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"Tiradores de la Muerte" ("Shooters of Death"); first unit trained as snipers
Topic Started: Mar 14 2005, 10:16 AM (4,682 Views)
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I SHARE Leonardo de Vera's displeasure over a main street inside Fort Bonifacio named in honor of a US Army officer, Gen. Henry W. Lawton ("A historical irony," Inquirer, 1/28/05), whose command killed many Filipino soldiers during the Filipino-American War. The military official who christened the said street must have been an ardent admirer of Lawton, the most popular US Army general in 1898-1899, who had a very colorful record in the Union Army during the US Civil War and in the American Indian Wars that culminated in his capture of the wily Apache chief Geronimo. Standing six feet tall and always wearing a white "Balaclava" cork-sun helmet, he was never known to duck for cover even in the thick of battle, confident in his belief, it is said, that Filipino soldiers could not shoot straight anyway.

In the Battle of San Mateo, on the early morning of Dec. 18, 1899, Lawton's battalion was engaged by the Brigada Geronimo, who were in prepared positions and on high ground. During the gun battle, a heavy rain was pouring; and in the dawn's early light, Gen. Licerio Geronimo could see a tall man, wearing a bright yellow raincoat and a white sun helmet, rushing back and forth the firing line of American soldiers, exhorting them to sustain their fire. At this, Geronimo ordered a few of his "Tiradores de la Muerte" ("Shooters of Death") sharpshooters to concentrate their fire on the tall man in the yellow raincoat and white sun helmet! The "Tiradores" were armed with the latest model of the German-designed M1895 Mauser rifle -- "The Best Combat Rifle in the World" at that time, which the Filipinos captured from defeated Spanish soldiers in 1898. The Americans were using an obsolete and poorly designed imported Swedish rifle-the Krag-Jorgensen. In a few minutes a Mauser bullet tore through the lungs of Lawton. Seconds later he expired.

Unknown to Lawton, the Filipino "Tiradores" were trained months before to become sharpshooters by US Army deserters, led by a Private David Fagan, who defected to the Filipino Army and fought alongside the Filipinos.

Sometime in the early 1900s, Mrs. Lawton revisited the Philippines and requested to meet personally the "killer" of her husband. Don Dominador Gomez, a prominent Manileño, volunteered to relay the request of the widow and searched for Don Cerio. He found him quietly tending a small farm in the hinterlands of Laguna. Out of Filipino "delicadeza," Don Cerio politely declined Mrs. Lawton's invitation. Instead, he sent a photograph of himself wherein he wrote in Spanish: "Dear Madam: I am indeed very sorry to have caused the death of your beloved husband, but like him, I have also a duty to my country." -- Gen. Licerio Geronimo.

DANIEL H. DIZON, War History Club of Angeles, Villa Gloria, Angeles City


A Katipunero, he was with the group that attacked the San Juan del Monte gunpowder magazine on August 30, 1896.

He organized his own forces in Montalban, San Mateo, and Marikina. His forces served under Gen. Francisco Makabulos in San Rafael, Bulacan, and then under Gen. Mariano Llanera

during the military operations in the towns of San Miguel de Mayumo (Bulacan) and Cabanatuan (Nueva Ecija).

He was one of the Filipino leaders who fought in the battle of Mt. Purog in 1897 where a large Spanish war force was annihilated.

After the death of Andres Bonifacio in 1897, a Department Government of Central Luzon was created. In this assembley, Geronimo was designated as the Division General of the revolutionary army for Rizal province.

During the Filipino-American War, he was appointed by Gen. Antonio Luna as commanding generalof the third military zone of Manila. In the battle of San Mateo on December 19, 1899, Gen. Henry W. Lawton and 13 American officers were killed by General Geronimo's forces.

On July 12m 1900, he was named by Gen. Mariano Trias as jefe superior of the fused second and third zones of Manila. A month later, he took command of the district of Morong.

Date of Birth: August 27, 1855
Place of Birth: Sampaloc, Manila
Date of Death: January 16, 1924

Values Exhibited:

"The important things are always simple and the simple are always hard."


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Tiradores de la Muerte

:bow: what a terrible sounding name!
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Nice find, sharpshooter. :specool:

I believe this will find its own page in any book that will feature the development of sniping in our country.

