Battle of Paye

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The Battle of Paye was a battle during the Philippine-American War between the United States and the Philippines. It was fought on December 19, 1899, near San Mateo in Morong (now Rizal) between the forces of General Henry W. Lawton, and 200 Filipino riflemen under General Licerio Geronimo. General Lawton lost his life, and his attack was repelled.

This also was the climactic battle between the two forces. Lawton had successfully overrun the Morongs headquarters and destroyed a number of the Filipinos' supply and ammunition depots. On the other hand, General Geronimo enveloped and captured 140 of Lawton's command, also recapturing many of the towns that Lawton and his command had previously taken. This was the final confrontation between the two forces.


The battle began while Lawton and his men were en route to San Mateo and received fire from Filipinos under the cover of dense jungle and secure trenches in the town. Very few of the enemy were even visible.

Lawton's forces dug in and engaged in a fierce fire-fight, during which Lawton walked up and down the line rallying his men. All the while in full sight of the enemy sharpshooters 300 yards away, a band of precious few the Filipinos possessed called "Tiradores del Muerte" or "Marksmen of Death." Cautionary warnings by his officers were shrugged off by Lawton. A sharpshooter hit Lawton in the heart, resulting in near-instant death.

The death of their commander, the highest-ranking American commander to die in the war, was a terrible blow to Lawton's men, and after taking scores of casualties without being able to successfully retaliate, they withdrew. His body was borne through thicket and mud, for it was the rainy season, taking almost a day to transport to Manila for funeral rites at Paco Cemetery. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.


Before his death, he had written in formal correspondence, "Taking into account the disadvantages they have to fight against in terms of arms, equipment, and military discipline, without artillery, short of ammunition, powder inferior, shells reloaded until they are defective, they are the bravest men I have ever seen..."

Part of the reason that the Americans could not dent the enemy positions, was as a Filipino rifleman fell dead or wounded, a large number of bolomen were ready to take his rifle and keep a steady stream of heavy fire.

The Filipinos rejoiced as their enemy retreated, and they celebrated their first victory. The Morong Command also had victory in other battles against the Americans. Many of the riflemen who fought in the battle, including Colonel Maximo Abad (the commander of the forces at Pulang Lupa), later annihilated a company of American infantry in The Battle of Pulang Lupa.

Lawton's command suffered around 14 killed and 15 wounded.


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