Battle of Zapote Bridge

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Battle of Zapote Bridge
Part of the Philippine-American War
Date June 13, 1899
Location Zapote, Luzon, Philippines
Result Decisive U.S. victory
United States Philippines
Henry W. Lawton General Pio Del Pilar
3,000 5,000
Casualties and losses
15 killed, 60 wounded estimated 150 killed, 375 wounded

The Battle of Zapote Bridge also known as the Battle of Zapote River was fought on June 13, 1899 between 3,000 American soldiers and 5,000 Filipinos. It was the largest battle of the Philippine-American War. Zapote River separates what is now the city of Las Piñas in Metro Manila from Bacoor in the province of Cavite. Zapote Bridge in ruins still stands along the General Emilio Aguinaldo Highway near Manila Bay.

The battle started when Companies F and I, 21st Infantry Regiment were confronted by 1,000 Filipinos in elaborately dug trenches and breastworks and fierce fighting ensued, but the Americans running low on ammunition had to break through the enemy's flank. American gunboats also silenced a Philippine artillery piece which had been harassing them.

An artillery duel also commenced between a Filipino artillery battery, possibly firing a Krupp artillery piece, and Battery D with a 3.2-inch field gun. After a few closely exchanged shots, Battery D successfully took out the enemy battery at 30 yards, while losing two men.

The rest of both armies soon joined the fighting, and it became obvious that the superior Filipino numbers had not been a decisive advantage. Accurate American rifle and machine gun fire inflicted terrible losses on the enemy, while the Filipinos, many armed with motley firearms or bolos, did not have the firepower to successfully retaliate on most occasions. American gunboats also devastated the Filipino positions.

After hours of heavy fighting, the superior firepower of the Americans drove the defenders out of their lines; a Filipino rear guard, however held off the Americans long enough for the main Filipino force to withdraw inland.

It was the Battle of Zapote Bridge that earned the respect of General Henry Ware Lawton, whose dispatches invariably carried a sympathetic note of the heroism displayed by Filipinos fighting for their freedom.

Both sides suffered heavily: the American suffered 75 casualties 15 of which killed, and the Filipinos suffered over 500 casualties, between 140 and 150 of which were deaths.

Consequently, the Philippine Army began using tactics of guerilla warfare, seeing that they could not square off against the Americans in large western style military actions, they resorted instead to using the terrain to their advantage in cunning hit and run attacks.

The New York Times reported that it [the Filipino Army] was "the largest and best organized body of men which had yet met American troops."

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