Thanksgiving Over There in the Philippine-American War

I spent many Thanksgivings in the Philippines, and it was great. We had some fun parties, including one at our farm. The only drawbacks were that it was a normal workday for me, and I did not get to watch football live all day long. This year I have a little time off: my exams are graded and student comments written, so wheeeee! And, like in recent years, we will celebrate “Friendsgiving” in New England with two vegetarians. Meh, I’m not big into Turkey, anyway, so I’ll take it.

Thanksgiving 30th US volunteers Philippine-American War by Jennifer Hallock author of Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.
30TH VOLUNTEER INFANTRY REGIMENT: Thanksgiving dinner for the men of Company “D”, 30th Volunteer Infantry Regiment in the outer Manila trenches at Pasay. The photo was taken on November 24, 1899 and shows the men sitting down to their meal laid out on a long bamboo table protected from the hot sun by a canvas awning. The Soldiers from Company “D” are wearing their blue Army service shirts and campaign hats. Some of the men wear a special red kerchief around their necks, which later became a hallmark of the regiment and earned them the nickname, “The men in the crimsom scarves.” Company D was lead by Captain Kenneth M. Burr throughout their tour in the Philippine Islands. Photo and caption uploaded by Scott Slaten on the Philippine-American War Facebook Group.

What would it have been like in November 1899, though, just as the Philippine-American War was moving from conventional conflict to guerrilla war? Yes, the American military had more men, more guns (though not necessarily better ones), and more bullets. And without General Antonio Luna, who had recently been assassinated, the Philippine forces lost one of its greatest strategists. But Aguinaldo made the decision to disband his forces for an unconventional conflict, and that gave the Filipino revolutionaries a new edge. For the American troops, they had to realize they might not be going home anytime soon.

While I have the advantage of hindsight and can easily say that I do not support America’s imperialist cause in this war, none of that changes history. I wonder what was going through these young men’s minds on this day. Thanks to the Philippine-American War Facebook group, and especially Scott Slaten, for posting these photos. If you are interested in this war at all, you really should follow this group. It’s free, the discussions are strident, and the photos are amazing.

Thanksgiving 30th US volunteers Philippine-American War by Jennifer Hallock author of Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.
30th INFANTRY REGIMENT, USV – Thanksgiving Day at Pasay, outer Manila trenches with the 2nd Section, Company G, 30th Infantry Regiment USV, November 1899. The photo shows the men with their Krag rifles stacked on the street of their small camp. Note the sign for the 2nd Section in the middle of the photograph. Photo and caption uploaded by Scott Slaten on the Philippine-American War Facebook Group.

These photos are also nice reminders that even in war, people celebrate holidays and birthdays. They even fall in love. (That’s where we historical romance authors come in, as Beverly Jenkins so often reminds us.) But what these men’s families wanted to know was not whether they were having a good time, but when they would be coming home. They would not get their answer for another whole year:

From the November 22, 1900, edition of the Washington Post.

Since most of these soldiers had originally volunteered for what they had thought was a brief war in Cuba, this was probably a relief. Some did re-enlist as regulars, though, which meant a much longer commitment.

For your Sugar Sun readers out there, here’s a little Thanksgiving tidbit for you: Pilar Altarejos, daughter of Javier and Georgina, was born on Thanksgiving 1903. I thought that was appropriate. The couple could be thankful for being together— how romantic!—and I thought it would get Javier’s nationalist back up a little. (Yes, I’m terrible.)

Hopefully, wherever you are, I hope you have a great week. The best thing about this holiday is the reminder to be grateful for something. I am grateful for so many things, but I want to add you, my readers, to that list. Thank you for reading and for following the Altarejos clan through all its ups and downs. More adventures in love will be coming, I promise!

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Living through the Big One, Looney Tunes Style

I set my historical romance characters in the midst of some trying times: revolution, colonial conquest, insurrection, epidemic, and more. As author extraordinaire Beverly Jenkins said at #RT17: “Even in the toughest times, people still love, still have birthday parties, still have picnics.”

