In 1899, the Philippine-American War began. This war was fought between Filipino revolutionaries and the U.S. army. The U.S. army had arrived in Philippines during the Spanish-American War of 1898. Filipino revolutionaries had hoped that once Spain was defeated, they would be independent.
So they sided with the American forces during this war. But once Spain was defeated, USA took over the colonial rule of Philippines. This ultimately led to the war between Filipino revolutionaries and the American forces. The war was still going on in 1900.
The American army already had control of the nearby area of Siniloan. From here, the American soldiers aimed to advance on Mabitac and gain control of the town. However, only one narrow causeway connected Siniloan to Mabitac and on the day of the battle, it was flooded with water. This made it harder for the American soldiers to advance. The Filipino soldiers, on the other hand, set up their trenches along this causeway, directly blocking the path of the American troops.
The Battle of Mabitac was fought around the town of Mabitac in Laguna, Philippines. It took place on September 17, 1900.
The attacking American army was commanded by Colonel Benjamin Cheatham. He commanded a group of around 300 American soldiers supported by a number of gunboats of the U.S. Navy.
The Filipino troops were commanded by General Juan Cailles. According to Filipino accounts, he led a group of 300 Filipino troops in defending Mabitac. American accounts claim that he had a strength of 800 troops at his disposal.
The objective of the American army was to reach the town of Mabitac and gain its control. However, General Juan Cailles deployed Filipino troops outside Mabitac so that they blocked the path of the American soldiers. The American troops started their attack on September 17, 1900.
As the American soldiers drew near Mabitac, they came under heavy fire from General Juan’s soldiers. This forced the American army to stop its advance. The area was muddy and flooded with water which was waist-deep at some places. This made the position of the American soldiers even more difficult.
U.S. Navy gunboats attacked the Filipino army from the river but even that did little damage to them. Ultimately, after inflicting significant damage on the American army, General Juan withdrew his army in order not to be enveloped by the American forces.
The Battle of Mabitac was a significant victory for the Filipino army. As in many other battles, the Filipino troops used the terrain to their advantage and were able to check the advance of the American army.
The American army suffered 21 dead and 23 wounded soldiers. The Filipino army suffered 2 dead and 3 wounded soldiers. Although the American army lost the battle, Filipino army soon had to withdraw. This allowed the American army to gain control of Mabitac the next day.
The Philippine-American War: Two Personal Accounts of the Conflict Against Philippine and Moro Forces
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