The Greatest Victory Ever Achieved
by the Soldiers of the United States

Part 2

Wednesday, March 14, 1906

Moro slaughter continued - Luncheon for George Harvey - Opinions of the guests as to Moro fight - Cable from General Wood explaining and apologizing - What became of the wounded? - President Roosevelt’s joy over the splendid achievement - Manner in which he made Wood Major General - McKinley’s joy over capture of Aguinaldo.

The ominous paralysis continues. There has been a slight sprinkle - an exceedingly slight sprinkle - in the correspondence columns, of angry rebukes of the President for calling this cowardly massacre a “brilliant feat of arms,” and for praising our butchers for “holding up the honor of the flag” in that singular way; but there is hardly a ghost of a whisper about the feat of arms in the editorial columns of the papers.

I hope that this silence will continue. It is about as eloquent and as damaging and effective as the most indignant words could be, I think. When a man is sleeping in a noise, his sleep goes placidly on; but if the noise stops, the stillness wakes him. This silence has continued five days now. Surely it must be waking the drowsy nation. Surely the nation must be wondering what it means. A five-day silence following a world-astonishing event has not happened on this planet since the daily newspaper was invented.

At a luncheon party of men convened yesterday to God-speed George Harvey, who is leaving to-day for a vacation in Europe, all the talk was about the brilliant feat of arms; and no one had anything to say about it that either the President or Major General Dr. Wood, or the damaged Johnson, would regard as complimentary, or as proper comment to put into our histories. Harvey said he believed that the shock and shame of this episode would eat down deeper and deeper into the hearts of the nation and fester there and produce results. He believed it would destroy the Republican party and President Roosevelt. I cannot believe that the prediction will come true, for the reason that prophecies which promise valuable things, desirable things, good things, worthy things, never come true. Prophecies of this kind are like wars fought in a good cause - they are so rare that they don’t count.

Day before yesterday the cable-note from the happy General Dr. Wood was still all glorious. There was still proud mention and elaboration of what was called the “desperate hand-to-hand fight,” Dr. Wood not seeming to suspect that he was giving himself away, as the phrase goes - since if there was any very desperate hand-to-hand fighting it would necessarily happen that nine hundred hand-to-hand fighters, if really desperate, would surely be able to kill more than fifteen of our men before their last man and woman and child perished.

[page 408] Very well, there was a new note in the dispatches yesterday afternoon - just a faint suggestion that Dr. Wood was getting ready to lower his tone and begin to apologize and explain. He announces that he assumes full responsibility for the fight. It indicates that he is aware that there is a lurking disposition here amidst all this silence to blame somebody. He says there was “no wanton destruction of women and children in the fight, though many of them were killed by force of necessity because the Moros used them as shields in the hand-to-hand fighting.”

This explanation is better than none; indeed it is considerably better than none. Yet if there was so much hand-to-hand fighting there must have arrived a time, toward the end of the four days’ butchery, when only one native was left alive. We had six hundred men present; we had lost only fifteen; why did the six hundred kill that remaining man - or woman, or child?

Dr. Wood will find that explaining things is not in his line. He will find that where a man has the proper spirit in him and the proper force at his command, it is easier to massacre nine hundred unarmed animals than it is to explain why he made it so remorselessly complete. Next he furnishes us this sudden burst of unconscious humor, which shows that he ought to edit his reports before he cables them:

“Many of the Moros feigned death and butchered the American hospital men who were relieving the wounded.”

We have the curious spectacle of hospital men going around trying to relieve the wounded savages - for what reason? The savages were all massacred. The plain intention was to massacre them all and leave none alive. Then where was the use in furnishing mere temporary relief to a person who was presently to be exterminated? The dispatches call this battue a “battle.” In what way was it a battle? It has no resemblance to a battle. In a battle there are always as many as five wounded men to one killed outright. When this so-called battle was over, there were certainly not fewer than two hundred wounded savages lying on the field. What became of them? Since not one savage was left alive!

The inference seems plain. We cleaned up our four days’ work and made it complete by butchering those helpless people.