For example, even in the middle of World War II, they still had cartoons. And they were not escapist entertainment, either. They dealt with world events head-on. I recently saw two of these cartoons at random while watching the Looney Toon Network, as one does.

“Tortoise wins by a hare” (1943):

You can guess the premise:

Looney Tunes World War 2 cartoon viewed by Jennifer Hallock author of Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

This front page of the Chicago Sunday Tribunk is a spoof of the actual Tribune from November 1, 1942 (see below), with all the same stories except the headline . . . and one other. Can you guess which one that Looney Tunes added? Look closely. Do you see “Adolph Hitler Commits Suicide?” in the bottom right? This is one and a half years before Hitler and Eva Braun really killed themselves (and their dog), with cyanide pills in a bunker below Berlin.

Looney Tunes World War 2 cartoon viewed by Jennifer Hallock author of Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

Yes, the Allies wanted Hitler dead one way or another, as did some of his own generals, but I do not think suicide was what they expected. When the Tribune really did report this news for real, they had to source it to the Soviets because they did not believe it. But Looney Tunes hit it on the nose.

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Okay, on to the funny bits. Bugs Bunny really wanted to beat the tortoise in the cartoon, and he claimed to have a secret weapon. What is it? Take a look.

Looney Tunes World War 2 cartoon viewed by Jennifer Hallock author of Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.This is the whole joke: a frame showing Bugs with mileage ration cards, A and C. The C card is the score, but everyone would have known that at the time. Would you like me to explain it? Okay, remember that in the 1940s all essential goods were rationed. Check out this list from the Ames (IA) Historical Society:

Looney Tunes World War 2 cartoon viewed by Jennifer Hallock author of Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

The general public was issued a ration sticker marked “A,” and this limited the amount of gasoline you could buy. But, if like Bugs, you got a C emblem, or supplemental mileage ration, you could get more gas. The C designation was reserved for specific professionals: Red Cross officials, school officials, mail and newspaper deliverers, journalists, surgeons, nurses, veterinarians, embalmers (!), ministers and rabbis, farm workers, industrial workers, soldiers, scrap collectors and more. Check out the illustrations below from the Ames Historical Society or Cartype, and go to their sites to see all the stickers available. To get a C supplemental ration was a big deal, and everyone who saw this cartoon knew it. The joke was quick, funny, and entirely of the moment.

Looney Tunes World War 2 cartoon viewed by Jennifer Hallock author of Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.


“The Blue Danube” from “A Corny Concerto” (1943):

This cartoon was a parody of Disney’s “Ugly Duckling: A Silly Symphony.” What looks like a baby Daffy Duck tries to swim with a swan family, but the mother keeps rejecting him. And Mama Swan is not the only one. A hungry vulture tries to snatch up all the swanlings, and he grabs baby Daffy by mistake. But then he promptly puts Daffy back, with a plunger marked “Rejected 4F.”

Looney Tunes World War 2 cartoon viewed by Jennifer Hallock author of Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

What the heck is 4F, you ask? Some of you will know, especially children of the 1960s, that it is a draft classification. I-A meant “Available for unrestricted military service,” or, in other words, don’t make plans. You’re going to be drafted. Look down the list—far, far, down down the list for IV-F.

Looney Tunes World War 2 cartoon viewed by Jennifer Hallock author of Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

IV-F is: “Registrant not acceptable for military service due to physical, mental, or moral defect.” Being labeled 4F was a stigma for most men at the time—well, for everyone except Frank Sinatra, the “most hated man in World War II,” who got to croon to wives and girlfriends Stateside while other men were off at war. From the New York Times:

Sinatra repeatedly said on draft forms that he had ”no physical or mental defects or diseases,” as he wrote on one. But when he arrived at the Jersey City induction office in December 1943, he gave Army doctors plenty of reasons to reject him. He told them that an ear injury at birth and subsequent operations were still causing ”running ear” and ”head noises.” Furthermore, he claimed to be ”neurotic, afraid to be in crowds, afraid to go in elevator, [wants] to run when surrounded by people” and had ”been very nervous for four or five years.” He also complained that he ”wakens tired in the a.m., is run down and undernourished.”

