Moro Rebellion
The Moro Rebellion was an armed military conflict between Moro revolutionary groups in the Mindanao, Sulu, and Palawan (Minsupala) and the United States military which took place in the Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

 as early as between 1899 to 1913, following the Spanish-American War
Spanish-American War
The Spanish–American War was a conflict in 1898 between Spain and the United States, effectively the result of American intervention in the ongoing Cuban War of Independence...

 in 1898. The word "Moro" was a term for Muslims who lived in the southern Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

, an area that includes Mindanao
Mindanao is the second largest and easternmost island in the Philippines. It is also the name of one of the three island groups in the country, which consists of the island of Mindanao and smaller surrounding islands. The other two are Luzon and the Visayas. The island of Mindanao is called The...

 and its neighboring islands ( Sulu Archipelago
Sulu Archipelago
The Sulu Archipelago is a chain of islands in the southwestern Philippines. This archipelago is considered to be part of the Moroland by the local rebel independence movement. This island group forms the northern limit of the Celebes Sea....

 ). Modern Muslim rebels of the southern Philippines see the Moro Rebellion as a continuing struggle against foreign rule.


The United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 claimed the territories of the Philippines after the Spanish-American War. The Muslim population of the southern Philippines resisted both Spanish
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 and United States colonization.
The Spaniards were restricted to a handful of coastal garrisons and they made occasional punitive expedition
Punitive expedition
A punitive expedition is a military journey undertaken to punish a state or any group of persons outside the borders of the punishing state. It is usually undertaken in response to perceived disobedient or morally wrong behavior, but may be also be a covered revenge...

s into the region. After a series of unsuccessful attempts during the centuries of Spanish rule in the Philippines, Spanish forces occupied the city of Jolo
Jolo, Sulu
Jolo is a municipality on the island of Jolo, and the capital and largest town of the province of Sulu. According to the 2000 census, it has a population of 87,998 people in 12,814 households. Part of its population is of Chinese descent, mainly from Singapore...

, the seat of the Sultan of Sulu, in 1876. The Spaniards and the Sultan of Sulu signed the Spanish Treaty of Peace on July 22, 1878. Control of the Sulu archipelago outside of the Spanish garrisons was handed to the Sultan. The treaty had translation errors: According to the Spanish language version, Spain had complete sovereignty over the Sulu archipelago, while the Tausug version described a protectorate
In history, the term protectorate has two different meanings. In its earliest inception, which has been adopted by modern international law, it is an autonomous territory that is protected diplomatically or militarily against third parties by a stronger state or entity...

 instead of an outright dependency
Dependent territory
A dependent territory, dependent area or dependency is a territory that does not possess full political independence or sovereignty as a State, and remains politically outside of the controlling state's integral area....

Despite this suspect claim to the Moro territories, Spain ceded them to the United States in the Treaty of Paris
Treaty of Paris (1898)
The Treaty of Paris of 1898 was signed on December 10, 1898, at the end of the Spanish-American War, and came into effect on April 11, 1899, when the ratifications were exchanged....

 which ended the Spanish-American War. Following the American occupation of the northern Philippines during 1899, Spanish forces in the southern Philippines were abolished, and they retreated to the garrisons at Zamboanga
Zamboanga City
The City of Zamboanga : is a highly urbanized, independent and a chartered city located in Mindanao, Philippines....

 and Jolo. American forces took control over the Spanish government in Jolo on May 18, 1899, and at Zamboanga in December 1899.

Brigadier General
Brigadier General
Brigadier general is a senior rank in the armed forces. It is the lowest ranking general officer in some countries, usually sitting between the ranks of colonel and major general. When appointed to a field command, a brigadier general is typically in command of a brigade consisting of around 4,000...

 John C. Bates
John C. Bates
John Coalter Bates was Chief of Staff of the United States Army from January to April 1906. He was the last American Civil War veteran still on active duty in the United States military at the time of his retirement....

 was sent to negotiate a treaty with the Sultan of Sulu, Jamalul Kiram II. Kiram was disappointed by the hand-over of control to the Americans and had expected to regain sovereignty over his territory after the defeat of the Spanish. Bates' main goal was to guarantee Moro neutrality in the Philippine-American War, and to establish order in the southern Philippines. After some negotiation, the Bates Treaty was signed. This treaty was based on the earlier Spanish treaty, and it retained the translation error: the English version described a complete dependency, while the Tausug version described a protectorate. Although the Bates Treaty granted more powers to the Americans than the original Spanish treaty, the treaty was still criticized in America for granting too much autonomy to the Sultan. One particular clause, which recognized the Moro practice of slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

, also raised eyebrows in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

 Bates later admitted that the treaty was merely a stop-gap measure, signed only to buy time until the war in the north was ended and more forces could be brought to bear in the south.

