This article explores the connections between the violence that accompanied U.S. continental expansion in the nineteenth century and the Philippine-American War, which began in 1899 after Spain ceded the Philippines to the United States following the Spanish-American War. Perhaps geographic distance has served to mask the temporal proximity of these linked periods of U.S. expansion, because this is a connection that has remained largely unexplored in the historiography. Rather than viewing 1898 as a caesura marking the separation between the continental and global phases of American empire, this article explores continuities through an examination of the interaction between imperial culture and military violence. Some U.S. soldiers in the Philippines drew directly on their experiences in wars with Native people, while others narrated their time in the Philippines as an “Indian war” and validated their actions by discursively positioning themselves and their troops as “Indian fighters.” The Indian Wars were translated, through the actions, imaginations, and writing of U.S. soldiers, politicians, and journalists, into a flexible discourse able to travel across space and time. These frontier resonances became one of several structuring narratives that sought to racialize Filipinos in order to justify the war and occupation.
General Elwell Stephen Otis, the military governor of the Philippines, was like many military leaders throughout history who have faced an opponent waging guerilla warfare. During his tenure as the top U.S. general in the Philippine-American War Otis maintained that Filipino resistance was crumbling and the war would soon be over. He went to great lengths to censor the press in the Philippines and manipulate the news coming from the islands. And like many counterinsurgents that have followed him, Otis was proven wrong when the Filipino revolutionary forces launched a renewed offensive against the American occupation in the fall of 1899.1 Like the Tet Offensive sixty-nine years later, the counteroffensive was strategically aimed at eroding domestic support for the war. It was specifically timed to influence the U.S. presidential election, in the hope of spurring anti-imperialist sentiment and defeating the reelection of William McKinley, a supporter of the U.S. occupation. Filipino fighters scored several victories but they failed to prevent McKinley’s reelection, and in response U.S. soldiers and war correspondents began to call for a more brutal form of military occupation in the islands. Writer Phelps Whitemarsh argued that the U.S. commanders had conducted the war in an “intolerably feeble and hesitant manner.” Colonel Jacob Smith, a veteran of the Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890, told reporters that he had already adopted appropriate tactics for fighting “savages” because fighting Filipinos was “worse than fighting Indians.”2 General James Parker, in a letter to his mother, noted that “if these Filipinos could ambush like our Indians, we would have a bad time; but they have not the grit.” And Secretary of War Elihu Root proclaimed that the Army had to return to “methods which have proved successful in our Indian campaigns in the West.”3 These references to Native people illuminate an important question in the historiography of U.S. empire: to what degree was the Philippine-American War influenced by the United States’ history of colonialism and continental expansion?
This article sets out to answer that question, exploring how the United States’ experience with colonial warfare impacted the war in the Philippines. Concerned primarily with the first year of the Philippine-American War, 1898 to 1899, the bulk of this article focuses on General Henry Ware Lawton and the informal scouting unit he created called “Young’s Scouts.” Lawton operated on the island of Luzon, the largest island in the Philippines, from March 1899 until his death on December 19, 1899. He was present for the initial phases of the war, when the United States assumed control of the islands from colonial Spain, betraying Filipino hopes for independence. American troops won several early victories against the Filipino revolutionary forces; but as the conflict transitioned into a protracted guerilla war, men like Lawton were increasingly imagined as “Indian fighters” who would be able to translate their experiences with colonial violence into success in the Philippines. Lawton and Young’s Scouts would help set the tone for the increasingly brutal occupation of the islands, and their experiences would offer a wealth of material for journalists and writers seeking to connect U.S. setter-colonialism to the broader contours of U.S. empire in the early twentieth century. They demonstrate the ways in which the war in the Philippines was imagined and, at times, fought, as an “Indian War.”
Perhaps geographic distance has served to mask the temporal proximity of these linked periods of U.S. military expansion, because these connections have remained surprisingly tenuous in the literature on American history, occasionally invoked but rarely explored. A handful of historians have noted that many of the generals who served in the Philippines had prior experience in wars with Native people, but little has been done to demonstrate how that experience manifested.4 Other scholars have examined the prevalence of paternalistic racial ideologies that compared Native people and Filipinos to justify the U.S. occupation.5 Military historians situate the Philippine-American War between the Indian Wars and the “Banana Wars” of the early twentieth century as early iterations of counterinsurgency.6 However, a careful examination of whether and how the so-called Indian Wars went global at the turn of the century has been lacking.7 This article shows that such a connection exists and can be charted through an approach that examines the interaction between imperial culture and military violence. Rather than viewing 1898 as a caesura marking the separation between the continental and global phases of American imperialism, these connections highlight the continuities in U.S. imperialism. Lawton, Young, and some of the men who served under them drew on their experiences in wars with Native people, narrated their time in the Philippines as an “Indian war,” and validated their actions by discursively positioning themselves and their fellows as “Indian fighters.” In sum, the Indian Wars were translated, through the actions, imaginations, and writing of U.S. soldiers, politicians, and journalists, into a flexible discourse able to travel across space and time.
However, we should be cautious. There was never a wholesale transfer of the ideologies and practices of U.S. settler-colonialism onto the war in the Philippines. Charting the discursive and material imprint that Indian warfare has left on the U.S. military requires a tight-rope walk along the boundaries between academic disciplines. It involves a tension between local particularities and systematic patterns, between temporal specificity and long imperial continuities, between material violence and its literary resonances. It demands a cultural history attentive to the physicality of warfare, just as it requires a history of violence attuned to the ways culture shapes that violence. Ultimately, an analysis of culture and discourse allows us to connect the dots when institutional records fall away. Discourses—the terms, categories, and beliefs found in particular social contexts—have the power to shape human actors, investing their actions, their bodies, and the tools they wield with particular meanings.8 This is certainly true for soldiers, and the war in the Philippines was awash in colonial discourses that drew on the mythologies of U.S. continental expansion. To understand the influence that the Indian Wars exercised on the Philippine-American War, we have to account for both the lived experiences of U.S. soldiers and the colonial discourses that permeated U.S. imperial culture.9
“Indian warfare” was not the only racializing discourse that U.S. soldiers brought to the Philippines. Anti-black racism and imperial paternalism abounded, as did new forms of anti-Filipino racism.10 But the discourse of Indian fighting exercised a potent imaginative power that journalists, officers, and individual soldiers deployed to narrate and legitimate U.S. military action. Many of the top officers in the Philippines, including Lawton, had experience in wars with Native people to draw on. A subtler influence was exercised on the younger U.S. soldiers who had never fought against Native people but who nonetheless were conscripted into a discourse of “Indian fighting” while in the Philippines. This was the case for many of the men in Young’s Scouts, who were interpellated by the same frontier mythologies that inspired Lawton to form the unit.11
This article is thus attentive to both the material consequences of the Philippine-American War and the discourses that shaped its participants. It is both a history of “Indian fighting” as a mobile, imperial discourse, and a story about one of the earliest American experiences with the type of warfare now known as “counterinsurgency.” In less than a decade, the U.S. military moved from the 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation to the jungles and mountains of the Philippines. Some of the same men who fought the Lakota, the Apache, the Cheyenne, and the Ute now had to fight a war in the Philippines that was both familiar and different. The Indian Wars resonated to the Philippines in the words of journalists who compared Geronimo (whose given name was Goyahkla) to Filipino leader Emilio Aguinaldo, and in the justifications of politicians who compared the occupation of the Philippines to the reservations on which Native people were fighting to maintain their sovereignty.12 But the Indian Wars also travelled materially in the minds and actions of U.S. soldiers required to fight a guerilla war against opponents they regularly labeled “insurgents,” in which the only immediate precedent was the wars of continental expansion.13 This is not an argument for the uncritical acceptance of “insurgent” as a designation for Filipinos (or Native people). Rather, I want to call attention to the violent consequences of that discursive move, which transformed Native and Filipino fighters into subjects to be corrected rather than simply defeated. In this biopolitical form of warfare, “insurgents” are always already claimed as subjects, interior problems rather than sovereign opponents.14 Analyzing the Philippine-American War as a part of the history of American counterinsurgency thus demands a critical analysis of how subjects are constituted as “insurgent,” a process that relied, in part, on comparisons to Native American people.
