|The Search and Rescue
Captain Shields & the 29th
|It was days after the Battle of Pulang Lupa that word was passed as to what had
happened. It took a few more days for this information to reach U.S. Army
Headquarters in Manila. It wasn't until September 28 that General MacArthur
cablegramed the war department in Washington and papers in America first gave
out the news. MacArthur ordered a news blackout on the situation in Marinduque,
so much so that an official complaint was filed claiming censorship of the news.
This is seen in the papers of time basing their stories on speculation rather than
On this page I have combined the 1901 U.S. War Department's Report of the
Lieutenant General Commanding the Army, Captain Devereux Shields own report,
newspaper accounts and actual reports of soldiers involved to give a more
integrated look at the rescue.
|We arrived in Manila bay October 1st. Soon after our transport anchored a government
steam launch arrived with orders for two battalions of the Ist infantry to transfer to the
transport of Sumner and sail for Marinduque island, where a captain and fifty-four men of
the 29th volunteer infantry were held prisoners by Philippine insurgents.
OCTOBER 8th we arrived at Santa Cruz, Marinduque island, where company B. landed
and where a company of the 29th volunteers were stationed. Early the next morning we
sailed farther along the coast and landed companies F., G. and H. at Torijos. Two
gunboats, the Bennington and Villalobos, were with our expedition and protected the
landing of the soldiers, who went ashore densely packed in small boats. The third day after
we arrived our transport sailed for Gusan where companies D., E. and fifty men of company
C. were landed. At night the search lights on the gunboat Bennington and transport
Sumner were used to search the hills for signs of the enemy or American prisoners.
October 11th company A. and the remainder of company C were transferred to the old
exSpanish ship Venus which proved to be the most filthy troop ship of any we had
previously been aboard. We sailed back along the coast about twelve miles and anchored
at Buena Vista, where we remained all night. The night was very beautiful. There was bright
moonlight and water in the bay was so calm that it caused only a gentle rocking of the ship.
The sea air in that tropical climate was just cool enough to feel comfortable and Stroetz said
it was too pleasant a night to be sleeping, so we stood until nearly midnight at the side of
the ship looking out over the waters and engaged in pleasant conversation. In the morning
several boats went ashore' and it was rumored that General Hare had sent a message
addressed to the insurgent leader, commanding him to surrender the American prisoners
within three days' time, and that all property on the islands would be burned or otherwise
destroyed if he allowed the prisoners to be killed.
From Buena Vista we sailed back to Santa Cruz and remained three days, during which
time it rained the greater part of the time. We slept on the open deck with not much shelter
and partly for that reason were becoming very anxious to land.
October 14th we started for Boac, but when we arrived near Buena Vista we saw a crowd of
people with a white flag on shore. Boats from the Venus and Bennington were taken to the
shore and they brought back the American prisoners. They were brought aboard the Venus
and we soon heard the story of their capture and treatment during captivity. Their captain
and many of the enlisted men had been wounded during the fight in which they were
captured. One man was shot in the face by a bullet which had first struck and glanced off
from a tree. The bullet was lodged in his neck near the jawbone where its shape could
plainly be seen under the skin. They said they were surrounded by about eight times their
own number and after their ammunition was exhausted they saw no way for escape and
surrendered. The Americans who were killed were buried near the place where the fight
occurred. They had been held prisoners about one month, and during that time their
clothing had become worn into rags, all were barefooted and some had no hats or shirts.
Their greatest hardship was almost continuous marching over mountains with their captors
who were in retreat before the pursuing 1st infantry. Our transport sailed to Santa Cruz,
where the released prisoners rejoined their company.
|Private Andrew Pohlman, 1st infantry describes the search for the 29th
|The night of my capture Private Ilitz induced the Filipino commander, Maximo Abad, to send
to Santa Cruz for medicine which was received several days after. This was used with great
ability by Private Ilitz upon the wounded and it was through his care, excellent judgement
and faithfulness that the lives of the wounded were saved. The insurgents not only had no
medical officer or supplies whatever but confiscated half of my medicine for their own use.
From the day of my capture until the afternoon of the 13th of October I was kept separated
from my men with Private Ilitz, two wounded and one other enlisted man. I used every effort
to induce Abad to put me with my men or to allow all my wounded to be with me but the
most he would consent to was to permit Private Ilitz to visit the other wounded.
On September 13th I offered Abad twenty dollars each for the delivery of my dead to Santa
Cruz which he refused to do. I was recently informed by William Huff, and American negro
who was with me in the capacity of servant during the expedition, that he had seen the
enemy mutilate the body of one or our dead and probably this fact caused Abad to refuse
Some days later Abad demanded of me an order on Lieutenant Wilson whom I had left in
command at Santa Cruz to surrender that garrison to him, Abad. This, of course, I refused
to do both because I had no right and no wish to do so.
