In 1924 the U.S. Congress passed a bill that promised World War I veterans a 'bonus' to be paid in 1945. But in 1932, during the Great Depression, a grassroots collection of veterans calling themselves the Bonus Army or the Bonus Expeditionary Force gathered in Washington D.C. demanding that their bonus be paid early.
By June of 1932 an estimated 20,000 men, women, and children were living in cardboard huts and tent cities within the capital - which they derisively named Hooverville. The government greatly feared a revolt by the masses of unemployed and destitute. When the Senate refused to accelerate the bonus payment President Herbert Hoover moved to have the Bonus Marchers removed from Washington.
Hoover asked the Army Chief of Staff, Douglas MacArthur, to disperse the disgruntled veterans. MacArthur, assisted by his aides Major Dwight D. Eisenhower and Major George S. Patton, Jr , personally led Army troops and cavalry against the marching veterans. Dramatic footage shows the soldiers, with bayonets fixed and sabres drawn, riding through Hooverville, injuring hundreds, killing one infant and setting the encampment on fire.
It was one of the more chilling examples in American history of our military being used against its own citizens.