The analysis draws on a variety of sources, including personal journals, military reports, newspaper articles, and literary texts, to chart the ways in which men like Henry Lawton and W.H. Young were imagined as “Indian fighters” during their time in the Philippines. The first section focuses on Lawton, examining the public discourse around a general whose history as an Indian fighter was supposed to translate into success in the Philippines. The article next explores the history of Young’s Scouts, a unit formed by Lawton to execute a form of counterinsurgency that drew on Young and Lawton’s experiences in wars with Native people in the American West. Finally, the article examines literary representations of Lawton and Young in the early twentieth century. These stories celebrated American soldiers as exemplars of white masculinity, and they mobilized the history of the Indian Wars as a justification for the now-global projection of U.S. empire. The Philippine-American War was not a simple re-fighting of the Indian Wars. However, the violence of U.S. colonialism influenced the conflict, from the day-to-day physical struggle of combat, to the representations of the war in media and literature.
Narratives of “Indian Fighting” in the Philippines
In the January 1900 issue of Leslie’s Illustrated Weekly, writer H.L. Mencken published a poem titled “The Four-Foot Filipino.” The first stanza reads as follows:
This poem can be found in a large scrapbook dedicated to the life of U.S. Army General Henry Ware Lawton, assembled by his close friend and fellow soldier Robert Carter. The poem is not particularly remarkable for its racism nor for the connections drawn between Native North American peoples and Filipinos. The overseas expansion of U.S. territory at the turn of the century was driven, in part, by a virulently racist paternalism that assumed non-white peoples were incapable of self-government. Much of this rhetoric drew on descriptions of the supposed inferiority of American Indians when describing the inhabitants of the Philippines. But the inclusion of the poem in a scrapbook dedicated to Lawton was not incidental or casual. Lawton had chased Apache people all over the Southwest, had fought Lakota (Sioux) and Cheyenne on the northern plains, and had worked to confine Ute people to their reservation in Colorado. He ended his career in the Philippines, where his experiences in the Indian Wars functioned as a potent endorsement of his ability to combat Filipinos. The crude caricature of the “slick Apachy” and the “four-footed Filipino” met, in Lawton, a lifetime of experience fighting against men and women working to preserve their independence from U.S. political authority. The Indian Wars travelled overseas in the minds and bodies of men like Lawton, who were both the bearers of a discursive legacy and enactors of a military policy that drew on experiences fighting Native people to construct the first insurgents of the twentieth century.
Lawton’s military career, particularly in the U.S. Southwest, endowed him with an aura that followed him to the Philippines. He was larger than life—a mythical figure to journalists and the troops that served under him precisely because of his role in the Indian Wars. That mythical status was supposed to translate into a tactical advantage over Filipinos. Writers covering the war emphasized it as soon as he arrived in the islands. In an article for the Saturday Evening Post, Senator Albert J. Beveridge noted that the U.S. troops in the Philippines were full of “hardened regulars who had seen service with the Indians for years.”16 None of these soldiers was more celebrated that Lawton. An article in the American Manila from May 6, 1899 proclaimed “Lawton: Fighting Machine.” The general was “as tireless as a wolf and can go a week without food or sleep.” Lawton was “steady, rapid and remorseless,” and for these reasons the general had been chosen to lead U.S. troops in the Philippines. Foremost among Lawton’s accomplishments was his role in the surrender of Apache Leader Goyahkla (Geronimo): “It is the Geronimo incident—or rather the record of years in the West crowned by the Geronimo incident—which has sent him to the Philippines to command the American forces in the field.” Some of the descriptions of Lawton even begin to slip into the realm of folklore, sounding more like Paul Bunyan or Johnny Appleseed: He can sleep for three days straight, he can drink anyone under the table, and he can eat two-dozen redbirds in one sitting. “It is not difficult to imagine him a pillar of steel, hurling his huge bulk through the lists or heading some heroic thunderous charge when a thousand spurs are striking deep and a thousand lances are in rest.”17 This was the literary Lawton who served as an endorsement for the military actions the real Lawton would undertake in the early campaigns of the Philippine-American War.
On May 1, 1898, the U.S. Navy defeated the Spanish fleet in the Battle of Manila Bay, the first battle in the Pacific theater of the Spanish-American War. A month later Filipino revolutionaries led by General Emilio Aguinaldo, who had been fighting the Spanish since 1896, declared their independence from Spain. In the ensuing months Filipino forces would gain control of most of the country except Manila, surrounding the city. They erected a governing apparatus throughout the islands and appealed to foreign leaders for recognition.18 However, neither the United States nor Spain recognized Filipino independence, and Spain ceded the country to the United States in the Treaty of Paris, signed on December 10, 1898. Tensions would mount in early 1899 as Filipino troops continued to surround Manila, and fighting broke out the night of February 4.19
U.S. troops quickly pushed Filipino forces away from Manila in a series of violent clashes. General Otis sought to capture Aguinaldo and destroy the Philippine Revolutionary Army, concentrated in the northern part of the island of Luzon. He naively believed that if he could eliminate the revolutionary leadership and capture Malolos, the capital of the Philippine Republic, most of the provinces would accept the “benevolent assimilation” of American rule. Otis’s unrealistic assessment of the conflict extended to U.S. troop levels; he had maintained that a force of 25,000 to 30,000 was sufficient despite the disagreement of his subordinate officers. Exacerbating the problem was the fact that many of the U.S. troops that made up the Eighth Army Corps in the Philippines were volunteers, due to return home once the war with Spain was over.20 Shorthanded, but intending to cut the fractured revolutionary army in two, in mid-March Otis sent General Lloyd Wheaton southeast from Manila, and General Arthur MacArthur north toward a fleeing Aguinaldo. These columns made limited gains, but the U.S. advance quickly stalled, as commanders learned that occupying Manila and controlling the dense countryside were two very different endeavors.21 The Manila Freedom reported that Filipinos were increasingly turning to “harassing tactics,” unable to face U.S. troops in pitched battles. Hidden sharpshooters were picking off U.S. soldiers and then running away before they could be engaged. The paper argued that these tactics were expected and were the reason that when sending for reinforcements the War Department “made it a point to send as many as possible of the regular troops, who had been used to Indian fighting in the bad lands of the west.” Lawton was specifically highlighted as “an old Indian fighter,” ready to strike a heavy blow.22
Lawton arrived in the Philippines in March to great fanfare from the press, and a possibly jealous Otis kept the general stationed in Manila for a month before sending him to attack the city of Santa Cruz southeast of Manila along the shores of Laguna De Bay, the largest lake in the Philippines. As Lawton and a force of 1,500 U.S. troops collected from various units moved away from the urban areas around Manila, their Indian-fighter pedigree became increasingly prominent in coverage of the war. One newspaper proclaimed, “Indian Tactics to be Adopted” in an article titled “In Pursuit of Rebels.” The reporter, who likely spent time with Lawton or someone on his staff, wrote that “the tactics will be those of the old-time frontier fighting, and it is probable that the command will be divided into squads of twelve, under non-commissioned officers.”23
Other journalists emphasized that Lawton’s attack on Santa Cruz would be modeled on the “old Indian tactics” of mobile, smaller units. Of course, these tactics were hardly old. They were fresh from use in the U.S. Southwest and the plains, but journalists were quick to endow Indian fighting with a nostalgia that sat awkwardly alongside the actual war they were covering. These tactics became “old Indian fighting” almost immediately, discursively closing off the colonization of North America as finished, complete, even as Native people were working to maintain their political autonomy on reservations. The campaign was a logistical nightmare, with Lawton’s soldiers hampered by dense swamps and an amphibious strike force stuck in shallow water, but despite these difficulties U.S. troops captured Santa Cruz on April 10th and nearby Pagsanjan on the 11th.24 The expectation was that Lawton’s command would continue to scour the region in smaller units much as he had the mountains of Sonora and Arizona. Lawton’s mystique as the Indian fighter was beginning to link up with reality. However, Otis recalled the expedition on April 15, against Lawton’s wishes.25
After the Laguna de Bay campaign Lawton’s troops moved north from Manila into central Luzon. The Philippine Revolutionary Army had fortified many of the railroads and river crossings in the region, but friction between Aguinaldo and General Antonio Luna threatened to fracture Filipino resistance to the American advance.26 The plan was for Lawton to coordinate with General MacArthur and catch the retreating Filipino forces in a two-pronged attack, targeting the towns of Calumpit, Baliuag, and Norzagaray. Like Lawton, MacArthur had commanded troops in the Southwest during the Apache Wars, although largely as a garrison commander. However, Lawton and MacArthur’s frontier service was useful for writers hoping to project a hopeful image of the American advance, an enterprise encouraged by Otis. Peter MacQueen profiled the campaign in an article for The National Magazine. He described the campaign as full of “wild, romantic scenery and rich, abounding vistas…wild trails through unknown mountain tribes” which could not help but invoke the months Lawton spent in the Sonoran Mountains.27
MacQueen referred to Lawton as the “old Indian exterminator” and noted that while the general was strict about looting and plundering he was “the very scourge of God” with armed Filipinos.28 Emilio Aguinaldo was the prime target of the campaign but he remained elusive despite the efforts of Lawton and his troops. The successes ascribed to Lawton in chasing down Goyahkla was supposed to result in a similar success with Aguinaldo. A Massachusetts newspaper reprinted correspondence from a soldier who served with Lawton under the title “Tireless Lawton: He Will Follow Aguinaldo as He Did Geronimo—Officers on His Staff Have to Work Hard.”29 The Washington Post ran an article on Lawton which made a similar argument: “Just now he is using in the Philippines to excellent purpose the tactics and strategy he learned years ago against Naches and Geronimo in Apache land, in pursuit of Aguinaldo.”30 Clearly the press wanted to emphasize the connection between Lawton’s career in the Indian Wars and his campaign in the Philippines. But these were not simply imaginative linkages with little relation to on-the-ground tactics. As much as Lawton was the embodiment of the discursive aura of an Indian fighter, he also put into practice tactics which directly drew on his experience in frontier violence.
