Many in America wondered if the nation would survive.
The catch was that payment would not be made until Members of the Bonus Army encamp within sight of the Capitol, However, by the nation had slipped into the dark days of the Depression and the unemployed veterans wanted their money immediately.
In May of that year, some 15, veterans, many unemployed and destitute, descended on Washington, D. The veterans made their largest camp at Anacostia Flats across the river from the Capitol. Approximately 10, veterans, women and children lived in the shelters built from materials dragged out of a junk pile nearby - old lumber, packing boxes and scrap tin covered with roofs of thatched straw.
Discipline in the camp was good, despite the fears of many city residents who spread unfounded "Red Scare" rumors.
Streets were laid out, latrines dug, and formations held daily. Newcomers were required to register and prove they were bonafide veterans who had been honorably discharged. Their leader, Walter Waters, stated, "We're here for the duration and we're not going to starve.
We're going to keep ourselves a simon-pure veteran's organization.
If the Bonus is paid it will relieve to a large extent the deplorable economic condition. By dusk, 10, marchers crowded the Capitol grounds expectantly awaiting the outcome. Walter Waters, leader of the Bonus Expeditionary Force, appeared with bad news. The Senate had defeated the bill by a vote of 62 to The crowd reacted with stunned silence.
A silent "Death March" began in front of the Capitol and lasted until July 17, when Congress adjourned.
A month later, on July 28, Attorney General Mitchell ordered the evacuation of the veterans from all government property, Entrusted with the job, the Washington police met with resistance, shots were fired and two marchers killed.
Learning of the shooting at lunch, President Hoover ordered the army to clear out the veterans. Eisenhower served as his liaison with Washington police and Major George Patton led the cavalry. Thousands of Civil Service employees spilled out of work and lined the streets to watch.
The veterans, assuming the military display was in their honor, cheered. Suddenly Patton's troopers turned and charged.
Soldiers with fixed bayonets followed, hurling tear gas into the crowd. Ignoring the command, the general led his infantry to the main camp.
By early morning the 10, inhabitants were routed and the camp in flames. Two babies died and nearby hospitals overwhelmed with casualties. Eisenhower later wrote, "the whole scene was pitiful.
The veterans were ragged, ill-fed, and felt themselves badly abused. To suddenly see the whole encampment going up in flames just added to the pity.
How To Cite This Article:bonus army A group of almost 20, World War I veterans who were hard-hit victims of the depression, who wanted what the government owed them for their services and "saving" democracy. They marched to Washington and set up public camps and erected shacks on vacant lots.
Bonus Army marching to the Capitol; Washington, D.C. 5 July ,. Library of Congress From the start, promised to be a difficult year for the country, as the Depression deepened and.
"The Bonus Army is a feat of research and analysis--a thoughtful, strong argument that these marches were among the most important demonstrations of the 20th century.
Dickson and Allen speculate about why the episode is not more widely known/5(53). Bonus Army: Bonus Army, gathering of 12, to 15, World War I veterans who, with their wives and children, converged on Washington, D.C., in , demanding immediate bonus payment for wartime services to alleviate the economic hardship of the Great Depression.
Adjusted Compensation certificates, or. ARMY NATIONAL GUARD $20, BONUS. Army National Guard recruits are also eligible for up to $20, in bonuses just for joining.
This bonus can be combined with other bonuses. Learn More about the National Guard. TWO YEAR OPTION 26 BONUS. The Bonus Army Draft Notice, The saga of the Bonus Army was born out of the inequality of the Selective Service Act (), the failure of the government to provide any meaningful benefits to the veterans of the First World War, and the fear and anxiety produced by the Great Depression.