My treatment for the first twelve days was considerate, after which I was continually moving,
marching and sleeping in the mountains under varying conditions of weather and without
shelter. My men report having undergone similar treatment.
About October 9th Abad informed me that he had written to the commanding officer at Santa
Cruz requesting him to designate a place where he would receive all the American prisoners
as he, Abad had received orders from General Trias to release them. He stated that he had
not received a reply and requested me to write to the commanding officer at Santa Cruz
explaining the circumstances and request him to have all the troops remain at their stations
pending our delivery. In reply to my letter I received a communication from General Hare
instructing me to inform Abad that he would agree to his request and was ready to receive
us at once. This letter was delivered to me at two o’clock a.m. October 11th after having
been opened by Abad. With it I received instructions from Abad to make an immediate reply;
that I should say to General Hare that he, Abad, would deliver us in the afternoon of
October 13th at Gasan. This letter was forwarded at once. Abad then addressed a letter to
General Hare changing the place of delivery from Gasan to Buena Vista. In reply to my last
communication I received a letter from General Hare October 12th telling me to urge prompt
action upon Abad and that he would receive us at Buena Vista. Later Abad came to me
stating that he had received orders from General Trias to parole me and my men and in
case I would not accept a parole to march us farther into the mountains and to keep us on
the march our of the way of any rescuing party. This of course made me believe that the
intention to deliver us to General Hare had been given up and there would be no further
communication. All my men being much exhausted, almost destitute of clothing and without
any subsistence except a short ration of native rice, and being without any kind of supplies
for the sick and wounded, I considered that to march much more as we had been doing
would be almost certain death to the wounded if not to some of the sick and being in the
hands of semi-savages - these conditions induced me to give my parole and allow my men
to give theirs.
On the evening of October 13th we were marched from the mountains to Buena Vista where
we remained until the afternoon of October 14th when General Hare (who had been
compelled on October 12th to put into Santa Cruz on account of bad weather) arrived on
the U.S.S. “Bennington” and we were immediately taken on board the “Bennington” where I
reported to General Hare.
|Captain Devereux Shields Official Report of What Happened After The Battle
(This Information is Courtesy of Julia, Mills, his grand daughter
|THE NORTH ADAMS EVENING TRANSCRIPT Massachusetts
Detachment of the Twenty-Ninth Regiment Surprised and Scattered
Manila, Oct. 17
Full details are now at hand as to the capture of Captain Devereux Shields and his parity by
the insurgents in the island of Marinduque last month, and their experiences prior to their
rescue by General Luther R. Hare. After four weeks' of captivity, hard treatment, hunger and
continual marching to avoid the rescuing force, which greatly aggravated the sufferings of
the wounded. Captain Shields and his command were delivered by the rebels to General
Hare last Sunday at Buena Vista, on the Marinduque coast. Captain Shields and his party,
while operating north of Torrijos, were taken in ambush in the steep hills. They attempted to
cut their way to the coast, but became subjected to the enemy's four-sided fire, Captain
Shields being shot twice and badly wounded. After four had been killed and five wounded,
being out of ammunition, his command surrendered, through a misunderstanding, to 25
insurgent riflemen and 1000 bolomen. On this news reaching Manila two companys of the
Thirty-eighth volunteer Infantry, under Colonel George Sanderson, Were immediately sent to
Marinduque. This force was followed by eight companies of the First infantry, under General
Hare. The combined force of 1309 men proceeded to occupy all the towns in the island and
to scour the country. General Hare gave the rebels one week in which to surrender the
prisoners and the latter's rifles. The rebels perceived that it was only a question of time when
the release of the prisoners would be effected, and they opened up communications with
General Hare, which resulted in the handing over of the captives. General Hare's command
will remain in Marinduque. He has given the insurgents until Oct. 21 to surrender themselves
and the 51 captured rifles. If they fail to comply, he will undertake an active punitive
|Bedford Gazette February 1, 1901
A Soldier Boy’s Experiences In the Philippine Islands
Elbert Devore writes about his trip
The following letter was recently received by W. W. Devore, of Bedford township, from his
son, Elbert E Devore, who is a member of Company B, First Infantry, U. S. A., now in the
We had right good accommodations on the Sumner. It is not as large as the Logan. We
steamed out of the bay late in the afternoon of the 9th to recapture the 29 volunteers who
were nearly all captured by the Filipinos on the island of Marinduque, a distance of about
150 miles from Manila. We neared the island by morning, our company went ashore in
rowboats about 12 o'clock. We then lined up and marched to a village called Santa Cruz.
