Bonus Army

  • In the news

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    ... few weeks to come up with recommendations for the criteria to be used for the bonus. ... has given the Salvation Army of Orlando, Fla., a check for $10,000 to aid ...
  • Army Reserve taking on retention challenge in theater
    Army Public Affairs (press release) -
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    Virginian Pilot, VA -
    ... Originally, Beaver thought he’d qualify for a $10,000 to $15,000 enlistment bonus the Army offered to new recruits signing up for the infantry. ...
  • The fight of his life
    Joplin Globe, MO -
    ... 11, 2001. On top of everything else, he has yet to receive a $2,500 sign-on bonus that he was supposed to get from the Army when he re-enlisted. ...
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    Hampton Roads Daily Press, VA -
    ... Tim "Pops" Frisby, the 39-year-old retired Army man who made his college football ... back Ricky Williams must repay the team more than $8.6 million in bonus money ...
Federal troops destroy the encampmentsEnlarge

Federal troops destroy the encampments

The Bonus Army or Bonus March or Bonus Expeditionary Force was a collection of 15,000 World War I veterans and their families who demonstrated in Washington, DC during June, 1932 seeking immediate payment of a "bonus" that had been promised by the Bonus Law of 1924 for payment in 1945.

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.