Spanish American War 1898
I am Petty Officer Arnold Wojciechowski of the USS Olympia, a cruiser commissioned by the US Navy in 1895. The Spanish-American War resulted form the ongoing Cuban and Philippine Wars of Independence. Exaggerated newspaper accounts of "atrocities" committed by the Spanish in Cuba incensed the American public. To underscore American concern, the Battleship Maine sailed to Havana, but at 9:40PM on February 15, 1898, the Maine sank in the harbor after a massive explosion, which killed 266 sailors. I had served with some of those boys and my mates and I were hopping mad, as was the rest of the United States. The Navy concluded a month later that the powder magazines blew due to an external explosion under the ship' s hull. The newspapers blamed a mine and screamed for action. Congress declared war on April 25, 1898. On May 1, 1898, Commodore Dewey—with his flag aboard Olympia—steamed us into Manila Bay in the Philippines. At approximately 5:40AM, we began sailing back and forth in line and not only destroyed the Spanish fleet but captured the harbor. By June, US and Filipino revolutionary forces controlled most of the island. Later, the Spanish island of Guam was taken. Closer to home in the Caribbean, from June 22-24, we landed our soldiers in southeast Cuba, near Santiago. In their first action, General Joseph Wheeler's troops were stopped. They learned right fast that linear Civil War tactics did not work against Spanish troops who never revealed their positions while on the defense. The Spanish also had modern Mauser rifles using smokeless powder. US regulars and some volunteers had smokeless powder Krag rifles but many of the boys still used the single-shot Springfield black powder rifles left over from the Indian Wars. Even so, on July 1, 15,000 US troops successfully attacked El Caney and San Juan Hill. They suffered heat exhaustion and yellowjack (yellow fever) for two weeks before the mayor surrendered Santiago. Later in July, 1,300 infantry took Puerto Rico ending the fighting. The ten-week war gained us supply bases in the Philippines and threw out the last colonial power in the Western Hemisphere. As the 20th century dawned, we had established our place as a major power. (Later investigations of the Maine, revealed that she sunk likely due to an internal explosion, History often hangs on prejudices — not reality!)
Philippine Insurrection 1899-1913
Yo soy el soldado Joaquin Bexar de la Hukbong Pamayapa ng Pilipinas. Mi Ingles is no good so I used translator from here. I am Private Joaquin Bexar of the Philippine Constabulary. We are paramilitary police force established in 1901 by US Army Captain Henry Allen. Our mission is to help the US fight the Filipino rebels who have been protesting the US presence since 1899. The rebels' cause went back to 1898 when the US and Filipino forces worked together to oust the Spanish. During a mock attack on Manila where the Spanish and US staged a short fight to satisfy Spanish honor, the rebels were not permitted to come into Manila. After this, the US did not turn the country over to the newly formed First Philippine Republic. Instead the US annexed it and made the Philippines a US territory governed by American authorities. On June 2, 1899, the Republic officially declared war against the US. Reports of atrocities by both sides -some real some made up - circulated and aroused hard feelings. I fought in a number of short skirmishes and used my hunting dog, Jefe, to sniff out ambushes. Although lightly equipped, the constabulary had good Krag rifles and ammunition. The rebels lacked modern weapons and ammunition, so many were only armed with bolo knives, bows, and arrows, and spears. They were defeated, and this phase of the Insurrection ended on July 4, 1902. However, some Filipino groups continued to fight. Now the US relied on me and the Constabulary, and treated the rebels as a law enforcement problem. In southern Luzon, another rebel republic was formed but ended in 1906 when the leader and his top followers surrendered. They were executed by the US as bandits, after they had accepted an amnesty offer. The US had a peace treaty with the Muslim Moros in the south; but after the north was pacified (civilized with a Krag), the US began to colonize Moro land, which enraged them to fight. Beginning on April 4, 1904, US forces battered them in numerous sharp battles. The Moros used suicide attacks right up until they surrendered on June 15, 1913. Even though shot with the .38 caliber revolver, a charging Moro had enough momentum to still kill a man. So we were given the heavier .45 caliber pistol, which stopped the cold. Our Philippine Constabulary continued on through the First World War and fought as scouts through the Second World War. We were honored by becoming the National Police when the Philippines finally became independent in 1946.