Imperialist (In)Justice: The Case of Sergeant Calloway

But his plea was not answered. The matter was referred to the Inspector General, who provides insight on the gaze of accusatorial authority: “Calloway is a bright man, with an adroit mind, a very good command of language, and a marked skill in evading a question and misconstruing words… In view of Calloway’s education, command of language, and knowledge of the meaning of words, as shown in his conversations, and the education of the man to whom he wrote, this letter can only be taken as meaning exactly what it says.” His conclusion: “I regard him as a dangerous man, in view of his relations with the natives, as shown by this letter, and the circumstances of his court-martial.” So dangerous that he concurred with the recommendations to deport and discharge without honor, but added that Calloway “not be allowed to return to these Islands as a civilian.”

By Dec. 12 the recommendations against him were on the desk of the Commanding Officer in the Philippines, who agreed with the conclusions of his Inspector General, and concurred that Calloway should be deported, demoted to rank of private and dishonorably discharged.

In a last ditch attempt to have his case properly heard, he somehow managed to get legal assistance for the first time. His lawyer, Eber C. Smith, was an American with a general practice in Manila. The American dominated Supreme Court denied an application for habeas corpus, holding it had no jurisdiction over persons arrested by the US authorities. (Such a result in the Guantanamo Bay cases would have gladdened the heart of President George W. Bush, but the context of American repression has changed.)

Calloway was shipped back to San Francisco where he remained in prison until the case was reviewed in Washington, D.C. He again wrote a strong plea for re-consideration, pledging once again his loyalty, explaining he had never intended treason and reminding them once again of his record, especially his loyal service for many months after the letter was written. He again sought a court-martial so he could defend himself. Nevertheless, in February 1901, he was informed that the orders stood, he was officially broken in rank to private, discharged without honor.

Eight months later he attempted to re-enlist, but was forbidden to do so. Determined to prove himself, he returned to the Philippines at his own expense and found civilian work in the Bureau of Public Printing. He worked diligently for two years. In April 1904, there followed another petition to re-enlist in the Army, addressed to the Secretary of War, now William Howard Taft of Philippine Commission fame. His faith in the authorities is moving, but was quite ill-judged. The reply was swift, and negative. Subsequently, without Calloway’s knowledge, the authorities in Washington warned the Philippine authorities that a “dangerous character” was now back in the Islands, living at No. 35, San Jose Trozo, Manila.

After that rejection, it seems that Calloway was a defeated man. He appears to have returned to the USA. It is likely he was forced out following the warning about his whereabouts. What happened to him is not known. One commentator suggests that he again attempted to re-enlist to serve his country in World War I, without success.

An interesting twist to the case is that he served in the same “colored” Infantry Regiment as the famous American defector, David Fagan, who fought so effectively as a guerrilla leader with the Filipino army. It was Calloway who had counter-signed Fagan’s original enlistment papers just days before they sailed for Cuba. The regimental association with Fagan was clearly a factor counting against him. From Manila, General Arthur MacArthur, Officer Commanding, said in his official recommendation :

“It is very apparent that he is disloyal and should he remain in these islands, he would undoubtably commit some act of open treason and perhaps join the insurrection out and out. One man of the 24th Infantry by the name of David Fagan has already done so and as a leader among the insurrectos is giving great trouble by directing guerrilla bands.”(

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