"One correspondent noted that the once-fertile countryside was now desolate--crops trampled, farms and houses burned, towns blackened and depopulated. Street fighting in Pasig destroyed much of a town that once numbered 8,000 people, and Taguig and Pateros were badly damaged as well. An eyewitness stated that after the attack on Taguig, Wheaton ordered the houses burned for four or five miles along the lake road. Historian William T. Sexton later raised that number to fifteen miles, and Stuart Miller claims that everything in a twelve-mile radius was "burned to the ground"...Wheaton, however, maintained, in somewhat elliptical terms, that "the towns from where [the enemy] brought over troops or in which he resisted us [were] burned or destroyed. He burned them himself." This was disingenous. Fighting in Pasig and Taguig might explain the destruction of those towns, but much of the burning was deliberate: one veteran recalled that as the Americans pulled back "a long black column of smoke sprang up...the entire district [was] so destroyed...that it would seem necessary not only for a bird but even a Filipino to carry his rations while crossing it." Whether as retaliation or to create a "dead zone" to protect the southern lines, it was a harsh measure that fell chiefly on people who had committed no acts of war." The Philippine War 1899-1902, Brian McAllister Linn.