OTIS' INITIAL INSTRUCTIONS TO MILLER ON ILOILO EXPEDITION
OFFICE U. S. MILITARY GOVERNOR,
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT PACIFIC AND EIGHTH ARMY CORPS
Manila, P. I., December 24, 1898.
Brig. Gen. MARCUS P. MILLER, U. S. V.,
Commanding First Separate Brigade, Eighth Army Corps.
Sir: In obedience to the instructions of the President of the United States, dated the 22d instant, directing that troops be sent to Iloilo, island of Panay, there "to preserve the peace and protect life and property," your command has been selected for this duty and has been ordered to depart therefore on Monday next, the 26th instant.
Those instructions contain the following cautionary language:
"It is most important that there should be no conflict with the insurgents. Be concilatory, but firm."
When they were given it was supposed that the Spanish forces in iloilo and in conflict with the insurgent inhabitants of the island would retain their hold of the city until the arrival of United States troops, when they would transfer all authority to the latter and peaceably evacuate.
From cable dispatches received this morning from northern Panay, it is feared that the Spanish troops may surrender the city to the insurgents before your arrival, in which event your duties will become more complicated and will require delicate and skillful action for successful prosecution. However, every possible precautionary measure has been taken to retain the Spanish forces there. Yesterday a cablegram was sent to northern Panay, the limit of telegraphic communication with Iloilo, advising the commanding general of those forces of your early departure for that port, and this evening a fast vessel will be dispatched carrying the same information, but it is possible that these measures may fail to accomplish desired results.
In the event of your arrival at Iloilo prior to the departure of the Spanish troops therefrom, you will communicate with their commanding general, inviting him, in accordance with an existing mutual understanding, to then remove his forces, to permit you to take formal possession of the city and thereupon with his consent you will proceed to occupy the same with your command.
If, on the contrary, you find the city to be in the possession of the insurgents, you will proceed with great caution, avoiding all manifestation of meditated forcible action and undue display of force. You will place yourself in communication with the insurgent authorities through the representative men of Iloilo, whom you will take from Manila with you on your voyage, and who will use their best endeavors to bring to a successful determination any difficulties which may present themselves. You will make known to the inhabitants the purpose of the United States, which, having succeeded to all the rights of spain in the Philippine Islands, under treaty stipulations following conquest in the eastern and western hemispheres, intends to establish among them an efficient and most stable form of government which shall fully protect them in all their private interests and liberties, in which they shall have representation, and which will secure for them increasing and abundant prosperity. as a slight proof of your declared intention, you will release unto them the spanish native soldiers sent here by the Spanish Government, who, through the efforts of the United States authorities, will be returned to their homes in Panay, who will accompany you and who are grateful for the supervision which those authorities have exercised over them. You will find the representative people of Iloilo a superior class and amenable to reason, and it is believed that they will place confidence in the faith and good intentions of the United States and will accord you a most favorable reception. No undue haste will be made and the rights of your Government will be fully made known and insisted upon. Conflict between troops will be avoided unless it becomes necessary for defense. Should you be able to effect a landing as a result of your negotiations you will disembark only a sufficient portion of your command to subserve present purposes—the remainder being held on transports awaiting further instructions. Should you not be able to effect a landing without conflict, you will hold your forces on your transports in the vicinity of Iloilo and await further directions from these headquarters. But in all these matters you must be governed to a great extent by your own good judgment after a careful deliberation upon conditions, having in view the instructions of the President of the United States to avoid armed repression.
The government which you are called upon to establish at Iloilo will be one of military occupation. Upon taking possession it will be your duty to issue an order proclaiming such a government within the territory occupied or controlled by the United States forces under your command.
The municipal laws of the territory occupied, such as affect private rights of persons and property and provide for the punishment of crime, are to be considered as continuing in force so far as compatible with the new order of things, unless suspended or superseded by proper military authority. The judges and other officials connected with the administration of these laws may, if they accept the authority of the united states, continue to administer the ordinary law of the land as between man and man, but under the supervision of the said military authorities.
The local courts thus continued in power shall not, however, exercise jurisdiction over any crime or offense committed by any person belonging to the Army of the United States, or any retainer of the Army, or person serving with it, or any person furnishing or transporting army supplies, nor over any crime or offense committed on either of the same by any inhabitant or temporary resident of said territory. In such cases, except when courts-martial have cognizance, jurisdiction to try and punish is vested in military commissions and provost courts which will be convened (by you) from time to time as occasion may require.
For the purpose of providing for the prompt punishment of crime in cases where the civil courts may fail, from whatever cause, the military commissions and provost courts will, in addition to the exercise of powers above indicated, be vested with jurisdiction concurrent with the civil courts to hear and determine all crimes and offenses committed by inhabitants or temporary residents within the limits of united states occupation. of these crimes and offenses, those which are capital and such others as you may desire to refer to it will be brought to trial before a military commission, and those which are not capital, which may be adequately punished within tfhe punishing powers of provost courts, may be referred to them for trial. Trials by civil courts, however, will be preferred where there is satisfactory reason to believe that justice will be done.
In all sentences imposed by military commissions and provost courts the punishments awarded shall conform, as far as possible, iu character and degree to the laws of the United States, or of either of the States, or to the customs of war. The proceedings of military commissions after being acted upon by you will be forwarded to these headquarters for the action of the commanding general. the punishment awarded by provost courts shall not exceed confinement, with or without hard labor, for a period of one year or a fine of $1,000 or both. The sentences of these courts do not require approval, but may be mitigated or remitted by you. Copies of orders on these subjects, the provisions of which control the action of the military courts established in this city, will be furnished you for your information and guidance and for application under conditions similar to those prevailing here.
It will be necessary for you to create a government for the determination of city affairs under the direct supervision of a provost-marshal, to appoint officers and assistants for the collection and care of revenue, and to conduct postal affairs. the customs regulations in force here will be applied by you at Iloilo, and an officer connected therewith has been directed to report to you for appointment as collector of customs, who will be provided with copies of all customs regulations and the necessary blank forms. You will be furnished with the requisite assistants, thoroughly supplied, to establish upon your arrival all necessary mail facilities, and you will apply in this department the postal laws of the United States Government.
Iloilo is an important point of entry, and to secure competent aid for duty in connection with the port you will consult Captain Dyer of the Navy, commanding officer of the Baltimore, which escorts your transports, who has a thorough practical acquaintance with such matters.
In establishing your administration you will consult various orders and regulations governing all these subjects at this port—making your actions conform thereto in all essential particulars. No further instructions can be given you. Much must depend upon your tact and discretion and your ability to meet varying circumstances as they arise. However, should you fail to secure a peaceable entry into the city, you will report fully your proceedings to these headquarters and request further instructions.
By command of Major-General Otis:
THOMAS H. BARRY,