Military Wiki
Second Battle of Caloocan
Part of the Philippine–American War
Filipinos attack the barracks of the 13th Minnesota Volunteers
DateFebruary 22–24, 1899
LocationCaloocan, Philippines
Result U.S. victory
 United States  First Philippine Republic
Commanders and leaders
United States Arthur MacArthur, Jr. First Philippine Republic Antonio Luna
15,000–20,000 5,000–15,000
Casualties and losses
39[1] 500[1]

The Second Battle of Caloocan, alternately called the Second Battle of Manila, was fought from February 22 to 24, 1899, in Caloocan during the Philippine–American War. The battle featured a Filipino counterattack aimed at gaining Manila from the Americans. This counterattack failed to regain Manila mainly because of lack of coordination among Filipino units and lack of artillery support.


The Philippine–American War began on February 4, 1899, with the culmination of the Battle of Manila.[2] Later, on February 10, Filipino forces regrouped in Caloocan and fought again with the American forces at the first Battle of Caloocan. The Americans won both engagements, but then, they had to wait for reinforcements, of which the first batch arrived on February 23.[3] Arthur MacArthur, Jr., who had been fighting since the beginning of the war on February 4, led the American troops. Noticing that the Americans had halted their offensive to reorganize, the Filipino forces, now under the command of General Antonio Luna, began finalizing their plans to counterattack. Apolinario Mabini, the political philosopher, highlighted the need to prepare thoroughly to ensure the success of the operation, stating that the battle's outcome would determine the fate of the Philippine Republic would.[4]

Filipino preparations

Luna's headquarters was established in Polo (now Valenzuela City), and operations for the counterattack were prepared there. The troops directly under his command were organized into three brigades. The West Brigade was under General Pantaleon Garcia, the Center Brigade was under General Mariano Llanera, and the East Brigade was under Colonel Maximino Hizon.[4] The plan envisioned by Luna and his army staff was to affect a union of forces from the north and south of Manila with the sandatahanes or bolomen inside the city. The other forces that were to attack simultaneously with Luna's troops were the men of General Licerio Gerónimo from the east, and the men of Generals Pío del Pilar and Miguel Malvar from the south.[4] Luna even requested the battle-hardened Tinio Brigade in Northern Luzon, under the command of Manuel Tinio. It had more than 1,900 soldiers. However, Aguinaldo gave only ambiguous answers.[4] The total Filipino force amounted between 5,000 and 15,000 men. The defending American force had 15,000 to 20,000 men in Manila and its suburbs.[4]


At around 8 pm on February 22, fire broke out in Santa Cruz, Manila, and spread to the Escolta. Another fire also broke out in Tondo, Manila. The fires signaled the beginning of the Filipino counterattack.[1] Around 9 pm, Aguinaldo received a telegram concerning the fire. The Americans scrambled the Fire Department and the 13th Minnesota Volunteers to put out the fire.[4] The firemen panicked for they could not put out the fire, since the wind nurtured the spread of the flames. Then, the sandatahanes suddenly attacked the firemen. They also cut the fire hoses. As a result, it took three hours for the fires to be brought under control.[4]

At around 10 pm, armed Filipinos under Colonel Francisco Roman entered Tondo and pursued the surprised American troops. When incendiaries set the nipa houses at Tondo on fire, more American soldiers were dispatched and these were met by Roman's troops.[4] Meanwhile, another fire broke out in Binondo, Manila, which took the firemen more than five hours to put under control.[4]

Confusion, however, did not rest on the American side alone. The Filipinos also succumbed to indecision. Colonel Lucio Lucas, who was under Luna's direct command, had responded immediately after hearing the signal for attack. His objective was to march into the Meisic police station, which the Americans had turned into a barracks.[4] However, enroute Lucas' troops were met by a large American contingent at Azcarraga Street. Thinking of retreat, Lucas had reconsidered the belief that it was better to die fighting than die burning. The houses at their rear were already on fire, so he ordered his men to attack the Americans with only daggers in their hands. In the ensuing fight three Filipinos and eight Americans were killed.[4]

The USS Monadnock crossing the Pacific Ocean during the Spanish–American War.

