Spanish-American War: Philippine Theater
Other names: "First War for Humanity"
"Splendid Little Wars"

[Article Source: "Alphabetical List of Battles: 1754 to 1900," Compiled from Official Records by Newton A. Strait, 1903]

From April 21, 1898 to April 11, 1899 (The protocol was signed August 12, 1898).

For a period od ten years, from 1868 to 1878, the inhabitants of Cuba were engaged in a struggle to free themselves from the yoke of Spanish tyranny, but were defeated. The Spanish Government made most liberal promises, but failed to keep them.

Hostilities were renewed which lasted for three years, from 1895 to 1898. The inhabitants were in a most deplorable condition; the reconcentrados -men, women, and children, noncombatants were by edict of the Spanish captain-general, Weyler, driven from their homes, crowded together without proper food and shelter, and died by thousands of disease and starvation.

The attention and sympathy of the American people had for several years been attracted to this miserable condition of the Cubans, and many attempts had been made to relieve their distress.

At the beginning of 1898 about 40 percent of the inhabitants had perished. At this juncture two events happened which increased the tension in the United States. One was the exposure of a letter written by Senor de Lome, the Spanish minister to the United States, to a friend, grossly reflecting upon the President; the other was a demand by the Spanish Government for the recall from Cuba of Consul-General Lee, which was refused.

On the 25th of January, 1898, the United States battleship was ordered to Havana Harbor, on a peaceful mission, by the authority of the United States, and on the 15th of February, 1898, between 9 and 10 o'clock p.m., the vessel was blown by a submarine mine, 266 sailors losing their lives.  A searching investigation followed without fixing the responsibility.  Congress immediately appropriated $50,000,000 "for the national defense and for each and every purpose connected therewith to be expended at the discretion of the President."

After fruitless effort to bring about an amicable settlement, on April 1898, the President asked Congress to intervene to stop the Cuban war, and by force to establish a stable government on the island.  On April 19, 1898, Congress passed resolutions, which were signed by the President at 11:24 a.m. the following day, declaring "that the people of the island of Cuba are, and by right ought to be, free and independent." and demanding that Spain at once relinquish its authority in the island, etc.  It also authorized the President to use the entire military force of the United States to carry the resolution into effect.

The diplomatic relations between the two countries ceased April 21, 1898, and it was held that a state of war existed from that date.  Blockade of the principal Cuban ports was declared April 22, and on the 23rd the President called for 125,000 volunteers to serve two years, and on April 24 the Spanish Government announced that a state of war between the two country and the United States existed.

The protocol of agreement between the United States and Spain was singed at Washington, D.C., August 12, 1898, by William R. Day, Cushman K. Davis, William P. Frye, George Gray, and Whitelaw Reid, for the United States, and by Eugenio Montero Rios, D. de Abarzuza, J. de Garnica, W.R.. de Villa Urrutia, and Rafeal Cerero, for the Kingdom of Spain.

Signed at Paris, December 10, 1898; ratification advised by the by the Senate February 6, 18999; ratified by the President February 6, 1899; ratified by Her Majesty the Queen Regent of Spain March 19, 1899; ratifications exchanged at Washington April 11, 1899; proclaimed, Washington, April 11, 1899.

Extracts from official correspondent between Washington and Commodore Dewey:

"Washington, April 24, 1898 -Dewey, Hong Kong: War has commenced between the United States and Spain. Proceed at once to Philippine Islands. Begin operations at once, particularly against the Spanish fleet. You must capture or destroy. Use utmost endeavors. 

"Manila, May 1 -Secretary of the Navy, Washington: The squadron arrived at Manila at daybreak this morning. Immediately engaged the enemy and destroyed the following vessels. [List below-PAWCI] The Squadron is uninjured. Few men were slightly wounded. 

May 4 -Secretary of the Navy, Washington: I have taken possession of naval station Philippine Islands. I control bay completely and can take city any time. The squadron in excellent health and spirits. I am assisting and protecting sick and wounded. 

Peace Protocol

On August 12th,  day before the Battle of Manila, U.S. Secretary of State Rufus Day and French Ambassador Jules Cambon, acting in behalf of Spain, had signed the Protocol of Peace in Washington ending all hostilities of the war, which tecnically nullified the validity of the American victory. On the same day, a telegram was sent by Washington but did not arrive in Manila until August 16th as the cable was earlier cut by Commodore Dewey. Addressed to General Merritt, the cable reads:

"The President directs all military operations against the enemy suspended. Peace negotiations are nearing completion, a protocol having just been signed by representatives of the two countries. You will inform the commander of the Spanish forces in the Philippines of these instructions."

