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« ‘Iraq without me’: Saddam at the gallows (the Hussein execution) | Main | Saddam’s hanging in perspective »

December 31, 2006



"...staged eight months of suicide knife attacks..."

There's something odd about that phrase. What did they do? ...attack with a knife and then use it to kill themselves?

Frank Warner

A good question.

These militant Moros would go into crowded places, usually markets, and simply start knifing everyone in their paths. Such an attack was called "running juramentado" ("juramentado" meaning oath).

Someone would call for a soldier, who would try to shoot the militant. And if he was shot, the reports say, the mortally wounded Moro would keep coming, his tight clothing maintaining his blood pressure, and sometimes he would kill the soldier who shot him.

It was because of these suicide attacks that U.S. troops abandoned their Smith & Wesson .38 caliber pistols and demanded Colt .45's instead. The Colt .45's were shipped in.

jj mollo

By not publishing, Twain was acknowledging that he didn't know the whole story. He was certainly brave enough to speak the truth, but knew at some level that things go on in the world that were beyond him. His cynicism was notorious, humorous and often justified. His experience of violence, however, was mostly of the drunken male entertainment variety. He knew of fanaticism, but mostly avoided it. He knew of cultural divisions and had traveled. He even wrote a book about his travels to the Holy Land. His interaction with Muslims was probably congenial. Perhaps he had met professional soldiers that were anything but congenial.

In the end, however, he held his tongue. Today, we can see the details of his thinking, and we get to quote things that he thought. He, himself, might not have agreed with those thoughts. It would have been interesting to have arranged an extended coversation between Twain and Col. Johnston, although I suspect that Johnston wouldn't have had much time or interest for such a meeting.

Frank Warner

Good points.

One other thing I noticed in reading up on Twain at the time. He was exceedingly sympathetic to the voices calling for the overthrow of Russia's tsar. I assume he was hearing reports of Communists plotting revolution.

Certainly the tsar needed overthrowing. But I wonder if Twain had any idea the Communists would install a dictatorship much worse.

Frank Warner

I notice that, occasionally, this post is referred to by students doing research into the Philippines insurrection (and yes, I'm aware the period has other names).

One thing I'm curious about: What was Colonel Johnston's reaction to Mark Twain's harsh words when they were published in 1924? My guess is, Johnston was living in Washington, D.C., at the time. I'll have to check the old Washington newspapers.

I Am Dali

"And if he was shot, the reports say, the mortally wounded Moro would keep coming, his tight clothing maintaining his blood pressure"

That's an interesting report considering that bullets leave holes in fabric. In my experience, blood travels through holes.

"The militants also stubbornly refused to accept civilization and its taxes, or an end to such practices as piracy and slavery."

Apparently the militant women and children also refused to accept "civilization's" practice of slaughtering women and children inside craters.

Let it be said that their acceptance of that practice occurred Over Their Dead Bodies.

Frank Warner

The tight clothing apparently gave the suicidal killers a few extra seconds to continue their killing. It obviously did not prevent bleeding.

As far as the circumstances that would lead to the deaths of more than 600 Moros on one side and about 15 Americans on the other, it's hard to imagine.

It wasn't simply a clash of cultures. That's too easy. People made decisions. It would be interesting and helpful to see both sides of the story, in detail.


Pretty much the first thing you do to someone who has suffered severe trauma is put pressure on the wound to slow down the bleeding. I don't see why tight clothing couldn't perform a similar task.


What is the source for the idea that Twain told his secretary not to publish the Moro materials until after his death?


Frank Warner

Many accounts say that Mark Twain wrote "not usable yet" on "The Incident in the Philippines," but I'm not sure of the story's source. I'd like to see Twain's own handwriting on the manuscript, just to nail this down.

In any case, more information probably is available from the Mark Twain Library in Hannibal, Mo.

Vinci Eborde

"Prophecies of this kind are like wars fought in a good cause-they are so rare that they count." What prophecy is Twain talking about? Could he also possibly be talking about something else, such as the kind of war thry were in?.

help me! can someone answer these?

Frank Warner

He was talking about the prophecy that, because the Mount Dajo assault looked more like a massacre than a battle, Americans would be so horrified that they would abandon the Republican Party and President Roosevelt. That is what Twain hoped for, but he did not believe the prediction would come true. He was right.

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