Jungle Patrol - Chapter 17

"Punitive expeditions against non-Christian tribes on the part of the Constabulary
are forbidden without specific orders from the District Chief. It is not the policy
of the government to punish a whole people or village for the deeds of
individual miscreants; but with the exercise of tact and skill, to secure ..."
--Constabulary Manual

THE battle phase was now definitely Constabulary against Moros. The finest fighting brains and skill of the Insular Police were directed to Mindanao and Sulu in these closing days of the first decade of service. In 1910, in the Department of Mindanao, were forty-two officers of Constabulary, spread in a thin line across the centers of disturbance.

In Manila, the administration had decided to aid the Insular Police patrols with supporting forces of units of the United States Navy. It had been learned by bitter experience in the field that the Moro was an amphibian. If he was worsted in a jungle fight he would take to sea, out of range of Constabulary activities.

To combat this situation, a "Mosquito Fleet" was manned in Manila under the designation of the "Southern Philippine Patrol." Four gunboats, the Quiros, Pampanga, Paragua, and Mindoro were commissioned, with Lieutenant Schoenfelt as Squadron Commander. With the Quiros as flagship, the squadron set sail for Moroland, where they were to render valuable service.

The little gunboats were deadly destructive weapons against the pirate boats. They were shallow-draft vessels, and could pursue the freebooters across the coral reefs. And they were formidably armed and manned. The armament consisted of two three-pounders--one forward on the forecastle and one on the fantail. In addition, they mounted two one-pounders in sponsons amidships. On the bridge were two Colt automatic rapid-fire guns, using Krag ammunition.

The landing parties were equipped with .38 revolvers, Krag rifles, shotguns, and cutlasses. Each ship earned a crew of thirty-five, with fifteen Filipinos in addition.

This naval detachment operated in close conjunction with the Constabulary patrols. With the location of a party of armed Moros, the Constabulary would dispatch a patrol into the bush and drive out the Moros, who would take to their boats to be run down and sunk by the Naval Patrol. This policy was successfully carried out in September, 1911, on Sitanki Island, at the extreme southern tip of the Philippine Archipelago. Sitanki had been for centuries a pirate rendezvous and a graveyard of ships. Navy and Constabulary, working in co-operation, eliminated the pirate nests in a series of brilliant operations.

During that same month, the Pampanga was lying at anchor at Tablas on Basilan Island, waiting the results of a shore party sent against the Moros. Ensign Hovey was leading the detachment. High in the hills near Tablas, Hovey led his men into a Moro village after an exhausting day on the trail. The outlaws he sought had melted into the bush, and the Ensign had stopped at a nipa hut to ask for a drink of water. As a Moro held out a cup to him, the nipa shack exploded with a blast of flame and Hovey took the full charge of a brass cannon. His men fought their way out as the village caught fire from the force of the exploding cannon.

Fifteen miles across the straits, at Zamboanga, the Quiros, sister ship of the Pampanga, saw the very lights streaking to the sky, and hastened to Tablas. A naval detachment entered the wild country and scoured the jungle for the vanished outlaws, returning with no result other than the recovery of the body of Ensign Hovey.

It was men from the Quiros, too, who witnessed the death of Lieutenant Rodney at the hands of a Moro juramentado in Jolo on April 16, 1911. Lieutenant Rodney, an officer of the 2nd Cavalry, had gone for a Sunday afternoon walk with his small daughter. Walking unarmed on the Jolo-Asturias road, Rodney had been preceding a seaman named Steel and two other sailors from the Quiros by a few steps. Before the sailors could draw their weapons, a Moro burst suddenly into view, hacking with a barong and killing Rodney instantly. A guard leaped from a sentry post as the sailors began to fire their revolvers, and blew the Moro's brains out with a shotgun.