“Old Frontiersmen”: The Formation of Young’s Scouts
Very little of the U.S. Army’s experience with nineteenth-century colonial warfare made it into strategic manuals.31 Men like Lawton were the main repository for that sort of institutional knowledge. However, several tactical approaches emerged informally and then officially, codified in the few texts that did set down a strategic approach for the U.S. Army’s wars with Native people. Surprise attacks on villages, ideally while the inhabitants were sleeping, the use of smaller mobile units alongside Indian scouts, and the incarceration of Native non-combatants were all used to devastating effect in the wars of continental expansion. The U.S. Army learned how to wage war on entire Native populations, whether by attacking noncombatants directly or by destabilizing Native communities into accepting confinement on reservations.32 While the early phase of the U.S. campaign in the Philippines emphasized defeating the Philippine Revolutionary Army, commanders, including Lawton, also pursued similarly population-centric forms of warfare that targeted Filipinos and their property generally.33 Lawton also made frequent use of scouts and guides, and he emphasized mobility, pushing his troops so far ahead of their supply trains that his advance out of Manila stalled out.34 Although the role of Native scouts in the U.S. military had been hotly debated for decades, with both supporters and critics, Apache scouts had played a large role in the success Lawton won during the campaign to capture Goyahkla in 1886.35 He had witnessed firsthand the advantages of mobile scouting units in pursuing and wearing down the enemy. A member of Lawton’s staff even remarked that Lawton was “prosecuting an Apache warfare,” and was held back by his superior, General Otis.36 It would not take long for Lawton to organize an elite scouting unit that would reflect his desire for mobility and seek-and-destroy operations.
On May 3, 1899, as U.S. troops pushed north from Manila, Lawton sent a telegram to the adjutant general with an unusual report: “I have organized a most efficient detachment of scouts, employing Mr. W.H. Young, an old frontiersman, prospector and scout, as chief—with 25 selected volunteers.” Who was this “old frontiersman,” and why had Lawton given him control of a picked group of U.S. soldiers? The history of this elite unit demonstrates the ways in which “Indian fighting” operated both discursively and materially in the Philippines, conscripting U.S. soldiers into a narrative of colonial violence that was then enacted against Filipinos.37 Where Lawton was the soldier, Young was the frontiersman, a civilian who could operate at the boundaries of so-called savage and civilized warfare, often outside of the loosening restrictions of military convention. “Frontiersman” evoked the settler-militias, trappers, mountain-men, guides, prospectors, and criminals who perpetrated many of the worst atrocities against Native people. Lawton seemed to believe that an “old frontiersman” was just what he needed as he pushed further into the island of Luzon, and he used Young to deadly effect.
Much of our information on Young comes from the diary of John B. Kinne, a member of the First North Dakota Volunteer Infantry. Kinne’s first encounter with Young was entirely literary, a glimpse of the frontier mythos manifested in the jungle of the Philippines: “my attention was called to a fine, athletic looking individual in civilian clothes, leaning on his rifle. He was not taking any part in the preparations, but seemed to be an interested spectator of the operations. He reminded me of Leatherstocking, the hero of Cooper’s Tales.”38 Nothing could be more indicative of the literary inflection of the Indian Wars, and U.S. empire more broadly, than Kinne’s immediate association of this frontier soldier of fortune, standing on the shoreline in the Philippines, with a hero from James Fenimore Cooper’s famous novels. Here was a real-life Leatherstocking, leaning on his rifle and casually observing his surroundings, not a soldier but civilian, a man whose deviation from the professional norms of the U.S. military would ultimately make him an ideal tool for Lawton. Born in Connecticut, Young had served as a scout under General Oliver Howard in the wars with the Nez Perce, had prospected in Montana, California, Korea, and China, and had served as a soldier in Korea and in Japan. He had made his way to the Philippines after the United States occupied the islands hoping to prospect, but instead fought alongside the volunteer regiments. Young gained quite a reputation with the U.S. soldiers, particularly for his skill at countering the hated Filipino sharpshooters. His reputation was further amplified by his history as a frontier scout in one of the more famous conflicts of the Indian Wars. Much of his time was spent with the First North Dakota, and many of his scouts, including Kinne, came from that regiment.
The First North Dakota spent about a year in the Philippines, largely serving under the command of Lawton. In 1898 the regiment left North Dakota and moved west on the trains that had been so integral to the conquest of Native homelands. Where U.S. empire had once expanded west in search of continental supremacy, now it pushed further west in search of an ocean to cross, prairie settlers bound for San Francisco, Hawai‘i, and finally the Philippines. A few decades earlier an east-west movement meant an invasion of Native land, but in 1898 Kinne narrates the journey as a sober reflection on now-pacified Indian people. Rather than bison herds he notes that the bones of these animals had been collected by Natives and piled near the track for shipment to sugar refineries. Their train passed near a Blackfeet village, no longer a threatening presence but rather a curiosity, the Blackfeet waving blankets in answer to the shouts of the soldiers. Indian people are met with cameras rather than guns. In Idaho, the North Dakotans took pictures and shook hands with three Indians, which Kinne calls “a little burlesque and seemingly solemn occasion” that he thoroughly enjoyed. Kinne seems to understand the staged nature of their interaction with these three nameless Native men.39 For Kinne Indian people are no longer the preoccupation of U.S. imperialism, but rather a remnant, a distraction and curiosity that precedes his deployment to the Philippines.
