Classic History Books


The Path of Empire. A Chronicle of the United States as a World Power
by Carl Russell Fish

In March, General MacArthur began to move to the north, and on the last day of that month he entered
Malolos. On the 23d of April he pushed farther northward toward Calumpit, where the Filipino

generalissimo, Luna, had prepared a position which he declared to be impregnable. This brief campaign

added a new favorite to the American roll of honor, for it was here that Colonel Funston, at the head of

his gallant Kansans, crossed the rivers Bag-bag and Rio Grande, under circumstances that gave the

individual American soldier a prestige in the eyes of the Filipinos and a reputation which often ran far

ahead of the army.

General Luna had torn up the ties and rails of the steel railroad bridge over the Bag-bag, and had let
down the span next the far bank. Thus cut off from attack by a deep river two hundred feet wide, the

Filipino commander had entrenched his forces on the farther side. Shielded by fields of young corn and

bamboo thickets, the Americans approached the bank of the river. A naval gun on an armored train

bombarded the Filipinos but could not silence their trenches. It was therefore necessary to cross an the

bridge, and under fire. General Wheaton ordered Colonel Funston to seize the bridge. With about ten

men Funston rushed the nearer end which stood in the open. Working themselves along the girders, the

men finally reached the broken span. Beyond that, swimming was the only method of reaching the goal.

Leaving their guns behind them, Colonel Funston and three others swung themselves off the bridge and

into the stream. Quite unarmed, the four landed and rushed the nearest trenches. Fortunately these had

been abandoned under American fire, and rifles and cartridges had been left behind. Thus this aquatic

charge by unarmed men secured the bridge and enabled the American troops to cross.

Not far beyond was the Rio Grande, four hundred feet broad and crossed by another railroad bridge that
must be taken. Here again the task was entrusted to Colonel Funston and the Twentieth Kansas. This

time they found an old raft. Two privates stripped and swam across with a rope. Landing unarmed on the

enemy's side of the river, they fastened their rope to a part of the very trench works of the Filipinos. With

this connection established, Colonel Funston improvised a ferry and was soon on the enemy's side with

supports. A stiff, unequal fight remained, as the ferry carried but six men on each trip. The bank was

soon won, however, and the safe crossing of the army was assured. Such acts gave the natives a respect

for Americans as fighting men, which caused it to be more and more difficult for the Filipino

commanders to bring their forces to battle in the open.

General Lawton in the meantime was conducting a brilliant movement to the eastward. After breaking
the enemy forces, he returned to Manila and then marched southward into the Tagalog country, where on

the 13th of June, at Zapoti Bridge, he won the most stoutly contested battle of the insurrection. The

successful conclusion of these operations brought the most civilized part of the island under American

control.

The fighting now became scattered and assumed gradually a guerrilla character. The abler commanders
of the American forces found their way to the top, and the troops, with their natural adaptability,

constantly devised new methods of meeting new situations. A war of strangely combined mountain and

sea fighting, involving cavalry and infantry and artillery, spread over the islands in widening circles and

met with lessening resistance. An indication of the new character of the war was given by the change of

the military organization, in April, 1900, from one of divisions and brigades, to a geographical basis.

Each commander was now given charge of a certain area and used his men to reduce this district to order.

The insurgents fought in small groups and generally under local chieftains. Their advantage lay in their
thorough knowledge of the country and in the sympathy of a part of the population and the fear of

 

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