In signing the treaty, Bates was not aware of a complicating factor: the nominal nature of the Sultan's authority. In theory, the Sultan of Sulu was the supreme authority in Moroland. The Sultanate of Maguindanao was independent and autonomous but recognized the supremacy of Sulu in religious and international matters. In reality, the Sultan of Sulu had less power than any of the major datu
Datu is the title for tribal chiefs, sovereign princes, and monarchs in the Visayas and Mindanao Regions of the Philippines. Together with Lakan , Apo in Central and Northern Luzon, Sultan and Rajah, they are titles used for native royalty, and are still currently used in the Philippines...

s of the Sulu, and datus who had not been included in the treaty negotiations felt slighted and resisted recognition of the treaty. Matters were even worse on Mindanao. The Lake Lanao
Lake Lanao
Lake Lanao is a large lake in the Philippines, located in Lanao del Sur province in the country's southern island of Mindanao. With a surface area of 340 km²...

 district was divided between more than 200 feuding datus, while the Cotabato
Cotabato , is a landlocked province of the Philippines located in the SOCCSKSARGEN region in Mindanao...

 area (the watershed of the Rio Grande de Mindanao) was under the loose overlordship of Datu Ali. In addition to the two true Sultans, there were some 32 self-proclaimed Sultans who laid claim to the title on the basis of controlling more territory than a normal datu.

The Bates Treaty did establish Moro neutrality in the Philippine-American War, and allowed the Americans to establish a few outposts in Moroland. American forces were organized into the military District
Military district
Military districts are formations of a state's armed forces which are responsible for a certain area of territory. They are often more responsible for administrative than operational matters, and in countries with conscript forces, often handle parts of the conscription cycle.Navies have also used...

 of Mindanao-Jolo, under the command of General Bates. His forces were spread thin: there were only 2 infantry regiment
A regiment is a major tactical military unit, composed of variable numbers of batteries, squadrons or battalions, commanded by a colonel or lieutenant colonel...

s in the entirety of Mindanao, giving the Americans only enough strength to control the District headquarters at Zamboanga and its surrounding peninsula. On March 20, 1900, General Bates was replaced by Brigadier General
Brigadier General
Brigadier general is a senior rank in the armed forces. It is the lowest ranking general officer in some countries, usually sitting between the ranks of colonel and major general. When appointed to a field command, a brigadier general is typically in command of a brigade consisting of around 4,000...

 William A. Kobbe, and the District of Mindanao-Jolo was upgraded to a full Department. American forces in Mindanao were reinforced with a third infantry regiment. Garrisons were established at Jolo and thirteen other coastal towns throughout the Sulus, and stations were established at various places on the coast of Mindanao. During the winter of 1900-01, Moro hostility lessened, and Filipino forces in Moroland were driven into the hills. Trade revived, but so did slave raiding and piracy
Piracy is an act of robbery or criminal violence at sea. The term can include acts committed on land, in the air, or in other major bodies of water or on a shore. It does not normally include crimes committed against persons traveling on the same vessel as the perpetrator...

. Bandits attacked isolated American posts, and soldiers that went astray in the jungles faced attacks from juramentado
Juramentado, in Philippine history, refers to a male Moro swordsman who attacked and killed targeted Christian police and soldiers, expecting to be killed himself, the martyrdom undertaken as an unorthodox form of personal jihad...


Filipino Insurrectionist forces in the southern Philippines were commanded by General Capistrano, and American forces conducted an expedition against him in the winter of 1900–1901. On March 27, 1901, Capistrano surrendered. A few days later, General Emilio Aguinaldo
Emilio Aguinaldo
Emilio Aguinaldo y Famy was a Filipino general, politician, and independence leader. He played an instrumental role during the Philippines' revolution against Spain, and the subsequent Philippine-American War or War of Philippine Independence that resisted American occupation...

