14 July 2017

Rare Early 20th Century US Army Photos of Batangas, Lipa et al from the Sandra Plummer Collection

Image credit:  Sandra Plummer Collection at the Fort Worth Library's Digital Archive.
The Sandra Plummer Collection is part of the Fort Worth Library Digital Archives. Basically, the collection is a documentation of American troops’ movement during the Philippine-American War from 1899-1902. The troops, in particular, appear to have been those of Company G of the 38th United States Volunteer Infantry.

Many of the pictures were labeled as taken “possibly” in Batangas. This is just the Fort Worth Library being cautious most probably because the images in the collection were not properly labeled and had to be researched. The truth is, however, the 38th Volunteer Infantry was very much involved in the “pacification of Batangas1.”

There was also a United States Army encampment in Batangas Town, now City, that was called Camp McGrath or McGraw. There is still a place by that same name in present-day Batangas City2. It is entirely possible the troops whose movements were being chronicled in the Plummer Collection were operating from of the camp.

Image credit:  Sandra Plummer Collection at the Fort Worth Library's Digital Archive.
The picture above was taken between 1989 and 1902. The Fort Worth Library has given it the title “Troops in Review” with the description “U.S. Army troops are presented for review at the headquarters of the Battalion of Engineers, 8th Army Corps, possibly in Batangas City, near the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.”

Image credit:  Sandra Plummer Collection at the Fort Worth Library's Digital Archive.
Above, the picture was given the title “Philippine Church” with the description “This is likely a photograph of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception (on left) in Batangas City. The building to the right probably served as a headquarters for the Battalion of Engineers that was attached to the 8th Army. A closer view reveals supply wagons, and numerous American troops walking in the plaza.” The picture was also taken between 1899 and 1902.

Image credit:  Sandra Plummer Collection at the Fort Worth Library's Digital Archive.
The picture above was taken between 1899 and 1902, and given the title “Troops at rest.” Probably taken between operations in the province. The Fort Worth Library gave the image the description “American infantrymen rest in chairs underneath shade trees, while other troops nap on the ground, possibly near Batangas City, Philippines.”

Image credit:  Sandra Plummer Collection at the Fort Worth Library's Digital Archive.
Above, a picture also taken between 1899 and 1902, with the title “Troops at drill.” It was described by the Fort Worth Library as “U.S. Infantry present themselves for drill exercises on the parade ground of a temporary military camp, possibly near Batangas City, Philippines.”

Image credit:  Sandra Plummer Collection at the Fort Worth Library's Digital Archive.
The picture above was entitled “Inspection of troops,” with the description “American troops fall in for inspection in front of a two-story building, likely in Batangas City or Lipa, Philippines. Some of the soldier's campaign hats have an insignia resembling the number 8, possibly for the 8th Army Corps.” The picture was taken between 1899 and 1902 when Batangas was, of course, still a town.

Image credit:  Sandra Plummer Collection at the Fort Worth Library's Digital Archive.
Above, a picture entitled “American and Spanish officers.” Because the picture was taken between 1899 and 1902, this was likely soon after the turnover by Spain of the Philippine Islands to the Americans. The Fort Worth Library gave the picture this description: “A U.S. Army officer converses with what appear to be Spanish officers, possibly in Lipa, Batangas, Philippines.”

Image credit:  Sandra Plummer Collection at the Fort Worth Library's Digital Archive.
The picture above was given the title “Villagers plowing a field.” Hard to tell from the angle if the mountain in the background was Mount Makiling. If it was, then the picture was likely taken from Lipa. A similar view is still available in the present day just outside Fernando Air Base on the road from Lipa to Mataasnakahoy.  If anyone has other ideas, feel free to say so in the comments section below.  The Fort Worth Library’s description of the picture was: “Two villagers plow a field with carabao-drawn plows, while American troops march along the mountainous horizon; possibly in the Batangas province of the Philippines.”

Image credit:  Sandra Plummer Collection at the Fort Worth Library's Digital Archive.
The picture above was given the title “Aerial view of Philippine plaze,” and this description: “Aerial view of a plaza in a Philippine town, possibly in the Batangas province, near Taal Lake.” If, indeed, the town in question is near Taal Lake, then it was likely the present day town of Taal.

Image credit:  Sandra Plummer Collection at the Fort Worth Library's Digital Archive.
The picture above was given the title “Philippine volcano” with the description “Bird's-eye view of a smoldering volcano, possibly the Taal Volcano in the Batangas province of the Philippines.” Despite the use of the word “possibly,” most readers will probably be able to tell that this is a view inside Taal Volcano’s crater island.

Image credit:  Sandra Plummer Collection at the Fort Worth Library's Digital Archive.
The title given to the image above was “March past a mountain.” The description given was “American troops march in single file past a mountain, possibly in the Batangas province of the Philippines.” Hard to tell again from the angle what the mountain was in the background, although it looks to me as though it was Mount Malepunyo as seen from Lipa. Again, if anyone thinks otherwise, please do not hesitate to say what you think in the comments section below.

Image credit:  Sandra Plummer Collection at the Fort Worth Library's Digital Archive.
Above, a picture entitled “38th US Volunteer Infantry at rest.” The description given by the Fort Worth Library was “Members of the 38th U.S. Volunteer infantry take a break from marching, most likely in the Batangas province of the Philippines.” The picture was taken between 1899 and 1902.

Image credit:  Sandra Plummer Collection at the Fort Worth Library's Digital Archive.
The above picture was simply titled “Cockfighting.” While the description given does not explicitly state that the image was taken in Batangas, it was nonetheless placed by the Fort Worth Library under the category Batangas (Philippines: Province).

Image credit:  Sandra Plummer Collection at the Fort Worth Library's Digital Archive.
Finally, the above image was entitled “Philippine cemetery” and given this description: “Outside the stone walls of a Philippine cemetery, possibly in the Batangas province. Two men stand in the doorway of a domed mausoleum.” If, indeed, the picture was taken in Batangas, it could have been anywhere since the cemetery is typical enough.

Notes and references:
1Philippine-American War: Company A, 38th Volunteer US Infantry on 23 May 1900, Batangas, Philippines,” online at Jim Jim Jr.’s Collection.
2 “Sound the Trumpet, Beat the Drums: Horse-Mounted Bands of the U.S. Army, 1820-1940,” by Bruce P. Gleason.

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