WASHINGTON, D. C.

                              HISTORICAL DIVISION

                     STAND, GENTLEMEN, HE SERVED ON SAMAR!

March 1945

                     STAND, GENTLEMEN, HE SERVED ON SAMAR!

                               Table of Contents

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Stand, Gentlemen, He Served On Samar!                           1          5

                     STAND, GENTLEMEN, HE SERVED ON SAMAR!

                 Prepared by Joel D. Thacker, Historian, USMC

     For a period of some two years following the cessation of hostilities 
with Spain, some of the wild pagan tribes of the Philippines (about five per 
cent of the total population of about seven million) kept the armed forces 
the United States busy maintaining order.  Although there had been 
no demonstrations by organized insurgents, the U. S. Marines in the district 
of Subig and Olongapo, Luzon Islands, did good work in ridding the area of 
various roving bands of ladrones.

     The island of Samar had for some time been a veritable hotbed of 
insurrection.  On September 28, 1901, the soldiers of Company C, Ninth 
Infantry, stationed at Balangiga, while in the mess hall eating dinner, were 
massacred by the insurrectos.  It was this tragedy of Balangiga that caused 
Brigadier General Jacob M. Smith, U.S.A., who was in command of the military 
district which included the island of Samar, to call for reinforcements, 
brought the U. S. Marines into action on Samar.

     On October 20, 1901, a battalion of marines, consisting of Major L. W. 
Waller (commanding), Captains David D. Porter, Robert H. Dunlap, A. J. 
Matthews and Hirim I. Bearss, First Lieutenants J. T. Bootes, H. J. A. Day, 
C. Carpenter, A. S. Williams and Harry R. Lay, Second Lieutenants J. P. V. 
Gridley, Frank Halford and M. C. Rogers, Surgeon G. A. Lung, Assistant 
J. M. Brister, and 300 enlisted men, U. S. M. C., was detailed at Cavite 
(Luzon, P.I.) for duty on the island of Samar, the easternmost of the 
group, by Rear Admiral Frederick Rodgers, U.S. Navy, senior squadron 
of the Asiatic station.  Although the marines were placed under the command 
Brigadier General Smith, U.S.A., to reenforce and cooperate with the U. S. 
Army troops on Samar, it was also contemplated that Major Waller's movements 
should be supported, as far as possible, by a vessel of the fleet, to which 
should make reports from time to time, and through which supplies for his 
battalion were to be furnished.

     The battalion, composed of Companies C, D and H, First Regiment, and 
Company F, Second Regiment, equipped in heavy marching order, embarked on 
U. S. Flagship NEW YORK at Cavite, October 22, 1901.  The battalion arrived 
Catbalogan, Samar, on October 24, and the men and supplies were transferred 
the U.S.S. ZAFIRO.  Preceded by the U.S.S. FROLIC, carrying Rear Admiral 
Rodgers and staff and Brigadier General Smith and his aides, the ZAFIRO 
proceeded through the straits between Samar and Leyte to Tacloban, Leyte, 
then to Basey, Samar, where Major Waller disembarked his headquarters and 
companies and relieved some units of the Ninth Infantry.  The remainder of 
battalion took aboard a 3-inch gun and a Colt automatic 6-millimeter gun and 
proceeded to Balangiga, on the south coast of Samar, where Captain David D. 
Porter was left in command with 159 men, relieving the 17th U. S. Infantry, 
with instructions to begin operations as soon as possible.  Major Waller 
returned to Basey.


     The area assigned to the marines embraced the entire southern part of 
Samar.  Active operations were immediately begun, both at Basey and 
small expeditions were sent out almost daily to clear the country of General 
Vicente Lukbam's guerrillas, who usually operated in small, roving bands.  
situation in the vicinity was very tense because of the Balangiga massacre 
other recent happenings; hence the measures prescribed for crushing the 
insurrection were somewhat retaliatory.  On November 5, Major Waller took a 
detachment to the Sohoton River and drove the guerrillas from their trenches 
there; two marines were killed.  A number of small expeditions were sent up 
the Cadacan River; several of these parties were fired on, but the 
were slight.  In an engagement, November 8, at Iba, several insurgents were 
killed and captured.  An expedition under Captain Porter, sent out to scout 
the vicinity of Balangiga, killed one insurgent and captured seven, and 
many relics of the massacred men of the Ninth Infantry.

