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Niblack, A. P. "Operations of the Navy & Marine Corps in the Philippine Archipelago, 1898-1902." United States Naval Institute Proceedings. 30, no. 4 (December 1904): 745-53.

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Operations of the Navy and Marine Corps
in the Philippine Archipelago, 1898-1902

By Lieutenant-Commander A. P. Niblack, U. S. Navy.

While the services of the Navy and Marine Corps in the wars with Great Britain, with Tripoli, and with Spain, have been so commanding as to receive universal recognition, equally important but less conspicuous service in the Mexican and Civil Wars have been entirely overshadowed by those of the Army. Only the student may learn that, in the Civil War, the supplies of the Confederacy were cut off and the South starved out by the most remarkable blockade in history, and that by the naval operations in the Mississippi River and adjacent waters the backbone of the Republic was broken.

The Navy and Marine Corps are suffering to-day from a similar eclipse in the matter of the Philippine Insurrection. The peace proclamation of July 4, 1902, does not mention in the slightest the services of the Navy and Marine Corps, and gives to the Army the entire credit for the suppression of the insurrection.

In looking over the annual reports of the chief of the Bureau of Navigation from 1898 to 1902 inclusive, and of the commandant of the Marine Corps for the same period, it seems that the detailed reports of commanding officers are rather meager. Many direct engagements and many actions in co-operation with the Army are not mentioned. Certainly if the facts are not given in official reports, the public at large may be excused for being ignorant.

Herewith is published a summary, chronologically arranged, of the engagements and incidents of the entire campaign of the Navy and Marine Corps in the Philippine Archipelago from 1898 to July 1, 1902, inclusive, as set forth in printed reports, supplemented by a few unmentioned ones known to the writer. It is hoped that other officers, both of the Navy and Marine Corps, will supplement this summary with dates and facts of other operations within their knowledge, and that the Naval Institute will publish a revised summary of events as a permanent record. This is not intended for the benefit of any individual, but merely as record of the bare facts of history. Some one may later take it upon himself to expand the outline into a fuller history before it is too late to stem the tide of popular ignorance and indifference. Many officers, from a false sense of modesty, have thought so little of their own work as to neglect to report operations reflecting credit upon themselves, but esprit de corps is a more important consideration than the gratification of such feelings, and the interests of the individual are as nothing compared with those of the service at large.



May 1. Manila Bay.

May 1 to August 13. Blockade of Manila.

July 8. Raleigh and Concord took Grande Island, Subic Bay, and captured the Spanish garrison of Olongapo.

August 13. Admiral Dewey's squadron co-operated with the Army in the taking or surrender of Manila.

December 26. Baltimore convoyed General Miller's expedition to Iloilo.


February 6. Insurgent attack on Manila. Fleet participates actively in the repulse.

February 13. Boston and Petrel bombarded Iloilo and took the town, the Army expedition under Brigadier-General Miller participating.

February 22. Landing party from U.S.S. Petrel occupied Cebu.

March 9 to 17. Bennington convoyed Army expedition to the Southern Islands.

March 11 to 15. Boston visited Zamboanga and Sulu Islands to reconnoitre. Inspected Spanish gunboats.

March 31. Baltimore bombarded insurgent trenches at Dagupan, Lyngayen Gulf.

April 12. Yorktown at Baler. Gilmore captured.

April 13 to 20. Concord and Petrel convoyed purchased Spanish gunboats from Zamboanga to Manila.

June 16. Oregon destroyed insurgent trenches at Anda, Lyngayen Gulf.

June to December. Castine cruised in Sulu Archipelago, first uprising of natives prior to Army occupation, after-co-operating with Army.

September 10. Bennington shelled fortifications at Legaspi.

Septembber 14. Concord and Monterey destroyed two insurgent schooners at Aparri.

September 16. Monadnock and small gunboats shelled fortifications back of Cebu.

September 17. U.S.S. Urdaneta was captured and burned in the Orani River.

