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Battle of Paete/Pontoc

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 14, 2009 1:28 am    Post subject: Battle of Paete/Pontoc Reply with quote

Battle of Paete


The Battle of Paete was a small battle fought between American forces, commanded by General Henry W. Lawton, and Philippine Nationalists on April 12, 1899, during the Philippine-American War.

Upon capturing Santa Cruz and Pagsanjan, the American forces in Laguna launched another expedition to capture the town of Paete.
The Americans assembled a force of about 220 men to capture the town, and began the march at 2:45 that afternoon. After about a one hour march, the commander of the 1st North Dakota Volunteers, Major Fraine, ordered five men as scouts 100 yards ahead to locate the enemy positions. They soon spotted enemy breast works 150 yards in front of them, manned by 50 or so Filipino fighters. Major Fraine then halted the command and sent a small squad consisting of one corporal and four privates to flank the Filipino positions.

Some Filipino troops were hidden in thick foliage flanking the road, and they opened fire at close range on the small force, quickly dispatching them. Three of the squad members, including Corporal Isador Driscoll, were killed outright and another fell mortally wounded. Only one man was left after the volley, Private Thomas Sletteland, but he managed to drive back the nearest group of Filipinos, who repeatedly tried seize the rifles of his fallen comrades. He was later awarded the Medal of Honor for his role in this battle.

Lawton then deployed the majority of his men to attack and try and turn the flank of the enemy, which they were unable to do. The Americans attacking the front Filipino entrenchments were also unable to move them from their position. The American artillery battery then fired a few shrapnel rounds into the enemy positions, as the gunboat Laguna de Bay pelted the position with gatling fire, which succeeded in dislodging the Filipinos.

Facing superior numbers and firepower, the Filipinos abandoned their entrenchments and dispersed into the mountains. Lawton's force then went on to occupy Paete with no further resistance. This was also the last battle of the campaign, but it proved to be the most costly.
During the entire campaign, the Americans suffered seven killed and 21 wounded. The Filipinos loss is estimated at 100 killed, 70 wounded, and 60 captured, most of which coming from their defeat at the Battle of Santa Cruz.

6. The Battle of Pontoc

From the book of Paete by Eugenio C. Quesada
page 140 to 142

The American army reached Paete on April 11, 1899, during the presidency of Mr. Tomas Dans, after bloody fighting at Pontok, at the entrance of Paete. Here are some of the details as an eye-witness described it. The Paete contingent was said to be ready for the Americans as wooden log breast-works were put up at the different strategic places of the town, particularly towards Longos and even towards the lake where the American gunboats were expected to fire. At that time, it was the belief among the Filipino soldiers that the Americans were using lead bullets which flattened, not only on wooden breast-works, but also on the skins and breasts of men who had cunats. I remember that at noon of April 11, 1899, I was still in Paete and passed through where many Filipino soldiers were encamped as we went up the mountains. Some soldiers were impatient and wanted to start the fight but the cook, on the other hand, was shaking his head because no matter how he tried his best to cook well, the upper part of the rice in the big pot was uncooked, a bad omen before a battle according to him.

About 2:00 p.m., two big dogs came forward sniffing or smelling their way and then stopped. The Filipino soldiers did not fire for fear that their positions might be discovered. Then they saw five tall Americans who were apparently the vanguard and the ones in charge of the dogs. The Americans kept coming on and when they gave signs to advance, the main body of the troop came and fired at points where they saw the breast-work and toward the side of the hill where the Filipinos were encamped.

Then the battle began. The Filipinos could make effective shots being in an advantageous position due to the mountainous terrain and thick bushes which hid them. The Americans could not move forward, for the road was blocked by two wooden breast-works and then more of the Filipinos were on the high side of the hill overlooking them. On the other hand, the Filipinos were at the disadvantage, for they did not have enough ammunition, and their guns were mostly salaksak, the old old type home-made gun, which had to be cleaned and brushed after every shot. The Americans had modern equipment, superior to those of the Filipinos. Luck, however, was against the Americans for they had a gunboat participating in the battle and it was shelling the land forces from the lake, but because of the thick lanzon and coconut trees, the cannon and machine gun bullets played havoc on the American infantry man braved the barrage of the gunboat bullets, came down to the ricefield and waved the American flag indicating that the gunboat was firing at the American positions. Thus the boat changed its firing directions and rained bullet after bullet on the Filipino contingent. At dusk the Filipino soldiers had to retreat to the town proper of Paete, leaving rear guards still battling with the Americans. In the meantime, all the civilian population of Paete ran to the mountains where they built temporary huts to augment the shanties of farmers who had holdings there. Finally, the Filipino soldiers went up the hill too.

The Americans did not immediately follow, perhaps because of their dead and wounded, for they occupied the town of Paete on April 24, giving the Filipino soldiers time to bury their dead, gather their wounded, and bring them up to the mountains. The Filipino soldiers were badly depressed, not only because they had very inadequate weapons, but because they were short of ammunition and they had no doctors, surgical equipment, or medicine to save their wounded. Many slightly wounded men died of gangrene and infections who could otherwise be saved. The Americans took the patio or the front yard of the church as their camp and the church itself and the convent as their headquarters. While we were in the mountains, specially during a clear day, we would sometimes peep down at the Americans from the promontory of the hill facing the town called humarap among the thick growths of trees and bushes. We could see them walking about town as if they were only ane foot tall. We could see them load and unload things to and from the small steamboat which at times anchored farther off the mouth of our shallow river. We did not bother them and they, it seemed, did not care to go up and bother us.

Rojilyn "Mutuk" Quiachon Bagabaldo
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 19, 2012 9:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

April 9-12, 1899: Lawton's Lake Laguna de Bay Expedition
Battle of (Pontoc) Paete


Rojilyn "Mutuk" Quiachon Bagabaldo
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