The Mohammedans of the Philippines had originated a unique and deadly method of individual fighting that was a degenerate offshoot of the principle of the jihad, or Holy War, that is specified by the Koran. The Sulu Moro, more a Mohammedan in principle than in strict practice, had evolved the rite of running juramentado as a means of combatting the Spaniards. Of all of the 200,000,000 adherents of Mohammedanism, only the Sulu Moro practiced this rite which was in direct defiance of the laws of the Koran.

The word juramentado, meaning oath, was first used during the final occupation of the Moro capital of Jolo by the forces of General Malcampo in the year 1876. It designated a rabid, wild-running individual who unsheathed barong or kris and waged a personal Holy War.

According to the Moro belief, it was within the power of one man, and his kris, to break in a stride from the miserable nipa shacks of the Sulu shores to the scented gardens of Paradise where the houris waited. For the Koran offers great reward for the slain in battle. "On couches with linings of brocade shall they recline, and the fruit of the two gardens shall be within easy reach. Therein shall be the damsels with retiring glances whom no man hath touched before them. Theirs shall be the houris, with large, dark eyes, like pearls hidden in their shells, in recompense of their labors past."

With these rewards before their eyes, the young Moros met in the darkness of night, in the mosques, where the Imams made elaborate preparation of the body in order that they might appear before God in the most favorable light. Prayers were offered, and the candidates were formed in a circle to repeat the oath of organization. Hands on the Koran, they intoned, "Jumanji kami hatanan ing kami ini magsabil karna sing tuhan." (We covenant with God that we will wage this Holy War, for it is of God.) The young aspirants for martyrdom were then bathed, the nails were trimmed to the quick and the teeth were washed. The eyebrows were shaved until they resembled "a moon two days old." The head was shaved, the scanty beard was plucked, and the waist was encircled with a tight, wide band for strengthening effect. The candidate was clothed in a white robe and crowned with a white turban. The genitals were bound tightly with cords, and the body was bound here and there with cords, tightly, to prevent circulation and loss of blood. A man so prepared was able to remain on his feet although dying from fatal wounds.

To the broad belt at the waist was attached the anting-anting, the charm that was to ward off the bullets or blows of the enemy. The edged blade, kris or barong, was honed to razor edge and beautified and polished, and the Moro was ready to take up that short bloody path that ended in Para dise. These men were known to the Moros as Mag-sabils, taking the Parang-sabil, or Road to Paradise. We remember them today as juramentados.

Man for man, nothing on the face of this earth can equal a juramentado Moro in action. Death was their privilege and their reward, and they were fired to a pitch of fanaticism to which no white man could attain. The testimony of a thousand bloody incidents of the occupation of Sulu demonstrates that they were unstoppable. They died; but almost without exception they clung, even in death, to their objective, and they carried with them in death the object of their attack.

On October 17, 1911, one Moro, armed with a barong and a spear, ran the gauntlet of sentries of the 2nd Cavalry, stationed at Lake Seit. As the mad Mohammedan hurtled down the company street, the target of fire from all directions, his eyes were fixed on Sergeant Oswald Homilius as the first object of attack. The Sergeant went down, pierced through with the spear. Riddled then with bullets, the Moro turned methodically to the nearest American soldiers. Racing into point-blank fire, he cut down four American troopers with his barong before Lieutenant Coppock was able to deliver the full charge of a shotgun at close range.

A few weeks later, one Moro rushed the guard post at Jolo, advancing without cover across fifty yards of open country. Twisting, darting, the howling fanatic reached close quarters and killed two soldiers with his blade before the weight of revolver and rifle fire dropped him lifeless. When the body was examined the Moro was found to have five breast wounds from Krag rifle bullets and four dumdum .45 pistol bullets in neck and face.

I am indebted to Captain J. A. Tiffany, Philippine Constabulary, for the following graphic account of an attack of juramentado Moros at Camp Severs.