Sinatra afraid of crowds? Hmm…

Looney Tunes World War 2 cartoon viewed by Jennifer Hallock author of Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.
Frank Sinatra signing draft board papers in New York in 1943, and his final 4F decision reached in 1945.

Sinatra seems a lot happier about the IV-F than Daffy did.


These two cartoons are not the only wartime Looney Tunes, just the least overly racist ones. (Though the 4F joke was pretty ableist.) What I like about them is how they illustrate both the concerns of the time and that people were still able to find the funny. If you can find the funny, you can find the love, too.

The Boys (and Girls) of Fall

I am so excited that Kristen Strassel asked me to help plug her new Real Werewolves of Alaska football-shifter romance series. What is not to like about this idea?

But it may surprise you to know why she asked me of all people. It’s not because I know so much about the history of football…though, did you know that it was a native Ohioan who threw the first legal forward pass in football in 1906? It was incomplete. (That’s the problem with passing, according to one of my co-coaches, Hef: only three things can happen, and two of them are bad.)

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The 28 January 1906 story from the Washington Post on the new forward pass in football.

(Other new rules at this time: the establishment of the neutral zone between the teams before the snap, the redefinition of unnecessary roughness and unsportsmanlike conduct, and a clarification of holding. These were all meant to make football less dangerous.)

But it is not my Gilded Age football knowledge that Kristen wanted. It’s my perspective as a coach. As a part of my day job teaching history, I am a junior varsity football coach. Almost all of our players are boys, but we have had girls on occasion. It says a lot about our head coaches, our players, and the school’s administration that they were willing to take a chance on a mere football fan who desperately wanted to get on the sideline. I had to learn all the Xs and Os from scratch—but the truth is that most coaches start from near-scratch each year, even each game! How did I do it?

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Do those look like trash cans behind Jim and I? In football, we call them barrels, and they are used most often to represent the defensive line and linebackers in practice. (They are not yet set up in this photo.) As we run through a play, each kid knocks over the barrel of their assignment, and that’s how you know your wizardry will work—the first time around. After that, everyone adjusts, and it becomes a little more complicated.

Pretty much everything I know was taught to me by co-coach, mentor, and best friend Jim Lockney. (Jim and his wife, Priscilla, are also two of my beta-readers, and Priscilla is the reason there were maps made for Under the Sugar Sun.) Jim and I have had some amazing times on the gridiron—me calling the offense and Jim handling the defense, the special teams, and the offensive line. (Coaching the line is a specialty. It’s almost a whole new sport.)

Why do it at all? What is so special about football? Well, as one of my players said:  “Brotherhood. I’ve played lots of team sports, but nothing else comes close.” Now, given that he gave this answer to his female coach, and being aware that we have had girls on the team in his time, I do not think he is being a chauvinist. He means that football is family.

There is no sport that requires this kind of teamwork, where each and every player has a different job, and they have to do their jobs at the same time and in sync. If one of the eleven does the wrong thing, it is a “busted play” and you are likely to lose yards and maybe even the ball. And the players don’t learn just one play, either: they learn twenty (at the youth level) or forty (at the junior varsity level) or eighty (at the varsity level) or hundreds (in the NCAA and NFL)—and each by its code name. They also have to know how each play shifts based upon the defense they see across the line of scrimmage, which is especially true for the linemen. In the end, when a football team moves as one on the field—despite these many, many complications—they are like a hive mind. That is brotherhood.

Read more of my ideas about football at Kristen’s blog. Or just check out her sexy paranormal and contemporary books. Yum!

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From “The Game” in 1918: Ohio State versus Michigan. Unfortunately, this was from the shut-out years when Michigan spanked OSU. I guess they need to win sometimes, right?

[Featured image shows a forward pass from the 1921 Auburn-Georgia Tech game.]

