[June 16, 2019] If you’re Pilipino, you probably know about the Battle of Bud Bagsak (part of the Moro Rebellion, June 1913). Almost no one else has heard of the battle; certainly not in U.S. military circles. This final battle was the end of the resistance in the Philippine-American War (1899-1902). It was weird that I had not heard of this war but also that my maternal great grandfather served in it and I mistakenly thought he was in the Spanish-American War of 1898.
There is an old photograph of my great grandfather in uniform with his rifle. We never saw his discharge papers but we were always told that he was a veteran of the Spanish-American War. Most U.S. citizens who studied any American history have some knowledge of the short Spanish-American War but not the Philippine-American War or the Moro Rebellion.
Undoubtedly, this is how family records get distorted and we get our history all wrong. Lessons we learn are based on incorrect information that makes us doubt what is the right thing to do. But there are some things that came out of the Philippine-American War that is still passed on to those of us in the U.S. military.
The Battle of Bud Bagsak took place as part of the Moro Rebellion. Maybe you heard of the Moro Rebellion. This is where General John “Black Jack” Pershing got his start as a First Lieutenant. The rebellion was a nasty, brutish affair given the fierceness of the Moro Indians. It was said the U.S. 45 caliber pistol proved its worth in its stopping power.
Another fact we all thought interesting was the treatment of enemy dead. Pershing wrote in his autobiography that “The bodies [of some Moro outlaws] were publically buried in the same grave with a dead pig.”1 The Moros were Muslims and pork is forbidden. U.S. Army soldiers thought the Moros would believe they were going to hell if buried that way. A great psychological advantage was given to the Americans.
It is interesting to me that a battle that took place more than 100 years ago has such an invisible legacy; even when we should know better. It was a lesson learned for me. Recently, we recognized military veterans who came ashore on D-Day, June 6, 1944. While the exact dates are of lesser importance, what we gain from the knowledge of those before us, is what matters. My lesson, “Never, ever, forget.”
- Pershing, John (2013) My Life Before the World War, 1860–1917: A Memoir Archived April 30, 2016, at the Wayback Machine, pp. 284-85 Lexington, Kentucky: University Press of Kentucky. ISBN978081314197