In San Francisco the First North Dakota camped in what Kinne calls “an old Chinese graveyard.” Now on the coast, the contours of U.S. empire are larger, and the soldiers find themselves sleeping on the graves of people whose labor helped construct the railroad. The initial disrespect of stationing soldiers on top of the graves is further compounded when some men dig up two skeletons. Kinne noted that “in digging a sink the boys dug up two Chinese skeletons and had lots of amusement.” Kinne’s global tour of U.S. empire continues in Hawai‘i, where their transport docks temporarily. The soldiers throw coins in the water for Native Hawaiian divers to retrieve and steal from a food vendor, Kinne calling it a shame to steal from such “simple and honest” people. Soon enough the North Dakotans are in the Philippines, where the “gu gu,” “savage” and the “nigger” replaces the Hawaiian, Chinese, and Indian as the object of Kinne’s scorn. The regiment took part in the capture of Manila, and then helped to garrison the city for the remainder of 1898.40
Kinne and the North Dakotans participated in the initial fighting of the war, pushing out of Manila under the leadership of General Charles King after the retreating Filipino soldiers. He casually recounts stories of “dead niggers,” burned buildings, and wounded noncombatants in between the daily minutiae and entertainments of young soldiers: paddling canoes, the quality of the food cooked by their Chinese chef, and the appropriation of brass from an abandoned church to be sold for cash to fund gambling. What for the Filipino soldiers was a desperate defense of home was for soldiers like Kinne an imperial excursion that alternated between fatigue, hilarity, boredom, and adventure, punctuated by episodes of violence. It is jarring to quickly transition, sometimes in a single journal entry, from descriptions of race-war to the amusements of young soldiers.41 But this juxtaposition of the mundane and the horrific is characteristic of empire and hardly unique to these North Dakotans. Take the following incident observed by U.S. Army General James C. Parker, who served in Lawton’s command, while on board a Navy ship in November 1899: “The next morning we closed in on the beach, near the village Cavayan, the port of Vigan. Insurgents were seen in trenches. They did not reply to our fire. The navy shelled the beach with all kinds of guns…The navy men apologetically explained they did it in order to expend their allowance of ammunition for target practice. We heard later that they killed two women, and badly wounded one non-combatant—no insurgents.”42 The contrast is jarring; the casual shelling of a beach in order to use up ammunition balanced against the loss of three Filipino lives.
Lawton had first encountered Young on the 29th of April, 1899, when he noticed a civilian walking ahead of the troops as they advanced toward the town of San Rafael during the so-called “northern expedition” targeted at Filipino revolutionary strongholds north of Manila. Lawton summoned the strange man intending to reprimand him and send him to the rear of the line, but Young apparently made quite the impression on the general. Young told Lawton he had been a scout in Indian campaigns and had made his way to the Philippines to “help the boys.” This meeting impressed the Lawton, and he recognized Young’s name as “one who had done some gallant work against the redskins.” This knowledge was enough to earn the itinerant civilian a chance to work his way into the general’s good graces: “Something in the man’s bearing and appearance, made me change my mind, and I directed him to go to the front and bring me in a citizen that I might get definite information about the location of San Rafael.”43 Five minutes later Lawton heard three shots, and soon Young reappeared, carrying a rifle and a sack full of ammunition. He had encountered a Filipino outpost of eight men, killed one, and driven the others off. Impressed, Lawton had Young select twenty-five men to form a scouting unit. Most of the men had been sharpshooters or scouts in their respective regiments, uninterested in military discipline and protocol. One had served in the Spanish, English, and U.S. navies before enlisting in the Army. A few had multiple court-martials on their records. Private William Harris, one of the original scouts, recalled the men as informal and rugged, often heading into the countryside without permission to explore.44
“Young’s Scouts,” as the unit came to be known, were used much the way scouts had been used when Lawton was on the northern plains or in the Southwest. They were independent, taking orders directly from Lawton and led by Young, a man Lawton called a natural leader. This independence was galling to other officers, but Lawton consistently backed them up in the face of criticism.45 They advanced a half-day ahead of the main body of soldiers, locating the enemy and often engaging them. At this stage in the conflict the war was somewhere in between a series of pitched battles and the guerilla warfare that would later come to define the occupation. Young’s Scouts allowed Lawton to pursue the sort of smaller-scale objectives he was familiar with, aimed at disrupting the ability of Filipino revolutionary forces to maintain their day-to-day resistance. They were ordered to proceed through the countryside “for the purpose of locating and destroying all magazines, storehouses and caches of insurgent subsistence or other supplies.”46 Destroyed supplies and captured guns functioned as quantifiable measures of progress against the so-called insurgency. And although Lawton’s orders included cautions about respecting noncombatants and private property, looting and burning became hallmarks of the Scouts and the U.S. occupation of the Philippines in general. By drawing on the skills of “frontiersmen” like Young, Lawton instituted a set of military policies that would come to define the U.S. counterinsurgency in the Philippines.
In what would become one of the primary occupations of the unit, Young’s first “rice burning expedition” involved the scouts creeping, as Kinne puts it, “Indian fashion” through the countryside, thirty paces apart. They appropriated food from Filipino villagers, captured prisoners, and searched the buildings they came across. In one house they captured a Filipino officer and two soldiers and forced them to shred their uniforms. The next day they discovered a series of rice-beds which were torn up and burned, drawing the attention of the locals who proceeded to flee into the hills. In one storehouse the scouts found ten thousand bushels of rice, and later they found a cache with twenty thousand bushels of rice and a large store of other supplies. Due to the large quantity, they made camp and spent three days burning everything. The scouts then circled back toward Manila, floating down a river on a raft and cutting telegraph lines as they went. Lawton was happy with the expedition, which had resulted in destroyed supplies and several Filipino prisoners, and had demonstrated that the scouts could operate independently and quietly in the field.47
The scouts had covered a large amount of territory in four days, which Lawton estimated would take a normal infantry regiment twice that amount of time. In his report Lawton offered a ringing endorsement of the scouts:
The services of these scouts have been from the beginning peculiarly valuable, and are daily increasing in value as a result of experience. The individuals detailed were in all cases men who had either lived for years on our Indian frontier, were inured to hardship and danger, and skilled in woodcraft and use of the rifle, or had demonstrated their service in these islands peculiar fitness for the work contemplated.48
For Lawton, the Indian frontier was both a training ground and instrument of validation. It had produced men suited to these seek-and-destroy missions and discursively validated the scout’s existence. They were Indian fighters—therefore they were effective Filipino fighters, effective counterinsurgents. Young certainly had experience in Indian warfare, and put that experience into practice. But many of the men in Young’s Scouts were too young to have directly fought with Native people. However, they came from North Dakota, from Oregon, from places recently taken from Native people. This history of colonial conquest clung to these men in the Philippines. Conscripted into a discourse of Indian Fighting, they enacted it in their scouts. This aura possessed the ability to remake men into “old Indian fighters,” even young men like Kinne. It seemed to endow the scouts with a certain bravura and recklessness which resulted in several highly risky actions that would lead to Young’s death and numerous Medal of Honor awards for the unit.
Young’s Scouts could move quietly and quickly, but that does not mean they avoided fighting. As Kinne noted in his diary, the entire North Dakota Volunteers were eager to get into the fighting and resented not being on the front lines in the beginning of their deployment. One soldier even wrote home to a friend that “most of the boys say as the cowboys of our North American Indian: A dead Philipino [sic] is a good Philipino.” This was not an empty threat—another soldier noted in his diary that “they caught a sharpshooter in the act of changing his uniform for a white suit and now he is a good Philipino [sic].”49 Frequent references to “dead niggers” made throughout Kinne’s description of the scout’s operations attest to the racialized character of the war in the Philippines, which was based as much in anti-blackness and anti-Filipino racism as it was Indian-hating.50 Young’s Scouts killed numerous Filipinos on their expeditions, occasionally noncombatants. Kinne’s diary notes several noncombatant casualties, in one instance the death of a woman holding a baby.
On several occasions the unit threw themselves recklessly at the enemy. On May 12 and 13 the scouts captured two towns against overwhelming odds. At San Ildefonso, the twenty-five scouts engaged in a daylong firefight with some four hundred Filipino soldiers. In late afternoon the scouts charged the Filipino position, driving them entirely from the town with only one casualty. The next day at San Miguel the scouts charged a bridge into the city held by between three hundred and five hundred Filipinos, scattering them in a sudden rush and then taking refuge in the church bell tower until reinforcements arrived.51 While crossing the bridge at San Miguel, Young was shot in the knee. In his diary Kinne narrates Young’s injury like a heroic last stand out of a Frederic Remington painting or John Ford film: “As they reached the bridge in the center of the town, Young was hit in the knee with a Remington bullet and fell. He kept up the fire as long as he could see any niggers and then bound his knee. When they found him he was sitting up with his wound bound and surrounded by empty shells.”52 Another story of racial violence and bravery to amplify Young’s reputation, the mess of spent rifle shells a potent visual for the sort of long odds on which the mystique of Young’s Scouts was built.