Two Theaters of the Spanish-American War 
of 1898
  • Carribean Theater (Cuba & Puerto Rico; Commader: Gen. Nelson Miles)

  • Pacific Theater (Guam & Philippines; Commander: Gen. Wesley Merritt)


Note: When the Spanish-American War on April 1898 broke out,  Commodore Dewey's Asiatic Squadron was already positioned in Hongkong, a neutral British territory. Upon receipt of the "search and destroy" order from the Navy, Dewey sailed for Manila Bay to destroy the Spanish Naval Squadron. ("Click" thumbnail to view larger image) 

American Casualties: Battle of Manila
[August 13, 1898]
Occurrence Wounded Killed in Action
August 13, 1898
Previous 30 days 
(in the trenches)

Spanish Troop Strengths in the Philippines
Before the Capitulation of Manila
Location Troops

Spanish Troop Situation After the Capitulation of Manila
Explanation  Troops
Prisoners (regular troops) in the hands of the Filipino forces
Detachmnets in the Luzon Provinces (subsequently surrendered to, or killed by the Filipinos)
Killed or mortally woudned in general combat
Approximate total in Visayas and Mindanao Island (General Rios jurisdiction)
Approx. total of able-bodied troops in Manila, prisoners of war (to America), up to December 10, 1898

U.S. Troops Buildup During the Spanish-American War
(Philippine Theater) Thru the Independence War Outbreak
Arrival Date Commander Strength Cummulative 
Officers Enlisted Men
June 30, 1898 Gen. Thomas Anderson, U.S. Volunteers
July 17, 1898 Gen. F. V. Greene, U.S. Vols.
July 25, 31, 1898 Gen. Wesley Merritt, U.S.A., commanding corps, and Gen. Arthur MacArthur, U.S. Vols.
Aug. 13      
Battle of Manila
Aug. 21 Gen. Elwell Otis, US Vols.
Aug. 24 Gen. H.G. Otis, U.S. Vols.
Col. H.C. Kessler;
Aug. 31 Lt. Col. Lee Stover
Nov. 21 Maj. G.A. Goodale; 
Lt. Col. W.J. Fife
Nov. 25 Brig. Gen. Charles King
Nov. 26 Col. J.H. Wholley
Nov. 29 Col. W.C. Smith
Dec. 1 Col. Frederick Funston
Dec. 5 Col. J.C. Loper;
Lt. Col. Gracey Childers
Dec. 6 Brig. Gen. M.P. Miller
Feb. 4      
War for Independence 

List of U.S. Battleships that Participated in the
Naval Battle of Manila Bay, May 1, 1898
[Commanded  by Commodore George Dewey]
Vessel's Name Commanders Category Result
Olympia Capt. C.V. Gridley Flagship Undamaged
Raleigh, protected cruiser (PC) Capt. J.B. Coghlan Protected cruiser (PC) -DO-
Boston,  Capt. Frank Wildes PC -DO-
Baltimore,  Capt. N.M. Dyer PC -DO-
Concord,  Asa Walker Gunboat (GB) -DO-
Petrel,  E.P. Wood GB -DO-
Nanshan,    Supply transport (ST) -DO-
Zafiro, ST   ST -DO-
Hugh McCulloch,  D.B. Hodgson Revenue cutter (RC) -DO-

List of Spanish Battleships that Participated in the
Naval Battle of Manila Bay, May 1, 1898
[Commanded by Rear Admiral Don Patricio Montojo y Pasaron]
Vessel's Name Commander Category Result
Reina Cristina Capt. Luis Cardoso Flagship  SUNK
Castilla  Capt. Alonzo Mordaloy Pita de Viega   SUNK
Don Juan de Austria Capt. Juan de la Concha   BURNED
Isla de Cuba Capt. Jose Sidrach   BURNED
Isla de Mindanao   Transport  BURNED
Isla de Luzon  Lt.-Commander Miguel Perez Moreno   BURNED
Marquez del Duero  Lt.-Commader Salvador Morena de Guerra   BURNED
Argos COM      BURNED
Manila   Transport  CAPTURED
Don Antonio de Uloa Jose Itarnalde   SUNK
General  Lezo      BURNED
Velasco      BURNED
El Coreo      BURNED
Rapido   Tug CAPTURED
Hercules   Tug CAPTURED