's surrender on Luzon. This major victory in the war in the north allowed the Americans to devote more resources to the south, and they began to push into the interior of Moroland.

On August 31, 1901, Brig. Gen. George Whitefield Davis
George Whitefield Davis
George Whitefield Davis was an engineer and Major General in the United States Army. He also served as a military Governor of Puerto Rico and as the first military Governor of the Panama Canal Zone.-Civil War:...

 replaced Kobbe as the commander of the Department of Mindanao-Jolo. Davis adopted a conciliatory policy towards the Moros. American forces under his command had standing orders to buy Moro produce when possible and to have "heralds of amity" precede all scouting expeditions. Peaceful Moros would not be disarmed. Polite reminders of the America's anti-slavery policy were allowed.

One of Davis' subordinates, Captain John J. Pershing
John J. Pershing
John Joseph "Black Jack" Pershing, GCB , was a general officer in the United States Army who led the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I...

, assigned to the American garrison at Iligan, set out to better relations with the Moros of the Malanao tribes on the northern shore of Lake Lanao. He successfully established friendly relations with Ahmai-Manibilang, the retired Sultan of Madaya. Although retired, Manibilang was the single most influential personage among the fragmented inhabitants of the northern shore of the lake. His alliance did much to secure American standing in the area.


Not all of Davis' subordinates were as diplomatic as Pershing. Many veterans of the Indian Wars
Indian Wars
American Indian Wars is the name used in the United States to describe a series of conflicts between American settlers or the federal government and the native peoples of North America before and after the American Revolutionary War. The wars resulted from the arrival of European colonizers who...

 took the "only good Indian is a dead Indian" mentality with them to the Philippines, and "civilize 'em with a Krag
Krąg may refer to the following places:*Krąg, Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship *Krąg, Pomeranian Voivodeship *Krąg, West Pomeranian Voivodeship...

" became a similar catchphrase. Three ambushes of American troops by Moros, one of which involved juramentados, occurred to the south of Lake Lanao, outside of Manibilang's sphere of influence. These events prompted Maj. Gen.
Major General
Major general or major-general is a military rank used in many countries. It is derived from the older rank of sergeant major general. A major general is a high-ranking officer, normally subordinate to the rank of lieutenant general and senior to the ranks of brigadier and brigadier general...

 Adna R. Chaffee, the military governor of the Philippines, to issue a declaration on April 13, 1902, demanding that the offending datus hand over the killers of American troops and stolen government property.

A punitive expedition under Col.
Colonel , abbreviated Col or COL, is a military rank of a senior commissioned officer. It or a corresponding rank exists in most armies and in many air forces; the naval equivalent rank is generally "Captain". It is also used in some police forces and other paramilitary rank structures...

 Frank Baldwin
Frank Baldwin
Frank Dwight Baldwin , a native of Constantine, Michigan, and born in Manchester, Michigan, is one of only 19 servicemen to receive the Medal of Honor twice. Baldwin received this award for his actions during the Atlanta Campaign where he led his company to battle at Peachtree Creek and captured...

 set out to settle matters with the south-shore Moros. Although an excellent officer, Baldwin was "eager," and a worried Davis joined the expedition as an observer. On May 2, 1902, Baldwin's expedition attacked a Moro cotta at the Battle of Pandapatan, also known as the Battle of Bayan. Pandapatan's defenses were unexpectedly strong, leading to 18 American casualties during the fighting. On the second day, the Americans used ladders and moat-bridging tools to break through the Moro fortifications, and a general slaughter of the defenders followed.

The expeditionary force built Camp Vickers one mile south of Pandapatan, and Davis assigned Pershing to Baldwin's command as an intelligence officer and as director of Moro affairs. As director, Pershing had a veto over Baldwin's movements, which was an unstable arrangement. This arrangement was tested when survivors of Pandapatan began building a cotta at Bacalod. Baldwin wanted to move on the hostile Moros immediately, but Pershing warned that doing so could create an anti-American coalition of the surrounding datus, while some patient diplomacy could establish friendly relations with most of the Moros, isolating the hostile minority. Baldwin grudgingly agreed. On June 30, Pershing assumed command of Camp Vickers, and Baldwin returned to Malabang. A command the size of Camp Vickers would normally have gone to an officer with the rank of Major
Major is a rank of commissioned officer, with corresponding ranks existing in almost every military in the world.When used unhyphenated, in conjunction with no other indicator of rank, the term refers to the rank just senior to that of an Army captain and just below the rank of lieutenant colonel. ...

