Harry Hill Bandholtz

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Harry Hill Bandholtz
Stetka Bandholtz.jpg
Harry Hill Bandholtz (painting) by Gyula Stetka (1920)
BornDecember 18, 1864
Constantine, Michigan
DiedMay 7, 1925 (aged c61)
Constantine Township Cemetery, Constantine, Michigan
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branchEmblem of the United States Department of the Army.svg United States Army
Years of service1890–1923
RankUS-O8 insignia.svg Major General
Unit29th Division
Commands heldMilitary District of Washington
58th Brigade, 29th Division
WarsPhilippine–American War
Spanish–American War
World War I
AwardsDistinguished Service Medal
Silver Star
RelationsCleveland Bandholtz (son)

Harry Hill Bandholtz (December 18, 1864 – May 11, 1925) was a United States Army career officer who served for more than a decade in the Philippines.[1] He was a Major General during World War I, and the US representative of the Inter-Allied Military Mission in Hungary in 1919.

Early life[edit]

Bandholtz was born in Constantine, Michigan on December 18, 1864. He was the youngest of two children. His father, Christian Johan Bandholtz, was an emigrant from Schleswig-Holstein and earned his living as a harness maker. Elizabeth Hill, his mother, was a milliner.[2] Bandholtz attended local schools and graduated from high school in 1881.

He first worked locally as a billing clerk, and later found work in Chicago as a bookkeeper for a mercantile exchange company. In Illinois, Bandholtz enlisted in the National Guard of the United States.[3] Also while in Chicago, he met May Cleveland, whom he would marry in 1890. They had a son together, Cleveland Hill Bandholtz.[4]

Military career[edit]

Attracted to a military career, Bandholtz gained a nomination to the United States Military Academy at West Point, where he graduated in 1890. From 1890 to 1898, he was active in the US Army and taught at the Michigan Agricultural College. Afterward, he was involved in the Spanish–American War and was sent to Cuba.[5]

Service in the Philippines[edit]

In July 1900, Bandholtz was transferred to the Philippines during the Philippine War. Eventually he served 13 years there, as the US had an occupying force in the country. Most Filipinos viewed Americans as yet another "tyrannical overseer," having been under Spanish rule. Bandholtz was perceived as sincere and appeared able to earn the Filipinos' trust.[6]

In 1902, he served as Provincial Governor in Tayabas Province in the Philippines. He was the only American Army Officer elected by the Filipino people.[7] As an Army captain assigned in the Philippines, he became an early backer of Manuel Quezon.[8]

In 1903, Bandholtz was appointed Colonel in the Philippines Constabulary.[9] In June 1907, he was promoted to Brigadier General. Also in 1907, Bandholtz was elected as Commander of the Veteran Army of the Philippines. He served as Chief of the Philippines Constabulary until 1913. During this period, the US and Philippine government forces continued to fight against guerrilla resistance in more isolated areas. That fighting ended in 1913.

The next year, Bandholtz organized a joining of the United States Spanish War Veterans with the Veteran Army of the Philippines. This would eventually lead to the creation of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.[10]

Bandholtz supported the United States colonial government during a period when violent rebellion to American rule continued in the Philippines. He was credited with persuading guerrilla leaders to surrender. In one instance, he entered unarmed into an insurgent camp with a native guide. After he spoke with Colonel Antonio Loamo, Loamo surrendered and gave up seventy men and thirty rifles.[11]


After his service in the Philippines ended in 1913, Bandholtz returned to the US to serve in the US infantry as a Major. He was assigned to the 29th Infantry and made Commander of Fort Porter, New York.[12] He also served as Chief of Staff in the New York National Guard and traveled to the border of Mexico.