Land Battle of Manila, August 12, 1898
Structure of Command
United States Spain
Pres. William McKinley Commander in Chief, U.S. Her Majesty, the Queen Regent; Minister Praxedes Mateo Sagasta Queen of Spain;
Prime Minister of Spain
Gen. Wesley Merritt Overall commander, land and naval U.S. forces. Basilio Augustin y Davila (Suceeded by Jaudenes before Battle of Manila) Philippine Spanish Governor-General
Commodore George Dewey Commander of naval forces Gov. Fermín Jáudenes y Alvarez  Captain-General
Gen. Thomas Anderson Commander of the land forces Gen. Nicolas de la Pena y Cuellas  
Gen. Arthur MacArthur   Col. Jose Maria Olaguer Tellin  

Officers Who Signed Terms of Capitulation
[Signed on August 14, 1898]
United States Spain
Gen Francis Greene Gen. Nicolas de la Pena y Cuellas
Gen. Charles A. Whittier Col. Jose Maria Olaguer Tellin
Col. Crowder Col. Carlos Rey y Rich
Capt. Lamberton, U.S.N.  

Terms of Capitulation
Full text
1. The surrender of the Philippine Archipelago
2. Officers to be allowed to retain their swords and personal effects, but not their horses.
3. Officers to be prisoners of war on parole.
4. The troops to be prisoners of war and to deposit their arms at a place to be appointed by General Merritt.
5. All necessary supplies for their maintenance to be provided from the public Treasury funds, and after they are exhausted, by the United States.
6. All public property to be surrendered.
7. The disposal of the troops to be negotiated, later on, by the United States and Spanish Governments.
8. Arms to be returned to the troops at General Merritt's discretion.