, and a careful shuffling of personnel would be required to ensure that reinforcements to the Camp did not include officers that were senior to Pershing.

On July 4, 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt was the 26th President of the United States . He is noted for his exuberant personality, range of interests and achievements, and his leadership of the Progressive Movement, as well as his "cowboy" persona and robust masculinity...

 issued a proclamation declaring an end to the Philippine Insurrection and a cessation of hostilities in the Philippines "except in the country inhabited by the Moro tribes, to which this proclamation does not apply." Later that month, Davis was promoted and replaced Chaffee as the supreme commander of American forces in the Philippines. Command of the Mindanao-Jolo Department went to Brig. Gen.
Brigadier General
Brigadier general is a senior rank in the armed forces. It is the lowest ranking general officer in some countries, usually sitting between the ranks of colonel and major general. When appointed to a field command, a brigadier general is typically in command of a brigade consisting of around 4,000...

  Samuel S. Sumner
Samuel S. Sumner
Samuel Storrow Sumner was a United States Army general during the Spanish-American War, Boxer Rebellion, and Philippine-American War....

. Meanwhile, Pershing settled down to conduct diplomacy with the surrounding Moros, and a July 4th
Independence Day (United States)
Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July, is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain...

 celebration had 700 guests from neighboring rancheria
The Spanish word ranchería, or rancherío, refers to a small, rural settlement. In the Americas the term was applied to native villages and to the workers' quarters of a ranch. English adopted the term with both these meanings, usually to designate the residential area of a rancho in the American...

s. In September 1902, he led the Macui Expedition, which resulted in a victory that did much to establish American dominance in the area. On February 10, 1903, Pershing was declared a datu by the formerly hostile Pandita
Paṇḍita is a Sanskrit word meaning learned master. The word pundit is derived from pandit or pandita...

 Sajiduciaman of the Bayan Moros (who had been defeated at the Battle of Pandapatan)—the only American to be so honored. Pershing's career at Camp Vickers culminated in the March Around Lake Lanao during April and May 1903. Also known as the Marahui Expedition, it included the Battle of Bacolod and First Battle of Taraca but was otherwise peaceful. This expedition quickly became a symbol of American control of the Lake Lanao
Lake Lanao
Lake Lanao is a large lake in the Philippines, located in Lanao del Sur province in the country's southern island of Mindanao. With a surface area of 340 km²...

 region and was regarded as a landmark event by the inhabitants of that region.

While Pershing was working to the south of Lake Lanao, Major
Major is a rank of commissioned officer, with corresponding ranks existing in almost every military in the world.When used unhyphenated, in conjunction with no other indicator of rank, the term refers to the rank just senior to that of an Army captain and just below the rank of lieutenant colonel. ...

 Robert Lee Bullard
Robert Lee Bullard
Robert Lee Bullard was a United States General.General Bullard attended the United States Military Academy and graduated in 1885...

 was working to the north, building a road from Iligan to Marahui. Although never officially declared one, like Pershing, he was regarded as a datu by the Moros. Because of the Lake Lanao Moros' very personalistic style of leadership, they had troubles seeing them as two officers in the same army. Instead, they saw them as two powerful chieftains who might become rivals. During Pershing's March Around Lake Lanao, one Moro ran to Bullard, exclaiming that Pershing had gone juramentado, and that Bullard had better run up the white flag
White flag
White flags have had different meanings throughout history and depending on the locale.-Flag of temporary truce in order to parley :...

 (signaling that they had no quarrel with Pershing's troops). Bullard was unable to explain to the Moro why he was not worried about Pershing's approach. On another occasion, a powerful datu proposed an alliance with Bullard, for the purposes of defeating Pershing and establishing overlordship over the entire Lake Lanao region. On June 1, 1903, the Moro Province
Moro Province
Moro Province is the name of the province of the Philippines consisting of the current provinces/regions of Zamboanga, Lanao, Cotabato, Davao, and Sulu...

 was created, which included "all of the territory of the Philippines lying south of the eight parallel of latitude, excepting the island of Palawan and the eastern portion of the northwest peninsula of Mindanao." The province had a civil government, but many civil service positions, including the district governors and their deputies, were held by members of the American military. The governor of the province served as the commander of the Department of Mindanao-Jolo. This system of combined civil and military administration had several motivations behind it.‭ ‬One was the continued Moro hostilities.‭ ‬Another was the Army's experience during the Indian Wars,‭ ‬when it came into conflict with the civilian Bureau of Indian Affairs
Bureau of Indian Affairs
The Bureau of Indian Affairs is an agency of the federal government of the United States within the US Department of the Interior. It is responsible for the administration and management of of land held in trust by the United States for Native Americans in the United States, Native American...

