Camp Vicars - 1902 (continued)

Sorting Out

    "Pershing’s strategy has often been described by historians as one of divide and conquer. But the Moros, by the very nature of their societal institutions, were already divided. Rather, Pershing focused on sorting out who were his friends, who were his enemies, and who were in between. He sensed that at some point (correctly) he would have to fight some of the most recalcitrant datus. Unlike Baldwin, he knew he could not fight everyone, and it would be most unwise to fight someone he did not have to and unnecessarily add more enemies as a result."

(Excerpt from MOROLAND: The History of Uncle Sam and the Moros 1899-1920, p. 124)

    During the summer of 1902 Pershing invited and received visits from hundreds of datus, sultans, and their sumptuous entourages at Camp Vicars for a discussion of the American objectives and aims. Every headman was greeted with military pomp and ceremony and gifts were made, including a large American flag for each to fly. Some who had traveled distances were put up in tents for the night next to Pershing's own quarters. Reciprocal, follow-up visits were made by either Pershing or one of his officers to gauge the tenor of the relationship and assess size, strength, and armaments. Pershing's intent was, at the appropriate moment, to convene a large meeting of the most amenable datus and sultans to sign a written agreement he had drafted that mirrored the Bates Agreement, but the War Department nixed the idea.

    For a farm boy from Laclede, Missouri Pershing demonstrated remarkable insight. The meeting transcripts show a man who had come to learn how the Moros thought and dealt with them on terms they understood, playing by their rules. Many made clear their opposition to American aims. Some disliked him personally, but knew exactly what to expect from him and decided at the very least to cooperate or not hinder his efforts. One by one he gained their respect and with that the basis for acceptance of the American presence, even if not true friendship.

 (Photo below from the National Archives, all others from the Library of Congress)

Datu Kurang arrives at Camp Vicars with entourage

The Sultan of Oato, Datu Kurang, and the sultan's son

The three important headmen in a bichara with General Sumner

    Pershing stands behind Datu Kurang. To his left is Captain W. S. McNair of the 25th Battery, Field Artillery. To his right is Tomas Torres. A Christian Filipino fluent in Maranao, Torres served for more than a decade as an invaluable interpreter and advisor to the Americans, eventually heading up intelligence for the Moro Constabulary as an officer. Torres was known to be fearless and two years later would save the life of General Leonard Wood.

"You will know Pershing by the way he wears his hat"

    This was the hand written caption on this photo. Pershing gained a reputation for wearing his hat at a rakish, non-regulation angle, a style that came to copied by many junior officers. By this time his command of Maranao was such he could make polite conversation without an interpreter.

                     Datu Grande                                                             The Sultan of Maciu

     Datu Grande made an effort to befriend the Americans, recovering and returning several stolen cavalry horses. Pershing considered him a reliable source for information and he later accompanied several of the military expeditions to act as a go-between. Initially on good terms, a few months later the Sultan of Maciu would join other datus on the eastern side of the lake in resisting the Americans and be killed in battle.

Datu Paiguey remained skeptical but stayed neutral

Datu Pedro actively participated in Pershing's expeditions while Datu Mundas was friendly

Datu Pedro, Tomas Torres, and son of the Sultan of Oato with followers

1903 Pershing visiting the Sultan of Marahui

    On the left is the ubiquitous Tomas Torres. On the far right is Trumpeter Charles A. Pryor. To his left is Captain J. A. Ryan of the 15th Cavalry. Ryan became a trusted emissary to the Maranao headmen, and often acted on Pershing's behalf.