Imperialist (In)Justice: The Case of Sergeant Calloway

It is likely that the Army officials believed they had no case for treason based simply on the letter. No doubt they did not want to reveal the extent of their surveillance operation. (It was Calloway who told the Consunjis of his troubles three years later.) Another motive would have been to avoid the revelations that he had been especially sympathetic to the Filipinos as a result of hearing Tomas’s descriptions of US forces’ brutality to the population of San Fernando. Such allegations would have been spread all over the press in the Islands, and at home by the Anti-Imperialist forces. The Americans seem to have tried to destroy his career by using a trumped up charge.

Having failed to convict Calloway, the Americans were determined to get him out of the country as they considered him an “ extremely dangerous” character. Indeed, the American officials were concerned at the degree of friendship which had developed between their black soldiers and the “natives”. Reports of the number of marriages between them was a matter of particular concern.

Calloway, of course, denied that he was in any way treasonous, pointing to his dedicated service and his heroic volunteer mission some months previously in which he had to sneak through insurgent lines at night to deliver an important order to attack them. He tried to explain that he had private sympathy for the plight of the Filipinos, and that his hope was for them in the future, but that in no way detracted from his commitment to do his public duty for his country. He said this while reminding his interrogators that his people had been very badly treated for hundreds of years back home. He was not afraid to speak the truth to power! Calloway sought a court-martial for the alleged treason so that he could be vindicated.

Instead of another court-martial, the next step against Calloway was to build up the case for an administrative procedure leading to his deportation and discharge. Asked for a recommendation, his Regimental Commander, who had only served as such for three months, showed his prejudice as well as a common fear that the black soldiers were proving unreliable:

‘The education of this man has fostered his self-conceit to an abnormal degree, and he has shown himself to be without principle by abandoning his legal American wife for a Filipino woman… He is likely to join the Filipino ranks should a favorable opportunity offer.” He therefore recommended that Calloway be confined in Manila until he could be deported and discharged without honor. Calloway was extremely unlucky here; in October the previous year, he had been recommended for appointment as 1st Lieutenant by his previous Commander. He sought in vain to have all of his previous commanders contacted.

The matter went up the chain of command, with concurring recommendations at each level. The Commanding Officer of the Northern Luzon Department, Major General Lloyd Wheaton, commented, “In my opinion he will desert to the assasins (sic) infesting this Department if he has the opportunity.” (This was the war criminal who, after his unit was ambushed in the opening weeks of the war, ordered all villages within a 12-mile radius destroyed, and the inhabitants killed. Of course he was never prosecuted, and came to be considered a war hero for his part in defeating the Filipino armed forces.)

Although Calloway was unaware of the precise evidence against him, and the substance of the recommendations against him, he had gained a reasonable idea of what he was up against. In late November, from the National Bilibid Prison, he petitioned the military judicial office for a reversal of the orders against him. In addition to believing himself very badly treated-humiliated and abused in confinement-he also had a dream of staying in the country, in order to start a business, as many black veterans were to do. From his meager pay, he had saved about US$1500 towards that goal.

Share This Post