.‭ ‬A third was that the Moros,‭ ‬with their feudal,‭ ‬personalistic style of government,‭ ‬would have no respect for a military leader who submitted to the authority of a non-combatant.‭

In addition to the executive branch, under the governor, the province also had a legislative branch: the Moro Council. This Council "consisted of the governor, a state attorney, a secretary, a treasurer, a superintendent of schools, and an engineer." Although the governor appointed all of the other members of the council, this body was permanent, and provided a more solid foundation for laws than the fiats of the governor, which might be overturned by his successor.

‭The province was divided into five districts, with American officers serving as district governors and deputy governors. These districts included: Cotabato
Cotabato , is a landlocked province of the Philippines located in the SOCCSKSARGEN region in Mindanao...

, Davao
Davao refers to several closely related places in Mindanao in the Philippines. The term is used most often to refer to the city.*Davao Region, an administrative region*Davao del Norte province*Davao del Sur province*Davao Oriental province...

, Lanao, Sulu, and Zamboanga. The districts were sub-divided into tribal wards, with major datus serving as ward chiefs and minor datus serving as deputies, judges, and sheriffs. This system took advantage of the existing structure of Moro political society, which was based on personal ties, while paving the way for a more individualistic society, where the office, not the person holding it, would be given respect.

On August 6, 1903, Major General Leonard Wood
Leonard Wood
Leonard Wood was a physician who served as the Chief of Staff of the United States Army, Military Governor of Cuba and Governor General of the Philippines. Early in his military career, he received the Medal of Honor. Wood also holds officer service #2 in the Regular Army...

 assumed his position as the governor of Moro Province and commander of the Department of Mindanao-Jolo. Wood was somewhat heavy-handed in his dealing with the Moros, being "personally offended by the Moro propensity for blood feuds, polygamy, and human trafficking" and with his "ethnocentrism sometimes [leading] him to impose American concepts too quickly in Moroland." In addition to his views of the Moros, Wood also faced an uphill Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 battle over his appointment to the rank of Major General, which was finally confirmed on March 19, 1904. This drove him to seek military laurels in order to shore up his lack of field experience, sometimes leading the Provincial army on punitive expeditions over minor incidents that would have been better handled diplomatically by the district governors. The period of Wood's governorship had the hardest and bloodiest fighting of America's occupation of Moroland.

The Province under Leonard Wood (1903-1906)

Wood instituted many reforms during his tenure as governor of Moro Province:
  • On Wood's recommendation, the United States unilaterally abrogated the Bates Treaty, citing continuing piracy and attacks on American personnel. The Sultan of Sulu was demoted to a purely religious office, with no more power than any other datu, and was provided with a small salary. The United States assumed direct control over Moroland.

  • Slavery was abolished. Slave trading and raiding were repressed, but slaves were left with their owners. Wood announced that slaves were "at liberty to go and build homes for themselves wherever they like[d]," and pledged the military's protection for any former slaves that did so. Similar actions had been taken by individual commanders in the past, but Wood's edict had the backing of the Moro Council, giving it more permanent weight.

  • The Cedula Act of 1903 created an annual registration poll tax
    Poll tax
    A poll tax is a tax of a portioned, fixed amount per individual in accordance with the census . When a corvée is commuted for cash payment, in effect it becomes a poll tax...

    . This registration poll tax was highly unpopular with the Moros, since they interpreted it as a form of tribute. According to Hurley, participation in the Cedula was very low as late as 1933.

  • The legal code of Moroland was reformed. Disputes between Moros and non-Christians
    Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

     had been left to Moro laws and customs, with Philippine laws only applying to disputes with Christians. This led to a double standard, with a Moro who killed a Christian facing a stiff prison sentence, but with a Moro who killed another Moro facing only a maximum fine of 150 peso
    The word peso was the name of a coin that originated in Spain and became of immense importance internationally...

    s. Wood attempted to codify Moro law, but there was simply too much variance in laws and customs between the different tribes and even between neighboring cottas. Wood placed the Moros underneath the Philippine criminal code, but actual enforcement of this proved difficult.