Chronology of Events Within the Period of the
Spanish-American War (Philippine Theater)
Date American Event Philippine Event
February 25 Assistant Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt sends a highly confidential order to Commodore George Dewey,  commander of the U.S. Asiatic Naval Squadron, to proceed to Hongkong in prepraration for any eventuality in the outbreak of a war with Spain.  
April 11 President McKinley delivers his "War Message" to the U.S. Congress.  
April 19 A war resolution is adopted by Congress.  
April 21 Spain breaks off diplomatic relations with the U.S.  
April 22 Congress passes the Volunteer Army Act; authorizes organization for a 1st Volunteer Cavalry, or "Rough Riders,"  under the command of Colonel Leonard Wood.Theodore Roosevelt will resign his post in the Navy to take up the commission of lieutenant colonel in the "Rough Riders."  
April 23 McKinley calls for 125,000 volunteers Governor-General Basilio Augusti y Davila issued a proclamation urging Filipinos to prepare for the war against the Americans under the banner of Spain.
April 24 Spain declares war on the U.S.  
April 25 U.S. formally declares that a state of war with Spain has existed since retroactive April 21, when Spain broke off diplomatic relations.  
May 1   While the eyes of the world are on Cuba, Commodore Dewey's naval fleet comletely destroys the Spanish naval fleet under the command of Admiral Patricio Montojo in the naval Battle of Manila Bay.
May 2   Dewey demands the possession of the telegraph station, and being refused he ordered the cable connecting Manila and Hong Kong to be cut.
May 11 Commodore George Dewey promoted to Real Admiral  
May 19   Under auspices of the U.S., Emilio Aguinaldo returns to Cavite, Philippines to actively resume the Philippine revolution which  was in state of dormancy by virtue the Pact of Biak-na-bato.
May 25 President McKinley calls for 75,000 additional volunteers. The first expedition to reinforce Admiral Dewey at Manila sails from San Francisco, CA; the Austrialia, City of Peking, and City of Sydney sail with arms, ammunition, supplies and 2,501 men.  
May 31   Pedro Alejandro Paterno issues a manifesto urging Filipinos to side with Spain in the war by enticing them with government reforms and political liberty.
June 9   Aguinaldo's Provisional Government refutes the of Paterno's recent manifesto  reminding of the undelivered portion of the money promised in the Pact of Biak-na-Bato, and that the Filipinos are at war with Spain not because of the help of America but of God.
June 14  McKinley decides not to return the Philippines to Spain. Gallant retreat of Spanish General Monet with only 600 fighting men, escorting 80 wounded, from San Fernando Pampanga to Manila.
June 15 Second Manila expedition sails from San Francisco, CA with 3,586 men.  
June 17   Report of Admiral Dewey dated June 12, 1898, is received, stating that Aguinaldo's forces have practically surrounded Manila and captured 2,500 Spaniards.
June 18   Aguinaldo decrees government reorganization of provinces freed  from  Spanish control; summons for a Revolutionary Congress.
June 23   Aguinaldo changes his Provisional (Dictatorial) Government into a Revolutionary Government, naming himself as the President and Commander-in-Chief.
June 28 Third Manila expedition sails from San Francisco, CA with 4,847 men  
July 20  Secretary of State William R. Day instructs U.S. Sinagpaore Consul to avoid unauthorized neogtiation with the Philippine insurgents.  
July 23   Aguinaldo sends a letter to Gen. Thomas Anderson "protesting" the disembarkation of U.S. troops in Philippine soil without advance notification.
August 6   Aguinaldo issues a Manifesto addressed to the Superpowers appealing for recognition of the Revolutionary Government
August 12 Signing of the Protocol of Peace in Washington between the U.S. and French Ambassador acting in behalf of Spain. The protocol defined the limits where American occupying forces in Manila were to be confined and authorized to move.  
August 13  . Land Battle of Manila. Spanish forces surrendered to the Americans in a prearranged sham battle.
August 16   Gen. Merritt and Admiral Dewey receives copy of the Peace Protocol, delay due to the earlier cutting of communications cable by Dewey.
August 17   General Wesley Merritt cabled Washington demanding clarification on President McKinley's contradictory instructions that of no joint Filipino-American occupation of Manila while avoiding rapture with the Filipinos. 
August 22   General Merritt left for Paris to take the position as Military adviser to the Peace Commission. General Elwell Otis takes over the command as the over-all commander of U.S. land expeditionary forces.
August 23   General Merritt assumes the duties of governor of Manila.
August 26 President announces his peace commission members.  
September 26   Aguinaldo appoints Antonio Luna as Director of War with the position as Chief of the Army.
October 1 Peace negotiations begin in Paris, France; 
Philippine Consul Felipe Agoncillo visited U.S. President William McKinley to plead for Philippine independence; President McKinley refused Agoncillo's appeal on the grounds that Spain would object and that the Philippines was not recognized by foreign powers.
October 20   Aguinaldo appoints Rev. Fr. Gregorio Aglipay as Military Vicar to attend to the spiritual needs of the REvolution and the Filipino priests.
October 26 President McKinley gave instruction to the U.S. peace commissioners to demand for annexation of the whole Philippine archipelago.   
Novembr 29   Malolos Congress approves Constitution of the First Philippine (Malolos) Republic. 
December 10 Peace Treaty is signed in Paris, France between Spain and U.S. formally ending the war. Spain ceded Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam and purchased the Philippines for $20,000,000.  
December 21 President McKinley issued "Benevolent Policy" behind the annexation of the Philippines  
January 20 Presidnet McKinley appoints First Philippine Commssion headed by Jacob Shurmann  
January 21   Promulgation of the Malolos Constitution defining the framework of the Malolos Government (1st Philippine Republic).
January 23   Inaugural ceremonies of the Malolos Government headed by Emilio Aguinaldo as President.
February 4   Filipino-American War breaks (Independence War)
February 6 U.S.Senate ratifies the Treaty of Peace which was hastened by the outbreak of Filipino-American hostilities.  
March 4   Members of the First Philippine Commission headed by Jacob Gould Schurman arrives in Manila; stayed in the Philippines for six months. 
April 4   First Proclamation of the First Philippine Commission was addressed to the Filipino people. The proclamation began with these ominous words:

"The supremacy of the United States must and will be enforced throughout every part of the Archipelago and those who resist it can accomplish no end other than their own ruin."

March 19 Her Majesty Queen Regent of Spain signs/ratifies the treaty.  
April 11 Exchange of treaty ratifications by Spain and U.S. formally closing the Spanish-American War.  



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Philippine-American War Centennial Initiative (P.A.W.C.I.)