In a telegram praising Young and the scouts Lawton noted that the wound was not life-threatening, likely to result in no more than a stiff joint.53 Captain William Birkhimer, in his report on the fight, called the charge of the scouts “one of the rare events in war where true valor asserts itself against overwhelming odds.”54 High praise, but the captain was tired of the independent scouts, who were only supposed to reconnoiter the town, not attack it. Birkhimer gathered the scouts for a meeting and lectured them on military discipline and protocol, a speech that was not well received. Corporal Anders was given instruction on the proper method of saluting a superior officer, a lesson that was particularly unwelcome. Several of the scouts appealed to Lawton, who told Birkhimer to leave them alone. Ultimately Birkhimer and eleven of the scouts would receive the Medal of Honor for the charge at San Miguel, and Lawton negated Birkhimer’s attempted interference.55 The scouts would remain independent and informal.
Lawton was confident that Young would return to duty, and predicted that “if we have guerilla warfare, he will be very useful.”56 However, Young’s stiff knee turned out to be more serious, and a day after his injury he died in Manila. The loss of their namesake certainly demoralized Young’s Scouts, but the unit continued to operate for the remainder of Lawton’s northern expedition. The scouts, led by Young’s replacement, Lt. J.E. Thornton, were instrumental in the capture of San Isidro, the capital of the Philippine Republic, on May 16. At San Isidro, Lawton’s campaign came to a halt. The general once more blamed Otis’s timidity, but the reality was that Lawton’s troops were suffering widespread illness, he had used up his supplies, and had no way to acquire more. Aguinaldo and the revolutionary government had eluded capture, and the Philippine Revolutionary Army, though battered, had not been destroyed.57 By June of 1899 the worn-out soldiers of the First North Dakota were running out of steam, and they would soon board a ship to return to the United States.
Lawton himself would remain in the Philippines until his death in December of 1899. His time there would continue to be described in terms that sought to position the general and his troops as Indian Fighters, often in the face of increasing Filipino success in guerilla warfare. A June campaign led by Lawton southward from Manila toward the town of Cavite initially failed to engage a single Filipino soldier, the U.S. soldiers defeated by swamps, mosquitoes, and weather. Nonetheless, the press, tightly managed by Otis, reported that “Insurgents Flee as Lawton Advances.”58 When Lawton did manage to engage Filipino forces, Otis told reporters that Lawton’s troops had killed four hundred “Indians” in a battle, and one newspaper proclaimed: “Success of the Moment Against Filipino Braves,” but the reality was that hundreds of Filipino soldiers managed to elude Lawton once more.59 In the fall of 1899 Lawton and Otis would clash again when Secretary of War Elihu Root ordered the formation of scouting detachments of Filipino Macabebes, Spanish loyalists who were opposed to the Filipino revolutionary forces, over the protests of Otis. Lawton had advocated for the creation of the Macabebe scouts, which enraged Otis, but the idea of Native scouts would have appealed to Lawton, who had made such effective use of Apache scouts in the Southwest.60 Indeed, a resonance of Lawton’s experiences in the Apache Wars would catch up with him when he was shot by a sniper and killed in the Battle of Paye on December 19, 1899. The Filipino general in command was Licerio Gerónimo. And while this Filipino general did not do the actual shooting, his presence on the battlefield evoked the Apache leader Goyahkla—whom Lawton had played a role in convincing to surrender thirteen years before—a man still in U.S. military custody at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
Like the journalists who had covered the war, the obituaries commemorating Lawton’s life emphasized his military career, particularly his role in the Indian Wars. According to these memorials it was Lawton’s past as an Indian fighter that had made him such an effective general in the Philippines. As one speaker at Lawton’s funeral put it, “having fought it out with the insurrectionary tribes for fifteen years, he was the picked man of men to track the Apaches to their last lair and to wrest the Southwest from the terror of Geronimo and his band. As another vividly said, ‘he hunted them off their feet.’” One of his obituaries noted that Lawton’s experience with Apaches made him especially competent when dealing with Filipino insurgents, “whom it required chasing to catch.” It was this tenacity in what the military termed “savage war” which made Lawton famous. One writer noted that he was “constantly in the field of action—here, there, and everywhere—moving rapidly and striking quick, decisive blows after the fashion which he had learned so well in the border wars of the west.” Lawton’s reputation in the Philippines was built on his supposed Indian fighting prowess, and the troops there had anticipated his arrival. Rev. Peter MacQueen recalled the following conversation: ‘“Wait till Lawton comes,’ said a husky volunteer from the West; ‘he’ll rip this insurrection up the back.’”61 Being a frontier-experienced regular carried a great deal of military capital with the soldiers in the Philippines, and no one had more than Lawton.
The Army’s inspector general went even further in his announcement of Lawton’s death. Rather than jumping from the Sonora Mountains of the Southwest to the jungles of the Philippines, General Breckinbridge inserted Lawton into a centuries-old lineage of white racial militarism, a member of “the race of the trader, the financier, the statesman, the inventor, the colonizer, the creator, but, above all, the fighter.”62 Lawton’s prominence in both continental and overseas colonial violence made him an ideal candidate, in both life and death, for writers wishing to draw a link between the conquest of Native people and the occupation of the Philippines. And as general Breckinbridge’s obituary makes clear, this was a racialized connection.63 Breckinbridge memorialized Lawton as an expert in “savage” warfare, uniquely suited to subduing the Filipinos, just as he had the Apache. However, soldiers like Lawton were not simply exporting North American racisms to the Philippines. As Paul Kramer reminds us, much of the racialized violence U.S. soldiers directed at Filipinos was the products of distinct, localized processes.64 But soldiers like Lawton were bringing with them a history of experience in colonial violence that shaped both their attitudes and their practices, their investment in defeating Filipino independence and their tactical approach to combat with people they deemed racially inferior.65 The mobility of U.S. colonialism had as much to do with how soldiers imagined themselves as it did with how they racialized their enemies.
Young’s Scouts and Lawton’s 1899 campaigns predicted the development of U.S. military policy in the Philippines. As the conflict transitioned into a protracted guerilla war, the tactics practiced by Young and Lawton became an integral part of the American counterinsurgency, focused on mobile seek-and-destroy operations, population and resource control, and the destruction of Filipino revolutionary infrastructure and supplies. These were policies built on the mystique that Indian warfare endowed in men like Lawton and Young. And as U.S. tactics became increasingly brutal, those measures were justified by continued references to the frontier, references that would find increasingly literary forms.
The Literary Lawton
The Philippine-American War occurred amidst widespread concern about race, gender, sexuality, and social class. Writers, educators, and politicians in both the United States and Britain warned that white racial superiority and masculinity were under threat, eroding in the face of industrialization, poverty, urban overcrowding, immigration, women’s suffrage, and labor unrest. These fears were inseparable from imperial expansion, particularly in the United States. They helped motivate an aggressive foreign policy that many believed would reinvigorate a nation forged in the now-lost crucible of frontier expansion.66 In this context Lawton’s eulogies celebrated him as a hero of white Anglo Saxon masculinity, and this was a theme that authors of turn-of-the-century fiction literature for children would amplify. Lawton may have died in the Philippines, but a literary version of the general would return home and enter the pages of several stories. As Amy Kaplan has shown, fiction literature in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries is inseparable from the expansion of U.S. empire. Popular genres like historical romances and travel stories celebrated white masculinity while both amplifying and reflecting American political desires for global expansion.67 Here I am concerned with a particular subset of this imperial literature, namely the children’s adventure stories which became very successful in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Marketed largely to boys, these stories sought to mythologize the now “closed” frontier and offer narratives with new venues for masculine development, often taking place outside the United States, and featuring boys “roughing it” outdoors while facing a variety of dangers.
The narrators in these adventures paradoxically reflect on the loss of wilderness while celebrating the effects of U.S. expansion, urbanization, and development.68 Readers learn the value of physical and moral strength as they traverse the newly forged networks of U.S. empire. Racial and national superiority are celebrated as dangerous war zones like the Philippines transform into light-hearted arenas of American dominance. Unlike the historical romances Kaplan describes, in which the male hero performs and asserts his imperial masculinity for a female gaze, the boys in these stories are learning masculinity, and they do so through participation in U.S. empire. Intended for the next generation of soldiers, many of these stories include details about the military occupation of the Philippines, and they often narrate the Philippine-American War as an Indian War.