"The camp itself was a large rectangle, completely enclosed with wire. The line of company tents were about ten feet inside the wire on each side. Inside the line of tents were the saddle racks and the picket lines of horses. The fence was seven feet high, with ten wires, making the strands about eight inches apart. Every twenty feet along the top of the fence, was a Dietz lantern with reflector to light up the high grass outside for several yards. The firing trench just inside was. banked up and ready for business. In a few seconds after an alarm by the sentries, the men could be out of their tents and ready to meet an attack. We felt secure.

"At sundown, with Captain Purington, I inspected the defenses. We agreed that the men could sleep in perfect security with four sentries posted. No Moro could get through that fence alive. Even if they made a quick mass attack, our men would split them on bayonets while they were entangled in the wire.

"I was about ready to roll in that night when I went outside the tent and sniffed the wind like a horse when a bear is in the bush. Lieutenant Crites and myself were quartered in a tent at the opposite end of the camp from our company. Something was not right. I felt it, but could see nothing. The sentries were alert on four sides. I said nothing to Crites about my uneasy feeling. Perhaps it was that I had been used to being near my men at night. In the jungles and in Lanao we Constabulary officers had been in the habit of bunking down alongside our soldiers and non-coms. Here, in an American army camp, we had army traditions to uphold.

"It was in the night that I came out of a deep sleep feeling that a shot had awakened me. Then there were two shots and a cry: 'MOROS . . . MOROS.' Then a whole barrage of shots. I reached for my riot gun. It was gone! So was Lieutenant Crites.

"Snatching my .45 from beneath my pillow, I tore aside the mosquito-net canopy and ran out of the tent. Dark figures were coming up to the fence on the run. The firing was general.

"Realizing that in my white B. V. D.'s I might be mistaken for a Moro, I jumped back into the tent for my khaki shirt, pulling it on as I ran down the company street. Eight juramentados broke from cover and charged the camp. The ten second's delay in recovering my shirt saved my life, for I would have been confronted by six of them with nothing but my .45.

"With drawn pistol I was running down the street to my command. My path lay between the picket line of cavalry horses and the row of tents. A dim figure was running just ahead of me. I supposed it was a soldier on his way to the firing trench. The night was so dark I kept butting into the saddle racks. A big cavalryman charged out of a tent just ahead of me with a riot gun. He poked the gun within a foot of the running figure ahead of me and blasted. The man swerved and stumbled on. 'My God,' I wanted to shout, 'stop shooting at our own men.' Then I brought up suddenly. Powder smoke filled my nostrils and I was looking down the barrel of that same riot gun. The big soldier was about to let go again. Some kind of a squealing voice came out of me: 'Hey . . . it's me . . . it's me'... I would never have recognized it as my voice. I ran on; there was no time for palaver. My boys were firing rapidly . . . standing up. That puzzled me. I could see the flashes. And then I heard the familiar clang of a steel blade on a gun barrel as one of my men parried a barong. The Moros were through the fence! My men were hand to hand! I saw Crites as I heard the boom of the riot gun. In the red light a Moro was charging in with barong uplifted. Crites dropped him in mid-air.

"Then all firing ceased as the men went at it in a furious bayonet to barong duel that was a fight to the finish. At the nearest cavalry tent a white soldier rolled out under the wall, rifle in hand. Before he could stand up a Moro was upon him. Another soldier crawled out and the Moro leaped to him. My Corporal Batiokan ran up to crush the Moro's skull with a rifle butt. Blood was squirting from two great gashes in the cavalrymen's back. Soldiers came running to carry away the wounded man. Their uniforms were red with blood.

"My own company were giving first aid to wounded men. One of the men was past medical aid. He had been chopped to ribbons, with arms and legs severed and lying apart from his body. Under a dead juramentado I found a loaded riot gun. I pulled it out and dropped into the trench with my men. Things had grown very quiet. I had the riot gun now; I felt safer. Out in the cogon grass I thought I saw something move in the light of the Dietz lanterns. I covered the dark blot and waited. It was a Moro all right. I pulled the trigger and the gun snapped impotently. I fired again with the same result. Then a third shell missed fire and I had a real case of the jitters. Would I continue to snap shells while that fanatic split my head through the wire? Fortunately for me a cavalryman behind me saw me pulling the trigger without result. His Springfield cracked and the Moro went down. The Springfield slug entered the top of his head and continued on through his body. We found him after the fight. He had been knocked down by a bullet in the neck at the first fire of the sentries. Recovering consciousness he had crawled on to be in at the finish. (A Moro juramentado has never been known to change his mind.)

