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Today in our History: First Battle of Bud Dajo

The First Battle of Bud Dajo, also known as the Battle of Mt. Dajo, was a counter insurgency action fought by the United States Army against native Moros in March 1906, during the Moro Rebellion phase of the Philippine-American War. While fighting was limited to ground action on Jolo Island in the Sulu Archipelago, use of naval gunfire contributed significantly to the overwhelming firepower brought to bear against the Muslim insurgents, who were mostly armed with melee weapons. The description of the engagement as a battle is disputed because of both the overwhelming firepower of the attackers and the lopsided casualties. The conflict, especially the final phase of the battle, is also known as the Moro Crater Massacre.

During this battle, 790 men and officers, under the command of Colonel J.W. Duncan, assaulted the volcanic crater of Bud Dajo (TausūgBūd Dahu), which was populated by 800 to 1000 Moro villagers, including women and children. According to Herman Hagedorn (who was writing prior to World War II), the position held by the Moros was “the strongest which hostiles in the Philippines have ever defended against American assault.” (pg. 64) Although the battle was a victory for the American forces, it was also an unmitigated public relations disaster. It was the bloodiest of any engagement of the Moro Rebellion, with only six of the hundreds of Moro coming out of the battle alive.[1] Estimates of American casualties range from fifteen killed [2] to twenty-one killed and seventy-five wounded.

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