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Battle of Port-au-Prince (1920)
Part of the United States occupation of Haiti, Second Caco War, Banana Wars
Date January 15, 1920[1][2]
Location Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Result American/Haitian government victory
Belligerents
US flag 48 stars.svg United States
Haiti Haitian government
Cacos
Commanders and leaders
Benoît Batraville[3]
Strength
"more than 300"[4]
Casualties and losses
at least one killed and six wounded[5] "[f]ully a fifth" killed[6] or 66 killed and "many more" wounded and captured,[7] plus "more than fifty" killed by American/Haitian government patrols sent out after the fight for the city[8]


The Battle of Port-au-Prince, or "la débâcle", took place on January 15, 1920[9][10] when Haitian rebels, known as cacos, attacked the capital of Haiti during the Second Caco War and the American occupation of Haiti.

At 4:00 a.m.,[11] "more than 300" caco rebels,[12] many wearing the stolen uniform of the Haitian gendarmes,[13] commanded by Benoît Batraville,[14] attacked the city. The rebels moved into Port-au-Prince in columns, “with flags and conch horns blowing,”[15] only to be gunned down by Browning Automatic Rifle and machine gun fire.[16] It turns out that the city's garrison of American Marines and Haitian gendarmes were ready for the assault, since a citizen who heard the rebels coming informed the former.[17] The cacos were forced to break ranks and seek shelter in buildings, where they proceeded to snipe from windows and from around corners.[18] One caco group attacked the city's slums and set a block on fire, which lit up "the entire surrounding countryside."[19]

One of the defenders' patrols, led by Lieutenant Gerald Thomas, met a caco force on the waterfront that was headed for the National Bank.[20] Near the Iron Market, "a large number" of rebels was spotted coming down the street.[21] The city's defenders detrucked and proceeded to open fire. Within five minutes, Thomas had lost one killed and six wounded, although the cacos were reportedly mowed down.[22]

"Fully a fifth" of the caco attackers were killed, according to one estimate.[23] Another source puts the number of rebel dead at 66, plus "many more" wounded and captured.[24] One of the dead was Solomon Janvier, a Port-au-Prince resident and one of the leaders of the attack.[25] The surviving cacos would remember the battle as "la débâcle."[26] With the arrival of daylight, "patrols moved east and north of the city," killing "more than fifty" additional rebels.[27]