September 18. MontereyCharlestonConcord, and Zafiro shelled insurgent battery at Olongapo, Subic Bay.

September 23. Battalion of sailors and marines from the BaltimoreCharleston, and Concord, under command of Lieutenant J.C. McDonald, U.S.N., landed at Olongapo and destroyed a 5-inch gun mounted by insurgents.

October 3. Sailors and marines from the U.S.S. Baltimore, and marines from Cavite, joined Army in attack and capture of insurgent forces at Imus.

October 8. Battalion of marines from Cavite, under Lieutenant G.F. Elliot, U.S.M.C, took Noveleta, 2 killed, 14 wounded, U.S.S. Petreland Wheeling co-operating.

October 15. Concord bombarded town of Tigbanan and prevented insurgents crossing to Negros Island.

October 23. Gunboat Paragua co-operated with Army in seizing the ports of Bonati, Ajui, Concepcion, Estancia, and Capiz on Panay Island.

October 29. Concord bombarded Bonati.

November 5. Concord bombarded San Juan de Buena Vista.

November 7. PrincetonBenningtonManilaHelenaSamarCallao convoyed General Wheaton's expedition, bombarded San Fabian, and covered landing of forces.

November 16. Castine and Manila took Zamboanga, and later convoyed troops and participated in the occupation of the Sulu islands.

November 25. Oregon landed battalion, captured Vigan (2 miles in the interior) and rescued 350 Spanish prisoners, getting the first news of Gilmore's whereabouts.

November 27. Concord assisted troops in the capture of Bonati.

December 5. Newark reinforced Army garrison at Vigan.

December 6. Concord assisted at the taking of Ajui.

December 10. Baltimore and Oregon participated with expedition under General Grant in the capture of Olongapo, Subic Bay, and ships garrisoned Olongapo with marines.

December 10 to 29. NewarkPrinceton and Helena received the surrender of Aparri, the Northern Islands and the northern provinces of Luzon.

December 16. Concord assisted in the capture of Romblon.

December 20. Capt. Draper, U.S.M.C., with force from Cavite, occupied Olongapo, Subic Bay, as a garrison.

December. During this month the Wheeling and Panay co-operated with the army along the northwest coast of Luzon.

During 1899, marine garrisons were established, in addition to Cavite, at Olongapo, Port Isabela, Balbac L. H., Malabrigo L. H. Cabras, L. H., Capones, L. H., Cape Melville, L. H. Caridad, Dalahican, Sangley Pt., San Roque, Canacao, and Santiago L. H.

The following ships were engaged, in addition to the above-mentioned duties, in patroling, blockading, and intercepting insurgent commerce and food supply, and in co-operating with the Army by communicating with them, carrying supplies, transporting them from place to place, and assisting in maintaining their communications: AlbanyBaltimoreBenningtonCallaoCastineCalamianes,CharlestonConcordCulgoaGuardoquiHelenaManilaMontereyManilenoMarivelesMindoroMonadnockPampangaParagua,PetrelPrincetonOregonOlympiaSamarNewarkWheelingIrisGlacierUrdanetaYorktownBasco, and Zafiro.


During this year the following ships were engaged principally in patrol duty, blockading insurgent ports or intercepting trade between them: BaltimoreBascoDon Juan de AustriaCalamianesGeneral AlavaGuardoquiIsla de LuzonLeyte, and Princeton.

The following ships were also engaged in similar work at times, but were principally in active cooperation with the Army in convoying expeditions, covering the landing operations, carrying detachments of troops, maintaining communications, and assisting in the operations by bombarding, etc.: BenningtonGuardoquiCastineConcordHelenaManilaManilenoMariettaMindoroNashville,NewarkNew OrleansOregonPampanga, ParaguaPetrelQuirosSamarVillalobosWheelingYorktown, and Zafiro. The details as to dates and extent of service are set forth in the cruising reports.

Numerous additional posts were garrisoned by detachments of marines, but the operations in China withdrew suddenly a large portion of the officers and men available.

