The Bonus Army massed at the United States Capitol on June 17 as the U.S. Senate considered a bill that would give them certain benefits. They camped in makeshift camps or shacks (similar to Hoovervilles) on the Anacostia Flats, a very swampy area in the vicinity of the Potomac River. The protestors had hoped that they could pressure Congress to change the law and make immediate payments, which would have provided relief for the marchers, many of whom were unemployed due to the Great Depression. The bill passed the House of Representatives, but was blocked in the Senate.
The march was dispersed by federal cavalry troops under the command of General Douglas MacArthur, in a possible violation of the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878. Dwight D. Eisenhower and George Patton also took part in the operation. Tanks and troops with rifles with bayonets were sent into the Bonus Expeditionary Force's camps. Hundreds of veterans were injured, several were killed, such as William Hushka and Eric Carlson, a wife of a veteran miscarried, and other such casualties were inflicted. The army burned down the BEF's tents and used tear gas. President Herbert Hoover's direction to use military force against peaceful demonstrators petitioning their government did not help in his re-election efforts; neither did his open opposition to the Bonus Law due to financial concerns. After the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933, a section of the Bonus Army regrouped in Washington to restate their claims to the new President. Rather than send the Army, Roosevelt instead sent his wife Eleanor to talk with them.