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    H-DC / DC History

    Bonus Army

    AKA "Bonus Expeditionary Force"

    Washington DC

    Bibliography

    Primary Sources
    B.E.F. News
    July 1932
    (July 2,9,16,23,30)
    August 1932
    (August 6,27)
    Washingtoniana Division
    DC Public Library

    Bonus Expeditionary Force
    2 scrapbooks,
    Washingtoniana Division
    DC Public Library
    Camp Marks
    Camp Marks (image from Scrapbook)


    FBI files on Bonus Marchers
    In June 1932, the Bonus Expeditionary Force, also known as the "Bonus Army", marched on Washington, DC, to advocate the passage of the "soldier's bonus" for service during World War 1. After Congress adjourned, bonus marchers remained in the city and became unruly. On July 28, 1932, two bonus marchers were shot by police, causing the entire mob to become hostile and riotous. The FBI, then known as the United States Bureau of Investigation, checked its fingerprint records to obtain the police records of individuals who had been arrested during the riots or who had participated in the bonus march.
    part 1[PDF]
    part 2[PDF]
    part 3[PDF]
    Federal finger print experts chieck [sic] identity of veterans seeking tickets home [image]


    Books
    Barber, Lucy G. Marching on Washington : the forging of an American political tradition. 2002.

    Dickson, Paul. The Bonus Army : an American epic; c2004.

    Bartlett, John Henry. The bonus march and the new deal.[c1937]

    Daniels, Roger. The Bonus March; an episode of the great depression. [1971]

    Kleinholz, George. The battle of Washington, a national disgrace. The B. E. F. press, c1932. Microfilm 24537 F

    Lisio, Donald J. The President and protest; Hoover, conspiracy, and the Bonus Riot. [1974]
    Lisio, Donald J. The President and protest : Hoover, MacArthur, and the Bonus Riot. c1994.

    Meisel, Henry Otto. comp. Bonus expeditionary forces ... 1932. Microfilm 44128 F

    Meisel, Henry Otto. Second "bonus army" 1933 ... 1933.

    Rawl, Michael. Anacostia Flats. 2006.

    Waters, W. W. (Walter W.). B.E.F.; the whole story of the bonus army, by W. W. Waters as told to William C. White. [1970] Notes: Reprint of the 1933 ed.

    Weaver, John D. Another Such Victory. 1948. A novel of the Bonus Army.

    Paper
    Confrontation at Anacostia Flats: The Bonus Army of 1932
    Kendall D. Gott
    THE LAND WARFARE PAPERS No. 63W April 2007[pdf]


    Collections
    Bonus Army Collection / Gift of Paul Dickson and Thomas B. Allen
    Inventory/List[pdf]

    Collection includes a wide variety of primary and secondary sources, including
    BEF News, June - October 1932.
    • June 25, 1932
    • July 9, 1932
    • July 16, 1932
    • July 23, 1932
    • July 30, 1932
    • August 6, 1932
    • August 13, 1932
    • August 20, 1932
    • August 27, 1932
    • September 3, 1932
    • September 10, 1932
    • September 17, 1932
    • September 24, 1932
    • October 1, 1932


    Archival Materials
    Moseley, George Van Horn, 1874-1960. Papers of George Van Horn Moseley, 1855-1960 (bulk 1916-1959).
    4,250 items.
    48 containers plus 2 oversize.
    19.8 linear feet.
    Biographical/Historical Data: Army officer.
    Summary: Correspondence, diary, military reports, statements, notes, speeches, scrapbooks, clippings, printed matter, and memorabilia covering Moseley’s military career in the Philippines, on the Mexican border, with the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I, during the Bonus March on Washington, and extending into the period of his retirement. Includes a typescript (4 volumes) of his unpublished autobiographical narrative, One Soldier’s Journey, documenting his conservative views on such topics as immigration, labor unions, military preparedness, and international organizations and his opposition to communism and Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal policies. Also includes material relating to Moseley’s testimony before the Dies committee on un-American activities in 1939. Correspondents include Dwight D. Eisenhower, Walter F. George, James G. Harbord, Herbert Hoover, Douglas MacArthur, Joseph McCarthy, Robert R. McCormick, Joseph J. Pershing, John E. Rankin, B. Carroll Reece, Walter B. Smith, Joseph W. Stilwell, and Eugene Talmadge. Notes: MSS33712
    Finding Aids: Finding aid available in the Library of Congress Manuscript Reading Room.
    Library of Congress details