     As a result of the continual harassing by the marines along the 
coast of Samar, the insurgents fell back from that region and occupied their 
fortified defenses on the Sohoton cliffs, along the Sohoton River.  About 
middle of November three columns of marines were sent into the Sohoton 
to attack this stronghold, which had been reported to be practically 
impregnable.  Two of the columns, under the command of Captains Porter and 
Bearss, marched on shore, while the third column, commanded by Major Waller, 
went up the river in boats.  The plan of attack was for the three columns to 
unit on November 16 at the enemy's stronghold and make a combined assault.

     On November 17, the shore column struck the enemy's trail and soon came 
upon a number of bamboo guns.  One of these guns, emplaced to command the 
trail, had the fuse burning.  Acting corporal Harry Glenn rushed forward and 
pulled out the fuse.  The attack of the marines was a complete surprise, and 
the enemy was routed.  After driving the insurgents from their positions the 
marines crossed the river and assaulted the cliff defenses.  In order to 
the enemy's position, the marines had to climb the cliffs, which rose sheer 
from the river to the height of about 200 feet and were honeycombed with 
caves, to which access was had by means of bamboo ladders, and also by 
ledges with bamboo hand rails.  Tons of rocks were suspended in cages held 
position by vine cables (known as bejuco), in readiness to be precipitated 
upon people and boats below.  The marines scaled the cliffs, drove the 
insurgents from their positions and destroyed their camps.  Major Waller's 
detachment, coming up the river in boats, did not arrive in time for the 
attack, which fact probably saved it from disaster; instant destruction 
have undoubtedly been the fate of the boats had they undertaken the ascent 
the river before the shore column had dislodged the insurgents.

     Further pursuit of the enemy at this time was abandoned because the 
rations were exhausted and the men were in bad shape.  The volcanic stone 
cut the men's shoes to pieces, many of them were barefooted, and all had bad 
feet.  The men had overcome incredible difficulties and dangers in their 
heroic march.  The positions which they had destroyed must have taken 
years to prepare.  Reports from old prisoners said they had been there years 
working on the defenses.  No white troops had ever penetrated to these 
positions, and they were held as a final rallying point.


The insurrectos of Samar had spent years of labor on the defenses, and 
considered the cliff fortifications impregnable.

     In a communication dated December 5, 1901, Major Waller refers to 
Smith's desire that the marines make the march from Basey across the island 
Samar to Hernani, for the purpose of selecting a route for for a telegraph 
wire to connect the east and west coasts.  General Smith also asked Major 
Waller to run wires from Basey to Balangiga, and left to the major's 
discretion the point of departure from the east coast, either from Hernani 

     On December 8, two columns left Basey for Balangiga, one, under command 
of Major Waller, proceeding along the shore line, and the other, under 
Bearss, marching about two miles inland.  Stores were sent by the cutter 
was kept abreast of the beach column.  Although the marines did not 
any organized resistance, the obstacles of nature which they encountered 
proved far more deadly than the natives and their many contrivances.  Major 
Waller decided to start his ill-fated march across Samar from Lanang, work 
the Lanang River as far as possible, then march to the vicinity of the 
cliffs, which his marines had recently captured.

     On arriving at Lanang, Major Waller was urged not to make the attempt, 
however, he says in his report:

     Remembering the general's (General Smith's) several talks on the
     subject and his evident desire to know the terrain and run wires 
     across, coupled with my own desire for some further knowledge of the
     people and the nature of this heretofore impenetrable country, I 
     decided to make the trial with 50 men and the necessary carriers.

     The detachment started from Lanang onthe morning of December 28, 1901, 
and was composed of the following personnel:  Major Littleton W. T. Waller, 
Captain David D. Porter, Captain Hirim I. Bearss, First Lieutenant A. S. 
Williams, Second Lieutenant A. C. DeW. Lyles, U. S. Army (Aid sent by 
Smith), Second Lieutenant Frank Halford, 50 enlisted U. S. Marines, 2 native 
scouts and 33 native carriers.  The start was made in boats but when Lagitao 
was reached, it was found impossible to use them further on account of the 
numerous rapids; the remainder of the distance was made on foot.  One of the 
most trying features of the march was the necessity for crossing and 
recrossing the swollen river many times, which kept the men's clothing wet 
continually.  On December 30, it was necessary to issue reduced rations, and 
the next day the rations had to be cut down to one-half and the number of 
meals per day to two.  The march was continued across the rugged mountains 
January 1 and 2.  On January 3, the rapidly vanishing food supply and the 
serious condition of the troops made the situation very critical.  The men 
were becoming ill, their clothing were in rags, their feet were swollen and 
bleeding, and the trail was lost.  After a conference with his officers, 
Waller decided to take Lieutenant Halford and thirteen of the men who were 
the best condition and push forward as rapidly as possible and send back a 
relief party for the main column, which was placed under the command of 
Captain Porter with 


