Battle of Makahambus Hill

What was happening in 1900?

In February, 1899, Philippine-American War began. The war was fought between Filipino revolutionaries, who sought the independence and self-rule of Philippines, and the U.S. military which intended to take over the colonial rule of the Philippines. American had fought against Spain in the Spanish-American War of 1898.

Following Spain’s defeat in the war, American was able to gain control of the former Spanish colony of Philippines. The Filipino revolutionaries, who had hoped that American victory would liberate them from foreign rule, felt betrayed. This led to tensions between Americans and the revolutionaries which eventually erupted in a war.

Background of the Battle of Makahambus Hill

Soon after the Philippine-American War began, the U.S. army was able to score major victories against Filipino revolutionaries in open battle. The revolutionaries realized that they couldn’t fight against the American army in a battlefield. So they resorted to the use of guerrilla tactics. This helped the Filipino revolutionaries defeat the American forces in many engagements.

Before the Battle

The Filipino troops had built a number of fortresses in the mountains in the Mindanao area and guarded these forts. On May 25, 1900, a patrol of American soldiers reached the area. The patrol comprised of only 6 soldiers.

The revolutionaries attacked them and killing three of them, took the other 3 soldiers captive. They later released the two wounded soldiers but kept Captain Charles D. Roberts as a prisoner. The American troops planned an assault on the Filipino fort to liberate Captain Charles. This is what led to the Battle of Makahambus Hill.

When and where was the battle fought?

The Battle of Makahambus Hill was fought near Cagayan de Oro City in Mindanao. It was fought on July 4, 1900.

Commanders on both sides

The Filipino troops were commanded by Colonel Pablo Tecson and Colonel Apolinar Velez. They commanded a total of 200 Filipino troops in the battle.

The American forces were commanded by Major Albert Laws who headed the 35th Infantry.

The Fighting

The Filipino revolutionaries were securely positioned inside a fort located on top of a steep hill. When the American soldiers proceeded towards the fort, the Filipino troops started firing with rifles and cannons. American troops could not advance on such a steep path and had to go back down the hill.

The Filipino troops had also dug hidden trenches all around the fortress and many American soldiers died after falling into these trenches. The American soldiers launched multiple attacks on the fort but they had to retreat every time due to the firing from the fort.

Result and Aftermath

The battle was a decisive victory for the Filipino revolutionaries. The revolutionaries made use of the terrain and their superior position at the top of the hill. The American forces suffered 20 casualties during the battle and one soldier was taken captive by the Filipino troops. The Filipino army suffered 1 dead and 3 wounded. The battle proved that even when not as well equipped or well trained as the American soldiers, Filipino troops could use guerrilla tactics with great success.

Learn More about the Battle of Makahambus Hill at Wikipedia

Vestiges of War: The Philippine-American War and the Aftermath of an Imperial Dream 1899-1999 Paper edition Edition