BY JINGO - Colonial History & Wargames Page

First action at Baler

5-9-1897(01:15 AM) A Scenario for the


Set, by

Jesus Serrano Mateo

Further Edited and Developed by

Andrew Preziosi

The little town of BALER (2,000 inhabitants) was the administrative capital of the province of Nueva Ecija, on the northwest of Luzon Island (Philippines). Baler had no outside communication with Manila (the Capital of the colony), other than the sea. Dense, jungle-covered mountains surrounded it to the west, without practicable roads. This isolation was the very reason the Colonial Government exiled a number of "independist" political agitators to Baler.

The administration of the province was in charge of a Politico-Military Commander: Infantry Captain Antonio Lopez Irizarri. To enforce colonial policies there was a barrack post of the Guardia Civil Veterana (A kind of militarized police force) manned by a corporal and four "numeros" (privates). The Veteran Civil Guard units were composed of indigenous privates commanded by Spanish NCO's and officers. The unit was armed with single shot breech loading carbines.

The only other presence of colonial power in Baler was Father Candido Gomez Carre¤o, a monk in charge of the spiritual education of the inhabitants of Baler.

The indigenous people of the area were divided into two races. The first were the Tagalogs, living in the valleys. An agricultural people, more or less Christianized, they spoke Tagalog and were the main target of the independist propaganda. The other group living in the jungle, were "negritos" and "Igorrotes", tribal aboriginal people, mainly hostile to just about everyone they came into contact with.

Baler had for a long time been a quiet little backwater without insurrectionist incidents. The Tagalogs were unfriendly but not openly violent. In August of 1897, Captain Lopez was ordered to investigate rumors about weapons being smuggled into Dingalan, a village situated to the north of Baler.

Realizing the impossibility of being able to seriously investigate these rumors in hostile territory, due to the lack of manpower; Captain Lopez asked for a regular military force to be sent to Baler, in order to help secure the area.

The request was accepted and a half company of the "Segundo Batallon Expedicionario de Cazadores" (Second Expeditionary Jaeger Battalion) was sent to Lopez's aid, Lieutenant Jose Mota being in command. Mota, an energetic, rash young officer, marched to Baler through the jungle, surprising the Tagalog forces in the area and arriving unchallenged in Baler on the morning of the 20th of September 1897.

There, under the advice of Captain Lopez, the lieutenant quartered his men throughout some of the buildings surrounding the "Plaza" of Baler.
map 1

The town of Baler proper consisted of diverse huts dispersed around a central settlement where the Town Hall, church and schools where built. All of the buildings, except the church, were constructed of bamboo, palm fronds and timber, offering little protection against rifle fire.

The Cazadores sent to Baler were seasoned troops, most of who had been under fire before. They were armed with Mauser Bolt Action Rifles (clip fed magazines) and a sword bayonet commonly called a"machete". The Officers were armed with six shot revolvers and sabers, but it was not unusual to see officers of Cazadores armed with rifles just like their men.

The "Cazadores" were light infantry troops; good marchers and slightly better shots than other Spanish troops, they were often used in scouting and screening roles.
2nd Exp. Jaeger Bon. Class Weapons
Captain Lopez Irizarri Inexperienced Revolver and saber
Lieutenant Mota Rash, inexperienced Bolt action rifle and bayonet
NCO's Veterans Bolt action rifle and bayonet
Privates Seasoned Bolt action rifle and bayonet

The Guardia Civil Veterana was, in spite of their militarized status, a second rate security force, not a combat force per se but a repressive one, not unlike later SS Police. The NCO's were often retired veteran NCO's from the regular Army.
Veteran Civil Guard Class Weapons
NCO Seasoned Single shot breech loading rifle
Privates Raw Single shot breech loading rifle

The Philippine patriots (Katipunan) were mainly peasants with no fighting experience. They were bad shots and reluctant to close with their enemy.
Insurrectionists Class Weapons
Leaders Seasoned Bolt action rifle
Patriots (half available manpower) Raw Single shot breech loading rifle
Patriots (half available manpower) Raw Spears & Bolos

Special Baler Scenario (Series) Rules:

In most actions fought during this period, the Insurrectionist / Native forces were usually ill equipped and went into battle at a disadvantage. This meant that before every action, it was drilled into the men to secure any firearms dropped by the dead and wounded on their side and to do their utmost to secure firearms from the other side; capturing the enemy being one method, but taking weapons from the enemy dead and wounded was the most obvious. At the same time, "civilized" troops knew the value of keeping such weapons from enemy hands and would do their utmost to retain possession of the weapon for their side.

In order to simulate this event, the following rules must be used: If any figure bearing a firearm is killed or seriously wounded by ranged weapons from a distance and is directly adjacent (bases touching) to an allied figure, that figure may immediately secure the firearm from his comrade and begin using it on his very next turn (if he so desires). There is NO PENALTY for this action as long as stands are ADJACENT.

In the same situation, if an allied figure is within LOS of the killed or wounded figure and can reach the figure during his next movement phase, he must move towards the figure and secure the weapon. (Obviously the PLAYER in this case will decide to use whatever figure he sees fit depending on the situation, it may not always be best to send the CLOSEST man). Having secured the weapon, the figure is allowed to use it on his next turn.

In close combat, the situation becomes a bit muddled, but it should be easy enough to decipher.

In ANY close combat between two figures, without direct support from nearby forces, the winner is allowed to immediately secure the weapon and use it on his next turn.