  • Private land ownership was introduced, in order to help the Moros transition to a more individualistic society from their traditional tribal society. Each family was given 40 acres (16 ha) of land, with datus given additional land in accordance with their status. Land sales had to be approved by the district governments in order to prevent fraud.

  • An educational system was established. By June 1904, there were 50 schools with an average enrollment of 30 students each. Because of difficulties in getting teachers that spoke native languages, classes were conducted in English after initial training in that language. Many Moros were suspicious of the schools, but some offered buildings for use as schools.

  • Trade was encouraged in order to give the Moros an alternative to fighting. Trade had been discouraged by banditry, piracy, and the possibility of inter-tribal disputes between Moro merchants and local customers. When trading with foreign merchants (usually maritime Chinese
    Overseas Chinese
    Overseas Chinese are people of Chinese birth or descent who live outside the Greater China Area . People of partial Chinese ancestry living outside the Greater China Area may also consider themselves Overseas Chinese....

    ), a lack of warehousing made for a buyer's market, leading to low prices. Wood handled banditry and piracy by establishing military posts at river mouths in order to protect sea and land routes. Starting with a pilot project in Zamboanga, a system of Moro Exchanges were established. These exchanges provided Moro traders with warehouses and temporary housing in exchange for honoring a ban on fighting within the exchange. Bulletin-boards listed market prices in Hong Kong
    Hong Kong
    Hong Kong is one of two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China , the other being Macau. A city-state situated on China's south coast and enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea, it is renowned for its expansive skyline and deep natural harbour...

     and Singapore
    Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

    , and the district governments guaranteed fair prices. These Exchanges proved highly successful and profitable, and provided a neutral ground for feuding datus to settle their differences.


Major military campaigns during Wood's governorship include:
  • Wood's March Around Lake Lanao during the fall of 1903 was an abortive attempt to replicate Pershing's earlier March.
  • In October and November 1903, Wood personally led the Provincial Army to put down the Hassan Uprising
    Hassan Uprising
    The Hassan uprising was a rebellion among the Moro people of Jolo during the Philippine-American War. It was led by a Muslim datu named Hassan who took the title Panglima. He, along with 400 to 500 Tausug warriors, went uphill and fought the Americans. The uprising ended only when Hassan, after...

    , which was led by the most powerful datu on the island of Jolo.
  • In the spring of 1904, Wood destroyed or captured 130 cottas during the Second Battle of Taraca.
  • Beginning in the spring of 1904 and continuing into the fall of 1905, American forces conducted a lengthy and massive manhunt for Datu Ali, the overlord of Cottabato Valley. Datu Ali had rebelled over Wood's anti-slavery policy. Engagements during this campaign include the Battle of Siranaya
    Battle of Siranaya
    The Battle of Siranaya was a battle fought between the Philippines and the United States during the Philippine-American War....

     and the Battle of the Malalag River
    Battle of the Malalag River
    The Battle of the Malalag River was a battle fought between the Philippines and the United States during the Philippine-American War....

  • The First Battle of Bud Dajo
    First Battle of Bud Dajo
    The First Battle of Bud Dajo, also known as the Battle of Mt. Dajo, was a counter insurgency action fought by the United States Army against native Moros in March 1906, during the Moro Rebellion phase of the Philippine-American War...

     was fought from March 5 to March 7, 1906. An estimated 800 to 1000 Moro men, women and children had taken refuge in a volcanic crater, and after a bloody battle (American casualties, 96) only six survived. Although a victory for the American forces, Bud Dajo became a public relations disaster.