In 1917, he was promoted to commander of the 58th Brigade of the 29th Division.[13] He accompanied his unit to France in June of that same year, serving for three months after the US entered the Great War (World War I). On September 27, he was named United States Army Provost Marshal General to General John J. Pershing's American Expeditionary Force in France. He held this position during the rest of the war and until 1919.[14]

General Bandholtz reorganized the Military Police Corps, established a Military Police school in Autun, France,[15] and advocated a permanent Military Police Corps following the war.[16] Bandholtz is widely considered to be the "father" of the United States Army's Military Police Corps.[17]

Between August 1919 and February 9, 1920, Bandholtz 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, which were occupying the territory of Hungary. The Allies had promised that people would be able to make self-determination of their futures as Austria-Hungary and other empires were broken up. According to his own accounts, he is said to have prevented the arrest of Hungarian Prime Minister István Friedrich by the Romanians. He is also remembered for preventing Romanian soldiers from looting the Hungarian National Museum on October 5, 1919; he was "armed" only with a riding crop.[18] Bandholtz locked the doors and placed signs that read, "This door sealed by Order the Inter-Allied Military Commission. H.H. Bandholtz, President of the Day, October 5th, 1919."[19]

After returning to the US, Bandholtz commanded the 13th Infantry Brigade at Camp Funston in Kansas. This camp had been established for troops to be trained for World War I.[20]

In 1920, 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 protesting mineworkers that they would be tried for treason.[21] Mineworkers tried to compromise, saying 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 were deployed and mine workers quickly ceased fighting. Several treason trials were eventually held, at private expense, The prosecution failed to gain convictions and the trials of citizens outraged much of the larger US society.[22]

The 13th Brigade was deactivated in August 1921 and Bandholtz assumed duty as commanding general, Military District of Washington. On January 28, 1922, Bandholtz assisted in rescue operations at the collapse of the Knickerbocker Theatre during the noted Knickerbocker Storm. In the end, 98 people were killed and 133 were seriously injured. For his effort and handling of the situation, Bandholtz received a letter of commendation from the Secretary of War.[23]

Bandholtz retired from active service for disability on November 4, 1923 and was promoted to the rank of Major general.[5] He received many awards during his military career, including the Cross of Commander Order of the Crown, Cross of Commander French Legion of Honor, and Croix de Guerre with Palm. He was also honored with other foreign awards, such as the Grand Cross Montenegro Silver Medal for Valor and the Romanian Grand Cross, Order of the Cross. The latter is the only award of this class given to an American.[24]

Personal life[edit]

Bandholtz and his wife May separated in 1918 after 28 years of marriage. They divorced in 1922.[25]

In April 1922, a few months after the divorce was made final, Bandholtz married Inez Claire Gorman in New York City. Gorman was twenty-five years younger than Bandholtz. The marriage caused tension between Bandholtz and his only son Cleveland. Also a career officer, he was by then serving as a colonel in the United States Army.[26][27]

Bandholtz suffered from heart problems later in life. On May 7, 1925, he died at the age of 61.[28][27][29] Bandholtz is buried in the Constantine Cemetery in Constantine, Michigan.[27]

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 1936, the Hungarian government commissioned a statue in Bandholtz's honor and placed it in Szabadság tér (Liberty Square) across from the US embassy in Budapest. It is inscribed with the following (a quote from him):

I simply carried out the instructions of my government, as I understood them, as an officer and a gentleman of the United States Army.[18]

The statue, made by prominent Hungarian sculptor Miklós Ligeti, depicts Bandholtz with his riding crop in one hand. According to popular legend about his standoff with looting Romanian soldiers, he had persuaded them to stop their actions with nothing more than the crop and the force of his personality. The incident is described in detail in his book An Undiplomatic Diary by the American Member of the Inter-Allied Military Mission to Hungary, 1919-1920. Today the crop is on display in the Hungarian National Museum.

Romanian representatives objected to the memorial. Romania requested that the US ambassador of Budapest refrain from attending the dedication ceremony, but American diplomats of lesser rank were present.

After World War II, the statue was repaired. But in 1949, it was removed by the new Communist government that had come to power. In 1985, at the request of Ambassador Nicolas Salgo, the Hungarian government moved the work from a statue boneyard to the garden of the US Ambassador's residence. It was returned to its original place in the park in front of the US embassy on July 6, 1989, a day before President George H. W. Bush's historic visit to Budapest. The inscription was restored in 1993 years after the fall of the Soviet Union.


