Mark R. Folse. bio pending

The Tiger of Seibo:

Charles F. Merkel, George C. ­Thorpe,
and the Dark Side of Marine Corps History

by Mark R. Folse





In the summer of 1918, the U.S. Marine Corps waged war on insurgents in the eastern provinces of the Dominican Republic. On 24 August, the 52d Company, 1st Battalion, 3d Marine Regiment, entered Hayto Mayor, Dominican Republic, rounded up the residents, and questioned them about bandit activity. Frightened and confused, the residents stood nervously as Captain Charles F. Merkel shouted and fired his pistol in the air to intimidate them. Then, Merkel approached a man standing outside of his home. After a brief conversation, Merkel drew his pistol and shot the man in the head while the crowd watched.1 Captain Merkel became known as the “Tiger of Seibo,” named after the eastern province of Seibo, which he terrorized.2 His alleged atrocities of murder and torture are some of the least understood blots on Marine Corps history. Merkel’s story appears in vignette form in the works of many Marine Corps and Latin American historians but none delve into Captain Merkel’s past, his motivations, his career as an officer, or his impact on the United States’ intervention in the Dominican Republic.3 Marine historians often interpret Merkel as a rogue and not a reflection of general Marine misconduct during the occupation. Latin American historians typically use Merkel as an extreme example of the Marine brutality that triggered the 1918 insurgency in the Dominican Republic. Although fair, these interpretations of Merkel’s actions are incomplete and fail to consider the complicity of other Marine Corps officers in the crimes. This article argues that Merkel’s alleged crimes are important and were potentially disastrous for the Marine Corps’ reputation at the time.
      The following pages explore Merkel’s possible motivations and the command climate that contributed to his actions. Arguably, his behavior in the Dominican Republic was part of a larger problem affecting Marines, such as misunderstanding the nature and motivations of insurgents, eliciting violence toward indigenous people, losing experienced Marines to the war in Europe, and dealing with a preponderance of officers who wanted to fight in World War I not on the island of Hispaniola.
      While Merkel allegedly committed or ordered atrocious acts against the Dominican people, the circumstances in which the infractions occurred also implicate other officers. Most notably, Lieutenant Colonel George C. Thorpe, Merkel’s immediate superior and battalion commander, who was also responsible for several Marine officers accused of committing atrocities. Thorpe played a significant part in allowing Merkel’s misconduct and deserves to share in the blame for the violent 1918 Domini- can insurgency. Merkel believed he was following Thorpe’s orders, which involved killing “a whole lot of people.”4 Thorpe denied any culpability and allowed Merkel to be tried for the crimes of murder and torture. However, letters Thorpe penned to his superior officer strongly connect Thorpe to the atrocities. Ultimately, Merkel and his alleged crimes would have been a public relations disaster for the Marine Corps were it not for his suicide. His death precluded a court-martial, keeping the story out of U.S. newspapers.
      An often overlooked element, however, is the impact of the Great War on the attitudes and behaviors of Marines serving in both Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Marines landed on Haitian shores in 1915 to quell a civil war, which began with the assassination of the Haitian president and a takeover of the government by armed rebels.5 President Woodrow Wilson deemed the actions a threat to American lives and interests on Hispaniola and ordered Rear Admiral William B. Caperton on the USS Washington (ACR 11) to land Marines near Port-au-Prince, Haiti. A Marine brigade landed in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, in 1916 when the American- backed Juan Isidro Jimenes lost control of the government. Rival political factions rebelled against Jimenes because of his pro-American policies.6 In both countries, Marines fought insurgents, formed constabularies, and established as much military and political control over the fractious region as possible. More than a year before the United States entered World War I, the Marines entered a smaller war in Hispaniola, a war historians characterize as a counterinsurgency.
      Once the U.S. Congress declared war on Germany in April 1917, the situation in Hispaniola changed because many Marines wanted to fight the Great War but not all could. President Wilson and Congress authorized the Marine Corps to expand to an unprecedented size, to send men to France, and to maintain expeditions in Hispaniola and elsewhere. Thus many Marines remained stationed in Hispaniola, and newly assembled units often headed to the Caribbean instead of across the Atlantic.
      Marine field grade officers, including Smedley D. Butler, focused on the war in Europe and awaited orders to France. Butler was an experienced officer who had served in the Spanish-American War, the Philippines, China, and Mexico. Butler believed that his service in Haiti as the commander of Marine and Haitian gendarmerie forces was noble and important until the United States entered the Great War. “This work here would be more interesting and worthwhile,” he wrote his parents in October 1917, “but under the circumstances it is unbearable . . . This thing of being left out of the show is really more than I can stand, and I tell you both very truthfully that I shall never show my face in West Chester again if I am not allowed to go to France.”7
      In letters to family, Butler implied profound depression regarding his role in the war and questioned his long service with the Marine Corps. “Had I remained in civil life,” he lamented, “I could have gone to France at least as a lieutenant, and saved my face, while now . . . I must sit here under a foreign flag, while my country goes to war.”8 He claimed to be willing to do anything to go to France, including reduction in rank: “It isn’t as if I asked to be sent as a general or even a colonel or even a lieutenant colonel. I would welcome any position from private on down.”9 Even the thought of his extended family serving in France caused mental anguish:

Bunny has 14 near male relations in the [U.S.] Army, from privates up to lieutenants and all my able bodied kinfolk have gone—all males on both sides but me the one professional soldier. . . they can readily see why I could never associate with anyone after the war. Some day my grandchildren will be subjected to the remark “where was your grandfather during the big war?” And they will have to lurch their heads in shame and either lie or say “he was a policeman in the service of a foreign and black Republic.”10

Due partly to his father’s political connections, Butler finally shipped out to France in 1918, but many officers who also requested transfers to France stayed put in Hispaniola.11
      Marine officers in the Dominican Republic expressed similar sentiments as Butler. Lieutenant Colonel Thorpe wanted to go to France and believed he had a chance if he could prove himself competent: “If I do a good job of clearing these two provinces of insurgents,” he reasoned, “maybe I go to a more active field of endeavor too . . . I’d be a good German killer.”12 Unable to fight the Germans in France, many Marines made do with fighting Germans on the island instead.
      Once the United States entered the Great War, Marines equated the fighting in Hispaniola with the war against Germany. Since the turn of the century, Americans considered Germany to be an economic and strategic rival in the Caribbean.13 For the first two decades of the twentieth century, German officials and businessmen traveled throughout the Caribbean to conduct commercial ventures.14 By the time the Marines arrived, hundreds of Germans had established themselves in the social and economic milieus of Haiti and the Dominican Republic.15
American policy makers believed that Germans in- tended to establish a colony at the doorstep of the United States—a blatant violation of the Monroe Doctrine and threat to the security of the Panama Canal.16 Therefore, when Marines landed in Haiti in 1915 and the Dominican Republic in 1916, their attitudes toward resident Germans hardened after the United States entered the war. Marines in Haiti for example took a secret census of all Germans in-country and later confiscated the property of and imprisoned those suspected of subversive activities.17
      The driving force behind Marine hostility toward Germans was the belief that they were directing insurgent activity—thus connecting the small war in Hispaniola to the bigger war in France. In the Dominican Republic, Lieutenant Colonel Thorpe claimed that a recent spike in insurgent activity “shows the handiwork of the German as certain as can be, there is no doubt in my mind that a German is commanding the enemy’s campaign.”18 Another Marine officer in Santo Domingo claimed that “the pro-German element is at work stirring up the minds of the people. . . I believe that if the Germans had some big win in Europe we would have here a general insurrection.”19 According to contemporary reports, insurgent activity increased in the spring and summer of 1918. The cause for the spike was controversial, but Marines believed the Germans masterminded it.20 Joseph Henry Pendleton wrote that Marines in the summer of 1918 “were campaigning against Germany, German influence, German money, and German-inspired revolt.”21
      These beliefs led to a blatant misunderstanding of the situations in both countries. Historian Hans Schmidt argues that in Haiti, “All the investigations of rumors, surveillance of German firms, censoring of letters, and other counterespionage work failed to turn up much concrete evidence of German intrigue.”22 Much of the resistance Marines experienced in Haiti stemmed from the notorious corvee work system—employed Haitians who could not pay the road tax provided labor instead. The system had been used before in Haiti, and Marines assumed that it would work. However, many Haitians saw the work system as slave labor and resisted.23
      Bruce J. Calder argues that the Dominican Re- public’s spike in insurgent activity in 1918 stemmed from a misunderstanding of, or disrespect for, local politics in the eastern provinces. Caudillos—local men who had charisma, military skills, economic resources, and important family ties—controlled much of eastern Dominican Republic and had for generations. The caudillo system was embedded deeply into Dominican political culture, but Marines “either failed to understand it or completely misjudged the strength of the caudillo system,” argues Calder.24 World War I also seriously hindered the country’s export trade, which negatively affected many Dominicans’ economic prospects.25 So what the Marines, especially Thorpe, saw as a German-inspired revolt, led by bandit leaders, was actually a grassroots resistance with Dominicans fighting against foreign intrusion and economic exploitation and being led by trusted local political and military leaders. Thorpe’s and Merkel’s actions occurred within this broader context.
      Marines framed the wars in Hispaniola within the context of the larger war against Germany, in part, to demonstrate the need for experienced units to remain in-country. Once the war began, the Marine Corps pulled most its experienced companies out of Hispaniola, which irritated brigade commanders. In April 1917, a brigade commander in Haiti reported “the reduction of the number of Marines in Haiti by two companies is, in my opinion, a serious mistake. . . It is necessary in my mind that we increase our influence in this island and not weaken it . . . to withdraw troops just at this time . . . cannot but have a very unfortunate effect.”26 For the Marines, under-manned brigades equated to longer and more dangerous patrols, shortages in manpower for security posts, and sagging morale.27
      Therefore, when Captain Merkel arrived in the Dominican Republic in the spring of 1918, he encountered a command climate that misunderstood insurgent motivations and suffered from an over-whelming desire to play a bigger part in the Great War. In the Dominican Republic, a revival of bandit activity in 1918 challenged the 2d Marine Brigade, which had been stripped of much needed manpower, materiel, and leadership.28 “To face this situation what do we have?” wrote one Marine officer. “Men of experience . . . have gone, other men . . . are on the limit of their two-year period and probably on the eve of their departure.”29 Establishing and maintaining control over the countryside became more difficult, and as will be explored below, Merkel joined a command that often used harsh tactics to maintain order.
      Lieutenant Colonel Thorpe, Merkel’s original recruiting officer, who now served as Merkel’s battalion commander in the Dominican Republic, believed strongly that Germans funded and led the local in-surgency. Thorpe wrote many of the documents that describe Marine efforts to suppress the insurgency of late spring and summer of 1918. Therefore, much of what is known about Merkel’s actions and the Marines’ attempts to restore peace by waging war in Seibo Province originated from Thorpe.
      Marine officers under Thorpe’s command began killing indigenous people in early 1918 in retaliation for the murder of Captain William R. Knox, who served temporarily as a captain in the Guardia Nacional (the Dominican Republic’s national guard). Merkel arrived in-country in March 1918. Captains Thad T. Taylor, Harry Seipel, and Knox led an expedition that captured a prominent bandit and caudillo named Ramon Hatera and a dozen of his associates. While being transported to San Pedro de Macorís, Hatera and some of his men escaped. Hatera allegedly wanted revenge for his capture, and in January 1918, Dominican insurgents murdered Captain Knox. Knox was well liked, well respected, and known as “a champion of civic improvement in his district.”30 According to Thorpe, First Lieutenant Hatton, who replaced Knox, in retaliation allegedly executed 11 men suspected of being involved in Knox’s murder.31 After Knox’s death, Taylor believed “that all circumstances called for a campaign of frightfulness,” so he “arrested indiscriminately upon suspicion and then people rotted in jail pending investigation or search for evidence.”32 “Just as Captain Knox used discretion and accomplished a great deal of governmental progress in Seibo, Captain Taylor used no discretion and created unrest and dissatisfaction and anarchy,” Thorpe wrote in a 1918 confidential report.33


