Battle of Paye 1899

What was happening in 1899?

The Philippine-American War began in 1899. This war was fought between the U.S. army and Filipino revolutionaries. The U.S. army had arrived in Philippines in the 1898 Spanish-American War. At that time, the Philippines were a Spanish colony.

After Spain was defeated in the war, U.S. army took over the control of Philippines and the U.S. government became the new colonial ruler of Philippines. This made the revolutionaries angry who had hoped that after the defeat of Spain, they would be independent. This ultimately led to the Philippine-American War which started in February, 1899.

Background of the Battle of Paye

In December, 1899, a group of U.S. soldiers was tasked with taking back the control of San Mateo from the Filipino soldiers. The U.S. army also wanted to engage and defeat General Pio de Pilar, a Filipino general who was leading nearly 1000 soldiers. So General Henry Ware Lawton led a small U.S. army towards San Mateo. The road they had to take was dangerous.

Many portions of it were flooded and the surrounding area comprised of rice fields. It was also the monsoon season, so the road that the U.S. army had to travel was muddy and quite difficult. The U.S. army under General Lawton reached near San Mateo on December 18, 1899. However, Filipino troops were positioned outside the town to defend it against the Americans.

When and where did the battle take place?

The Battle of Paye took place on December 19, 1899. It was fought at a place called Paye located near San Mateo in Philippines.

Commanders on both sides

The U.S. army was commanded by General Henry Ware Lawton and Colonel James R. Lockett. It comprised of the 11th Volunteer Cavalry and the 29th Battalion.

The Filipino troops were led by General Licerio Geronimo who led a portion of the Filipino army known as the Morong Command battalion.

The Fighting

On December 19, 1899, the American army had reached near the San Mateo town and headed towards the town to enter it. They were met with firing from the Filipino troops positioned outside the town. American soldiers were forced to take cover in rice fields.

General Lawton encouraged the American troops by walking up and down the lines. He wore a white coat which was very visible from the distance. As he was walking among his troops, he was shot and killed by a sniper fire from Filipino side. This greatly damaged the morale of the American soldiers. However, the American army continued to advance and was soon able to enter San Mateo, forcing the Filipino troops to retreat from the town.

Result and Aftermath

The battle was a victory for the U.S. army. 11 American soldiers died in the battle while 13 were wounded. The Filipino army retreated from San Mateo. 40 Filipino soldiers died during the fighting while around 125 were wounded. Although the American army won the battle, the death of General Henry Ware Lawton was a major blow. He was the highest-ranking American army officer to have died in the Philippine-American War.

Henry Ware Lawton: Union Infantryman, Frontier Soldier, Charismatic Warrior (American Military Experience)

Learn More about the Battle of Paye at Wikipedia