In the aftermath of the war in the Philippines, the military largely failed to create any doctrine or educational record that would preserve institutional knowledge acquired during the occupation. Professional journals discussed the conflict sparingly, and the military censored several publications intended to transmit the lessons learned, likely due to the descriptions of harsh counterinsurgency tactics, the very measures that were currently under-fire by anti-imperialist politicians.69 As a result, the record of U.S. counterinsurgency in the Philippines was ephemeral in the early twentieth century, and the children’s literature I highlight here became an unlikely venue for the transmission of the conflict’s history. These stories refigure the overtly racialized violence that the military attempted to downplay into a lesson in masculinity for young readers. Two prominent authors working in these genres were Elbridge Street Brooks and Edward Stratemeyer, both of whom wrote books about the war in the Philippines that featured Lawton prominently. In both stories young men become involved in Lawton’s campaigns of 1899 where they interact with the general, Young’s Scouts, and other members of the U.S. military. Lawton may have been larger than life, but after his death a literary Lawton would continue to develop the mystique of the Indian Fighter.
In 1900, soon after Lawton’s death, Elbridge S. Brooks published With Lawton and Roberts: A Boy’s Adventures in the Philippines and the Transvall. The story is a broad endorsement of empire, connecting the U.S. occupation of the Philippines to European colonialism in southern Africa. The American and British generals, Lawton and Roberts, are introduced in the preface as “heroes of Anglo-Saxon blood.” Their intertwined stories are meant to unify Anglo Saxons everywhere and to defend the cause of imperialism. Similar to politicians that sought to deny self-determination to colonized peoples, Brooks writes that “the Stars and Stripes in the Philippines, and the Union Jack in South Africa, are advancing the interests of humanity and civilization, and that untrammeled liberty to the barbarian is as disastrous a gift as are unquestioning concessions to a republic which has been a republic only in name.”70 Brooks narrates this imperial project through sixteen-year-old Ned, a California schoolboy who, on a dare, stows away on a transport ship headed to the Philippines. The precocious Ned is swept up in the U.S. campaign, fights alongside Lawton and Young’s Scouts, and manages to play an integral role in the early months of the war in the Philippines. He then travels to South Africa and takes part in the Second Boer War before returning home a hero.
With Lawton and Roberts is a work of fiction aimed at adolescent boys, and men like Lawton become instructors for Ned, and by extension the reader. Foremost among Lawton’s credentials: he is the hero of the Apache wars. Ned discovers “that no work was too severe, no fighting too hot, no march too rapid, to baffle the man whom the Apaches used to call ‘man-who-gets-up-in-the-night-to-fight,’ and whom the Filipinos dubbed ‘the sleepless one.’” Ned is also introduced to Young and his elite scouting unit, and together with Lawton they become a cautionary tale for the reckless teen. When Ned fails to follow orders and stumbles into a group of Filipino revolutionaries, barely escaping with his life, Lawton warns Ned that he hasn’t had the same frontier experience: “Just you take a lesson from Young’s scouts, lad, whom I am going to detail for service with Colonel Sinclair. They’ll tell you that a woodsman knows before he feels…You ought to hunt Apaches a little while, then you’d get schooled to cautiousness.”71 From Brooks’s story we learn a few things. First, that Lawton and Young’s Scouts were famous enough to justify an entire novel dedicated to their exploits. We also get a sense of how much the Indian Wars continued to influence cultural meanings around military violence in the twentieth century. Journalists, politicians, and individual soldiers made sense of their actions in the Philippines by relating it back to the frontier. The same is true of the writers who translated the violence of empire into narratives for children and young adults.
Brooks does not confine himself to perpetuating a mythological frontier, transplanted to the Philippines. He is writing historical fiction and Ned’s adventure narrates Lawton’s northern expedition, the push out of Manila into northern Luzon in the spring of 1899. Lawton is “the gray-haired giant of the piercing eye and the tireless tactics,” swiftly taking town after town with the aid of Ned, whose experience of war is both light-hearted and exhilarating. Readers of Brooks’s story embark on an adventure in which the U.S. soldiers, particularly Lawton and Young’s Scouts, form an invincible tide against which the routinely treacherous Filipinos can only flee. Filipinos are sent to the “happy hunting grounds,” the stereotypical Native afterlife of dime novels and westerns. “Grim Indian Fighters” out-maneuver and out-fight their opponents in the towns of Baliuag, San Isidro, and San Miguel. Ned is instrumental in these fights, which made the real Young’s Scouts famous. He learns how to behave like “an old Indian-fighter,” and is taught to have “little respect for savage or half-civilized ‘hostiles.’”72 Even young boys like Ned can become old Indian fighters, endowed with a practiced frontier brutality that so many writers were quick to position Lawton in. The overarching message serves to justify racial violence as necessary in the service of empire. Ned and his companions are continuously contrasted to the “savage” or “treacherous” Filipinos, who are kept in check only through the efforts of men like Lawton.
At the end of the story Ned travels to southern Africa, where he learns from a Filipino traveler that Lawton had died. In a fit of rage, he mercilessly beats the man. A British general chastises an embarrassed Ned for breaking camp discipline, but nonetheless commends Ned’s love for the now-dead Lawton. In Africa this Filipino soldier, who has opposed Ned throughout the story, transforms into an ally. Removed from the defense of his own home and plugged into the global network of empire, his transformation is the final resolution of the story before Ned returns home: “‘We may never meet again, my brother,’ said the Filipino, as he stretched out a hand in farewell to the American. ‘But you have done me a good service. I hated you as an American invader; I love you as an American brother, and I shall go back to my own dear Luzon to work among my fellows for what I now believe to be our best and surest interest.’”73 By story’s end Ned has almost single-handedly converted this hardened Filipino insurgent into an enthusiastic booster for the U.S. occupation. This was the final lesson from the literary Lawton, who earlier in the story had argued that the American way was to convert the Filipinos into friends rather than simply destroy them: “‘We wish to reclaim your people and not to revenge ourselves. A dead Aguinaldo would not be so great a feather in our caps as a contented and friendly Aguinaldo.’” Ned fulfills Lawton’s charge, ending the story with the ultimate counterinsurgency fantasy, a hardened enemy transformed into a friendly and loyal subject of U.S. power.
Few readers will recognize the name Edward Stratemeyer. But what about Franklin W. Dixon, Victor Appleton, or Carolyn Keene? Perhaps if you think back to the books you read as a child these authors will ring a bell. Those names stand in for the ghostwriters of some of the most enduringly popular children’s literature ever published, in The Hardy Boys, Tom Swift, and Nancy Drew respectively. Stratemeyer was the creator and initial author of all three of these characters, as well as numerous other popular series in children’s literature. Through his Stratemeyer Syndicate he published more than a thousand books and helped to define the genre of children’s literature. And while Stratemeyer is mostly known for his sleuthing teenagers, his first successful hardcover novels were a series of stories about the Spanish-American War. Beginning with Under Dewey at Manila, Stratemeyer published six stories about the war that pair young men with top military leaders, including Lawton, MacArthur, and Otis. To prepare for the stories Stratemeyer read military reports in an effort to be historically accurate. The fifth in the series, The Campaign of the Jungle; or, Under Lawton through Luzon closely follows Lawton’s “southern campaign” toward Laguna de Bay and his “northern campaign” toward San Isidro, primarily in April and May of 1899.