ReferencesEdit

  1. Musicant, Ivan (August 1990). The Banana Wars: A History of United States Military Intervention in Latin America from the Spanish-American War to the Invasion of Panama. New York City: Macmillan Publishing Company. p. 221. 
  2. Beede, Benjamin R. (May 1, 1994). The War of 1898 and U.S. Interventions, 1898-1934: An Encyclopedia. New York City: Routledge. p. 435. 
  3. Musicant, Ivan (August 1990). The Banana Wars: A History of United States Military Intervention in Latin America from the Spanish-American War to the Invasion of Panama. New York City: Macmillan Publishing Company. p. 221. 
  4. Musicant, Ivan (August 1990). The Banana Wars: A History of United States Military Intervention in Latin America from the Spanish-American War to the Invasion of Panama. New York City: Macmillan Publishing Company. p. 221. 
  5. Musicant, Ivan (August 1990). The Banana Wars: A History of United States Military Intervention in Latin America from the Spanish-American War to the Invasion of Panama. New York City: Macmillan Publishing Company. p. 221. 
  6. Musicant, Ivan (August 1990). The Banana Wars: A History of United States Military Intervention in Latin America from the Spanish-American War to the Invasion of Panama. New York City: Macmillan Publishing Company. p. 221. 
  7. Beede, Benjamin R. (May 1, 1994). The War of 1898 and U.S. Interventions, 1898-1934: An Encyclopedia. New York City: Routledge. p. 436. 
  8. Musicant, Ivan (August 1990). The Banana Wars: A History of United States Military Intervention in Latin America from the Spanish-American War to the Invasion of Panama. New York City: Macmillan Publishing Company. p. 222. 
  9. Musicant, Ivan (August 1990). The Banana Wars: A History of United States Military Intervention in Latin America from the Spanish-American War to the Invasion of Panama. New York City: Macmillan Publishing Company. p. 221. 
  10. Beede, Benjamin R. (May 1, 1994). The War of 1898 and U.S. Interventions, 1898-1934: An Encyclopedia. New York City: Routledge. p. 435. 
  11. Beede, Benjamin R. (May 1, 1994). The War of 1898 and U.S. Interventions, 1898-1934: An Encyclopedia. New York City: Routledge. p. 435. 
  12. Musicant, Ivan (August 1990). The Banana Wars: A History of United States Military Intervention in Latin America from the Spanish-American War to the Invasion of Panama. New York City: Macmillan Publishing Company. p. 221. 
  13. Beede, Benjamin R. (May 1, 1994). The War of 1898 and U.S. Interventions, 1898-1934: An Encyclopedia. New York City: Routledge. p. 435. 
  14. Musicant, Ivan (August 1990). The Banana Wars: A History of United States Military Intervention in Latin America from the Spanish-American War to the Invasion of Panama. New York City: Macmillan Publishing Company. p. 221. 
  15. Musicant, Ivan (August 1990). The Banana Wars: A History of United States Military Intervention in Latin America from the Spanish-American War to the Invasion of Panama. New York City: Macmillan Publishing Company. p. 221. 
  16. Musicant, Ivan (August 1990). The Banana Wars: A History of United States Military Intervention in Latin America from the Spanish-American War to the Invasion of Panama. New York City: Macmillan Publishing Company. p. 221. 
  17. Beede, Benjamin R. (May 1, 1994). The War of 1898 and U.S. Interventions, 1898-1934: An Encyclopedia. New York City: Routledge. p. 435. 
  18. Beede, Benjamin R. (May 1, 1994). The War of 1898 and U.S. Interventions, 1898-1934: An Encyclopedia. New York City: Routledge. p. 435. 
  19. Musicant, Ivan (August 1990). The Banana Wars: A History of United States Military Intervention in Latin America from the Spanish-American War to the Invasion of Panama. New York City: Macmillan Publishing Company. p. 221. 
  20. Musicant, Ivan (August 1990). The Banana Wars: A History of United States Military Intervention in Latin America from the Spanish-American War to the Invasion of Panama. New York City: Macmillan Publishing Company. p. 221. 
  21. Musicant, Ivan (August 1990). The Banana Wars: A History of United States Military Intervention in Latin America from the Spanish-American War to the Invasion of Panama. New York City: Macmillan Publishing Company. p. 221. 
  22. Musicant, Ivan (August 1990). The Banana Wars: A History of United States Military Intervention in Latin America from the Spanish-American War to the Invasion of Panama. New York City: Macmillan Publishing Company. p. 221. 
  23. Musicant, Ivan (August 1990). The Banana Wars: A History of United States Military Intervention in Latin America from the Spanish-American War to the Invasion of Panama. New York City: Macmillan Publishing Company. p. 221. 
  24. Beede, Benjamin R. (May 1, 1994). The War of 1898 and U.S. Interventions, 1898-1934: An Encyclopedia. New York City: Routledge. p. 436. 
  25. Beede, Benjamin R. (May 1, 1994). The War of 1898 and U.S. Interventions, 1898-1934: An Encyclopedia. New York City: Routledge. p. 436. 
  26. Musicant, Ivan (August 1990). The Banana Wars: A History of United States Military Intervention in Latin America from the Spanish-American War to the Invasion of Panama. New York City: Macmillan Publishing Company. p. 221. 
  27. Musicant, Ivan (August 1990). The Banana Wars: A History of United States Military Intervention in Latin America from the Spanish-American War to the Invasion of Panama. New York City: Macmillan Publishing Company. p. 222. 

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