot of the hill about 100 yards from the lake shore. We immediately set to work to cook our much needed supper, which was devoured greedily by every dust-stained warrior of the command, regardless of the rules of etiquette, after which we sought a “soft spot” on nature’s expansive bed, in which to lay our weary bones for the night.

But even a soldier’s life has, despite its many seemingly insurmountable obstacles, many a romantic charm, for who would not like to lay gently upon the lap of earth with the soft side of a haversack for a pillow, and the green foliage of the graceful bamboo trees for a canopy, and be lulled to sleep by the wild rustling of the leaves wafted to and fro before the gentle zéphyrs. Everything remained at a peaceable standard during the night with nothing to break the “chain of silence,” save the rippling of the waters in the lake below.

But even a sleep such as this, under such unusual and unaccommodating circumstances, has an unwelcomed limit, and ours came with the first streaks of grey dawn that broke through our foliaged canopied beds, and again each soldier of American loyalty began to kindle his fire, with which to cook his breakfast, for on such occasions as this each soldier is his own cook, waiter, and dishwasher combined.

Soon after breakfast the real work of opening the trail began, rifles were quickly supplanted by shovels, picks and axes, and in a very few moments every soldier was equipped with tools, which they began to use with unanimous energy and willingness during the greater part of the day. And it was truly wonderful to see those brave soldiers working untiringly, chopping heavy trees, digging and filling deep ravines, leveling stout barricades, all working diligently for that one aim which was to be the downfall of Maciu.

This work was kept up unceasingly until the passage or trail was opened to the Maciu peninsula, a distance of two miles. It was the afternoon of the second day, which was the 30th of September, before we finally reached our destination, where there was an unexpected surprise in store for us.

FIRED UPON.

The natives, having known that our object was to cross through this skirt of woodland, had awaited our arrival on the opposite side. And as soon as the first file of the “advance guard” passed from the woods into the open plain beyond, they met with a storm of bullets from the enemy. They then moved forward into the open beyond as quickly as possible, after which they unanimously returned the enemy’s fire. The firing was fast, and not without effect, for ere the gloom of night began to descend upon us, many a native of Mindanao had sacrificed his semi-barbarous life for his freedom.

It now began to grow dark, and fearing lest we should be overtaken by the shadows of night in the dense woods, Captain Pershing gave orders to the column to return to Bayubao for the night.

The trail, our most important obstruction, was now cleared and it was with impatience and sleepless expectancy we awaited the first glimmer of dawn. At last came the day when the true, fearless soldiers were to march against Maciu’s tribe. We shared together a hurried breakfast and about 7 a.m. we advanced under the cool shadows of the interwoven foliage, over many a rough boulder, until after two hours of rough marching we arrived in the open space beyond the woods.

We had not marched over three-hundred yards of this new territory when the natives began firing at the head of the column, but without effect, for as soon as the smoke from their rifles could be seen, a volley was fired at them by the soldiers. In a few moments we had gained the summit of the hill, and here we halted to await the arrival of the Battery, which was some distance in the rear, for not more than 400 yards in front of the skirmish line was a fort from which shots were fired at regular and frequent intervals. We did not return the fire this time, knowing as we did that rifle fire was of no avail against a fortification such as this proved itself to be.

The Battery soon arrived, and, in less time than it takes to relate it, they were ready for action, being about 400 yards from the fort. As soon as the first shot from the Artillery was fired the Moros began to abandon the fort and were going in the direction of Maciu. The Infantry had formed a semi-circular skirmish line around the stronghold and now, the Battery having ceased firing, they began to move forward, closing around the fort. At last they reached it and after scaling its high walls, they found that the greater part of its inmates had fled, taking their arms with them. The soldiers soon began to destroy the fort, and in a very few moments it was reduced to ashes.

The column again took up the trail leading towards the lake front destroying, as they went, everything in the shape of forts or strongholds which they encountered, and from which they had been fired upon.