Governorship of Tasker H. Bliss (1906–1909)

On February 1, 1906, Major. Gen. Tasker H. Bliss
Tasker H. Bliss
Tasker Howard Bliss GCMG was Chief of Staff of the United States Army from September 22, 1917 until May 18, 1918.-Biography:...

 replaced General Wood as the commander of the Department of Mindanao-Jolo, and replaced him as governor of Moro Province sometime after the First Battle of Bud Dajo. Bliss' tenure is regarded as a "peace era", and Bliss launched no punitive expeditions during his term in office. However, this superficial peace came at the price of tolerating a certain amount of lawlessness. Constabulary forces in pursuit of Moro fugitives often found themselves forced to abandon their chase after the fugitives took refuge at their home cottas. The constabulary forces were outnumbered, and a much larger (and disruptive) expedition would have been required to dislodge the fugitives from their hiding place. However, this period also demonstrated the success of new aggressive American tactics. According to Rear Admiral D.P. Mannix who fought the Moros as a young lieutenant from 1907–1908, the Americans resorted to the extreme measure of wrapping dead Moros in pig's skin and "stuffing his mouth with pork" thereby creating a religious "defilement". By inference this eventually deterred the Moros from continuing with their suicide attacking tactics.

Governorship of John J. Pershing (1909-1913)

On November 11, 1909, Major General John J. Pershing
John J. Pershing
John Joseph "Black Jack" Pershing, GCB , was a general officer in the United States Army who led the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I...

, the third and final military governor of Moro Province assumed his duties.


Pershing enacted the following reforms during his tenure as governor:
  • In order to extend rule of law into the interior, Pershing stationed the Philippine Scouts
    Philippine Scouts
    The Philippine Scouts was a military organization of the United States Army from 1901 until the end of World War II. Made up of native Filipinos assigned to the United States Army Philippine Department, these troops were generally enlisted and under the command of American officers, however, a...

     in small detachments throughout the interior. This reduced crime and promoted agriculture and trade, at the cost of reduced military efficiency and troop training. The benefits of this reform outweighed the costs.

  • The legal system was streamlined. Previously, trials had started with at the Court of First Instance
    Court of First Instance
    The General Court is a jurisdictional instance of the Court of Justice of the European Union. From its inception on 1 January 1989 to 30 November 2009, it was known as the Court of First Instance .-Competence:...

    , which convened every 6 months, and appeals to the Supreme Court
    Supreme Court of the Philippines
    The Supreme Court of the Philippines is the Philippines' highest judicial court, as well as the court of last resort. The court consists of 14 Associate Justices and 1 Chief Justice...

     in Manila
    Manila is the capital of the Philippines. It is one of the sixteen cities forming Metro Manila.Manila is located on the eastern shores of Manila Bay and is bordered by Navotas and Caloocan to the north, Quezon City to the northeast, San Juan and Mandaluyong to the east, Makati on the southeast,...

     often took more than one year. Pershing expanded the jurisdiction of the local ward courts, which were presided over by the district governors and secretaries, to include most civil cases and all criminal cases except for capital offenses. The Court of First Instance became the court of last resort. This reform was popular with the Moros, since it was quick, simple, and resembled their traditional unification of executive and judicial powers.

  • Pershing promised to donate government land for purposes of building Muslim houses of worship.

  • Pershing recognized the practice of sacopy – indentured servitude in exchange for support and protection – as legitimate, but reaffirmed the government's opposition to involuntary slavery.

  • Labor contract law reform of 1912. Defaults on contracts by workers or employers were no longer punishable unless there was intent to defraud or injure. Moros, unused to Western notions of work, were prone to absenteeism, which could lead to breach of contract suits.

  • The economy of Moro Province continued to expand under Pershing. The three most important exports – hemp
    Hemp is mostly used as a name for low tetrahydrocannabinol strains of the plant Cannabis sativa, of fiber and/or oilseed varieties. In modern times, hemp has been used for industrial purposes including paper, textiles, biodegradable plastics, construction, health food and fuel with modest...

    , copra
    Copra is the dried meat, or kernel, of the coconut. Coconut oil extracted from it has made copra an important agricultural commodity for many coconut-producing countries. It also yields coconut cake which is mainly used as feed for livestock.-Production:...

    , and lumber
    Lumber or timber is wood in any of its stages from felling through readiness for use as structural material for construction, or wood pulp for paper production....

     – increased 163% during his first three years, and Moros began to make bank deposits for the first time in their history.

  • The Moro Exchange system was retained and was supplemented by Industrial Trading Stations. These stations operated in the interior, where merchants seldom went, and bought any non-perishable goods the Moros wished to sell. The stations also sold goods to the Moros at fair prices, preventing price gouging
    Price gouging
    Price gouging is a pejorative term referring to a situation in which a seller prices goods or commodities much higher than is considered reasonable or fair. In precise, legal usage, it is the name of a crime that applies in some of the United States during civil emergencies...

     during famines.


