Battle of Manila 1898

What was happening in 1898?

In April, 1898, the Spanish-American War had begun. This war began over the internal issues of Cuba. Cuban people wanted to get rid of the Spanish colonial rule and had been struggling against it for a long time. They rebelled against Spain in 1895.

The USA initially decided to stay neutral but in 1898, a US battleship named Maine was destroyed while in the Havana Harbor. Blaming this on Spain, USA declared war on Spain in February, 1898. At the time, Cuba as well as the Philippines and Puerto Rico were Spanish colonies. America fought Spain in all three of these locations.

Background of the Battle of Manila

Spain had a strong fleet in Manila Bay and thousands of soldiers in the Philippines, with the city of Manila as their stronghold. An American fleet on May 1, 1898 destroyed the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay in the Battle of Manila Bay. Then the American fleet blockaded the city and by the end of June, American land forces had started arriving in Philippines.

The main objective of the American forces was to take control of the Manila city from the Spanish forces. So with their fleet guarding the harbor and thousands of American soldiers now having arrived in Philippines, the American commanders demanded the Spanish commanders to hand over the city. This ultimately led to the Battle of Manila.

When and where did the battle take place?

The battle took place in the city of Manila, Philippines. It was fought on August 13, 1898.

The Mock Battle

The Battle of Manila is also called the Mock Battle of Manila. This was because the battle took place as a planned and mock conflict. The Spanish and American commanders had been in negotiations ever since the American land forces had arrived in June, 1898.

The Spanish Governor-General of Philippines, Basilio Augustine, knew that he could not win against such a large American force. By this time, nearly 30,000 Filipino revolutionaries were also fighting on the side of the Americans. Augustine thought that it was better to hand over the city to Americans rather than the Filipino revolutionaries. So Spanish and American commanders decided to do some mock fighting and then switch the control of the city from Spanish hands to American command.

The Fighting

Since this was a mock and planned battle, the American forces simply bombarded a few unguarded structures. The plan was that after some bombardment the Spanish forces would raise a white flag and withdraw while letting the Americans take over the control of the city. Most of the battle went according to plan. At one point, some Spanish soldiers who weren’t aware of the plan opened fire on the American soldiers and some soldiers died on both sides. But other than that, the battle was rather peaceful.

Result and Aftermath

Due to the firing of the uninformed Spanish soldiers, 6 American soldiers died. 49 Spanish soldiers died when the Americans fired in response. In all, the battle saw very few casualties and the city came under American control. The Filipino revolutionaries, who weren’t allowed to enter the city, felt betrayed. This ultimately led to the Philippine-American War.

The War With Spain; Operations of the United States Navy on the Asiatic Station: Reports of Rear-Admiral George Dewey on the Battle of Manila Bay, May … May 1 to August 13, 1898 (Classic Reprint)

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