Perhaps the reader may think or imagine our dealings with the Moros of the Lake region to be of a cruel nature. To this I can only state that having been amongst them since the origin of hostilities in the island of Mindanao, up to the present date, and having become rather familiar with their treachery and cruelties to American soldiers, wherever they could get a chance, I think as far as my judgment is concerned that they have been given a lesson which, to say the least, they richly deserve.

We captured some five or six minor fortifications during this day, and towards evening we proceeded towards the lake front, to encamp for the ensuing night, for it was an absolute necessity to procure water for the men and horses, as quickly as possible.

That night was spent in thought, and in anticipation of the doings of the approaching day, for it was the day designated for the capture of the Maciu stronghold. We broke camp at an early hour and at 7 a.m. we were again on the march, this time in a new direction. We had not been marching over two hours when the word was quietly passed along the line that the Maciu stronghold was in sight.

We now began to think more seriously as we were nearing our long looked for destination, for well we knew that the Moros, having consolidated here were determined to fight to the last.

We were, however, perfectly willing and ready to face Maciu and his tribesmen in open combat, and meet whatever fate awaited us, without a murmur.

The column was ordered to deploy right and left in skirmish line, and advance towards the fort, in order that they could more easily and readily command a view of the outer surroundings of the enclosure, and prevent, if possible, the escape of any of the blood-thirsty Moros whose wild cries we could now hear within.

The Battery, having halted in front of the fort, was immediately brought into action. Then suddenly a deafening noise was heard by all, the noise which, though too familiar to many of us, was nevertheless to make even a brave soldier tremble. The Artillery had opened up on the left. “Boom! Boom!!” went the cannons, and a rain of solid shot and shrapnel was hurled at the fort, and for a space of a moment nothing could be seen but the flying fragments, and splinters of bamboo and debris hurled high in the air.

The clouds of smoke soon cleared away and then something happened unexpectedly, and which surprised every American soldier in that vicinity. A thick, black volume of smoke arose in the direction of the fortress, then a flash, and a deafening noise, as if the merciless waves of the Pacific were beating against the granite ribbed cliffs.

They had replied to our firing. Boom! went the lantacas, followed by a volley from the rifles, and then it behoved every true American to “lay low” for a few moments.

It now looked as if our expectations were going to be fulfilled to the last. There was a moment of silence and again the Battery opened up in real earnest, and a more exciting scene could not be witnessed than to see the havoc wrought on that fort by the guns. Bang! Bang!! went the shots in rapid succession, and bamboo, rocks, and flying fragments were hurled hundreds of feet in every direction, but still the Moros kept firing and crying in wild religious ecstasy to their Mohammedan God.

Captain Pershing, who had been coolly riding about the fort to Artillery, Infantry, and Cavalry, now decided to order two of the guns brought to the right of the fort. This was done immediately and from right and left they cut loose, determined to accomplish their aim.

But instead of this, they were surprised, when the Moros poured a withering fire at them and crude lead balls and fragments of iron were dropping in the midst of the troops.

It was now 2 p.m. and it looked as if Maciu’s stronghold was impregnable indeed, for we had been firing steadily since 9 a.m. and nothing of importance had, as yet, been accomplished.

The Battery now moved towards the fort from both sides, until they were within fifty yards of them, and it may be well to mention that it never has been known in the history of battles where Artillery has engaged an enemy at so short a range. They had now taken up their new positions and began to fire at the fort from both sides, this time with great effect. But still the Moros remained obstinate to the last singing wildly their religious songs to their God “Allah” in the very midst of the struggle.

The day was now drawing to a close and yet the firing kept on. However, at 4 p.m. the command “cease firing” was given, and with that ended that day’s struggle for us, but not for the natives, for they, thinking that the Americans were about to abandon the fort at the approach of night, still kept up the firing. But in this they were mistaken, for instead of returning to the camp, the Americans still held their position, closing in gradually on the fort, in order to prevent the escape of any of the Moros during the ensuing night.