January. Princeton took possession of the Batan Islands.

February 16. Small marine detachment near Olongapo was attacked by insurgents and two men killed.

February 17. Punitive expedition under Captain H. C. Draper, U.S.M.C, from Olongapo, attacked town of Morong, and destroyed insurgent blockhouse, arsenal and ammunition.

February 23. Nashville bombarded town of Benictican near Olongapo, and marine detachment destroyed town.

February 27-28. Expedition on General Alava, under command of Lieutenant J. H. Gibbons, U.S.N., in Gulf of Ragay, rescued and captured 522 persons, prisoners in the hands of the insurgents, including 10 Americans, 460 Spanish officers and soldiers, and a number of priests and friendly Filipinos.

March 5. Nashville landed a Marine detachment from Olongapo, under Captain Draper, U.S.M.C, and in co-operation with the Army took the town of Bagac, capturing arms and ammunition.

March 8. Lieutenant Logan Feland, U.S.M.C., commanding a Marine detachment from Olongapo, captured the town of Calapacuan and destroyed insurgent provisions.

April 7. Marietta took possession of town of Baler, Island of Luzon.

April 9. Marine detachment on Leyte drove insurgents from town of Calaguaguin near Olongapo.

May 13. Pampanga engaged insurgents at Masin, Island of Leyte.

May 25. Pampanga shelled insurgent trenches at Santa Margarita, Island of Leyte.

May-June. Paragua engaged insurgents at Pathongon and Jaland River, Island of Panay.

June 29. Concord shelled insurgent trenches at Catbalogan.

July 6-15. Concord and Marietta shelled insurgent trenches at Catbalogan.

July 20. Concord shelled insurgents at Kalbayac.

September 19. Landing party from Isla de Cuba occupied Malabang.


During this year the following ships were engaged in patrol duty, blockading insurgent ports or intercepting trade between them, and in active cooperation with the Army in convoying expeditions, covering the landing of troops, carrying detachments of troops, maintaining communications and assisting in the operations by bombarding, or by landing men from the ships: AnnapolisArayat,BascoCalamianesGuardoquiCastineConcordDon Juan de AustriaFrolicIsla de CubaIsla de LuzonLeyteMariettaMariveles,MindoroNew YorkPampangaPanayParaguaPetrelPrincetonPiscataquaQuirosSamarVickesburgUrdanetaWampatuck,Yorktown, and Zafiro.

In the annual reports of the chief of the Bureau of Navigation for 1901 and 1902, giving the summaries of the cruising reports in the "Movement of Vessels," the report of the Don Juan de Austria is a model of clearness and effectiveness. For the first three months of 1901 it covers nearly five printed pages. The activities of other ships are in many cases covered in a few vague lines, or the interesting details are concealed in such remarks as "Co-operating with Army," "Cruising on station," "Communicating with garrison," etc. Full reports of operations are supposedly on file elsewhere. On the other hand, the commandant of the Marine Corps publishes full details of all operations of Marine detachments, and incidentally the operations of ships in connection therewith. There is also always a full list of all medals of honor and commendatory letters.

The following summary is taken from the "remarks" in cruising reports for 1901, and from the report of the command of the Marine Corps. The Don Juan de Austria is abbreviated to Austria, and only a few of the numerous recorded operations are given in the summary:

January 17. Austria shelled insurgent outpost at Donsol.

January 20. Boat expedition from Austria to Buena Vista secured 12 prisoners.

January 28. Army expedition assisted by detachment from Austria landed at Maringondon and made a successful attack upon the insurgents.

January 31. Expedition from Austria landed at Jamuraon, drove off insurgents and destroyed supplies.

February 2. Austria surprised the town of Claveria at dawn, capturing many insurgents and valuable papers.

February 3. Same service at the town of San Pascual.

February 4. Austria returned to Claveria, and "brought on board several persons, including Padre, shown by captured documents to be active insurgents."

