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Soldiers in the Sun

One month after the Spanish-American War began an expeditionary force sailed from San Francisco to the Philippine Islands. Because most of the Regular Army was in Cuba and Puerto Rico, three-quarters of the first 10,000 U.S. Army troops to arrive in the Philippines were National Guardsmen, most of them from the West and Midwest. The Spanish surrendered quickly, but the Guardsmen soon had another enemy: Filipinos fighting for their independence.

In the spring of 1899 the 1st north Dakota Infantry was part of an expedition to clean our Insurgent strongholds north of Manila. When a civilian named Henry Young organized an elite scouting and reconnaissance force, 16 North Dakotans were selected for this detail, which also included four men from the 2d Oregon. Of Young and his 25 Scouts one historian wrote "Always in front of the main column, the scouts bore the brunt of the advance, reconnoitering and maintaining contact with the enemy."

On May 13, a reconnaissance party ran into a band of about 300 Insurgents. Without hesitation 11 Scouts charged the Filipinos and routed them; Young himself was mortally wounded. Three days later, while reconnoitering for water, the Scouts discovered that the Insurgents had set an important bridge on fire. Knowing the river below as unfordable, the 22 Scouts rushed the bridge and put out the flames, despite an enfilading fire from some 600 Insurgents. Supported by the 2d Oregon, the Scouts then drove the Insurgents from their trenches.

Fourteen Guardsmen were awarded the Medal of Honor during the first year of the Philippine Insurrection. Of that 14, ten were members of Young's Scouts, decorated for their actions on 13 and 16 May 1899. Seven men were from the 1st North Dakota and three from the 2d Oregon. Today, the 1st North Dakota is perpetuated by the 164th Engineer Group and the 141st Engineer Battalion North Dakota Army National Guard, and the 2d Oregon by the 162d Infantry Regiment Oregon Army National Guard.

Copyright Notice

Images of these paintings may also be used for educational purposes with an appropriate permission statement, such as: "[name of painting], a National Guard Heritage Painting by [name of artist], courtesy the National Guard Bureau." The U.S. Government retains all copyrights to these paintings. No commercial use is authorized without prior approval.