The Spanish-American War was fought on two fronts, Cuba and The Philippines. When the war ended in December 1898, the US granted Cuba independence but decided not to do the same for The Philippines. This led to an additional conflict with Filipino “Insurrectos” led by Emilio Aquinaldo which became known as the Philippine-American War.
Fighting began on February 4, 1899. On March 2, Congress authorized the formation of the US Army 29th volunteer infantry for service in the Philippines. The regiment, made up mostly of men from southern states, formed at Ft. McPherson, Georgia on on July 5, 1899. Among the volunteers was one of my cousins, Wesley Marvin Hunt who enlisted in Company F. I’m related to the Hunts through my second great grandmother, Ida Hunt Huckaby. Marvin was her first cousin. After training, in September 1899, Marvin and his regiment were sent to the Presidio in San Francisco to await transport to the Philippines.
By the next September they were on Marinduque Island, Philippines.
On September 13, 1900 the regiment, commanded by Captain Devereaux Shields, broke camp at Torrijos headed for Santa Cruz along a trail in the mountain region of Pulang Lupa. Unbeknownst to them, this movement had been noticed by a Philippine outpost and the particulars relayed to Colonel Maximo Abad.
Abad stationed his men along the route of the American forces in preparation for an ambush. When the American’s were in range, they opened fire from both sides of the trail killing three privates and wounding three other men, including Captain Shields. Two others collapsed during the battle from the intense heat. Shields then ordered a slow retreat during which they were pursued and harassed by the Philippine forces who followed from a distance firing on them as they went.
By 10:00 A.M. more men had been wounded and the entire company was exhausted and down to only forty rounds of ammunition per man. By 2:00 P.M. they were surrounded by Abad’s men and forced to surrender.
Captain Shields and fifty-one of his men were taken prisoner. Listed among the captured by the New York Times on September 29, 1900 was Wesley M. Hunt of Ft. McPherson, Georgia.
The men were kept prisoner for a month until an arrangement was worked out for their release. Here in Captain Shields’ words is how their captivity ended:
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.
The men were exhausted and many of them were sick or wounded. They’d been without anything to eat but a small ration of rice for many days and were, I’m sure, glad to be back on an American ship.
This engagement became known as the Battle of Pulang Lupa and was an embarrassing defeat for the US Military in the Philippines.
Wesley Marvin Hunt eventually returned home to Georgia. He married, had a family and worked as switchman for the railroad and later as a mechanic. He died in 1938 at the age of sixty-two and is buried in Greenwood Cemetery in Atlanta.