About a mile from the shore we made our quarters in an old school house the rest of the day
October 10: About 75 men of our company and one company of the 38th Volunteers, who
are stationed here in Santa Cruz, started out on a march. They took an old trail or sort of
path they went over rocky mountains and through dense jungles and waded rivers up to
their necks and mud over their shoe tops. About noon three of the men were tired oat. They
went back about a mile, took dinner and stayed there until the next morning. The men felt
no better, so they started back. They brought back three prisoners.
Four of us went out on the morning of the 11th to get some coconuts and we saw some nice
country. I just wish you could see some of the beautiful trees we saw on our scout we had
all the coconut milk we could drink. We are not allowed to eat the fruit, but ate some of it
October 12: The company was divided up into squads, a corporal in each squad; there are
twelve in our squad corporal, bugler and ten privates. We moved out into one of the natives'
houses, where we have a very comfortable place. We have plenty of fresh meat. We kill a
goat every day or so I have a bed of cotton pillows which is very comfortable.
October 13 news came that the prisoners of the 29th were released.
Sunday, the 14th, was a very rainy morning. We didn't have reveille. The mud is about
shoe top deep. Sleeping and eating are the main things to-day. I had a pony ride. Plenty of
them are running around here; also cattle, sheep, hogs and goats. They raise two crops of
corn and rice here each year.
On the 15th it was still raining. Three of us killed a sheep and had mutton for dinner. Went
swimming in the afternoon. Thirty-five of the 29th Infantry Volunteers who were captured by
the Filipinos came back to Santa Cruz, their former quarters; 14 other sick and wounded
ones were sent to Manila. There were only four killed. Some of the boys who got back tell
us they were treated very good while they were prisoners.
October 16: Weather is cloudy and a little warmer. I had a swell dinner—goat, beef liver,
being and hard-tack there are a great many parrots and other pretty birds on this island.
The surface is very mountainous and is covered with, thick underbrush, making a very good
place for the negroes to hide. They speak the Spanish, language. Their houses are built on
posts set in the ground from 6 to 10 feet high. The frame work is tied together with bamboo
sticks, the roofs are made of rice straw and have four sides. They look like hay-stacks. The
natives are very religious. Roman Catholic is the prevailing religion. They have a large
October 20: We had inspection of arms and about an hour's drill. The sun was very hot, I
October 21: I cooked my meals and sat around. We drew two days rations in the evening
and began to get ready to go on another hike. I will give an account of our rations. We each
draw about a pound of pork per day and 16 ounces of hard-tack or 18 ounces of bread and
one pound of coffee and one-half pound of brown sugar for ten days.
October 22: Seventy six of us started out on an expedition, we took a trail which led across
steep mountains and deep ravines. We have but little skirmishing. The Goo Goos seem
very scarce. I suppose we marched about ten miles the first day. We camped for the night of
top of a hill where there were two deserted shacks A party went out and killed three beeves,
so we had plenty of fresh meat for supper and breakfast. There was not room for us all
inside the houses, so I made my bunk on the ground. I had two palm leaves for my bed. I
have a good blanket but don't take it along when I go on a hike. A person has enough to
carry themselves, with their rations, gun and 100 rounds of ammunition. We did not cross
any large streams that day.
October 23: I slept very well during the night with my best friend within easy reach with 6
loads in it. We were now in a more elevated country. We had a good trail. We crossed
several rivers, some of them were more than waist deep. We burned quite a number of
store houses on our trip. We only captured three prisoners. We reached our camp by
evening, Mail came in while we were gone. I received your letter written August 27 was
exceedingly glad to hear from home.
October 24: I was very tired and sore the nest morning. Went to the river, washed my
clothes, and took a good swim while my clothes were drying. I only have n few clothes here;
we left nearly all our clothes at Manila and I hear that they got wet and are rotten. I am the
loser of about 850 if they are, unless Uncle Sam gives me new ones in place of them which
I don't think he will. I enlisted
for three years unless sooner discharged. It is not likely that I will get discharged before my
enlistment is out, which will be August 5, 1903. I don't think we will serve more than two
years in foreign service. I like soldiering real well in some ways of course I have a great
many hard ships to endure, but if I keep my health I expect to see old Pennsylvania again.
October 25: Was on guard it was a very hot day and I nearly roasted.
October 26: Came off guard at 8.30 a. m. and went for coconuts. I got a good soaking
before I got back. Our shack caught fire and nearly burnt up.