Like Brooks, Stratemeyer’s story is an endorsement of U.S. militarism in which Lawton’s history as an Indian Fighter gives definition to his campaigns in the Philippines. In the preface Stratemeyer writes that Lawton’s northern campaign “was one of the most daring of its kind, and could not have been pushed to success had not the man at its head been what he was, a trained Indian fighter of our own West, and one whose nerve and courage were almost beyond comprehension.”74 The Lawton of Stratemeyer’s story is larger-than-life. The narrator introduces him as the captor of Geronimo and recycles the story that his Apache name was “man-who-gets-up-in-the-night-to-fight.” The novel’s main characters, Larry and Ben, are in awe of the general from the moment they see him. At one point Larry assures his companion that ‘“a soldier who has whipped the Apache Indians isn’t going to suffer any surprise at the hands of these Tagals, no matter how wily they are.’”75 Apache people remained the benchmark against which cunning and savagery were measured, and Lawton’s success in the Southwest served as an endless endorsement of his military prowess. At one point Ben tells a fellow soldier that ‘“I never heard of such a campaign.’” His companion replies that, “‘General Lawton puts it down as a regular Indian campaign.’” Just a regular Indian campaign, one in which soldiers like Lawton and Young’s Scouts, who also make an appearance in the story, base their ability to defeat insurgents on their experiences as Indian fighters.
Conclusion: The “Savage War Whoop”
The Indian Wars exercised a powerful hold on the imaginations of authors like Stratemeyer and Brooks, just as they had for soldiers like John Kinne, who ends his journal with a final nod to the frontier mythologies that swirled around him in the Philippines. By June of 1899, Kinne and the rest of the 1st North Dakota were nearing the end of their service in the Philippines. Young was dead, and Lawton was several months away from his own death in December of 1898. However, the war was far from over. Kinne and several of his fellows spent their final month on the outskirts of Manila attempting to root out persistent Filipino revolutionary forces on the Morong peninsula. Many of the men in Young’s Scouts had been reassigned back to their original regiments. The soldiers of the 1st North Dakota who had been in Young’s Scouts were promptly chosen as scouts for their old regiment, a clear indication that these men had built a reputation in just a few short months. For Kinne this was a welcome assignment as it promised a relief from the more onerous guard duties and the opportunity for increased freedom. Kinne seems to have taken advantage. The final pages of his journal juxtapose a sometimes holiday-like atmosphere alongside a series of tense firefights.
On June 22, after several days spent duck hunting, Kinne relates the final combat episode of his time in the Philippines:
The next day a few of the scouts were out and shot at some natives who were crossing an opening, stirring up a regular hornets nest of them. The rest hurriedly went out to where they were and we got a few very good shots at the “Gugus.” They dropped a few pretty close to us but none of us were hit…We heard the war whoop of the Filipinos. It was a long drawn out oh —ah —oh, and sounded savage enough echoing and re-echoing among the hills and valleys around.
It is clear when reading Kinne’s journal that Indians were never far from his mind during his deployment to the Philippines, and this final skirmish fittingly ends with a “savage war whoop” that echoed through the hills and valleys. The “Oh —ah —Oh” that seems to have sent a shiver down his spine demonstrates one final time that soldiers like Kinne often narrated their experience in the Philippines as an Indian War. Investigating the interaction between imperial culture and military violence allows us to see the connections between the wars of U.S. settler-colonialism and the Philippine-American War. “Indian fighting” was not the only lens through which U.S. soldiers understood their time in the Philippines, but it was prominent and powerful, able to enmesh the soldiers in one of the United States’ most enduring narratives about violence. Lawton’s strategies, most prominently the creation of Young’s Scouts, were the product of material conditions, institutional training, and these very cultural ideas—the discourses that frame military conflict as an “Indian War.” These are narratives that continue to resonate in U.S. militarism on a global scale. They have not gone away, and the war and occupation of the Philippines was one of the first conflicts that cemented “Indian fighting” as an important structuring narrative of U.S. military violence.
“Is The Philippine War Over?,” The Literary Digest, Volume XX, No. 17, 1900, 503; Stuart Creighton Miller, “Benevolent Assimilation”: The American Conquest of the Philippines, 1899–1903 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1982), 82–90.
Jacob Smith would become infamous during the war after he received a court martial for his brutal tactics on the island of Samar. “Is The Philippine War Over?,” 503; Brian McAllister Linn, The U.S. Army and Counterinsurgency in the Philippine War, 1899–1902 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2000), 23.
James C. Parker, “Typescripts of Ltrs 5 July 1899–Dec 1899,” 1899, Folder 3, Box 8, James C. Parker Letters, U.S. Military Academy Special Collections, West Point, N.Y.; Miller, “Benevolent Assimilation,” 94–95.
Walter L. Williams, “United States Indian Policy and the Debate over Philippine Annexation: Implications for the Origins of American Imperialism,” Journal of American History 66, no. 4 (1980); Matthew Frye Jacobson, Barbarian Virtues: The United States Encounters Foreign Peoples at Home and Abroad, 1876–1917 (New York: Hill and Wang, 2000), 243; Peter W. Stanley, Reappraising an Empire: New Perspectives on Philippine-American History (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1984), 34.
Julian Go and Anne L. Foster, eds. The American Colonial State in the Philippines: Global Perspectives (Durham: Duke University Press, 2003), 8–9; Williams, “United States Indian Policy.”
Andrew J. Birtle, U.S. Army Counterinsurgency and Contingency Operations Doctrine, 1860–1941 (Washington, D.C.: Center of Military History, U.S. Army, 1998), 108–135. For a more critical perspective see Richard Drinnon, Facing West: The Metaphysics of Indian-Hating and Empire-Building (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997); Richard Slotkin, Gunfighter Nation: The Myth of the Frontier in Twentieth-Century America. (New York: Atheneum, 1992).
Paul Kramer has made the most extensive examination of these connections to date. However, Kramer is wary of what he calls the “export” model of imperial historiography in which historians transplant prevailing ideas about race from the metropole outward to the colonies, erasing local particularities in the process. While Kramer’s caution to avoid reproducing an uncritical flattening of categories of difference is useful, U.S. soldiers were certainly influenced by the decades of conflict with Native peoples they were emerging from at the end of the nineteenth century, particularly given their frequent reproduction of the discourses of those conflicts and their implementation of similar tactics in the Philippines. Paul A. Kramer, The Blood of Government: Race, Empire, the United States, and the Philippines (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006).
Joan W. Scott, “Deconstructing Equality-Versus-Difference: Or, the Uses of Poststructuralist Theory for Feminism,” Feminist Studies 14, no. 1 (1988): 33–50, 35.
John W Bailey, The Life and Works of General Charles King, 1844–1933: Martial Spirit (Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen Press, 1998); Richard Slotkin, “Buffalo Bill’s ‘Wild West’ and the Mythologization of American Empire,” in Amy Kaplan and Donald E. Pease, Cultures of United States Imperialism (Durham: Duke University Press, 1993), 164–84.
Kramer, The Blood of Government, 87–158.
Here I draw on the work of Mary Renda and what she calls “cultural conscription,” or the process by which discourses shape human actors. Mary Renda, Taking Haiti: Military Occupation and the Culture of U.S. Imperialism, 1915–1940 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001), 22–27.
C. Richard King, Unsettling America: The Uses of Indianness in the 21st Century (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2013), 56.
It is important to remember that Native people also fought in the Spanish-American War and the Philippine-American War. For example, Tuscarora soldier Clinton Rickard served in the Philippines from 1901 to 1904. In one incident he was mistaken for “a wild Indian” by his commanding officer. Al Carroll, Medicine Bags and Dog Tags: American Indian Veterans from Colonial Times to the Second Iraq War (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2008), 99–100.
For biopolitics and counterinsurgency see Laleh Khalili, Time in the Shadows: Confinement in Counterinsurgencies (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2012), 42–45; Markus Kienscherf, “A Programme of Global Pacification: US Counterinsurgency Doctrine and the Biopolitics of Human (in)Security,” Security Dialogue 42, no. 6 (December 1, 2011): 517–35, 518–24.
“The Four-Foot Filipino,” in Robert Goldthwaite Carter, “Henry W. Lawton Scrapbook,” Special Collections, Newberry Library, Chicago.
“The American Army Officer in Action,” in Ibid.
“Lawton, Fighting Machine” in Ibid.
John Morgan Gates, Schoolbooks and Krags: The United States Army in the Philippines, 1898–1902 (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1973), 27–29.
Miller, Benevolent Assimilation, 57–58.
Brian McAllister Linn, The Philippine War, 1899–1902 (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2000), 88–92.
