Matthew B. Gilmore
DC Public Library
Bonus Expeditionary Force
DC Public Library
Camp Marks (image from Scrapbook)
FBI files on Bonus Marchers
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.
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. 
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. 
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. 
Notes: Reprint of the 1933 ed.
Weaver, John D. Another Such Victory. 1948. A novel of the Bonus Army.
Confrontation at Anacostia Flats:
The Bonus Army of 1932
Kendall D. Gott
Bonus Army Collection / Gift of Paul Dickson and Thomas B. Allen
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
Moseley, George Van Horn, 1874-1960. Papers of George Van Horn Moseley, 1855-1960 (bulk 1916-1959).
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.
Finding Aids: Finding aid available in the Library of Congress Manuscript Reading Room.
Library of Congress
Glassford, Pelham Davis, 1883-1959
Glassford (Pelham D.) Papers
26 boxes (13 linear ft.)
1 oversize box
University of California, Los Angeles. Library. Department of Special Collections.
Los Angeles, California 90095-1575
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.
The March of the Bonus Army 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
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.
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.”
Doughboy Heritage Feature from the Great War Society
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.
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
Monday, Aug. 08, 1932
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
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
Images from Washingtoniana Scrapbook
Pennsylvania Avenue Camp
Anacostia Camp looking across the Anacostia
Marching on the Avenue, by the Willard