    Glassford, Pelham Davis, 1883-1959
    Glassford (Pelham D.) Papers
    26 boxes (13 linear ft.)
    1 oversize box
    Repository: University of California, Los Angeles. Library. Department of Special Collections.
    Los Angeles, California 90095-1575
    Abstract: Pelham Davis Glassford (1883-1959) commanded the 103rd Field Artillery in the American Expeditionary Force in France during World War I and retired from the army in July 1931. He was appointed police chief of Washington, D.C. In May 1932, a group of unemployed veterans known as the Bonus Army converged on the capital, petitioning for immediate payment of certificates owed them by the federal government. Glassford reluctantly complied with President Hoover's decision to evict the veterans from sections of the Federal Triangle area, and a policeman killed two veterans. Against Glassford's advice, the President sent in army troops under the command of General Douglas MacArthur to disperse the veterans. On October 20, the district commissioners asked for and received Glassford's resignation. The collection consists of correspondence, diary, printed material, official papers, photographs, books, magazines, and memorabilia. Includes material on the 1932 Bonus Army and the Imperial Valley (California) labor disputes of 1934.
    Finding Aid


    Films
    The March of the Bonus Army DVD DVD In 1932, in the darkest days of the Depression, unemployed World War I veterans marched on Washington, D.C. looking for an advance on the bonus compensation promised to them years earlier. After camping throughout Washington for two months, the veterans were driven out by force. By the time the clashes were over, two marchers and two children were dead, and the Bonus Army incident had become a political liability for President Bonus army marches [Motion picture]

    Filmrite Associates. Released by Official Films, 1960.
    3 min., sd., b&w, 16 mm.
    Notes: Greatest headlines of the century.
    Includes footage from the Sherman Grinberg Film Libraries.
    SUMMARY: Shows the major events of the Bonus March on Washington in the summer of 1932. Includes scenes of the demonstrations in the streets of Washington while the Bonus bill was being debated in Congress, the defeat of the bill, the peaceful return of many veterans to their homes, the dispersal of defiant marchers by troops under General Douglas MacArthur, and the clean-up activities at the encampment site. CREDITS: Producer, Sherm Grinberg; narrator, Tom Hudson; writers, Allan Lurie, Ray Parker.


    Library of Congress Images
  • Veterans "bury" Republican leaders with Bonus hopes at camp
  • Veterans honor congressman who died making bonus plea before House
  • Veterans stage bonus demonstration as Congress struggles with deficit
  • Veterans stage bonus demonstration as Congress struggles with deficit
  • Bonus veterans battle with Washington police officers
  • War veterans stage gigantic demonstration for cash bonus at Capitol
  • Bonus veterans. Indian bonus veteran
  • Bonus veterans clash with Washington police officers during riot
  • Bonus veterans. Bonus veterans from Denver, Colorado
  • Bonus veterans. Bonus veterans from Jeannette, Pennsylvania
  • Bonus veterans. Bonus veterans from Boston, Massachusetts
  • Bonus veterans. Bonus veterans from Bronx, New York
  • Bonus veterans. Bonus veterans from San Francisco, California
  • Bonus veterans. Bonus veterans from Michigan City, Indiana
  • Bonus veterans. Bonus veterans from Sioux City, Iowa
  • Bonus veterans. Bonus veterans from Brooklyn, New York
  • Bonus veterans. Bonus veterans from New York City
  • Bonus veterans. Bonus veterans from York and Lancaster, Pennsylvania
  • Bonus veterans. Bonus veterans from Passaic and Patterson, New Jersey
  • Bonus veterans. View of bonus veterans camp
  • Bonus veterans. Table of bonus veterans by east Liberty headquarters, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Fire, set by U.S. Army, consuming camp of Bonus Expeditionary Forces; Washington Monument in background
  • Carry veteran from scene of battle
  • Encampment of shanties built by Brooklyn veterans in the Bonus Expeditionary Forces in Washington, D.C.]
  • Veterans defy soldiers
  • Encampment built by veterans in the Bonus Expeditionary Force in Washington, D.C.
  • Bonus marcher on Penna Ave., Washington, D.C. July 1932
  • Bonus army on Capitol lawn, Washington, D.C. July 13, 1932
  • D.C. - Wash. - Bonus Army marching to the Capitol; Wash. Monument in background
  • Food boxes placed to stores to receive contributions for Bonus Army
  • Crowd on steps of the U.S. Capitol on the arrival of a bonus petition signed by over 1,000,000 veterans
  • Crowd on steps of the U.S. Capitol on the arrival of a bonus petition signed by over 1,000,000 veterans
  • Bonus demonstration, 5/2/22
  • Bonus veterans. B.E.F. mess line
  • Bonus veterans. Camp Rappidan in B.E.F. camp
  • Bonus demonstration at Capitol
  • Bonus veterans. B.E.F. at the U.S. Capitol
  • World War I veterans from California bed down for the night on the Capitol grounds
  • Bonus veterans. Camp B.E.F.
  • Bonus veterans. B.E.F. formation to honor Rep. Eslip II
  • Bonus veterans. B.E.F. formation to honor Rep. Eslip I
  • Bonus veterans. Kid from York, Pennsylvania
  • Veterans from Chattanooga, Tenn., parade past White House in a truck in this 5/18/32 photo
  • WWI Veterans marching in front of the U.S. Capitol building carrying petitions demanding payment of promised bonuses
  • Sen. Hiram Johnson of Calif. on the steps of the U.S. Capitol addressing Veterans of Foreign Wars who presented a bonus petition at the Capitol - prominent in the group are Co...
  • Federal finger print experts chieck [sic] identity of veterans seeking tickets home


