American fury in the Philippines.XLIX / Extermination

On the eve of the Samar campaign, the war was clearly degenerating into mass slaughter. It was hardly precise to call it “war” any longer. The Americans were simply chasing ragged, poorly armed bands of guerrillas, and failing to catch them, were inflicting the severest punishment on those they could catch _ the people of the villages and barrios of the theater of operations.
In late September [1901], in the town of Balangiga, Samar, American troops had for some time been abusing the townspeople by packing them into open wooden pens at night, where they were forced to sleep standing in the rain. Several scores of guerrilla General Vincent Lukban’s bolomen infiltrated the town and on the morning of September 28, while the Americans were eating their breakfast, Lukban’s men suddenly fell upon them. Heads dropped into breakfast dishes. Fifty-four Americans were boloed to death, and few of the eighteenth survivors escaped serious injury.
The Balangiga massacre initiated a reign of terror the likes of which had not yet been seen in this war. General [“Howling Jake”] Smith, fresh from his “victories” in Northern Luzon and Panay, was chosen to lead the American mission of revenge. Smith’s order to his men embarking upon the Samar campaign could not have been more explicit: “Kill and burn, kill and burn, the more you kill and the more you burn the more you please me”. It was, said Smith, “no time to take prisoners”. War was to be waged “in the sharpest and most decisive manner possible. When asked to define the age limit for killing, Smith gave his infamous reply: “Everything over ten”. Smith ordered Samar to be turned into a “howling wilderness” so that “even the birds could not live there”. It was boasted that “what fire and water [i.e. water torture]….had done in Panay, water and fire would do in Samar.” The now-familiar patterned of operations began once again. All the inhabitants of the island (pop. 266,000) were ordered to present themselves to detention camps in several of the larger coastal towns. Those who did not (or those who did not make it their business to learn the existence of the order), and were found outside the detention camp perimeter, would be shot, “and no questions asked”. Few reporters covered the carnage; one who did noted: “During my stay in Samar the only prisoners that were made ... were taken by Waller’s command; and I heard this act criticized by the highest officers as a mistake…The truth is, the struggle in Samar is one of extermination”…

Luzviminda Francisco, “The first Viet-Nam: The Philippine-American war,1899-1902”