Law enforcement in the Moro Province was difficult. Outlaws would go to ground at their home cottas, requiring an entire troop of police or soldiers to arrest them. There was always the danger of a full-fledged battle breaking out during such an arrest, and this led to many known outlaws going unpunished. In 1911, Pershing resolved to disarm the Moros. Army Chief of Staff
Chief of Staff of the United States Army
The Chief of Staff of the Army is a statutory office held by a four-star general in the United States Army, and is the most senior uniformed officer assigned to serve in the Department of the Army, and as such is the principal military advisor and a deputy to the Secretary of the Army; and is in...

 Leonard Wood (former Moro Province governor) disagreed with this plan, stating that the move was ill-timed and that the Moros would hide their best arms, turning in only their worst. Pershing waited until roads into the interior had been completed, so that government troops could protect disarmed Moros from holdouts. He conferred with the datus, who mostly agreed that disarmament would be a good idea – provided that everybody disarmed.

Six weeks before putting his disarmament plan in to action, Pershing informed Governor-General
Governor-General of the Philippines
The Governor-General of the Philippines was the title of the government executive during the colonial period of the Philippines, governed mainly by Spain and the United States, and briefly by Great Britain, from 1565 to 1935....

 William Cameron Forbes
William Cameron Forbes
William Cameron Forbes was an American investment banker and diplomat. He served as Governor-General of the Philippines from 1908 to 1913 and Ambassador of the United States to Japan from 1930 - 1932....

, who agreed with the plan. Pershing did not consult or inform his commanding officer, Major. Gen. J. Franklin Bell
J. Franklin Bell
James Franklin Bell was Chief of Staff of the United States Army from 1906 to 1910.Bell was a major-general in the Regular United States Army, commanding the Department of the East, with headquarters at Governors Island, New York at the time of his death in 1919...

. On September 8, 1911, Executive Order No. 24, which ordered the disarmament, was issued. The deadline for disarmament was December 1, 1911.

Resistance to disarmament was particularly fierce in the district of Jolo and led to the Second Battle of Bud Dajo
Second Battle of Bud Dajo
The Second Battle of Bud Dajo was a was a counter insurgency action fought by American soldiers against native Moros in December 1911, during the Moro Rebellion phase of the Philippine-American War....

 (which, while involving roughly equivalent forces as the first battle, was far less bloody causing only 12 Moro casualties), and the Battle of Bud Bagsak.

Transition to Civil Authority

By 1913, Pershing agreed that the Moro Province needed to transition to civil government. This was prompted by the Moro's personalistic approach to government, which was based on personal ties rather than a respect for an abstract office. To the Moros, a change of administration meant not just a change in leadership but a change in regime, and was a traumatic experience. Rotation within the military meant that each military governor could serve only for a limited time. Civil governors were needed in order to provide for a lengthy tenure in office. Until 1911, every district governor and secretary had been a military officer. By November 1913, only one officer still held a civil office – Pershing himself. In December 1913, Pershing was replaced as governor of Moro Province by a civilian, Frank Carpenter.


During the Moro Rebellion, the Americans suffered clear cut losses, amounting to 130 killed and 323 wounded. Another 500 or so died of disease. The Philippine Scouts
Philippine Scouts
The Philippine Scouts was a military organization of the United States Army from 1901 until the end of World War II. Made up of native Filipinos assigned to the United States Army Philippine Department, these troops were generally enlisted and under the command of American officers, however, a...

 who augmented American forces during the campaign suffered 116 killed and 189 wounded. The Philippine Constabulary
Philippine Constabulary
The Philippine Constabulary ' was the oldest of four service commands of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. It was a gendarmerie type para-military police force of the Philippines established in 1901 by the United States-appointed administrative authority replacing the Guardia Civil...

suffered heavily as well, more than 1,500 losses sustained, half of which were fatalities.

On the Moro side, losses were remarkably high, with several thousand killed and wounded. Estimates range from 10,000 to well over 20,000 killed, with an unknown number of wounded.

Further reading

  • Arnold, James R. The Moro War: How America Battled a Muslim Insurgency in the Philippine Jungle, 1902-1913 (Bloomsbury Press; 2011) 306 pages, the standard scholarly history

External links

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