    Articles
    NPR: Soldier Against Soldier: The Story of the Bonus Army Weekend Edition Sunday, February 13, 2005 · Soldiers who served in World War I were paid $1 a day, plus a 25-cent stipend for every day spent overseas. In 1924, Congress passed a law calling for every veteran of The Great War to receive an additional dollar for every day served. But the payment was not due for 20 years.
    With the advent of the Great Depression, frustration over the delayed bonus turned to anger. A new bill was introduced in Congress to pay the bonus immediately. And thousands of veterans gathered in the nation's capital to demand their money.
    Author Paul Dickson says the violence that followed has often been overlooked, and the impact on the 1932 presidential election underestimated. He is the co-author of a new book entitled The Bonus Army: An American Epic.
    Dickson believes that what happened to the Bonus Army made politicians think long and hard when WWII veterans began to return. The result was the GI Bill, which Dickson credits with propelling millions into the middle class and changing the very fabric of the United States.
    Revisiting the scene of the soldiers' camp on the Anacostia River, Dickson recounts the tale.

    PBS: People & Events: The Bonus March (May-July, 1932) Few images from the Great Depression are more indelible than the rout of the Bonus Marchers. At the time, the sight of the federal government turning on its own citizens -- veterans, no less -- raised doubts about the fate of the republic. It still has the power to shock decades later.
    From the start, 1932 promised to be a difficult year for the country, as the Depression deepened and frustrations mounted. In December of 1931, there was a small, communist-led hunger march on Washington; a few weeks later, a Pittsburgh priest led an army of 12,000 jobless men there to agitate for unemployment legislation. In March, a riot at Ford's River Rouge plant in Michigan left four dead and over fifty wounded. Thus, when a band of jobless veterans, led by a former cannery worker named Walter W. Walters, began arriving in the capital in May, tensions were high. Calling themselves the "Bonus Expeditionary Forces," they demanded early payment of a bonus Congress had promised them for their service in World War I.
    Army Chief of Staff MacArthur was convinced that the march was a communist conspiracy to undermine the government of the United States, and that "the movement was actually far deeper and more dangerous than an effort to secure funds from a nearly depleted federal treasury." But that was simply not the case. MacArthur's own General Staff intelligence division reported in June that only three of the twenty-six leaders of the Bonus March were communists. And the percentage within the rank and file was likely even smaller; several commanders reported to MacArthur that most of the men seemed to be vehemently anti-Communist, if anything. According to journalist and eyewitness Joseph C. Harsch, "This was not a revolutionary situation. This was a bunch of people in great distress wanting help.... These were simply veterans from World War I who were out of luck, out of money, and wanted to get their bonus -- and they needed the money at that moment."
    At first, it seemed as though order might be maintained. Walters, organizing the various encampments along military lines, announced that there would be "no panhandling, no drinking, no radicalism," and that the marchers were simply "going to stay until the veterans' bill is passed." The government also did its part, as Washington Police Superintendent Pelham D. Glassford treated his fellow veterans with considerable respect and care. But by the end of June, the movement had swelled to more than 20,000 tired, hungry and frustrated men. Conflict was inevitable.
    The marchers were encouraged when the House of Representatives passed the Patman veterans bill on June 15, despite President Hoover's vow to veto it. But on June 17 the bill was defeated in the Senate, and tempers began to flare on both sides. On July 21, with the Army preparing to step in at any moment, Glassford was ordered to begin evacuating several buildings on Pennsylvania Avenue, using force if necessary. A week later, on the steamy morning of July 28, several Marchers rushed Glassford's police and began throwing bricks. President Hoover ordered the Secretary of War to "surround the affected area and clear it without delay."