instructions to go slowly and follow Major Waller's trail.  The advance 
was afterwards joined by Captain Bearss and a corporal, the former carrying 
message from Captain Porter.  A message was sent back to Captain Porter, 
directing him to follow the advanced column to a clearing which had been 
where there was a quantity of sweet potatoes, bananas and young cocoanut 
palms, and to rest there until his men were in condition to continue the 
march.  This message did not reach Porter, however, as the native by whom it 
was sent returned two days later, stating that there were so many 
about that he was afraid.

     On January 4, Major Waller's party rushed a shack and captured five 
natives, among whom were a man and a boy who stated that they knew the way 
Basey.  After crossing the Sohoton River, the famous Spanish trail leading 
from the Sohoton caves to the Suribao River was discovered and followed.  
party crossed the Loog River and proceeded through the valley to Banglay, on 
the Cadacan River.  Near this point the party came upon the camp which 
Dunlap had established to await their arrival.  Major Waller's party went 
aboard Captain Dunlap's cutter and started for Basey, where they arrived on 
January 6, 1902.

     Concerning the condition of the men of his party, Major Waller says:

     The men, realizing that all was over and that they were safe and 
     once more near home, gave up.  Some quietly wept; others laughed
     hysterically....Most of them had no shoes.  Cut, torn, bruised and
     dilapidated, they had marched without murmur for twenty-nine days.

     Immediately after the arrival of the detachment at Basey, a relief 
was sent back to locate Captain Porter's party.  The following day Major 
Waller joined this relief party, and remained out nine days searching for 
signs of Captain Porter without success.  The floods were terrific and 
of the former camp sites were many feet under water.  The members of the 
relief party began to break down, due to the many hardships and the lack of 
food, and the party had to return to Basey.  Upon returning to Basey, Major 
Waller was taken sick with fever.

     Meanwhile Captain Porter had decided to retrace the trail to Lanang and 
ask for a relief party to be sent out for his men, the most of whom were 
unable to march.  He chose seven marines who were in the best condition and 
with six natives, set out January 3 for Lanang.  He left Lieutenant Williams 
in charge of the remainder of the detachment with orders to follow as the 
condition of the men would permit.  Lieutenant Porter's return to Lanang was 
made under difficulties many times greater than those encountered during the 
march to the interior.  Food was almost totally lacking, and heavy rains 
filled the streams making it almost impossible to follow down their banks or 
cross them as was so often necessary.  On January 11, Captain Porter reached 
Lanang and reported the situation to Captain Pickering, the Army Commander 
that place.  A relief expedition was organized to go for the remainder of 
marines but it was unable to start for several days because of the swollen 
Lanang River.  Without food, yet realizing that starvation was certain if 
remained in camp, Lieutenant Williams and his men slowly followed Captain 
Porter's trail, leaving men behind one by one to die beside the trail when 
was no longer possible for them 


to continue.  One man went insane; the native carriers became mutinous and 
some of them attacked Lieutenant Williams with bolos.  After having left ten 
marines to die along the trail, Lieutenant Williams was finally met by the 
relief party on the morning of January 18 and taken back to Lanang.

     Lieutenant Williams, left in charge of the weakest men of the 
undoubtedly had the most trying task of the whole unfortunate affair.  The 
full circumstances of his attempt to extricate these exhausted men from the 
midst of that wild tropical jungle is one of the most tragic yet the most 
heroic episode in Marine Corps history.  The entire march across Samar was 
about 190 miles.  Major Waller's march, including his return with the party 
searching for Captain Porter, was about 250 miles.

     Major Waller's detachment of marines was withdrawn from Samar and 
returned to Cavite on March 2, 1902, after having been relieved by troops of 
the U. S. Army.

     For many years, thereafter, officers and men of the United States 
Corps paid a traditional tribute to the indomitable courage of these marines 
by rising in their presence with the following words of homage:  "STAND, 


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