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Thursday, December 7, 2006

An American defector to the Aguinaldo army

There were several defections of American soldiers to the Filipino side during the Philippine-American war. The most famous and very controversial was the defection of David Fagen from the all black 24th Infantry, USV.  Fagen was enlisted as lieutenant in General Alejandrino's command in Arayat,  promoted to captain and later served under General Urbano Lacuna's Nueva Ecija brigade. (Ganzhorn, 191)

(Photo source: University of Michigan Digital Library)

In Caloocan, a British observer saw two Americans in Filpino uniform, apparently having deserted the American army and joined Aguinaldo's army. (Sheridan, 148)

There was also the case of bugler Maurice Sibley of the 16th Infantry, who became the right hand man of General Tomines of Isabela and eventually married an Igorot woman.(Khaki[1], 36) , and the musician Vance, a deserter from the 37th U.S. Infantry who was captured in Pakil, Laguna. (Herman, 101), and the infamous White Bandit, who was later identified as George A. Raymond, a deserter from the 41st Infantry, who operated in Pampanga. (Funston, 435)

In Cebu, five white defectors joined the forces of General Arcadio Maxilon. (Foreman, 524).

Other defections to the Filipino army by American soldiers occurred in many parts of the country. In Marinduque, some captured American soldiers opted to join the forces of Colonel Maximo Abad.

It is not the purpose of this article to inquire into the reasons why these American soldiers defected to the Filipino side. Suffice it is to say that no war in the military history of the United States can compare with this little war, as U.S. President McKinley called the Philippine-American war, on the number of defections to the enemy.

The following is an account on one such defection that can qualify as a plot for a movie:

“We will call him Jackson. Jackson was silent, morose man, who had few friends in the battery. He was evidently of good education, and he spoke Spanish fluently. Ordinarily, he was a first class soldier, doing his duties efficiently. He had one failing, however, that made him unpopular. Occasionally he would break out in a wild spree, always ending in the guard-house. When drunk, he was a fighting lunatic, quarreling with everyone.

“Jackson fell in love with a pretty mestiza girl who, with her mother, conducted a cantina in the plaza. In time they were married in church by the native padre. After that wedding, Jackson was shunned by his comrades. There is an unwritten law among soldiers that a white man must not wed a native.

“The artilleryman resented the scorn of his fellow-soldiers, become more sullen, and spent more time than was good for him in the company of the Filipinos. One pay-day he went on one of his mad sprees. While fighting madness was on him he attacked a young lieutenant, striking him in the face.

“To attack an officer is a grave crime in the army. Jackson was court-martialed and sentenced to six years in military prison. While he was confined in the guard-house awaiting transportation to the United States to serve his sentence, a member of the guard permitted him to escape. It is a hard duty to mount guard over a friend and treat him like a caged animal.

“Jackson was supposed to make his way to Manila and stow away on an outgoing steamer for the China coast. Instead, he made his way by night to the casa of his wife, and together they stole away to the insurgent army.

“A few weeks later we began to hear stories of the white renegade. He was in command of a company of insurrectos. He moved like a ghost about the country, appearing in the most unexpected places. Again and again his command attacked American outposts. On one occasion he captured two army wagons loaded with supplies, killing several members of the guard.

“For months we were kept busy chasing Jackson. The natives protected him, and he was always warned of our approach. One night the main army of insurgents surrounded the town of Imus and made a general attack. The fight continued for several hours in the darkness.

“As I lay in the trenches, I could distinctly hear the voice of Jackson swearing and calling to his troops to advance. The insurrectos were driven off, and by daylight they had disappeared.

“Months later, when I was with the native scouts, I witnessed the tragic end of Jackson's career. A column under General Swan attacked the Filipino trenches near Noveleta, west of Imus. The scouts were in the advance guard.

“When we went over the trenches, we found Jackson lying by the roadside. He was twice wounded, - through the lungs and abdomen. Although it may read like a fiction, it is a fact that his native wife was crouched in the mud of the road, holding his head in her lap. He refused to speak to us and died defiant, fighting against the flag he had sworn to uphold.

“A few months later his wife became the mother of a blue-eyed boy. She always seemed to hate the Americans, and would never afterward speak to an American soldier.

“An interesting sequel to Jackson's story followed in the visit of an American lawyer to the Islands sometime later. He hunted up several of the men who were present when Jackson died, and asked them to aid him in locating the body. It had been buried in a trench with about sixty Filipinos who died in the fight. The lawyer had the body exhumed, placed in an iron coffin, and shipped back to the United States.”
(O'Reilly, 102-104)

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