Harry Hill Bandholtz

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Harry Hill Bandholtz
Stetka Bandholtz.jpg
Harry Hill Bandholtz (painting) by Gyula Stetka (1920)
Born 1864
Constantine, Michigan
Died May 11, 1925 (aged c61)
Buried at Constantine Township Cemetery, Constantine, Michigan
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch United States Department of the Army Seal.svg United States Army
Rank US-O8 insignia.svg Major General
Unit 29th Division
Commands held 58th Brigade, 29th Division
Wars Philippine–American War
World War I
Awards Distinguished Service Medal
Silver Star

Harry Hill Bandholtz (1864 – May 11, 1925) was a United States Army Major General during World War I, and the US representative of the Inter-Allied Military Mission in Hungary in 1919. He is famous for preventing Romanian soldiers from removing Transylvanian treasures from the National Museum of Hungary in Budapest during the Romanian occupation of the city in 1919.


Bandholtz was born in Constantine, Michigan and a graduate of the United States Military Academy. In 1902 he served as Provincial Governor in Tayabas Province in the Philippines. As an Army captain assigned in the Philippines, he became an early patron of Manuel Quezon.[1] He was promoted to Brigadier General and served as Chief of the Philippines Constabulary between 1907-1913 supporting America's colonial government during a period where violent rebellion to American rule still smoldered in the Philippines. After his Philippines service ended in 1913, he returned to serve in the infantry as a Major. He served in NY as Chief of Staff in the NY National Guard and went with it to the border in Mexico.

In 1917 he became commander of the 58th Brigade of the 29th Division. He went with his unit to France in June of that year and served with it for three months. On September 27 he was named United States Army Provost Marshal General to General John J. Pershing's American Expeditionary Force in France serving through the end of hostilities and beyond. General Bandholtz reorganized the Military Police Corps, established a Military Police school in Autun, France,[2] and advocated a permanent Military Police Corps following the war.[3] Major General Bandholtz is widely considered to be the "father" of the United States Army's Military Police Corps.[4]

Between August 1919 and February 9, 1920, he was the US representative to the Inter-Allied Supreme Command's Military Mission in Hungary. The Military Mission was charged with disarming the Hungarian military and supervising the withdrawal of the Serbian and Romanian armies who were occupying the territory of Hungary. According to his own accounts, he is said to have prevented the arresting of Hungarian PM István Friedrich by the Romanians. He is also remembered for preventing Romanian soldiers from looting the Hungarian National Museum on 5 October 1919.

In 1920, when a rebellion among miners broke out in Mingo County, West Virginia after two mineworkers were assassinated on the McDowell County courthouse steps, President Warren G. Harding sent Gen. Bandholtz and Gen. Billy Mitchell(*) to control the situation. Bandholtz threatened marching mineworkers that they would be tried for treason.[5] Mineworkers offered the compromise that they would stop fighting if federal troops would come and enforce the law evenhandedly but this was initially refused by Bandholtz. Eventually federal troops did deploy and mine workers quickly ceased fighting. Several treason trials eventually were held, at private expense, but they failed to procure convictions and scandalized US society.[6]

Memorial in Budapest[edit]

The statue of Major General Bandholtz (by Miklós Ligeti) in front of the US Embassy in Budapest, Hungary
Plaque of Bandholtz statue

In his honor a statue was placed in front of the US embassy in Budapest, Szabadság tér (Liberty Square) in 1936, with the following inscription in Bandholtz's own words:

I simply carried out the instruction of my government, as I understood them, as an officer and a gentleman of the United States Army.[citation needed]

The statue made by prominent Hungarian sculptor Miklós Ligeti depicts Bandholtz with his famous riding-whip in his hand. According to the popular legend he bundled off the robbing soldiers with this whip although Bandholtz didn't mention this detail in his autobiography. Today the whip is on display in the Hungarian National Museum.

The memorial caused diplomatic troubles in the Hungarian-Romanian relationship. Romania asked the US ambassador in Budapest not to be present on the inauguration ceremony but American diplomats in lesser rank were there.

After World War II, the statue was repaired but in 1949 it was removed by the new Communist government. In 1985, at the request of Ambassador Nicolas Salgo, it was moved from a statue boneyard to the garden of the US Ambassador's residence. It was placed back on its original place before the US embassy on 6 July 1989, one day before the historic visit of President George H. W. Bush in Budapest. The inscription with the humble sentence was only restored in 1993.


  1. ^ KARNOW, Stanley. "Harry Bandholtz". In Our Image: America's Empire in the Philippines. Random House (1989). ISBN 978-0-394-54975-0., page 447.
  2. ^ Wright, Jr., Robert K. (1992). "Army Lineage Series: Military Police". United States Army Center of Military History. p. 8. 
  3. ^ Wright, Jr., Robert K. (1992). "Army Lineage Series: Military Police". United States Army Center of Military History. p. 9. 
  4. ^ Rogers, Jim (Winter 2010). "The Bandholtz Acquisition". MPRA Quarterly (Military Police Regimental Association) 21 (2): 45. 
  5. ^ West Virginia's Mine Wars - a compilation from the West Virginia State Archives
  6. ^ Blair Mountain Became A Battlefield Again

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