The President’s joy over the splendid achievement of his fragrant pet, General Wood, brings to mind an earlier Presidential ecstasy. When the news came, in 1901, 1901 that Colonel Funston had penetrated to the refuge of the patriot, Aguinaldo, in the mountains, and had captured him by the use of these arts, to wit: by forgery, by lies, by disguising his military marauders in the uniform of the enemy, by pretending to be friends of Aguinaldo’s and by disarming suspicion by cordially shaking hands with Aguinaldo’s officers and in that moment shooting them down - when the cablegram announcing this “brilliant feat of arms” reached the White House, the newspapers said that that meekest and mildest and gentlest and least masculine of men, President McKinley, could not control his joy and gratitude, but was obliged to express it in motions resembling a dance. Also President McKinley expressed his admiration in another way. He instantly shot that militia Colonel aloft over the heads of a hundred clean and honorable veteran officers of the army and made him a Brigadier General in the regular service, and clothed him in the honorable uniform of that rank, thus disgracing the uniform, the flag, the nation, and himself.

[page 409] Wood was an army surgeon, during several years, out West among the Indian hostiles. Roosevelt got acquainted with him and fell in love with him. When Roosevelt was offered the colonelcy of a regiment in the iniquitous Cuban-Spanish war, he took the place of Lieutenant Colonel and used his influence to get the higher place for Wood. After the war Wood became our Governor General in Cuba and proceeded to make a mephitic record for himself. Under President Roosevelt, this doctor has been pushed and crowded along higher and higher in the military service - always over the heads of a number of better men - and at last when Roosevelt wanted to make him a Major General in the regular army (with only five other Major Generals between him and the supreme command) and knew, or believed, that the Senate would not confirm Wood’s nomination to that great place, he accomplished Wood’s appointment by a very unworthy device. He could appoint Wood himself, and make the appointment good, between sessions of Congress. There was no such opportunity, but he invented one. A special session was closing at noon. When the gavel fell extinguishing the special session, a regular session began instantly. Roosevelt claimed that there was an interval there determinable as the twentieth of a second by a stop-watch, and that during that interval no Congress was in session. By this subterfuge he foisted this discredited doctor upon the army and the nation, and the Senate hadn’t spirit enough to repudiate it.

Explanatory Notes

407.13–14 hardly a ghost of a whisper . . . in the editorial columns of the papers] Although comment about the Jolo massacre was at first sparing or nonexistent in several New York newspapers, as early as 10 March the World began publishing daily or almost daily editorials and editorial cartoons, which became more disapproving as new information reached the press. The 10 March editorial concluded: “There will be many Americans who will regret, along with the death of almost a score of our brave men, that so crushing a blow should fall by our arms upon a people who have never appealed to us to extend to them the ‘blessings of civilization,’ but are willing to rule themselves” (New York World: “The Slaughter in Jolo,” 10 Mar 1906, 6; “Peace in Jolo,” 12 Mar 1906, 6; “The Soldier Dead,” 13 Mar 1906, 6; “The Jolo Massacre,” 14 Mar 1906, 8). The Tribune’s editors, convinced that these Moros were “plain, ordinary, everyday outlaws and brigands,” were on 11 March regretful but approving: “It was not a question of submission to American rule but a question of regard for any rule at all and for the peace of the Moro people. [¶] The manner of doing the work was undoubtedly severe. There are cases in which severity is humanity” (“Suppressing Crime in Jolo,”* New York Tribune, 11 Mar 1906, 6). On 12 March the Times reported official criticism of General [page 618] Wood “for bringing on such a struggle. It is contended that he might have accomplished enough by laying siege to the fort and starving the Moros into submission” and similarly reported “no little criticism” of Roosevelt’s congratulatory message, “on the ground that it was entirely uncalled for. . . . The fight at Fort Dajo is compared frequently with that of Wounded Knee, in January, 1891, when the Sioux ghost dancers were shot down, squaws and children with the braves” (“Not All Praise for Wood. Officials Believe His Policy Caused the Needless Killing of Moro Women and Children,”* 12 Mar 1906, 6). But on the same day, the Times published an editorial justifying the action: “Lamentable as it is to hear of the enforced slaughter of 600 inhabitants of the islands where we established peace some five years ago, there is yet consolation in the knowledge that these last rebels against our undoubtedly beneficent rule are men who, if nothing except extermination can reduce them to order, can be exterminated with exceptional facility” (“Extermination or Utilization,”* 12 Mar 1906, 8). And on the following day, the Times published another editorial defending General Wood (“Finding Fault with Gen. Wood,”* 13 Mar 1906, 8; see also “Fighting Fuzzy-Wuzzies,” New York Globe and Commercial Advertiser, 12 Mar 1906, 6, and “The Battle of the Crater,” New York Evening Sun, 13 Mar 1906, 6).