The Pulahan War, Part III

[This is part three of a three-part series on the Pulahan War. Follow these links for parts one and two.]

In 1905, General Allen of the Philippine Constabulary had to do the thing he hated most: he had to ask for help from the regular military and turn over responsibility for the east coast and most of Samar’s interior to Brigadier General William H. Carter, the commander of the Department of the Visayas, United States Army. According to historian Brian McAllister Linn:

[B]y mid-1905, the entire 21st Infantry, three companies of the 6th Infantry, and two companies of the 12th Infantry were all serving on the island. A small flotilla of five gunboats and two steam launches ferried troops and supplies, protected towns and directed artillery and machine-gun fire against Pulahan concentrations. Perhaps most significant, the Army re-equipped its nine Scout companies with modern magazine rifles, providing them with the firepower to shatter massed bolo attacks (59).

It was about to be a whole new war.

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The Army was willing to bring their numbers to bear, but they had to be careful to avoid the kind of excesses that “Hell-Roaring Jake” Smith had used only years before. Smith’s tactics, which added fuel to the fire of rebellion, were exactly what Samareños expected from US Army regulars. Therefore, it was especially important that the newly arrived soldiers use restraint. Even the Manila Times warned: “If any exterminating is done, there is apt to be trouble. Dead men tell no tales, but they sometimes make an awful smell” (Quoted in Linn 65).

The Army also had to be careful to avoid the public relations nightmare of Bell’s tactics in Batangas, even if they had been effective. This time, the Army did not create concentrated zones along the coast, though sometimes farmers had to be relocated to get them away from Pulahan-dominated areas. The Army kept garrisons on the coast for security, but they used the rest of their forces in mobile sweeps. Unlike the later “search and destroy” missions in Vietnam, these patrols were not meant to kill Pulahans, or rack up a “body count.” They were designed to “penetrate into every place which might afford a hiding place . . . [and] keep them constantly moving and in a state of uncertainty to the whereabouts of the troops which will be practically on every side of them” (Linn 65). In other words, they were to set the Pulahans on their heels, to wear them down, and to starve them out—all without troubling the people of Samar and Leyte too much.

Moreover, unlike Bell’s campaign in Batangas, there was no “drop-dead zone” here. The Army made it clear that all care had to be taken not to kill any civilian unnecessarily:

In no case, at the present time, should persons who may be in the hills and have not yet come in, be killed, unless by their clothing or manner it becomes apparent they are Pulahans, for it is a well-known fact that the peaceable inhabitants of many barrios have, by force, been driven from their homes and their barrios burned by the Pulahans, in order that they might be made to work for them and gather food. It is the policy of the Commanding General and the Civil Government, to get these people back into garrisoned places and from under the control of the Pulahan chiefs, and when they present themselves to the authorities they should be well treated (Quoted in Linn 66).

Army patrol tactics were controlled and organized: soldiers marched single file through the jungle (in the mornings only) with fixed bayonets and a cartridge in the chamber. Odd-numbered soldiers faced one way and the evens the other. When attacked, they formed a compact mass around their civilian porters—these Filipinos were to be protected at all costs—and calmly fired (Linn 66-67). Conditions were difficult, but it did make for several romantic memoirs published in the early twentieth century.

The military also set up good intelligence networks, and they did not turn down the services of former revolutionaries. Men who had taken part in the assault on Company C at Balangiga in 1901 were now on the payroll of the US Army quartermaster! Even the former mayor at Balangiga, considered the mastermind of the attack, helped the Americans against the Pulahans because they were threatening his hemp business (Borrinaga, G.E.R, “Pulahan Movement in Samar,” 251). As long as these authorities were seen as relatively honest and had good support among their people, they were used.