In ANY close combat between two figures in which non-engaged direct support (one figure) is immediately available for one side but not the other, then the side WITH support is immediately allowed to enter close combat (if the situation so warrants) against the enemy, if the enemy figure won the weapon in combat

In ANY close combat between two figures with SUPERIOR non-engaged direct support (2 or more figures) available to one side and the other side wins the initial combat, the weapon may not be secured by the victor of the engagement at that particular point in time.

In ANY close combat between two figures in which direct support is immediately available for both sides, the battle will continue to rage around the weapon until a figure comes in direct contact with the weapon or until one side clearly wins in that locale and can secure the weapon.

ANY time an enemy figure attempts to secure a weapon from a seriously wounded figure, a die must be rolled. On a six (6) the wounded defender made a hit and the enemy must now roll to see if he was truly harmed in the attempt to secure the weapon.

In situations where rifle armed figures secure the weapon, they are free to hand it off to a person who needs the weapon (unarmed or edge weapon armed) at the earliest opportunity. Handing off the weapon can be done as long as figures are in base to base contact with each other and not engaged in hand to hand combat with an enemy figure!

Finally, while a player can secure the weapon and use it, he is limited to the ammunition in the weapon at that point in time, which will always be one (1) bullet. In order to use the weapon to its fullest capability, the figure must stay adjacent to the dead / wounded figure for one additional full turn in order to secure the ammo pouches, webbing, bayonet, etc.


In the first case, it may be that a "civilized" figure is killed right next to his buddy who will immediately secure the weapon to keep it from the enemy.

At the same time, if involving "Insurrectionist / Native" forces, odds are the figure next to the killed or wounded man is armed with an edged weapon and he will most certainly pick the weapon up for use on his next turn.

In the next case, the player is free to send any figure within striking distance to retrieve the weapon. This allows the player to react to the situation to his advantage.

Regarding close combat, two figures on their own, the winner takes all, easy enough.

In the next situations though, the overall flow of battle on that portion of the tabletop must be taken into account. If the Insurrectionists are advancing with overwhelming force and one guy is stuck in the middle of the advance and has to engage in close combat, if he loses, then the enemy forces are going to secure the weapon.

Two forces of near equal size engaged in close range fire and hand to hand combat will be too close to call, so picking up a weapon during that period will be the least of anyone's problems.

The last example, is a situational rule; a figure trying to keep a rifle out of enemy hands, especially if close combat is nearby, will want to take the rifle and leave. At the same time, an enemy figure who secured a rifle a few turns back but not the ammo pouches, etc., will certainly want to strip the bullets off a previously armed figure in order to make the most of his new weapon, if he can do so. Again, it will be the players call what to do once the firearm itself is secured

The Setup

I have added sketches of the Spanish positions at the beginning of the scenario. There is only one sentry, situated in the middle of the plaza.

The buildings, except the church, offer only soft cover, mainly blocking the line of sight. The church is built with stone and counts as hard cover.

The Philippine forces are deployed just off the four edges of the table. Each force is composed of 10 + 2d10 patriots commanded by a leader. Each force must be composed of both rifle and homemade weapons in equal proportions!

Special Rules.


Every time an Insurrectionist figure moves to within 10 inches (or less) of the sentry without something (a building, trees, bushes) blocking the sentry's LOS (line of sight), the Spanish player rolls a 1d10. If the roll is equal to or greater than the distance between the sentry and the enemy figure, the Insurrectionist has been spotted and the sentry can now sound the alarm, alerting his fellow troops!

After the alarm is sounded, or the first shot is fired, the Insurrectionist forces get one (1) free extra turn before the Spanish began to move.

Shooting into buildings.

Both sides can fire "blind shots" into buildings in order to try to and hit the figures inside them. Adjust the percentage to ¬ of the usual "to hit" possibilities.

Remember that this skirmish is fought by night, so you should adjust the "to hit modifiers" to the pertinent rules.

Setup Variant

In the real engagement, a Spanish soldier, who was out without permission, sounded the alarm. He had been looking for some female companionship among the native population. The actual name of the marauding soldier was Pedro Salinas Moro a.k.a. "Mudo". He was unarmed but survived the fight and remained hidden in the hills until a relieving force reached the town.

Optional Rule:

If you wish to simulate this event, place one more Spanish soldier between the outer ring of the buildings surrounding the square and the village huts and move him around randomly by throwing a 1d10 for movement and spinning a directional vane (down-loadable from the By Jingo sight) for direction.

Whenever he stops he may check for Insurrectionist forces within his LOS following the same rule as listed in the regular scenario (he is not looking for enemy forces, per se, but he is looking around, so . . .).

In order to make this even fairer, while the Spanish player may control his sentry, the Insurrectionist player should be allowed to roll and spin for the "horny little devil" on the prowl!


If the directional vane points our hero into the Plaza, the figure will circumvent the plaza itself, but will work his way around the building perimeter, heading towards the general direction he is supposed to go in. (He's looking for women, not to chat with a sentry who will turn him in for being AWOL!)


The Spanish soldiers stationed at the Military Commander's and the teacher's houses were able to react and reach the church, but received extensive casualties in the process.

The troops (soldiers and Guardias Civiles) at the Civil Guard quarters were surprised and taken prisoner without a shot being fired.

The rebels would now lay siege to the church, which would not be relieved until October 16th, 1897.

The Spanish casualties were:

The Philippine casualties were:
¨? No definite information. Perhaps two dozen.
map 2

Click Here To Print The Game Cards

Close This Window To Return To The Table Of Contents

Free Web Hosting