I wish you could give us more details about this "Tiradores de la Muerte" snipers.

Nice find indeed! :thumb: :thumb:
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" Sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them! - Art. II Sec 1, Philippine Constitution "

" People don't care what we know until they know we care. "

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From what I read and saw, those guys wore black uniform. You can see a depiction of them in uniform at the AFP Museum.
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Tiradores del Muerte is a kooky nickname.

Spanish for "sniper" is francotirador.

Amazing thing too, because not many revolutionaries could shoot straight. Many of them removed the rear sights of their rifles, deeming them unnecessary.

Most likely that the amigo who killed Lawton was an ex-soldier, probably a native infantryman in the Spanish-officered Colonial Army.
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Sep 23 2005, 03:10 AM
From what I read and saw, those guys wore black uniform. You can see a depiction of them in uniform at the AFP Museum.

He he he he...the ancestors of the current Scout Ranger snipers? :asniper:
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Hello There;

Nagre-research ako about Gen. Geronimo at napadpad ako sa forum na ito & so I joined narin. I'm a new member, I want to introduce my self. I'm Pedro Antonio V. Javier, a lover of military subject & arts like scale models, figures, displays, memorabilias etc... related to military. I used to promoting Filipino Nationalism & Values Through Art using the dioramas & figures I made & collection of military items.

One thing that attracted me also ay yung mga Katipunan Ranks na nakalagay sa ibang mga members. Gawa ko ito sa power point & posted in my website before about the Evolution of the Philippine Ranks. I'm very happy na malayo yung narating nung power point drawing & research na nagawa ko he-he. I would also like to know kung sino yung naglagay ng mga ranks na ito, baka kasi kaibigan o kiakilala ko, small world you know. I'm very happy joining group of friends with the same or related hobby & belief.

By the way, you're welcome to visit my website at
, to see some of the Filipino figures of soldiers & heroes I made.

The latest Katipunero Figure I made is shown on this website (the Katipunero holding the Phil. Flag & a rifle).
Actual figures can be seen at the Museo ng Makati, at Poblacion, Makati City opens at Mon-Fri 8-5. You're also welcome to visit.

Mabuhay & God Bless
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Welcome to PDFF, pedroscollection!

Those were quite a collection you got there. Nice to post pics of your work to our hobbies and scale modeling.

Maybe you know Sir Jepot already? Their group is with the scale modellers. Maybe you could assist some PDFF members to the hobby, especially on figures and dioramas.

Again very impressive. Thank you for sharing. :thumb:
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Justice for Daniel Lorenz Jacinto

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Hello Saver;

Sure I'm very willing to help modelers in the PDFF group. Although my forte is in 12" figure customization & I'm not an expert in aircraft or tank models. How can I help them, or where can I send some photos? Maybe they can send me their e-mail address if they want.

I need some help too, I'm conducting research about the battle where Gen. Geronimo killed Gen. Lawton. Baka sakali lang anyone here knows how many Filipino & US many troops there. Do the Filipino consist of all Tiradores troops wearing the Guardia Civil dark blue uniform (based from Dan Dizon's painting)? o9r the troops consist of the Tiradores, some troops wearing Rayadillo & some troops wearing casual (farmer like dress) with only bolos or spears, etc... My group is planning to make a diorama of this, one way of promoting Philippine Victories (respect, dignity, heroism, ...) rather than deafeat which many Filipinos do not know or do not care. If you know a website, you may inform us too.

By the way, I don't know sir Jepot yet. May I know him?

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Zero wing
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who is Private David Fagan can anyone tell me about the US Army deserters that defected to the Filipino Army and fought alongside the Filipinos what happen to them in the end of the war what was there reason to defected to our Army??? thx and more power to the army
"No sacrifice is too great in the service of freedom."

“As long as we are not willing to provide an adequate, suitable and capable defense for this country, we will be oppressed, demeaned and dishonored. We will be the stepping mat of every country in this region,”(Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile)

“Just because we are a very weak country militarily, we should not be taken advantage of by more powerful countries" (Senate committee on national defense and security chairman Panfilo Lacson)
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