October 27: We have a half hour's drill in setting up exercises each morning after reveille.
We had inspection and a short drill in the evening.
October 28: The sun has shone very brightly all day and a good breeze going all the while. I
think the rainy season is about over. There is no post office here, so I can't send any money
while on this island. I had $10.25 taken while on the boat. I am going to leave my money
with the paymaster. I will get 4 per cent on it I don't know when we get paid. They only pay
every three or four months here. Well, I wish you all a happy Christmas, and while you are
eating turkey think of me chasing Goo Goos. Write and give me the election news Hurrah
E E DEVORE
|December 7, 1900 Cedar Rapids Evening Gazette, Iowa
Marinduque Island a Lovely Spot With A Delightful Climate, but the Natives Are Fighters by
Nature – The Troops Are Busy
J.H. Yambert of Center Point yesterday received the following Interesting letter from his son,
Sergeant A F Yambert, of the regular army now stationed at Boac, Marinduque Islands, the
Philippines, under date of October 23.
My Dear Father: Having arrived safely In the Philippines, and at what seems to be a place
for our headquarters for a few months, I will endeavor to let you know something about
myself. We arrived at Manila on the 1st inst,, but very few went ashore there, I being
among the few, havlng spent one day In the city sight seeing, and I must say that I observed
some unique and interesting things in Manila. The people there are a study, and I hardly
know what to make of them upon such short acquaintance. They are brown in color, and
do not vary in complexion like the Cubans; although I believe there Is more intelligence
among the Cubans than among the Filipinos even though the former be blacker than the
latter. There is something wrong in the development of the head as a rule, with the natives
here, while the Cuban's head is, noticeably, fairly well developed, considering the fact that
he is of a race whose physiogonomy is not supposed to be above par.
On the 7th Inst. we were sent up here to this island (Marinduque) for the purpose of
recapturing fifty men of the Twenty-ninth Infantry who fell into the hands of the Insurrectos
on Sept. 13 last. This Island is one hundred miles from Manila and twenty-five miles square,
very mountainous the highest point being 5177 feet above the sea level. Hemp, rice,
cocoanuts and bananas are the principal productions.
Well, we landed here on the 9th inst. and occupied this town Boac of 12,000 Inhabitants.
We first rescued the captives of the Twenty-ninth infantry and then proceeded to round up
some of the natives and as a result we have now about 600 prisoners and we are scooping
in more each day. We surround them in the mountains wherever we find them and compel
them to give up. None of these natives can be trusted and those, whom we find in the
mountains whether armed or not, and whether they claim to be friends or foes, we make
prisoners of them. Here in town they will be dressed in civilian clothing for a day or so, and
in a short time they can be found in the field in the insurrecto uniform, so the only way we
can deal with them is to treat all alike. Every native on this island is an Insurrecto; and those
not out fighting are assisting in some way those who are by getting food clothing etc., to the
combatants. There are forty thousand natives on this island, and about four hundred are
armed with rifles, while the rest carry bolos which resembles a corn knife, being somewhat
heavier and not quite so long. Two battalions of my regiment are here, consisting of 1024
men and in addition to this there two companies of the Twenty-ninth Infantry (240 men).
The First sergeant of company A. Twenty-ninth infantry, went out in the mountains a few
days ago with twenty-five men and was ambushed three miles from town by the insurrectos.
He was wounded in the right forearm, four of his men were killed and seven wounded but
he managed to get away from them, taking the killed and wounded with him. The boys
simply slaughtered the natives, and many were found dead when re-enforcements arrived.
We think the greater part of the trouble here to be over and that ere long we can bring the
natives to time.
Two Brothers There
Otis is here in the islands somewhere, but I have as yet not been able to hear from him or
get word to him that I am here. I learned a few days ago where his troop is stationed but
can not recall the name at this time. He has, I was told, a good station. This place here is
simply grand and we have everything we want.
The water is good and it bubbles up in many springs throughout the mountains. The climate
here is a health resort compared to Cuba. There is not one man here sick with the fever or
any other tropical disease. These fellows who are kicking about the severity of this climate
should soldier a while in Cuba and I think they would say less about It. These islands are
not unhealthy and if one keeps himself clean and does not drink to excess he will have as
good health as though he were in the States. I like this climate and if when I am discharged
I can get a clerkship in some of the departments here I shall remain for a few years. If this
trouble here ceases soon there are good prospects to make money in these islands.
Address me thus; "Manila, Philippine Islands,” and be sure to give my rank and regiment.
A. F. YAMBERT.