Pershing's Lake Lanao Campaigns

September, 1902 to May, 1903

    The Lake Lanao Campaigns consisted of four small expeditions of short durations, two in late September of 1902 and two in April and May of 1903. Each expedition averaged between 600-700 men, two-thirds infantry, supported by cavalry and two-three mountain guns and were personally approved in advance by President Roosevelt. The guidelines, set by General Chaffee, were for judicious and restrained use of force against carefully chosen adversaries who had openly defied Pershing's overtures and threatened armed resistance. Civilian deaths and damage to "non-war" properties were to be rigorously avoided and no more force to be applied than was necessary. Pershing mounted a series of attacks on well over a hundred cottas, or forts, one purpose being to demonstrate that the Americans could successfully take the cottas while incurring minimal casualties to themselves. Pershing gave abundant advance warning of his intentions, enlisted the aid of friendly Moros, such as Datu Grande and Datu Pedro, and advised those Maranao leaders who intended to fight to fly a red flag of war. Those who chose not to oppose the expeditions were asked to fly either an American flag or a white flag. Interestingly, all datus and headmen in the path of the expeditions complied. For every red flag, they were met by ten American or white flags flying.

    Little press attention was paid to the Fall 1902 expeditions, in part due to efforts of the War Department to downplay the action due to the July 4, 1902 proclamation by President Roosevelt of an end to the "Philippine Insurrection." However, an enterprising reporter at the Manila American named D. Minor Mickle heard of Pershing's successes and visited him just before and after. At first Mickle's laudatory articles were picked up by only a few newspapers in the U.S. But word got around and by the time of the Spring 1903 expeditions, Pershing was accompanied by a number of "observers", including the famous English Tibetan explorer and reporter for the London Mail Harry Savage Landor. Around the same time Camp Vicars was visited by General of the Army Nelson Miles and the forester Gifford Pinchot, both of whom praised Pershing to correspondents (and to President Roosevelt). By the time of the "March around the lake" in May, nearly every newspaper in the U.S., and many in the United Kingdom, the unknown 41-year old Captain had become a national hero. The culmination to the new fame came when photographs taken by the Chaplain of the 27th Infantry of the Battle of Bacolod, even though neither the largest nor the most fierce encounter in the campaigns, were turned into a popular booklet and sold at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair. Pershing, by then back in the U.S., visited the Fair and signed autographs. 

Map of Pershing's Lake Lanao Campaigns

25th Battery Field Artillery with 75mm (2.95 inch) Vickers mountain guns

Disassembled, each mountain gun was divided up among three mules

Artillery pack train departing Camp Vicars for an expedition

15th Cavalry troopers scouting in front of an expedition above and below

15th Cavalry squadron on the march, Captain Pershing on the left pointing his arm