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The Utah Batteries During the Spanish-American War

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The Utah Batteries During the Spanish-American War
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Author(s): Charles R. Mabey
Date Published: 2011/09
Page Count: 140
Softcover ISBN-13: 978-0-85706-630-5
Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-0-85706-629-9

Utah gunners against Dons and rebels

This book about the Utah Batteries of light artillery as they served during the Spanish-American War, written by one of their number who resolved to complete the task even before the regiment left California for the Philippines, also benefits from being an authentic first-hand, eye-witness account which allows the reader to share in the more intimate aspects of their campaign. Some 350 strong, the Utah Gunners were only a small part of Greene’s Brigade of 13,000 men, but their influence proved to be far more significant than their numbers might suggest. Sailing to Luzon in 1898, they first saw action against Spanish forces and Philippines under Aguinaldo, involvement in the hotly contested assault on Manila followed . They were later involved in operations against Tagalan tribesmen, against breastwork defences at Calcoon and San Lazarus Cemetery, and later at Sampaloe and Santa Mesa. The battery’s actions were split between those on land—where traversing difficult terrain and tropical jungle they fought at Calumpit and San Fernando—and those afloat—where their guns were mounted onto river gunboats for fighting in at Morong, Santa Cruz, San Luiz and Candaba. The Utah gunners upheld the finest traditions of the light artillery, always ensuring that their guns were in action when and wherever they were needed irrespective of the difficulties involved. An excellent view of the Spanish-American War.
Leonaur editions are newly typeset and are not facsimiles; each title is available in softcover and hardback with dustjacket.

When the first platoon of Battery A, under Captain Wedgewood, sped out into the gloom on the night of the 4th it took up a position in the Balic Balic road near the Cemetario de Sampaloe. All night long the two guns were under a straggling fire from the Filipinos, who at this place held Blockhouse No. 5, about 300 yards to our front, and a diminutive stone church which was located off to the right of our position. The section two gun was placed inside the Cemetario, but that of section one remained outside, where it was exposed to the enemy’s fire.<br>
At 3 a.m. from two points the Malays centred a vicious fusillade upon the artillery, which remained inactive owing to the obscurity of the Tagalan line of defence. No. 1 gun was moved back about 100 yards to a more sheltered station by the cemetery. Just as the first streaks of dawn appeared in the east the two guns blazed toward the blockhouse and the small church, in which were a large number of natives. Simultaneously the Colorado infantry swung into position and with a withering fire slowly advanced upon the enemy. Several well-directed shells sent the Filipinos flying from the blockhouse and a few more accurately trained shots annihilated the little church. As the Tagalans moved from their cover they fell many deep before the blasting volleys of the invincible Coloradoans.<br>
As the natives fled from the church, the artillery turned its attention to Blockhouse No. 4, 1700 yards distant, and while the South Dakotans made a wonderful charge they demolished this wooden bulwark. Next the big guns were ordered to shatter Blockhouse No. 6, but before they could be brought into play against this point the insurgents had disappeared into the woods with the swift-moving Colorado infantrymen hard on their track. On the 6th the platoon was moved to a position left of Blockhouse No. 7. On this part of the line it remained until March 23rd, when it was ordered to Caloocan to take part in the fierce engagement at that point when the whole line charged the enemy’s works on March 25th.<br>
The damage inflicted on the natives of Sampaloe was very considerable. Over a hundred bodies were buried there and in many a battered form could be seen that ripping course of a shrapnel. General Hale personally praised the work of Sergeants Emil Johnson and W. E. Kneass, who were in immediate charge of the two rifles.<br>
The guns of Battery B took a position on the left of the line to the south of Caloocan on the night of the war alarm. Second Lieutenant Seaman went out on the Caloocan road with one 3.2 gun. Major Grant left the Cuartel with three 3.2-inch guns, and after leaving one at Bilibid Prison took the remaining two up the rugged Bulum Bugan road as far as Lazaro Hospital. Emplacements were made under a spattering fire from the enemy at this point, facing the Chinese Hospital and the Binondo Cemetery, in both of which places the Tagalans were strongly lodged. Only an occasional shot blazed towards the enemy during the night, but from a commanding position the artillery fire began at dawn with destructive and terrifying results. Besides driving the sturdily-entrenched Tagalans back, the Utah attack entirely covered the simultaneous advance of the Tenth Pennsylvania and South Dakota infantry.<br>
The advance of the slowly-moving regiment was irresistible and the natives fell back from their position after a stubborn fight. All that day the Malay resisted the American advance with fanatical frenzy. The artillery moved forward at the same moment, but many times was delayed by burning huts. After an advance of about 400 yards they again joined the infantry line, but they had arrived at a conspicuous and dangerous position on the road, where for thirty minutes they fought desperately in the open under a heavy fire from the Filipino entrenchments. It was here that Major Bell of General McArthur’s staff rode up and requested Major Grant to move up beyond the Chinese Hospital, where the Tagalans in a fierce engagement were inflicting heavy damage on the infantry. Almost at the same moment Colonel Wallace sent word that a company of the Tenth Pennsylvanians had been cut off to the left, and Lieutenant Critchlow was sent with one gun up the Leco road to its assistance. The remaining guns tore the woods in front of the advancing infantry and cleared the way for the Pennsylvanians and South Dakotans, so that the right wing advanced at this point almost without a casualty. Still towards Caloocan the artillery advanced with the musketeers, and beyond the Cemetery Church the big guns shelled the woods to the left of La Loma in front of the advancing Third United States Artillery (infantry) and Twentieth Kansas. Just when the Tagalans were fleeing, bleak with terror, from the artillery shells; when Colonel Funston, like a young Jove, was pounding his way irresistibly up from the left, and when everything looked auspicious for an easy dash into Caloocan, word came from General MacArthur that the firing should cease. The spires of Caloocan were then almost in view, and there is an opinion that had General MacArthur not feared that the line would grow too thin by a further advance Funston would have taken Caloocan that night, with many railway cars and many supplies, and with the saving of many lives which went out on the next advance when the Filipinos had had time to bulwark themselves behind their wonderful entrenchments.