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Remembering the Bonus Army Protest of 1932

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/07/26/remembering-bonus-army-protest-1932

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OMGoodness! I was up early and put together a post about the Bonus Army that I was sure I would find an article where it would be fitting.
The material I quote is similar but has some other pertinent information.

Remember, this happened:

"On July 28, 1932 the U.S. government attacked World War I veterans with tanks, bayonets, and tear gas, under the leadership of textbook heroes Douglas MacArthur, George Patton, and Dwight D. Eisenhower. The WWI vets were part of a Bonus Army [aka Bonus Expeditionary Force (BEF)] who came to Washington, D.C. to make a demand for their promised wartime bonuses."

  • As Mickey Z. explains in the article below,

"While they may have fought in Europe as a segregated army, the Bonus Army did not invite Jim Crow to this battle. Arriving from all over the country, alone or with wives and children, both Black and white veterans of huddled together, mostly across the Potomac River from the Capitol, in what were called ‘Hoovervilles,’ in honor of the president who adamantly refused to hear their pleas."

“In the sad aftermath that always follows a great war, there is nothing sadder than the surprise of the returned soldiers when they discover that they are regarded generally as public nuisances. And not too honest.”

— H.L. Mencken

From Shays Rebellion in 1787 to the quarter-million homeless vets today, generation after generation of U.S. military personnel has suffered a lack of support from their government. The American soldiers who fought in World War I were no exception.

…government and newspapers decided to play the communist trump card for the umpteenth time. Despite the fact that the BEF was made up of 95 percent veterans, the entire group were labeled “Red agitators” — tantamount to declaring open season on an oppressed group of U.S. citizens. Right on cue, Hoover called out the troops. . . led by three soon-to-be textbook heroes.

The commander of the operation was Army Chief of Staff Douglas MacArthur… MacArthur’s young aide was none other than Dwight D. Eisenhower, while (MAJOR George S.) Patton led the Third Cavalry — which spearheaded the eventual eviction of the Bonus Army.

“If you must fire do a good job — a few casualties become martyrs, a large number an object lesson. . . . When a mob starts to move keep it on the run. . . . Use a bayonet to encourage its retreat. If they are running, a few good wounds in the buttocks will encourage them. If they resist, they must be killed.”

  • George S. Patton

U.S. Army assault integrated four troops of cavalry, four companies of infantry, a machine gun squadron, and six tanks.

…historian Kenneth C. Davis writes. “After nightfall, the tanks and cavalry leveled the jumbled camps of tents and packing-crate shacks. It was put to the torch.”

Two veterans lost their lives in the assault and an eleven-week-old baby died from what was believed to be gas-related illness. In addition, an eight-year-old boy was partially blinded by gas, two police had their skulls fractured, and a thousand veterans suffered (arsenic) gas-related injuries.

The next day, the New York Times ran an article under the headline: “A Calvary Major (Patton) Evicts Veteran Who Saved His Life in Battle.”

Less than ten years later, MacArthur, Patton, and Eisenhower would be earning a place in history books by sending many of those same disenfranchised poor to grisly deaths on the battlefields of Europe and the Pacific.

  • zinnedprojectDOTorg/news/tdih/bonus-army-attacked/

Add this story to Gen. Butler subverting the fascist coup shortly after this event, and you’ll understand why he’s my favorite General of all time. His deeds have also been scrubbed form the Marine Corps History archives.
Thank you Professor Olson, a timely piece of history, at the right time.


Said “fascist coup” attempt was organized by Prescott Bush (Dubya’s grandpa), Henry Ford, and other US fascists.

Note that all the perpetrators (from Hoover to Eisenhower) that Olson mentions were also Republicans, further confirmation that the GOP has been an organized crime syndicate disguised as a political party for nearly a century.


Note as well that a grand bargain was struck. Their names remained secret and none of them were charged with any crimes. Prescott bush kept serving in Government.

When a President fails to act to prosecute such crimes (see Obama and "we have to look forward and not back) all it means is it will happen again.


For a detailed look at the Bonus Expeditionary Force get a copy of "The Whole Story of the Bonus Army"by Walter Waters. He was one of the prime organizers and leaders. You will see the exact same tactics in Portland and other places in the US now that were used in 1932. And the Rich criminals did try to stage a coup, outed by Major General Smedley Butler, a true American hero. The McCormack-Dickstein committee found his allegations true but not a single one was indicted. The committee report is an interesting read and trip down the rabbit hole. The control of rotten, dirty money is still with us.


The only 20th century event that I find is addressed less than the bonus army is the 1918 pandemic. Even history books that give inadequate coverage to the bonus army don’t mention the pandemic at all.


All it means is they are part of it. I assure you as you well know too, that if you or a friend were president, the next guy would come after you!

A nations everlasting shame is betraying its vets - “extra-ordinary people” drafted into service by a government that then stabbed them in their backs!
The same government mechanisms and betrayal that remains to this day with different players!

The only hing worse is the erasure of the truth of that shame and removal from history, like any good dictatorship; “Those who forget or ignore history are condemned or doomed to repeat it” - George Santayna

"Those Who Do Not Learn History Are Doomed To Repeat It …

Those who do not demand accountability for the past are complicit to its repetition! …read: Barack Obama among others!

"On that day in 1932, 500 U.S. army infantrymen with loaded rifles, fixed bayonets, and gas grenades containing a vomit-inducing ingredient, 200 calvary, a machine gun squadron, 800 police, and six M1917 army tanks prepared to attack 17,000 unarmed men (our veterans of WWI) , plus thousands of their wives and children. Moments before the assault, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, in charge of the operation, turned to a police official standing next to him and said, “I will break the back of the enemy.”

The attack was ordered by President Herbert Hoover and commanded by Gen. MacArthur. Dwight D. Eisenhower was MacArthur’s aide and Major George S. Patton led the tank unit. After donning gas masks, the army tossed hundreds of tear-gas grenades into the encampment which started raging fires and the assault drove all the bedraggled occupants from the area. The encampment was then burned to the ground."

We are seeing the shameful effects of not remembering the past or demanding accountability today in Portland!

Everlasting shame - nothing but shame from people who lie to us and use us!


Hi Daas_Eggers:
That was my first response—wow, Trump is treating the American citizens as the enemy—
Per the story , the train which Ieft Portand Oregon-----and here we are back in Oregon with Trump and his federal psychos who can’t seem to the a building apart from a human being. : I

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I knew of this even & of Smedley Buttler’s role… but sure learned a lot I didn’t know. Thanks.