Updated: Jul 15
A century before American soldiers fought Muslim terrorism in the Middle East, they fought it in the Philippines. Their attackers were Moro Muslims whose savage fanaticism appeared inexplicable.
A formerly friendly Muslim might suddenly attack American soldiers, local Muslim rulers promised friendship while secretly aiding the terrorists and the yellow left-wing press at home seized on every report of an atrocity to denounce American soldiers as murderers whose honor was forever soiled.
Much of what went on in that conflict, including the sacrifices of our soldiers, has been forgotten. The erasure has been so thorough that the media casually claims that the American forces did not use pig corpses and pig’s blood to deter Muslim terrorists. Media fact checks have deemed it a “legend”.
It’s not a legend. It’s history.
The practice began in the Spanish period. A source as mainstream as the New Cambridge History of Islam informs us that, "To discourage Juramentados, the Spaniards buried their corpses with dead pigs."
Juramentados was the Spanish term for the Muslim Jihadists who carried out suicide attacks against Christians while shouting about Allah. American forces, who had little experience with Muslim terrorists, adopted the term and the Spanish tactics of burying Muslim terrorists alongside dead pigs.
It was a less sensitive age and even the New York Times blithely observed that, “The Moros, though they still admire these frenzied exits from the world, have practically ceased to utilize them, since when a pig and a man occupy a single grave the future of the one and the other are in their opinions about equal."
The New York Times conceded that the story "shocked a large number of sensitive people," but concluded that, "while regretting the necessity of adopting a plan so repugnant to humane ideas, we also note that the Moros can stop its application as soon as they choose, and therefore we feel no impulse either to condemn its invention or to advise its abandonment.
The scheme involves the waste of a certain amount of pork, but pork in hot climates is an unwholesome diet, anyhow, and the less of it our soldiers and other ‘infidels’ in the Philippines have to eat the better for them."
Colonel Willis A. Wallace of the 15th Cavalry claimed credit for innovating the practice in March 1903 to dissuade the Muslim terrorist who believed that “every Christian he kills places him so much closer in contact with the Mohammedan heaven.”
“Conviction and punishment of these men seemed to have no effect,” Colonel Wallace related. After a “more than usually atrocious slaughter” in the marketplace, he had the bodies of the killers placed on display and encouraged “all the Moros in the vicinity who cared to do so to come and see the remains”.
"A great crowd gathered where the internment was to take place and it was there that a dead hog, in plain view of the multitude, was lifted and placed in the grave in the midst of the three bodies, the Moro grave-diggers themselves being required to do this much to their horror. News of the form of punishment adopted soon spread."
"There is every indication that the method had a wholesome effect," Colonel Wallace concluded.
Colonel Wallace was certainly not the only officer to bury pigs with Muslim terrorists in the Philippines, though he was apparently the only one to discuss it in such great detail.
Medal of Honor winner Colonel Frank West buried three pigs with three Muslim terrorists after the murder of an American officer.
He appears to have done so with the approval of General Pershing. Some stories mention Colonel Alexander Rodgers of the 6th Cavalry becoming so celebrated for it that he was known to Moro Muslims as “The Pig”.
One contemporary account does describe him burying a pig with the corpse of a Muslim terrorist who had murdered an American soldier.
Rear Admiral Daniel P Mannix III had contended that, "What finally stopped the Juramentados was the custom of wrapping the dead man in a pig's skin and stuffing his mouth with pork".
Media fact checks have claimed that General John “Black Jack” Pershing would not have offended Muslims by authorizing such a course of action and that any claims of his involvement are also a legend.
General Pershing however wrote in his autobiography that, "These Juramentado attacks were materially reduced in number by a practice that the Mohamedans held in abhorrence. The bodies were publicly buried in the same grave with a dead pig. It was not pleasant to have to take such measures, but the prospect of going to hell instead of heaven sometimes deterred the would-be assassins."
We can be certain then that the practice of burying Muslim terrorists with pigs was indeed real and fairly widespread. Was pig’s blood also used on Muslim terrorists as a deterrent to prevent attacks?
The Scientific American described just such an event. In a hard look at the area, it wrote of a place where, "Polygamy is universally practiced and slavery exists very extensively. Horse stealing is punishable by death, murder by a fine of fifty dollars. The religion is Mohamedan.”
A Muslim terrorist, the magazine wrote, “will suddenly declare himself ‘Juramentado’, that is inspired by Mohammed to be a destroyer of Christians. He forthwith shaves his head and eyebrows and goes forth to fulfill his mission."
The Scientific American described how a Muslim terrorist who had disemboweled an American soldier was made an example of.
"A grave was dug without the walls of the city. Into this the murderer was unceremoniously dropped. A pig was then suspended by his hind legs above the grave and the throat of the animal cut. Soon the body lay immersed in gore... a guard stood sentry over the grave until dusk when the pig was buried side by side with the Juramentado.”
“This so enraged the Moros that they besieged the city. Matters became so grave that General Wood felt called upon to disperse the mob resulting in the death of a number of Moros.”
It is clear from these accounts which encompass General Pershing’s autobiography, the New York Times and the Scientific American that the use of pig corpses and pig’s blood in the Philippines was not a legend, but fact. It was not carried out by a few rogue officers, but had the support of top generals. It was not a single isolated incident, but was a tactic that was made use of on multiple occasions.
American forces in the Philippines faced many of the same problems that our forces do today. But they were often free to find more direct solutions to them. When Muslim rulers claimed that they had no control over the terrorists whom they had sent to kill Americans, our officers responded in kind.
"Shortly after General Bates’ arrival on the island, the Sultan sent word that there were some half dozen Juramentados in Jolo over whom he had no control. General Bates replied, ‘Six hundred of my men have turned Juramentado and I have no control over them.’"
Another version of this story by Rear Admiral Mannix III had Admiral Hemphill dispatching a gunboat to shell the Sultan's palace and then informing him that the gunboat had "turned Juramentado". As with pig corpses and blood, such blunt tactics worked. Unfortunately political correctness makes it difficult to utilize them today. And political correctness carries with it a high price in American lives.
It is important that we remember the real history of a less politically correct time when American lives mattered more than upsetting those whom the New York Times deemed “sensitive people” and what another publication dismissed as the “sensitive spirit” of the Muslim terrorist.
But as that publication suggested, "It is not necessary to go into spasms about the insult to the Mahometan conscience. Every Christian that walks the earth is a living insult to that 'sensitive spirit'”.
“The murderer may feel that he is unduly treated by being defiled with the touch of the swine, but he can avoid it by refraining from becoming a practical Juramentado. Our sympathies, if anywhere, are with the innocent pig slaughtered for such a purpose and buried in such company."
These days we do not bury pigs with Muslim terrorists. Our political and military leaders shudder at the thought of Muslims accusing us of blasphemy. And so instead we bury thousands of American soldiers.