"Seven of the eight juramentados who had made the attack had succeeded in getting through the wire in the face of the fire. One lay dead outside the wire and seven were stretched out in the enclosure when morning came and we made inspection. The hospital was lined with terribly wounded men, slashed with barongs, and we were forced to kill many of the slashed horses who had been in the path of the charging Moros.

"The juramentados who had plunged through the wire in a desperate dive had left skin and clothes on the wire. They were horribly torn from head to foot by the long barbs. They were riddled with bullets, and many had heads bashed in and bayonet stabs. They lay there, with glittering eyeballs and bared black teeth. Their heads were shaven and their eyebrows were a thin line of hair. As we looked into those ghastly, inhuman faces and saw those deadly barongs still clutched in their hands, it was too much--even for a soldier.

"As I reflected that there might be months and months of this--with every night a possibility of night attack from juramentados, it cracked my nerves more than I cared to admit. It was a jittery business, fighting Moros."

The terror brought by these juramentados had reached such a point by the middle of the year 1911 that it was decided to disarm all Moros and put an end to the bearing of edged weapons. On September 8, 1911, an Executive Order became effective:

"The provisions of the Act are hereby made applicable to all Districts within the Moro Province. It is therefore declared to be unlawful for any person within the Moro Province to acquire, possess or have custody of a rifle, musket, carbine, shotgun, revolver, pistol, or any other deadly weapon from which a bullet may be discharged, etc., or to carry, concealed or otherwise on his person, any bowie knife, dirk, dagger, kris, campilane, barong, spear or any other deadly cutting or thrusting weapon except tools used exclusively for working purposes and having a blade less than fifteen inches in length, without permission from the Governor of the Province."

In 1911, as attempts were made to disarm the Mohammedans, cotta warfare began to flame anew and the juramentados redoubled their efforts to get to close grips with the American soldiers. Jolo, the Moro capital, in American hands, was almost under a state of siege. It was under constant attack on the part of individual fanatics. One Moro penetrated the city walls through a drain and killed seven soldiers in the streets of Jolo before he was dropped by volley fire of the troops.

For trading purposes, 100 Moros were allowed within the city wall at one time. They were disarmed and searched at the gates by squads of soldiers, and all guard posts mounted four sentries. With all of these precautions, juramentados succeeded in running their crazed course at dreadful, frequent intervals.

It was Colonel Alexander Rodgers of the 6th Cavalry who accomplished by taking advantage of religious prejudice what the bayonets and Krags had been unable to accomplish. Rodgers inaugurated a system of burying all dead juramentados in a common grave with the carcasses of slaughtered pigs. The Mohammedan religion forbids contact with pork; and this relatively simple device resulted in the withdrawal of juramentados to sections not containing a Rodgers. Other officers took up the principle, adding new refinements to make it additionally unattractive to the Moros. In some sections the Moro juramentado was beheaded after death and the head sewn inside the carcass of a pig. And so the rite of running juramentado, at least semi-religious in character, ceased to be in Sulu. The last cases of this religious mania occurred in the early decades of the century. The juramentados were replaced by the amucks. .. who were simply homicidal maniacs with no religious significance attaching to their acts.

As the cotta warfare flared in opposition to the disarming measures taken against the Moros, officers and men of the Constabulary began again to win the coveted Medal of Valor. The scene of battle shifted to Mindanao. There, at Mailag Cotta, on February 13, Lieutenant Oscar Preuss won his medal.

