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Philnews
One interesting portion of your book you indicate that a month after the Balagiga massacre occured, Brig. Genereal Jacob Smith, who was the commander of the American troops in Samar, in retribution for the attack, orders Major Waller to take control of an area around 600 square miles and tells him that, and let me quote this: "I want no prisoners and wish you to kill and burn. The more you kill and burn the better you will please me. I want all persons killed who are capable of bearing arms against the United States." Then Waller asks Smith: "I would like to know the limit of age to respect, sir?" And General Smith responds: "Ten years!" Now that's quite an interesting exchange right there--I was curious, how did you come about that exchange?

Bob
Well, it is actually from two courts-martial: one was of Waller who was later court-martialed for ordering or allowing the execution of a dozen Filipino bearers, and the court-martial of Gen. Jocob Smith who was actually court-martialed for giving that order. The jury is out to the extent that order was carried out, because Waller actually countermanded it to his own men and said 'we are not making war on women and children' and ordered his men not to follow that line. Undoubtedly, some men did, but it does not seem to have been as big an issue at the time. And most people I think, felt as they do today, that Smith was just insane. He was senile, he was getting on a bit, and he had a track record for bad judgment and making outrageous comments. He'd already caused a problem up here in Zambales, just a few miles from where I am now, in getting involved in local politics. So to put Smith in charge of a very sensitive area like Samar, is a very curious command decision. I should say also that people tend to think of the Samar campaign as beginning the Balangiga incident. Something along those lines was already being carried out, and had been carried out since March, many months before.
And that this polarized the people on Samar, particularly the mountain people who were the bulk of Lukban's forces, and increased the opposition to the United States.

So I think one has to be very careful when talking about Jacob Smith's order. Yes, he gave it. He was court-marshaled for it, and basically he lost his job for it. The extent to which that order was carried out is questionable. I have seen people say his orders were carried out to the letter--there's no evidence for that at all. You will occasionally hear that 50,000 Samarenos died in that conflict--this is just pure bunk and is totally wrong!

Philnews
Do you think it is closer to 5,000?

Bob
We can only talk in terms of magnitude. You would certainly have to knock a zero off and I would think its probably at most two and a half to three thousand people. Its an area that really needs better research. But if one looks at the population figures that we do know about, very clearly the population of Samar increased quite significantly between 1896 and 1903, and that increase is in line with what one would expect. So any losses on Samar were small enough not to show up in the population figures. Did that stuff happen, yes, sure it did. How much of it happened, we really don't know. There was lots of burning going on; how much killing was going on is questionable. Even with Waller's reports, we're only talking about a handful of insurgents that he claimed to have killed...very small numbers. And it would have been difficult to find enough people to cause major massacre. So we're not taking about genocide, and at heart we really don't know. But certainly, the sort of figures one sees bandied around are just drivel. They're actually based on two American historians who didn't bother to check their figures. I actually did go back and check the figures and indeed I was invited to address a meeting of historians a couple of years ago to discuss this and I was a bit nervous because here were some of the best historians in the country (the Philippines), and here I was outlining why I felt that these figures were very much over-egged. And they were all saying "yup we've had a problem with this for a long time; we accept what you're saying because we know that these figures are not right but nobody ever before had been able to put their finger on it."

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