Battle of Santo Tomas 1899

Before the Battle

In 1898, American army reached the Philippines during the Spanish-American War. The objective of the American army was to defeat the Spanish army who had the colonial rule of Philippines.

During this war, Filipino soldiers sided with the Americans, hoping that after defeating Spain, Philippines would gain independence. However, once Spain was defeated, America took over the colonial rule of Philippines. This led to the Philippine-American War in which the Filipino soldiers fought against the American army. The war started in February, 1899.

Background of the Battle of Santo Tomas

As the Philippine-American War began, the American army slowly advanced, taking control of the towns and cities in Philippines. In many of these towns and cities, the Americans were resisted by the Filipino army.

In April, 1899, American army wanted to take control of San Fernando in the Pampanga area. However, a large Filipino army was present in the town of Santo Tomas which was located nearby. So the American army decided first to take control of Santo Tomas before moving towards San Fernando.

When and where did the battle take place?

The Battle of Santo Tomas took place on May 4, 1899. It was fought in and around Santo Tomas in Pampanga, Philippines.

Commanders on both sides

The main commanders on the American side were Brigadier General Loyd Wheaton, Brigadier General Irving Hale and Colonel Frederick Funston. The American army comprised of 20th Kansas Volunteers, 1st Montana Volunteers, 1st Nebraska Volunteers and the 51st Iowa Volunteers.

The Filipino army was commanded by General Antonio Luna and General Venacio Concepcion. The Filipino army comprised of around 2500 troops which were later aided by another 1600 troops.

The Fighting

The Filipino soldiers had dug trenches in and around Santo Tomas, hoping to defend the town against the American attack. But once the attack began, the Filipino troops were quickly overwhelmed by the Americans and began to retreat. During the fighting, General Antonio Luna tried to rally his men so that they could launch a counterattack.

However, during this rallying, his horse was shot and he fell to the ground. He himself was hit by a bullet and was wounded. A Filipino army officer, Colonel Alejandro Avecilla, then rode towards him and even after being shot in the arm and leg, he rescued General Luna and carried him away from the battlefield. After General Luna left, the Filipino soldiers also retreated from the town.

Result and Aftermath

The Battle of Santo Tomas was a victory for the American forces. They were able to take control of the town of Santo Tomas with minimal losses. 2 American soldiers were killed in the battle while the number of deaths on the Filipino side is unknown.

The injury of General Luna was a serious blow to the Filipino side since General Luna was one of the most important commanders of the Filipino army. Within the next few days, American army advanced further and was also able to take control of San Fernando.

The Philippine War, 1899-1902 (Modern War Studies) Reprint Edition

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