With a small detachment of Moro Constabulary he had penetrated deep into the jungle of Lanao, and had come up on a fortified cotta of the Moros. Demanding the surrender of the occupants, Preuss had been greeted with a volley of fire. Preuss seized a pole and, with the assistance of one soldier, battered down the gate of the fort and entered to engage the Moros hand to hand. The action was ferocious in the extreme, with neither side giving or asking quarter.

In that attack on Mailag Cotta on February 13, two other Constabularymen won the Medal of Valor. It had been old Sergeant Malaco, only man in the history of the Philippine Constabulary to win two Medals of Valor, who had aided Preuss in battering down the gateway of the cotta. With Preuss on this expedition had been Lieutenant Vernon L. Whitney, that gigantic fighting figure of the Constabulary whose size-14 shoes have left an enduring print in the annals of the conquest of Mindanao and Sulu.

Across 40,000 square miles of jungle this hand-to-hand conflict was waging. It was war without a front... a war of individual detachments and it was without quarter.

In December a bandit named Pablo de Castro came briefly to life in the northern islands that had been quiet for months. Corporal Telesforo Endaya of the Batangas Constabulary took a patrol consisting of but two men, and went deep into the wooded gorges near Cangapas after the bandit. He met up with de Castro on a twisted jungle trail in high grass. De Castro was under cover, and he fired at the patrol leader at point-blank range. The shot missed, and the battle resolved itself into a personal duel between Endaya and the bandit. The Constabulary Corporal worked through the high grass to a position less than three rods from the concealed de Castro, and as the bandit raised himself for the finishing shot Endaya drilled him with a snap head shot between the eyes. By order of Colonel Harbord, Endaya was awarded the fifty-seventh Medal of Valor awarded to the corps.

But the flurry in Batangas was but an incident. The north quieted again, and the Constabulary attention became focused on Mindanao, Sulu, and Moros. In December, 1500 Moros fortified the old crater of Bud Dajo. Some were induced by General Pershing to withdraw to their homes. The remamder, led by Jailani, were attacked and killed in a second battle of Bud Dajo, which lasted for five days.

Some of the magnificent youngsters were growing old now. Old not in years, but in that unnatural brilliant pace that made them veterans at twenty-five. Few came from the jungle campaigns unscathed. New faces began to supplant the old.

Furlong was approaching the end of a dramatic career. He had given away now, in field efforts, to Whitney and Tiffany and Crites and Cochrun. He was burned out physically and harassed by charges of his superiors in Manila. It was said that he had used unnecessary brutality in his famous Taraca expedition. Hastily Furlong returned from a short vacation to defend himself. He was indicted, tried, and vindicated, and promoted to a Captaincy.

On detail as Senior Inspector m Lanao, Furlong demonstrated the old fighting genius that had made him one of the most powerful figures of the Constabulary. But his old vitality was gone, and he was gnawed by thoughts of his trial and the attendant publicity. Always a strange, sensitive figure, he broke at last under the strain of the years of jungle campaign. He was sent to Manila for observation and treatment, arriving there on June 21. 1911.

On the evening prior to Furlong's death he dined with the officers at the mess, and during the meal gave no sign of depression. At nine o'clock in the evening of July 9 he passed two officers on his way to his quarters. A moment later a shot was heard; and when they entered his room, Furlong was found dying on the bed from a gunshot wound.

He was certainly the most romantic, and without question one of the greatest, individual fighting men of that long line of fighting men who pacified the Philippines. In his short span of life he lived a dozen lifetimes. He was typical of an age ... a desperate fighting age when youngsters grew hurriedly to full man size. His memory will live forever in the archives of the corps he served so well.

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Original publication © 1938 E. P. Dutton & Co., Inc.

Filipiniana Reprint Series © 1985 Cacho Hermanos, Inc.

This publication (HTML format & original artwork) © 2001 Bakbakan International.

Transcription courtesy of Ashley Bass.