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Not all credit for the American victory can go to the Army and Scouts, though. The civil government did not disappear, nor did the Constabulary—many of whom were the toughest fighters in an American uniform. One officer recounted the hardships: “The men were on continual campaign, with death in many painful forms ever lurking in the background. Discipline was strict, if not harsh, the pay was small, the clothing and equipment inferior, and the food poor even under ordinary circumstances” (quoted in Hurley 103). Another officer boasted of the “diet of python and rat and fruit bat” upon which his hardened constables lived (Hurley 4). But the greatest contribution of the Constabulary and the civil government was their emphasis on civil action, or the policy of attraction:

[Allen] took practical steps to remove the injustices which created Pulahanism, ordering the Constabulary “to investigate and correct abuses connected with trade in the interior . . . This is equally as important as capturing leaders and getting their guns.” With Manila’s support, Allen began construction of telegraph lines and planned a road across Samar that would end the mountaineers’ isolation, provide jobs for the destitute and allow troops access to the interior. . . . [also] Allen purged Samar’s civil officials, reprimanding or removing the excessively corrupt and inefficient (Linn 56-57).

In addition, the civil government suspended all land taxes for the year 1906, relieving the burden on farmers, who were struggling to replant their crops (Executive Secretary for the Philippine Islands 1906, 10-11). (But, as if their lives were not hard enough, there was a locust epidemic on parts of Leyte in 1906 (Borrinaga, G.E.R., “Pulahan Movement in Leyte,” 272).)

The Army got in on the action, as well:

. . . post officers distributed land to the refugees, encouraged crop cultivation, and punished corruption. . . . At Oras, which had been totally destroyed by the Pulahans, in one month soldiers distributed 2,728 pounds of flour, 2,100 pounds of beans and 15,260 pounds of rice to destitute Filipinos (Linn 59-60).

The pièce de résistance of the American small war effort was amnesty. In Feburary 1905, General Allen issued the following order: “All Pulahan lesser ranks who wished to return to their villages and accept civil authority would be granted immunity; lower-ranking officers could obtain immunity by surrendering a rifle” (quoted in Linn 56). In fact, the civil government was so serious about amnesty that once, when the Scouts were in hot pursuit of a Pulahan band who had burned and looted a town called Poponton, they chased them right into the hands of the civil authorities. Quickly, the Pulahans surrendered to the constables, and when the Scout commander heard of this, he was outraged. But Sheriff W. D. Corn said that Governor Curry had told him to accept surrenders and that he would “not be a traitor to them, although they may be murderers” (quoted in Linn 61).

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This may seem like a short-sighted policy, but in the end the combination of carrot and stick worked. “Prisoners reported that Pulahans were dying of starvation; at one abandoned camp troops found every tree in a one-mile radius had been stripped of its edible foliage” (Linn 61). On the other hand, by “1 August [1905] nearly 4,795 Samareños had presented themselves to the authorities”(Linn 60). By May 1906, the Army declared northwest Samar “in as pacified or settled conditions as at any time since the insurrection” (quoted in Linn 63). While a few Pulahans continued to wander through the jungle until 1911, most of the popes of the movement were killed or captured in 1906.

This was a short, isolated war. There were few large battles, which had to have been terrifying, but they did not get the largest headlines. The Moro War being fought further south tended to dominate the papers—and with good reason, since the Moros were possibly even fiercer than the Pulahans. (They even inspired the Army to develop a whole new handgun to fight them: the 1911 .45-caliber pistol, still in use today.) And since the Moros were and are majority Muslim, that campaign is often seen to be more relevant today. However, unlike Samar and Leyte, the Moros of Mindanao were never appeased. They were silenced temporarily, yes, but the last fifty years of Islamic separatism (and recently Islamist terrorism) prove that they were not pacified.

The Pulahans were pacified. In fact, this war may be the only time the Americans fought a movement of religious extremists and won. (The Boxers were defeated militarily, but the Americans did not occupy Beijing long enough to really test their rule.) As millennial movements spring up all across the globe, will the secrets of Samar and Leyte make it into the handbook for the next war?

[Featured image was taken by and of members of the 39th Philippine Scouts dressed in captured Pulahan uniforms and carrying captured bolos. Multiply these men by several dozen, at least, to get the full effect of a Pulahan charge. Photo scanned by Scott Slaten.]