Civil War Echoes: The Fall of Bataan

Today 75 years ago, Major General Edward P. King surrendered 76,000 American and Filipino troops on the Bataan Peninsula in the Philippines. This is far and away the largest capitulation in American military history.

Bataan’s fall is also rife with Civil War echoes.

I blogged about the relationship between Appomattox and Bataan here:

Civil War lineage among some of Bataan’s defenders here:

and General King’s Civil War ties (and resulting artifacts) here:

Today please spare a thought for the Battling Bastards of Bataan, and recall their ties to the American Civil War.

4 Responses to Civil War Echoes: The Fall of Bataan

  1. Thanks for this post. There’s a great story featuring an American officer, Mario Tonelli, who happened to have played football at Notre Dame and who was one of those who underwent the death march. Keep in mind that for anybody who went to ND our arch rival is a certain school located near Vermont Ave. in L.A.. Here’s to “Motts” and to all of those courageous Americans and Filipinos who survived and those who didn’t make it: (from the ND website)

    “Tonelli was reflecting on his relative mortality when approached by a guard plundering the possessions of the weary, sunburned prisoners. He demanded Tonelli’s Notre Dame ring, and Tonelli refused. The guard reached for his sword.‘’Give it to him,’’ yelled a nearby prisoner. ’’It’s not worth dying for.’’ Reluctantly, Tonelli surrendered the ring. A few minutes later, a Japanese officer appeared. ‘’Did one of my men take something from you?’’ he asked in perfect English.‘’Yes,’’ Tonelli replied. ‘’My school ring.’’ ‘’Here,’’ said the officer, pressing the ring into Tonelli’s callused, grimy hand. ‘’Hide it somewhere. You may not get it back next time.’’ The act left Tonelli speechless. ‘’I was educated in America,’’ the officer explained. ‘’At the University of Southern California. I know a little about the famous Notre Dame football team. In fact, I watched you beat USC in 1937. I know how much this ring means to you, so I wanted to get it back to you.’’

    1. My pleasure – we must remember the men and women of Bataan and Corregidor. Thanks for sharing Tonelli’s story.

  2. As a grade schooler on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State I recall a local soldier who came to tell us of his experience as a survivor of the “Bataan Death March.” I believe his surname was Allen. I don’t remember specifics now – 60+ years later – but I think he was somewhat guarded with his remarks given his young audience. A typical quiet hero of his time.

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