(The brief record of the Don Juan de Austria given above is but for a few weeks, but throughout the year the cruising report shows continued activities, and it is too long to quote.)

February 26. Calamianes engaged insurgents at Agusan River, Island of Mindanao. Ensign A. N. McCarthy, U.S.N., commanding, was commended for this service.

March 18-28. Vicksburg co-operated with the Army in the capture of Aguinaldo.

October 24. New York landed two companies of marines at Samar Island, relieving Ninth Infantry.

October 25. VicksburgFrolic and Zafiro landed 159 marines at Balangiga, Samar Island, relieving Seventh Infantry.

October 28. Vicksburg destroyed insurgent supplies at Gigosi.

October and November. Vicksburg engaged in combined operations with Army in islands of Leyte and Samar.

November. Annapolis engaged in investigating slave trade.

November 5. Detachment of marines, under Major Waller, defeated insurgents at Sohoton.

November 8. Marines defeated insurgents at Iba, killing 9, and capturing 11.

November 9. Marine detachment, under Captain Porter, engaged insurgents near Balangiga, killing 1, and capturing 7.

November 13-14. Second attack on insurgents at Sohoton, 12 killed.

November 17. Marine detachment surprised insurgents near Sohoton.

December 28. Marines, under Major Waller, started from Lanang to march across Island of Samar, a distance of about 190 miles.


Peace proclamation July 4, but previous to this, the following services were rendered by the Navy and Marine Corps:

The following ships were engaged in patrol duty, blockading insurgent ports, etc., and co-operating with the Army and Marine Corps:AnnapolisArayatBascoCalamianesDon Juan de AustriaFrolicGuardoquiGeneral AlavaIsla de CubaIsla de LuzonMindoro,PampangaPanayParaguaPiscataquaPrincetonQuirosVillalabosWompatuckYorktown, and Zafiro.

Throughout the cruising reports for 1899, 1900, 1901, and 1902, it is surprising to note the number of times the various ships were engaged in pulling Army transports off the various reefs and shoals.

January 4. Marine detachment, under Lieutenant Carpenter, attacked insurgents at Odoc, Island of Samar, killing 8, and capturing 4.

January 6. Major Waller's expedition reached Basey after crossing the Island of Samar, enduring great hardships.

January 11. Captain Porter's detachment, from Major Waller's column, reached Lanang.

January 18. Lieutenant Williams's detachment, from Major Waller's column, reached Lanang.

January 19. Captain Bearss, with detachment of Marines, established outpost at Quinapundan.

January 25. Lieut. Gridley, with detachment of Marines, defeated the insurgents at Iba.

Samar Battalion of Marines, under Major Waller, returned to Cavite March 2, 1902.

As a digression, it may be interesting to consider the system of rewards to officers and men of the Navy and Marine Corps in connection with the services rendered. In General Order No. 55, of July 19, 1901, the Navy Department published a list of medals of honor and commendatory letters issued to officers and enlisted men of the Navy and Marine Corps for services in China, the Philippines, etc. Of the medals of honor, 56 were for services in China and 7 for the Philippines. Of the commendatory letters, 35 were for services in China, and 15 for the Philippines. This list is certainly not complete. The value of official recognition depends upon the promptness and certainty of its bestowal. A full list of the officers and men of the Navy and Marine Corps who have received medals of honor or letters of commendation for services in the Philippines should now be published.

The individuals who get numbers or medals of honor or commendatory letters, of course owe something to special opportunity. The sinking of the Merrimac at Santiago was all right, but there were enough volunteers to sink a mile of such ships. The opportunity to be allowed to sink her was a reward in itself and quite a sufficient one for the individual, but in conferring special honors on its brave and daring, a service also honors itself. When Great Britain makes field marshals and peers of its distinguished soldiers, it loses nothing in reflected military prestige, and it is this view of the case that we seem to miss. In honoring Hobson and his crew, the Navy honored itself. That is the important point.


Published: Mon Nov 27 16:40:06 EST 2017