Miller, Benevolent Assimilation, 67–70.
“Will Push the Campaign,” in Carter, “Henry W. Lawton Scrapbook.”
“In Pursuit of Rebels,” in Ibid.
Linn, The Philippines War, 104–6.
“Campaigning with General Lawton,” in Carter, “Henry W. Lawton Scrapbook.”
“Tireless Lawton,” in Carter, “Henry W. Lawton Scrapbook.”
“Lawton, the Fighter,” in Carter, “Henry W. Lawton Scrapbook.”
John M. Gates, “Indians and Insurrectors: The US Army’s Experience with Insurgency,” Parameters 13 (1983); Lieutenant Colonel Robert M. Cassidy, “Winning the War of the Flea: Lessons from Guerilla Warfare,” Military Review, September–October 2004.
For an overview of nineteenth-century military strategy regarding Native peoples, see Edward S. Farrow, Mountain Scouting: A Handbook for Officers and Soldiers on the Frontiers (New York: Published by the author, 1881); John Bigelow, The Principles of Strategy: Illustrated Mainly from American Campaigns (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1894). For the history of Indian Scouts, see Thomas W. Dunlay, Wolves for the Blue Soldiers: Indian Scouts and Auxiliaries with the United States Army, 1860–90 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1982).
Linn, The Philippine War, 103.
Russell Roth, Muddy Glory, 17–18; Robert Dexter Carter and Michael E. Shay, A Civilian in Lawton’s 1899 Philippine Campaign: The Letters of Robert D. Carter (Columbia and London: University of Missouri Press, 2013), 58–60; Linn, The Philippines War, 114–16.
George Crook, Crook’s Resumé of Operations Against Apache Indians, 1882 to 1886, (Johnson-Taunton Military Press, 1971); Charles B. Gatewood, “The Surrender of Geronimo,” Journal of Arizona History 27, no. 1 (1986): 53–70.
Carter, A Civilian in Lawton’s Campaign, 76; William Thaddeus Sexton, Soldiers in the Sun; an Adventure in Imperialism (Freeport, N.Y.: Books for Libraries Press, 1971), 130.
Renda, Taking Haiti, 17–24.
“John B. Kinne Diary,” 40, Box 1, Elwyn B. Robinson Department of Special Collections, Chester Fritz Library, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks.
Ibid, 3, 8–15.
Here I follow Kramer’s use of “race-war” as a descriptor for the fighting in the Philippines. See Kramer, The Blood of Government, 88–90.
James C. Parker, “Typescripts of Ltrs 5 July 1899–Dec 1899,” 1899, Folder 3, Box 8, Parker Letters.
Lawton to Adjutant General, June 6 1899, in Carter, “Henry W. Lawton Scrapbook”; “John B. Kinne Diary,” 61.
“Telegraph, Lawton to Adjutant General,” May 14, 1899, Entry 789 Box 1, RG 395, National Archives, Washington, D.C.; Jerry M. Cooper and Glenn H. Smith, Citizens as Soldiers: A History of the North Dakota National Guard (Fargo: North Dakota Institute for Regional Studies, North Dakota State University, 1986), 97–98.
“Telegram, Lawton to Adjutant General,” May 14, 1899, Entry 789 Box 1, RG 395, National Archives, Washington, D.C.; Cooper, Smith Citizens as Soldiers, 99.
Lawton to Adjutant General, June 6 1899, in Carter, “Henry W. Lawton Scrapbook.”
“John B. Kinne Diary,” 63–65. This sort of seek-and-destroy mission would become a feature of the U.S. occupation of the Philippines, particularly the emphasis on destroyed supplies. Similar accounts can be found in the diaries of individual soldiers and in official reports. For example, see “Diary of Charles Dudley Rhodes,” Box 1, Charles D. Rhodes Papers, 1940–1949, U.S. Military Academy; “Journal of Harry M. Dey,” Box 1, Phil-Am War Day—Reports and Accounts—Soldiers’ Narratives—Journal (Nov 13 1899–July 6 1901), Captain Harry M. Dey Papers, University of Michigan Special Collections, Ann Arbor.
United States War Department, Annual Report of the Secretary of War, 1899, 201–2.
“John B. Kinne Diary,” 37; Cooper and Smith, Citizens as Soldiers, 106–7.
“John B. Kinne Diary,” 44–47, 58.
United States Army, “Operations & Casualties Lists Feb. 1899–June 1899,” Entry 764, Box 3, RG 395, National Archives, Washington, D.C.; Cooper and Smith, Citizens as Soldiers, 98–99.
“John B. Kinne Diary,” 66.
“Telegram, Lawton to Adjutant General,” May 14, 1899, Entry 789, Box 1, RG 395, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
Wm. E Birkhimer, “Report of Reconnaissance of Road…,” Entry 789, Box 1, RG 395, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
Roth, Muddy Glory, 170; Sexton, Soldiers in the Sun, 134–35.
“Telegram, Lawton to Adjutant General,” May 14, 1899, Entry 789, Box 1, RG 395 National Archives, Washington, D.C.
Linn, The Philippine War, 115–16.
Miller, Benevolent Assimilation, 71–72.
Ibid, 81; Clayton D. Laurie, “The Philippine Scouts: America’s Colonial Army, 1899–1913,” Philippine Studies 37, no. 2 (1989): 174–91, 179; Edward M. Coffman, “Batson of the Philippine Scouts,” Parameters 7, no. 3 (1977): 68–72.
“General Lawton as Warrior, Stateman and Man,” in Carter, “Henry W. Lawton Scrapbook.”
Senator Albert Beveridge, a vigorous proponent of the U.S. occupation in the Philippines, made a similar argument in an 1898 campaign speech when he told the crowd that “we are a conquering race, and we must obey our blood and occupy new markets, and, if necessary, new lands.” Beveridge would later justify the denial of self-determination to Filipino people through comparisons to Native Americans, arguing in the Senate that “you, who say the Declaration applies to all men, how dare you deny its application to the American Indian? And if you deny it to the Indian at home, how dare you grant it to the Malay abroad?” Laura E. Gómez, Manifest Destinies: The Making of the Mexican American Race (New York: New York University Press, 2008), 74.
Kramer, The Blood of Government, 89–90.
Lawton’s service in the military included the Civil War, the 1871 expedition into Indian Territory, the 1872 Staked Plains campaign, the Red River War of 1874, the Black Hills War of 1876–77, the campaign against the Utes in 1879, and the protracted war on the Apache that kept Lawton in the Southwest until 1888. “Military Papers, 1883–1900,” Henry Ware Lawton Papers, Folder 3, Box 3, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
Philip Joseph Deloria, Playing Indian (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998), 95–99; Robert Macdonald, Sons of the Empire (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1993), 12–13.
Amy Kaplan, “Romancing the Empire: The Embodiment of American Masculinity in the Popular Historical Novel of the 1890s,” American Literary History 2, no. 4 (1990): 659–90, 659–61.
Deidre Johnson, Edward Stratemeyer and the Stratemeyer Syndicate (New York: Toronto: Twayne Publishers; Maxwell Macmillan Canada; Maxwell Macmillan International, 1993), 64–65.
Birtle, U.S. Army Counterinsurgency, 10; Keith B. Bickel, Mars Learning: The Marine Corps Development of Small Wars Doctrine, 1915–1940 (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 2001), 42–47; John M. Gates, “The Official Historian and the Well-Placed Critic: James A. LeRoy’s Assessment of John R. M. Taylor’s ‘The Philippine Insurrection against the United States,’” The Public Historian 7, no. 3 (1985): 57–67; Robert D. Ramsey III, “A Masterpiece of Counterguerrilla Warfare: BG J. Franklin Bell in the Philippines, 1901–1902,” Combat Studies Institute, United States Army Combined Arms Center.
Elbridge Streeter Brooks, With Lawton and Roberts; a Boy’s Adventures in the Philippines and the Transvaal (Boston: Lothrop Pub. Co., 1900), Preface.
Brooks, With Lawton, 29–36.
Edward Stratemeyer, The Campaign of the Jungle; Or, Under Lawton through Luzon (Boston, 1900), Preface.
Stratemeyer, Under Lawton, 37.