The Battle of Bayan - May 2, 1902

The 27th Infantry Regiment on the March to Lake Lanao - April, 1902

    The Battle of Bayan was the first hostile encounter between Moros and the US Army. It took place at the south end of Lake Lanao on the island of Mindanao. It was the result of a punitive expedition launched by the newly-arrived, second-ranking officer for the Military District of Mindanao and Sulu, Colonel Frank D. Baldwin, also commanding officer of the 27th Infantry Regiment and two troops of the 15th Cavalry. It was precipitated by two murders, three weeks apart, of enlisted soldiers of the 27th who had strayed outside their camp at Malabang on the island of Mindanao, both set upon and killed for their Krag rifles. Baldwin took his entire command of 1,025 men on the expedition and added the 25th Battery of the Field Artillery (65 men), ten six-mule teams and 40 pack mules run by contract civilian packers, and 300 hired Maguindanao cargadores. 600 men of the 10th and 17th Infantry Regiments were moved to Malabang as temporary replacements for his forces and to serve as a reserve.

    The battle was lauded by the American press and the Roosevelt Administration as a signal victory, the resisting Maranaos described as having been "thoroughly whipped" and taught a "salutary lesson" after losing between 300-400 killed versus eleven killed and forty severely wounded for the Americans. But Baldwin's immediate superior, Brigadier General George W. Davis, and the commanding officer of the Philippine Department, Major General Adna Chaffee, were greatly upset and angered by Baldwin's conduct; believing he had acted impetuously, with insubordination, and ineptly, which could have easily ended in a major disaster. Behind the scenes President Roosevelt was furious with General Chaffee for having apparently allowed an entirely new front to open up just as he was about to proclaim the Philippine Islands were finally pacified and peaceful after a grinding, 3 1/2 year long, less than popular war. In addition it undercut a slower yet progressively more successful attempt initiated by Davis to negotiate a peaceful solution through the efforts of Captain John J. Pershing. In fact Chaffee believed that had it not been for Pershing's last minute success in convincing the most powerful datus at the north end of the lake not to join in the defense of Bayan, Baldwin's expedition might have been a disaster. This prompted Chaffee towards an exceptional decision; to see to it that Baldwin was promoted up and out of Moroland and to turn over the Lanao mission to this same unknown junior officer.

(The photographs on this page and the next are from the Library of Congress)

 

                              Colonel Frank Baldwin                                             Major General Adna Chaffee

 (promoted to Brigadier General after the battle)       Commander Department of the Philippines

 

 

                             Ever hear of Laguna de Lanao

                   In the sunny southern Isle of Mindanao?

             Where the Twenty-Seventh went with Baldwin

                           Peacefully intent and called on

                           All the Dattos up at Lake Lanao

                            (opening stanza of the Regimental Song)

 

 

    The 27th Infantry was one of ten new Regular Army regiments authorized for the Philippine-American War. It was organized February 2, 1901. However, its official birthday is recognized on May 2, the date of its baptism by fire at the Battle of Bayan. Its first Regimental crest shown on the left and used until 1922, reflects that heritage. Colonel Frank Baldwin, its first commanding officer, was unique in Army history, a rare two-time winner of the Medal of Honor, first in 1864 during the Civil War and then in 1877 against the Cheyenne. In April of 1902 it replaced the 23rd Infantry in Moroland and established its headquarters next to an old Spanish fort at Malabang, a settlement on the island of Mindanao on the shores of the Moro Gulf north of Cotabato.

Landing on the beach at Malabang

In formation in new tropical khaki uniforms

outside tents - note regimental dog at lower right

Regimental HQ at Fort Corcuera, built by the Spanish 

April 11. 1902 - Generals Chaffee and Davis catch up with Colonel Baldwin

April 26 - Baldwin conference with the coastal Moros

April 27 - General Davis and Adjutant, Major James Pettit, in conference with local datus

General Davis on the march to Bayan