408.5–7 “no wanton destruction of . . . used them as shields in the hand-to-hand fighting.”] Here and at 408.17–18 Clemens quoted from *“No Wanton Massacre” in the New York Evening Post (13 Mar 1906, 1).

408.30–42 Colonel Funston had penetrated to the refuge of the patriot, Aguinaldo . . . disgracing the uniform, the flag, the nation, and himself] Emilio Aguinaldo (1869–1964) was the leader of the fight for Filipino independence, first against Spain and then against the United States. Frederick Funston (1865–1917), nicknamed the “scrapper” and known as a “dare-devil sort of soldier,” participated as a volunteer in more than twenty battles in the Cuban war, where he had been seriously wounded three times, captured by the Spanish and sentenced to death, liberated or escaped, and barely survived a bout of “Cuban fever.” He thereafter joined the Twentieth Kansas Volunteers to fight in the Philippines as a colonel, and had been promoted to brigadier general in 1899 after swimming across the Rio Grande under “galling fire from Aguinaldo’s men.” In February 1901, McKinley considered him for promotion to the regular army, but concluded that he was “not a man of proper temperament for any rank higher than that of Lieutenant in the regulars” (“Gen. Funston’s Career,”* New York Times, 28 Mar 1901, 2). Although by that time the Filipino fight for independence was essentially over, “largely due to the patient, indefatigable, constant efforts of officers whose names are barely known to the public and whose personalities are almost unknown,” Funston proceeded, in late March, to capture Aguinaldo by treachery and deceit. Despite his reluctance to reward Funston and thereby seem to overlook the more important efforts of other officers, McKinley promoted him to brigadier general in the regular army on 30 March 1901 (“The President’s Dilemma. To Reward Funston Would Be to Slight Hard Work of Other Officers in the Philippines,”* New York Times, 30 Mar 1901, 2). Clemens’s bitterly satiric “A Defence of General Funston,” published in the North American Review in May 1902, scathingly criticized Funston for the “forgeries and falsehoods” and “ingratitudes and amazing treacheries” he had employed (SLC 1902c, [page 619] 620, 622). Clemens also wrote a critical book review (SLC 1902a), which he left unpublished, of Edwin Wildman’s Aguinaldo: A Narrative of Filipino Ambitions (1901).

409.1–17 Wood was an army surgeon . . . the Senate hadn’t spirit enough to repudiate it] Clemens’s commentary on Wood and Roosevelt reflected his 1903 “Major General Wood, M.D.,” a “pretty pison article” which he originally planned to submit for publication in the North American Review or Harper’s Weekly, but suppressed (30 Dec 1903 to Duneka, MoSW). In it he pretended to advocate for Wood’s elevation to major general:

I think that the President’s delight in the history of him and the character of him and the smell of him ought to be considered; I think that Dr. Wood’s distinguished “expectations,” and spurious medals, and shady silver-plate, and furtive insubordinations, and clandestine libels, and frank falsehoods, pimping for gambling hells, and destitution of honor and dignity, taken together with his devoted and diligent labors in seeking a great place which has not sought him, have earned it and entitled him to it. (SLC 1903e, TS p. 3)

On 7 December 1903 the Senate “had two legislative days, one in the expiring session and one in the new session,” and in the interval between them Roosevelt reappointed Wood and 167 other officers, considering them to be “recess appointments.” On 18 March, Wood was confirmed as a major general by the Senate (New York Times: “Special Session Is Merged into Regular. President Roosevelt Decides for ‘Constructive Recess,’ ” 8 Dec 1903, 1; “Wood’s Nomination Is Confirmed by Senate,” 19 Mar 1904, 5).

References (in the order cited)

SLC 1902c SLC (Samuel Langhorne Clemens). 1902. “A Defence of General Funston.” North American Review 174 (May): 613–24. Reprinted in Zwick 1992[bib31064], 119–32.

SLC 1902a SLC (Samuel Langhorne Clemens) 1902. “Aguinaldo.” MS of sixty-two leaves and TS of twenty-one leaves, CU-MARK. Published as “Review of Edwin Wildman’s Biography of Aguinaldo” in Zwick 1992[bib31064], 86–108.

MoSW Washington University, St. Louis, Mo. Washington University, St. Louis, Mo.

SLC 1903e SLC (Samuel Langhorne Clemens). 1903. “Major General Wood, M.D.” MS of ten leaves, written 15 December, and TS of five leaves, typed and revised before 28 December, CU-MARK. Reprinted in Zwick 1992, 151–55.