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Harry Hill Bandholtz

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Years of service  1890–1923
Rank  Major General

Name  Harry Bandholtz
Harry Hill Bandholtz Harry Hill Bandholtz Budapest Daily Photo
Buried at  Constantine Township Cemetery, Constantine, Michigan
Allegiance  United States of America
Commands held  58th Brigade, 29th Division
Relations  Cleveland Bandholtz (son)
Died  May 11, 1925, Constantine, Michigan, United States
Education  United States Military Academy
Place of burial  Constantine, Michigan, United States
Awards  Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star
Battles and wars  Philippine–American War, Spanish–American War, World War I

Service/branch  United States Army

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. He was a Major General during World War I, and the US representative of the Inter-Allied Military Mission in Hungary in 1919.


Harry Hill Bandholtz OSZK

Early life

Harry Hill Bandholtz Bandholtz tbornok szobra a Szabadsg tren

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.

Harry Hill Bandholtz American General Harry Hill Bandholtz Memorial Budapest

Bandholtz graduated from high school in 1881. He held a job 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. Also while in Chicago, he met May Cleveland, who he would later marry in 1890.

Military career

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Bandholtz graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1890. From 1890 to 1898, he was active in the US Army and taught at the Michigan Agricultural College. Afterwards, he was involved in the Spanish–American War and was sent to Cuba.

Time in the Philippines

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In July 1900, Bandholtz was transferred to the Philippines, and would eventually serve 13 years there. Most Filipinos viewed Americans as yet another "tyrannical overseer," having been under Spanish rule. But with his sincerity, Bandholtz was able to earn the Filipinos' trust. 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. As an Army captain assigned in the Philippines, he became an early backer for Manuel Quezon. In 1903, Bandholtz was appointed Colonel in the Philippines Constabulary. In June 1907, he was promoted to Brigadier General. Also in 1907, Bandholtz was elected Commander of the Veteran Army of the Philippines, and served as Chief of the Philippines Constabulary until 1913. The next year, he 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.

Harry Hill Bandholtz Budapest Harry Hill Bandholtz

Bandholtz supported America's colonial government during a period where violent rebellion to American rule still smoldered in the Philippines. Many times, Bandholtz was able to convince leaders of rebellion groups to surrender. In one instance, he entered into an insurgent camp with a native guide, unarmed. After speaking with Colonel Antonio Loamo, Loamo surrendered and gave up seventy men and thirty rifles.


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

In 1917, he became commander of the 58th Brigade of the 29th Division. He accompanied his unit to France in June of that same year, serving 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. He held this position until 1919. General Bandholtz reorganized the Military Police Corps, established a Military Police school in Autun, France, and advocated a permanent Military Police Corps following the war. Major General Bandholtz is widely considered to be the "father" of the United States Army's Military Police Corps.

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 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, while only armed with a riding crop. 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."

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

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 marching mineworkers that they would be tried for treason. Mineworkers tried to 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 were eventually held, at private expense, but they failed to procure convictions and scandalized US society.

On January 28, 1922, Bandholtz assisted in rescue operations at the collapse of the Knickerbocker Theatre during the infamous 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.

Bandholtz 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, like 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.

In 1923, Bandholtz retired from the army service.

Personal life

In February 1922, Bandholtz divorced his wife, May. They had been separated since 1918. In April 1922, a few months after the divorce was finalized, 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, who served as a colonel in the United States Army.

Heart problems plagued Bandholtz later in life. On May 7, 1925, he died at the age of 61. Bandholtz is buried in the Constantine Cemetery in Constantine, Michigan.

Memorial in Budapest

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

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

The statue, made by prominent Hungarian sculptor Miklós Ligeti, depicts Bandholtz with his famous riding-whip in his hand. According to popular legend, he bundled off the robbing Romanian soldiers with this whip. 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 whip is on display in the Hungarian National Museum.

The memorial caused conflict between Hungary and Romania. Romania requested that the US ambassador of Budapest to not be in attendance at the inauguration 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. 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 in its original place, 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.


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

  • He was portrayed by Spanish-Filipino actor Bon Vibar in the 1993 movie Sakay about the national hero Macario Sakay, who fought the Americans during the Philippine-America War.
  • References

    Harry Hill Bandholtz Wikipedia