Between 6:20 and 6:45 in the morning of September 28, 1901, the villagers made their move. Abanador, who had been supervising the prisoners' communal labor in the town plaza, grabbed the rifle of Private Adolph Gamlin, one of the American sentries and stunned him with a blow to the head. This served as the signal for the rest of the communal laborers in the plaza to rush the other sentries and soldiers of Company C, who were mostly having breakfast in the mess area. Abanador then gave a shout, signaling the other Filipino men to the attack and fired Gamlin's rifle at the mess tent, hitting one of the soldiers. The pealing of the church bells and the sounds from conch shells being blown followed seconds later. Some of the Company C troopers were attacked and hacked to death before they could grab their rifles; the few who survived the initial onslaught fought almost bare-handed, using kitchen utensils, steak knives, and chairs. One private used a baseball bat to fend off the attackers before being overwhelmed.
The men seemingly detained in the Sibley tents broke out and made their way to the municipal hall. Simultaneously, the attackers hidden in the church broke through to the convent and killed the officers there. An unarmed Company C soldier was ignored, as was Captain Connell's Filipino houseboy. The attackers initially occupied the convent and the municipal hall; however, the attack at the mess tents and the barracks failed, with Pvt. Gamlin recovering consciousness and managing to secure another rifle, causing considerable casualties among the Filipinos. With the initial surprise wearing off and the attack degrading, Abanador called for the attackers to break off and retreat. The surviving Company C soldiers, led by Sergeant Frank Betron, escaped by sea to Basey and Tanauan, Leyte. The townspeople buried their dead and abandoned the town.
Of the 74 men in Company C, 36 were killed in action, including all its commissioned officers; Captain Thomas W. Connell, First Lieutenant Edward A. Bumpus and Major Richard S. Griswold. Twenty-two were wounded in action and four were missing in action. Eight later died of wounds received in combat; only four escaped unscathed. The villagers captured about 100 rifles and 25,000 rounds of ammunition and suffered 28 dead and 22 wounded.