The commanding officer, seeing that they were determined to hold out until the bitter end, now issued orders for the construction of scaling ladders with which to gain admittance to the fort. Work was immediately begun on them but they were destined never to be used for that purpose at least, for about midnight the Moros, finding that we were still determined to hold our positions, decided to attempt an escape from the enclosure.

The night was unusually dark, and the clouds were hanging low over the lake, rendering it almost impossible to see or distinguish an object at a greater distance than fifty feet. The Americans had anticipated their escape, and consequently were in constant readiness at all times during the night. Then suddenly a shot was heard which had been fired by some vigilant sentinel on guard, then another, and another.

It now became evident that they had charged the lines and were making a dash for liberty. In an instant every soldier was on the alert. They kept on coming, however, seemingly regardless of death or the rain of bullets. But few of them escaped or even lived to tell the tale, for as fast as they left the fort they were being shot down by a constant stream of fire from the Infantry, and when the morning dawned it was found that the Sultan of Maciu, with many another leader and tribesman, had fallen, never to breathe again.

During the struggle, the Sultan Cabugatan of Maciu, seeing that his efforts to suppress the Americans were in vain, rushed into camp, bolo in hand, in wild, frenzied excitement, determined to slay in cold blood everybody wearing an American uniform. But his savage intentions were brought to a speedy termination by the troops, who, on seeing him approach them, rushed towards him and overpowered him. However, he unfortunately succeeded in seriously wounding one of the best and bravest soldiers in the command, Private Richard G. Macbeth, of Co. “F” 27th U. S. Infantry, whose bravery in time of danger had made him an unanimous favorite among his comrades. Another victim of this savage Sultan was Pvt. James Nolan, Jr., of Co. “G” 27th U. S. Infantry, who, having been detailed as a scout, had fearlessly advanced upon one of the forts in order to secure, if possible, some information regarding their position and strength. He had reached the outer entrance when he met a storm of bullets from within, one of them hitting him in the right eye, inflicting a wound from which he suffered great pain.

But their sufferings were doubly avenged, for many a hitherto unconquerable Moro has fallen upon the green and now deserted territories of the Sultan of Maciu, with the bones of his mortal composition bleaching on the green sward, under the tropical sun of his native skies.

“Where once in triumph on his trackless plains
The haughty Moro Sultan loved to reign,
With shacks proportioned to his native sky,
Strength in his arm, and lightning in his eye,
He roamed with uncovered feet, his sun-illumined zone.
The dirk, the bolo, and the spear his own;
Or lead the combat wild without a plan
An artless savage, but a fearless man.
But his ‘sun’ of triumph, has set to rise no more
O’er the quiet waters of Lake Lanao’s shores.”

It is now January 1, 1903, and the Moro campaign is drawn to a successful and favorable close, and “Old Glory” of fair “Columbia” is now unfurled to the gentle touch of the oriental zéphyrs on the hill-tops of Mindanao, for all time to come.

The Trumpeter’s “Last Call” at Fort Maciu.

(By John J. Reidy.)

Bleeding, sore, and wounded, and by my foes surrounded,
The Trumpet once I sounded, no longer can be heard,
For it lies dust-stained and gory, and by the dust corroding,
Where once I blew melodious that call that cowards dread.

No longer in the battles will I call the boys to rally
Through dark ravines or valleys, for freedom and for right,
For my life’s blood fast is flowing, and I am left alone
To die and to bemoan my fate at Maciu’s fight.

“Stay, Comrade, do not leave me alone upon the field
Where the savage Moros wield their bolos and their spears,
For I may yet survive to see Maciu’s tribe
Like savage cowards beat a long retreat.”

Again I see in fancy the scenes in dear old Boston,
Where in childhood days I wondered free from care and strife;
The unforgotten homestead, surrounded by the foliage.
Where oft my welcomed footsteps have echoed through the night.

My last hour is approaching: death’s dismal cloud is o’er me;
But being a true-blue soldier, I murmur not to die.
To-morrows sun shall find me far from the skirmish line
So to comrades left behind, I bid a long Good-bye.