First Battle of Bud Dajo - Battle

Battle

On March 2, 1906, Wood ordered Colonel J.W. Duncan of the 6th Infantry Regiment (stationed at Zamboanga, the provincial capital) to lead an expedition against Bud Dajo. Duncan and Companies K and M took the transport Wright to Jolo. Governor Scott sent three friendly datus up the mountain to ask the Bud Dajo Moros to disarm and disband, or at least send their women and children to the valley. (Hagedorn, pg. 64) They denied these requests, and Scott ordered Duncan to begin the assault.‭

The assault force consisted of “272 men of the 6th Infantry, 211 men of the 4th Cavalry, 68 men of the 28th Artillery Battery, 51 Sulu Constabulary, 110 men of the 19th Infantry and 6 sailors from the gunboat Pampanga.” The battle began on March 5, as mountain guns fired 40 rounds of shrapnel into the crater. On March 6, Wood and Bliss arrived, but left Duncan in direct command. Captain Reeves, the acting governor of the District of Sulu, made one last attempt to negotiate with the rebels. (Hagedorn, pg. 64-65) He failed, and the Americans drew up into three columns and proceeded up the three main mountain paths. The columns were under the command of Major Bundy, Captain Rivers, and Captain Lawton. The going was tough, with the troops ascending a 60% slope, using machetes to clear the path. (Hagedorn, pg. 65)

At 0700, March 7, Major Bundy's detachment encountered a barricade blocking the path, 500 feet (150 m) below the summit. Sharpshooters picked off Moro defenders, and the barricade was shelled with rifle grenades. The barricade was then assaulted in a bayonet charge. The Moros staged a strong defense, then charged with‭ kris (the traditional wavy-edged sword of the Moros) and spear. 200 Moros died in this engagement, and Major Bundy's detachment suffered heavy casualties. Captain Rivers' detachment also encountered a barricade, and took it after several hours of fighting, during which Rivers himself was severely wounded by a spear. Captain Lawton's detachment advanced up a poor path, so steep in places that the Americans proceeded on hands and knees. They were harassed by Moros hurling boulders and occasionally rushing to attack hand-to-hand with‭ krises. Lawton finally took the defensive trenches on the crater rim by storm.

The Moros retreated into the crater, and fighting continued until nightfall. During the night, the Americans hauled mountain guns to the crater's edge with block and tackle. At daybreak, the American guns (both the mountain guns and the guns of the Pampanga) opened up on the Moros' fortifications in the crater. The Moros, armed with krises and spears, refused to surrender and held their positions. Some of the defenders rushed the Americans and were cut down. The Americans charged the surviving Moros with fixed bayonets, and the Moros fought back with their kalis, barung, improvised grenades made with black powder and seashells. The defenders were wiped out.

Out of the estimated 800 to 1,000 Moros at Bud Dajo, only 6 survived. Corpses were piled five deep, and many of the bodies were wounded multiple times. According to Hurley, American casualties were 21 killed, 75 wounded. Lane lists them at 18 killed, 52 wounded. (pg. 128) Hagedorn says simply that “one-fourth of the troops actively engaged have been killed or wounded.” (pg. 65) By any estimate, Bud Dajo was the bloodiest engagement of the Moro Rebellion.

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