During the course of the battle, Luna did his best to keep personal participation in the field.[4] At dawn of February 23, the Filipinos opened their attack by firing their cannons against the Americans. Luna managed to secure a Krupp Rifled breech loader to provide artillery support for his men.[1] However, while the advancing Filipinos attempted to break the American line in Caloocan, the Americans were able to coordinate their positions with the USS Monadnock. The ship's twin turrets fired 10-inch shells that set fire to a number of Filipino houses that broke up the Filipino attack, forcing them to fall back to take cover.[4]

This setback was made worse by the poor coordination between the regular Filipino army and the sandatahanes. A lack of ammunition had also affected some units, including the troops under Colonel Roman.[4] Nevertheless, Garcia's troops had reached the planned points of occupation in Manila, and at that point he believed that Manila would soon fly the Filipino flag.[4] At that point, however, Filipino fortunes wavered. Two companies, totaling about 400 men, of the Pampanga troops under Major Canlas made a rapid advance and placed La Loma under siege. When the Pampanga troops ran out of ammunition, four companies (around 800) of Kawit troops were ordered to link up with the Pamapanga troops and launch a joint attack on the Americans entrenched in La Loma.[4] The Kawit commander, Captain Janolino, did not obey the order stating that he would only obey orders from President Aguinaldo. As a result, the battle in that sector was lost, and later this incident was singled out by both Luna and General Ambrosio Flores, Luna's assistant as Director of War, as being the main factor in denying the Filipinos victory that day.[4]

By the end of February 23, the Filipinos had managed to secure Sampaloc, Binondo and Tondo (by Generals Pío del Pilar, Geronimo and Colonel Hizon).[4] The Kawit Battalion under Captain Pedro Janolino had secured Meisic and American troops in Caloocan, numbering around 6,000, were under siege by Filipino troops under Llanera and Garcia.[4]

The next day, the Filipinos fought even more fiercely than they had the day before. The continued fighting aroused concern amongst the American commanders who called for reinforcements, cabling General Henry Ware Lawton to expedite his move to Manila from Colombo.[4] However, in general, the Filipinos were retreated to their original positions. Weak links between Filipino units enabled the Americans to intercept a number of telegrams and disrupt their communications. This resulted in poor coordination and, coupled with poor discipline among some units such as the Kawit Battalion and the sandatahanes, this ultimately let to the failure of the counterattack.[4]


Thirty-nine among the Americans and 500 among the Filipinos were counted as casualties.[1] Following the battle, Luna disarmed the Kawit Battalion for their insubordination. But Aguinaldo countered the act by putting them in a new command, that of Major Ramos.[4] Upon learning of the reinstatement of the Kawit Battalion, Luna offered his resignation on February 28.[4] The Americans also acted in their own area by banning the entry of armed Filipinos in Manila, and instituting a system of passage cards for everyone entering the city.[4] As the Americans ceased operations while they waited for reinforcements to arrive, a period of comparative peace followed after the battle, except for limited activity by small bands of Filipinos guerrillas. Lawton's reinforcements finally began to arrive between March 10 and 23.[4]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Dumindin, Arnaldo. "Second Battle of Manila, Feb. 22–23, 1899". 
  2. Agoncillo, Teodoro (1974). Introduction to Filipino History. pp. 161–162. 
  3. Linn, Brian McAllister (2000). The Philippine War, 1899–1902. University Press of Kansas. ISBN 978-0-7006-1225-3. 
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 4.14 4.15 4.16 4.17 4.18 4.19 4.20 4.21 4.22 4.23 4.24 Jose, Vicencio. Rise and Fall of Antonio Luna. Solar Publishing Corporation. pp. 225–245. 

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