First Battle of Bud Dajo - Aftermath

Aftermath

Following the American victory, President Theodore Roosevelt sent Wood a congratulatory cablegram, but reporters stationed at Manila had cabled their own account to the press. The March 9, 1906 New York Times headlines read, “WOMEN AND CHILDREN KILLED IN MORO BATTLE PRESIDENT WIRES CONGRATULATIONS TO TROOPS.”

The press' account of the "Moro Crater Massacre" fell on receptive ears. There were still deep misgivings among the American public about America's role during the Spanish-American War and the stories of atrocities carried out during the Philippine- American War. The public had also been largely unaware of the continuing violence in the Moro Province, and were shocked to learn that killing continued. (Lane, pg. 129) Under pressure from Congress, Secretary of War William Howard Taft cabled Wood for explanation of the “wanton slaughter” of woman and children. Despite not being in command of the assault (although he was the senior officer present), Wood accepted full responsibility. By the time the scandal died down, Wood had assumed his post as Commander of the Philippine Division, and General Tasker H. Bliss had replaced him as governor of the Moro Province.

In response to criticism, Wood's explanation of the high number of women and children killed stated that the women of Bud Dajo dressed as men and joined in the combat, and that the men used children as living shields. (Lane, pg. 129) Hagedorn supports this explanation, by giving an account of a Lt. Gordon Johnston, who was severely wounded by a woman warrior. (pg. 65) A second explanation was given by the Governor-General of the Philippines, Henry Clay Ide, who reported that the women and children were collateral damage, having been killed during the artillery barrages. (Lane, pg. 129) These conflicting explanations of the high number of women and child casualties brought accusations of a cover-up, adding to the criticism. (Lane, pg. 129)

Some of Wood's critics accused him of seeking glory by storming the crater rather than besieging the rebels. Wood did show some signs of being a glory-hound earlier in his tenure as the governor of the Moro Province, taking the Provincial Army on punitive raids against cottas over minor offenses that would have been better left to the district governors. This heavy-handedness jeopardized relations with friendly datus, who viewed the encroachment of the army as a challenge. (Lane, pg. 125) Wood badly needed military laurels, since he had gone through an uphill United States Senate battle over his appointment to the rank of Major General, which was finally confirmed in March‭ 1904. Although Wood had served as an administrator in Cuba, he had seen only a hundred days of field service during the Spanish-American War. (Lane, pg. 126) Wood had been promoted over the heads of many more senior officers, bringing charges of favoritism against President and fellow Rough Rider Teddy Roosevelt. Even though his promotion had been confirmed, Wood's reputation still suffered. Wood's willingness to take responsibility for Bud Dajo did much to improve his reputation within the army.

Wood argued that besieging Bud Dajo would have been impossible, given the ample supplies of the rebels, the 11-mile circumference of the mountain, the thickly forested terrain, and the existence of hidden paths up the mountainside. During the Second Battle of Bud Dajo, in December 1911, General “Black Jack” Pershing (the third and final military governor of the Moro Province) did succeed in besieging Bud Dajo, by cutting a lateral trail which encircled the mountain, 300 yards downhill from the crater rim. This cut off the Moros in the crater from the hidden mountainside paths. (Smythe, pg. 170) However, the tactical situation facing Pershing in 1911 was far different from that facing Wood in 1906.

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