Fort Rivière was a mountain fort on the summit of Montagne Noire. It was located on the north coast of Haiti and to the south of Grande-Rivière-du-Nord and 20 miles south of Cap-Haïtien. It was a French bastion fort that was the site of the defeat of the Haitian rebel force called the Cacos on 17 November 1915.
In 1915, Haiti was in a state of political upheaval. On 28 July 1915, two companies of the United States Marines and three United States Navy sailors landed in Haiti, beginning a nineteen-year occupation of Haiti by the U.S. Marines.
The Marines and sailors under Admiral William B. Caperton rapidly reestablished an interim government. Police, customs, schools and hospitals were all placed under the purview of the Marines and Naval personnel assigned to the occupation.
The Marines established a law enforcing constabulary, commanded by Marine non-commissioned officers who were granted Haitian commissions as officers and leaders of native troops. This group (which was called the Gendarmerie d'Haiti) was assigned yo enforce all laws of the country while providing a quasi-military force. They were backed by the 1st Marine Brigade with 88 officers and 1,941 men guarding ten towns (armed with Krag-Jørgensen rifles).
Conflict between U.S. Forces and the Cacos
The establishment of an interim government and law enforcement presence did not satisfy a group of rebels called the Cacos. On the northern end of the country, skirmishing continued in the villages and mountains. In October 1915 (after a brief ceasefire), the Cacos began again their assault on U.S. forces in government-controlled towns. It was during this same period that Gunnery Sergeant Daniel Daly and Captain Smedley Butler (two Marines who had received one Medal of Honor each for separate actions) were each awarded their second Medal of Honor.
In 17 November 1915, Butler (who was leading a force of Marines and sailors) surrounded the last stronghold of the Cacos at Fort Rivière on a mountain to the south of Grand Riviere du Nord. At 07:30 a.m., Butler signaled (by whistle) all of his troops to attack. The surprise was successful, confusing the Cacos. Crawling through a tunnel, Butler and his men were involved in hand-to-hand fighting. More than 50 Cacos were killed within 15 minutes. Coordinates:
- Beede, Benjamin R. (1994). "Fort Rivière, Haiti, Battle (1915)". The War of 1898 and U.S. Interventions, 1898-1934. Taylor & Francis. pp. 189–190. ISBN 0-8240-5624-8. Retrieved 17 December 2008.
- "Again, Butler". TIME. 4 May 1931. Retrieved 17 December 2008.
- "Haiti: US Navy Medal of Honor — Haitian Campaign, 1915". Naval Historical Center, Department of the Navy. 20 April 2005. Retrieved 17 December 2008.
- Marine Corps Legacy Museum (USMC History and Museums Division)