Today in Philippine History, December 2, 1899, the Battle of Tirad Pass took place

Friday December 02, 2011 ()

On December 2, 1899, the Battle of Tirad Pass between 60 Filipino soldiers under General Gregorio del Pilar and more than 300 American soldiers under General Peyton C. March took place.

General Del Pilar, confidante and right-hand man of General Emilio Aguinaldo, was ordered to block the Yankees' advance into Tirad Pass, a mountain gap in the Cordillera Mountains of Northern Luzon.

General Gregorio Del Pilar
(Gregorio del Pilar and his troops, around 1898)

He followed the order of General Aguinaldo to defend the pass to stop the Americans so the revolutionary leader could build a guerrilla force in Isabela beyond the Cordilleras

Del Pilar asked his 60 men to position themselves on top of the mountain where, from their vantage point, they could see a whole battalion of 300 American soldiers advancing.

Hence, Aguinaldo and his men were able to retreat safely to the north.

Del Pilar gave encouragement to his men while watching the Americans coming within the range. “This is the most glorious moment in our lives,” he said. “We are fighting for our motherland.”

After sometime, the enemy stopped firing. The Filipino forces halted their fire too, thus the whole valley fell silent.

However, unknown to Del Pilar and his men, a Filipino was leading a group of American soldiers to their rear. As he heard a volley of fire coming from the back, Del Pilar saw many of his soldiers fall one by one.

Standing alone, he took out his diary from his breast pocket and wrote the following words: ”What I am doing now is for my beloved land.” After returning his diary to his pocket, he mounted his horse once more with saber in hand, but a single shot claimed the life of the young, brave general.

The American soldiers rushed to the spot where the fallen general was. One of them got his diary, another one took the spurs from Del Pilar’s boots, one other got the boots, another followed and took his shirt off, someone collected his buttons, tore off the bloody collar and pants.

But there was one thing that the American soldiers were not able to take away from General Del Pilar -– his love of country, a love that neither extreme hardship nor death was able to extinguish.

Del Pilar's heroism won the admiration of American Lieutenant Dennis P. Quinlan, who ordered the burial of his remains with military honors, and marked his grave with a headstone bearing this inscription:

"GENERAL GREGORIO DEL PILAR, KILLED AT THE BATTLE OF TIRAD PASS, DECEMBER 2, 1899, COMMANDING AGUINALDO'S REAR GUARD, AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN."

Source:
Philippine News Agency archives


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