March 31 This day during the Philippine–American War

March 31, 1899 – The Capture of Malolos occurred on March 31, 1899, in Malolos, Bulacan, during the Philippine-American War. General Arthur MacArthur, Jr.’s division advanced to Malolos along the Manila–Dagupan Railway. By March 30, American forces were advancing on Malolos. Meanwhile, the Aguinaldo government had moved its seat from Malolos to San Isidro, Nueva Ecija. After resting at Guiguinto, Bulacan, from March 29 to 30, 1899, the American division under MacArthur pushed towards the suburbs of Malolos, reaching there by the afternoon of March 30. In the morning of March 31, the Americans conducted an artillery bombardment for 25 minutes. According to Colonel (later General) Funston’s account, he was the first to enter Malolos and his unit was “fired upon by about a dozen men behind a street barricade of stones”. The Americans then exchanged fire with the Filipinos at the plaza. It was at that point that Funston and his men saw that Emilio Aguinaldo’s Presidencia (headquarters) and the Hall of Congress had caught fire. This buoyed the spirits of the Americans, who cheered before informing their division commander, MacArthur, that Malolos was theirs for the taking. The American official history described the Presidencia as an edifice of “considerable architectural beauty”. It also noted that Funston’s account of the event was oversimplified, stating that Filipino resistance, which had lasted almost two hours, had been “stubborn”. In a letter sent by the Philippine Republic to the Filipino Junta in Hong Kong (which was then led by Galicano Apacible) on April 18, 1899, it was stated that the fall of Malolos did not pose a significant impact upon the ability of the Filipino forces to wage war on the Americans. It was also stated that Filipino garrisons in the north could not be pulled out for the defense of the capital because an American landing was suspected in Pangasinan and Tayabas. The generals of the Republic believed that Malolos was near enough to the shore to be bombarded by American gunships, and that rather than advancing to meet them, the best strategy would be to draw the Americans in to the interior of the country where they would have to disperse their forces. This would in turn serve to dilute the strength of the Americans and keep the Filipino forces out of range of the American gunships. 

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