His papers are held at the University of Michigan's Bentley Historical Library.[30]

In popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Tibor Frank. Ethnicity, propaganda, myth-making: studies on Hungarian connections to Britain and America, 1848–1945
  2. ^ Garfield, Patrick V. (2009). A Forgotten Soldier: The Life and Times of Major General Harry Hill Bandholtz. Pennsylvania: Infinity Publishing. p. 2. ISBN 9780741451897.
  3. ^ Garfield (2009), A Forgotten Soldier, p. 4
  4. ^ Garfield (2009), A Forgotten Soldier, p. 12
  5. ^ a b Benjamin R. Beede. The War of 1898 and U.S. Interventions, 1898T1934 pp. 39–40
  6. ^ Garfield (2009), A Forgotten Soldier, pp. 45-47
  7. ^ Garfield (2009), A Forgotten Soldier, p. 51
  8. ^ Karnow, Stanley (1989). "Harry Bandholtz". In Our Image: America's Empire in the Philippines. Random House. ISBN 978-0394549750., page 447.
  9. ^ Garfield (2009), A Forgotten Soldier, p. 56
  10. ^ Garfield (2009), Forgotten Soldier, pp. 65–66
  11. ^ Garfield (2009),A Forgotten Soldier, p.58
  12. ^ Garfield (2009), A Forgotten Soldier, p. 90
  13. ^ Garfield (2009), A Forgotten Soldier, p.96
  14. ^ Garfield, Patrick V. (2009). A Forgotten Soldier: The Life and Times of Major General Harry Hill Bandholtz. Pennsylvania: Infinity Publishing. p. 90. ISBN 9780741451897.
  15. ^ Wright, Jr., Robert K. (1992). "Army Lineage Series: Military Police". United States Army Center of Military History. p. 8.
  16. ^ Wright, Jr., Robert K. (1992). "Army Lineage Series: Military Police". United States Army Center of Military History. p. 9.
  17. ^ Rogers, Jim (Winter 2010). "The Bandholtz Acquisition" (PDF). MPRA Quarterly. Military Police Regimental Association. 21 (2): 45.
  18. ^ a b "Statue of Harry Hill Bandholtz – Budapest, Hungary – Embassy of the United States". usembassy.gov.
  19. ^ Garfield, Patrick V. (2009). A Forgotten Soldier: The Life and Times of Major General Harry Hill Bandholtz. Pennsylvania: Infinity Publishing. p. 137. ISBN 9780741451897.
  20. ^ Garfield (2009), A Forgotten Soldier, p. 158
  21. ^ "West Virginia's Mine Wars". wvculture.org.
  22. ^ Blair Mountain Became A Battlefield Again, JCS group
  23. ^ Garfield (2009), A Forgotten Soldier, pp.173-174
  24. ^ Garfield (2009), A Forgotten Soldier, pp. 180-181
  25. ^ Garfield (2009), A Forgotten Soldier, p. 152
  26. ^ Garfield (2009), A Forgotten Soldier, pp. 177–178
  27. ^ a b c "Cleveland Hill Bandholtz". Arlington National Cemetery Website. 13 January 2007. Retrieved 2 December 2015.
  28. ^ Garfield (2009), A Forgotten Soldier, p. 183
  29. ^ "Bandholtz, Harry Hill, 1864–1925". snac. Retrieved 2 December 2015.
  30. ^ "BHL: Harry H. Bandholtz Papers (Microform), ca. 1890 – ca. 1937". umich.edu.
  31. ^ "Bon Vibar". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved December 5, 2015.

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Simon, Andrew L., ed. Major General Harry Hill Bandholtz: An Undiplomatic Diary. Safety Harbor: Simon Publications, 2000.
  • Davis, jr., Henry Blaine (1998). Generals in Khaki. Raleigh, North Carolina: Pentland Press, Inc. pp. 20–21. ISBN 1-57197-088-6.
  • Marquis Who's Who, Inc. Who Was Who in American History, the Military. Chicago: Marquis Who's Who, 1975. ISBN 0837932017 OCLC 657162692