    Conspicuously led by MacArthur, Army troops (including Major George S. Patton, Jr.) formed infantry cordons and began pushing the veterans out, destroying their makeshift camps as they went. Although no weapons were fired, cavalry advanced with swords drawn, and some blood was shed. By nightfall, hundreds had been injured by gas (including a baby who died), bricks, clubs, bayonets, and sabers.
    Bonus March Next came the most controversial moment in the whole affair -- a moment that directly involved General MacArthur. Secretary of War Hurley twice sent orders to MacArthur indicating that the President, worried that the government reaction might look overly harsh, did not wish the Army to pursue the Bonus Marchers across the bridge into their main encampment on the other side of the Anacostia River. But MacArthur, according to his aide Dwight Eisenhower, "said he was too busy," did not want to be "bothered by people coming down and pretending to bring orders," and sent his men across the bridge anyway, after pausing several hours to allow as many people as possible to evacuate. A fire soon erupted in the camp. While it's not clear which side started the blaze, the sight of the great fire became the signature image of the greatest unrest our nation's capital has ever known.
    Although many Americans applauded the government's action as an unfortunate but necessary move to maintain law and order, most of the press was less sympathetic. "Flames rose high over the desolate Anacostia flats at midnight tonight," read the first sentence of the "New York Times" account, "and a pitiful stream of refugee veterans of the World War walked out of their home of the past two months, going they knew not where."

    Sad tale of the Bonus Marchers
    Doughboy Heritage Feature from the Great War Society
    the Great War Society

    Library of Congress--The Bonus Army March.
    The Bonus Army, some 15,000 to 20,000 World War I veterans from across the country, marched on the Capitol in June 1932 to request early payment of cash bonuses due to them in 1945. The Great Depression had destroyed the economy, leaving many veterans jobless. Veteran Army Signal Corps photographer Theodor Horydczak, of Washington, D.C., photographed their camp site on the Mall. Six futile weeks of lobbying Congress raised government fears of riots, and on July 28, cavalry, infantry, tank troops and a mounted machine gun squadron commanded by General Douglas MacArthur and Major Dwight Eisenhower dispersed veterans and their families with bayonets and tear gas. Public opinion denounced President Herbert Hoover for the resulting bloodshed and helped force him from office.

    The 'Bonus Army' War in Washington
    In 1932 World War I veterans seeking a bonus promised by Congress were attacked and driven out of Washington, D.C., by troops of the U.S. Army under the command of Douglas MacArthur, Dwight D. Eisenhower and George Patton.
    By Wyatt Kingseed historynet.com

    Battle of Washington
    Monday, Aug. 08, 1932
    TIME Magazine

    BONUS MARCH
    By frieght train, on foot, and in commandeered trucks, thousands of unemployed veterans descended on a nervous capital at the depth of the Depression—and were run out of town by Army bayonets
    By John D. Weaver
    American Heritage

    Marching on History
    When a "Bonus Army" of World War I veterans converged on Washington in 1932 to demand a promised payment, MacArthur, Eisenhower and Patton were there to meet them
    By Paul Dickson and Thomas B. Allen
    Smithsonian
    February 2003



    Images from Washingtoniana Scrapbook

    Pennsylvania Avenue Camp
    Pennsylvania Avenue Camp

    Waters speaking
    Waters speaking

    Anacostia Camp looking across the Anacostia
    Anacostia Camp looking across the Anacostia

    Anacostia Camp looking across the Anacostia
    Anacostia Camp looking across the Anacostia

    Marching on the Avenue, by the Willard
    Marching on the Avenue, by the Willard

    Fort Bonus, Camp Marks
    Fort Bonus

    Camp Glassford
    Camp Glassford


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