In February, 1899, the Philippine-American War began. This war was fought between Filipino revolutionaries who wanted to end colonial rule and the American army.
The American army, after defeating Spain in the Spanish-American War of 1898, started advancing into different parts of Philippines in order to cement American control over them. This brought the American army in contact with the Mindana Jolo and Sulu Archipelago, areas located in southern Philippines. The people who lived in these were Moro.
Moro refers to the ethnic Muslims who lived in the southern area of Philippines. Due to differences in religion and culture, the Moro people had fought for their independence for many centuries. They resisted the Filipino armies and later the Spanish armies when Philippines came under Spanish control.
In this struggle, they were quite successful as even when Spain had control over the rest of Philippines, it had only a very limited control over the Moro areas. When Spain was defeated in 1898, American forces started efforts to exert their control in the Moro regions. Again, the Moro people resisted such colonization and fought back. This came to be known as the Moro Rebellion.
The Moro Rebellion began in 1899, soon after the Philippine-American War began. It continued all the way until 1913, years after the rest of the Philippines had already come under American control.
The American government wanted the Moro people to accept American administration and colonial rule. The Moro people refused and under the leadership of the Sultan of Sulu, they started to fight against the American soldiers arriving in their territories.
This led to many battles between the two sides. Even when the Philippine-American War was officially ended in 1902, the Moro people continued their struggle. However, the American colonial administration slowly made headway in the Moro area.
John J. Pershing, a military officer tasked with pacifying the Moro people, played a very important role. He was able to make peace with many tribes of the Moro people and slowly persuaded them to make peace with the American rule.
The important commanders on the Moro side, during the rebellion, were the Sulu Sultan, Jikiri and Panglima Hassan. The Moro fighters were usually poorly armed, wielding spears and other conventional weapons as well as bayonets.
The important commanders on the American side included Major General Leonard Wood and Brigadier General John J. Pershing. The size of the American army that fought in the Moro Rebellion numbered at around 25,000.
Very few conventional battles took place between the Moro people and the American forces. The Moro knew that they were outnumbered and had inferior weapons compared to the Americans. So they resorted to guerrilla tactics such as attacking camps of American soldiers, suicide attacks and other stealth tactics.
The American combination of military campaigns and peace treaties with different Moro tribes finally helped put an end to the rebellion. All Moro fighters were disarmed in 1911 although occasional, small-scale rebellions continued until 1914.