Only known photograph of Charles Merkel (front row, second from left) seated among a group of officers and NCO’s of the Marine detachment onboard the USS New York, February 1916.
Leatherneck, May 1937, 57


      The murder of Captain Knox served as a turning point for Marines in the eastern provinces of Seibo and San Pedro de Macorís. His death led to violence against the indigenous people, which in turn sent Dominicans into the ranks of insurgent groups. Since they believed “the permitted escape of Hatera was really the cause for all the recent trouble in Seibo as well as for the loss of that valuable officer, Knox,” Marines attempted to guarantee that captured ban- dits remained in custody.34 Unfortunately, Marines including Captain Taylor used the fear of attempted escapes to abuse and even execute suspected bandits. These acts terrorized local Dominicans. Thorpe noted that Dominicans were “deadly fearful of being arrested because of the uncertainty of getting a hearing,” and as a result “a number of unsteady ones joined the Cabilleros.”35
      Thorpe also believed that Taylor’s actions corrupted the methods of many officers around him. “Captain Taylor had a very bad effect upon other officers, who acquired the idea that lawlessness and utter disregard of civilians’ rights was proper and admirable conduct for military forces,” Thorpe wrote.36 On 14 April 1918, Taylor and a group of Marines captured a Syrian national living in Hayto Mayor. Known locally as Agapito José, the Syrian was suspected of being involved in the Knox murder.37 After Marines shot and killed Agapito in the street, Taylor then allegedly “took a dagger and driving it in his [Agapito’s] throat slashed down to the abdomen.”38 Taylor’s accomplices were Captain Russell W. Duck and newly arrived Captain Charles F. Merkel. All the officers present at the incident claimed that Agapito was shot and killed as he tried to escape.39 By April 1918, three of Thorpe’s company commanders allegedly participated in controversial killings, none of which were seriously investigated.
      Thorpe cited Merkel’s German ancestry in an evaluation of the Agapito incident. “Captain Merkel, during operations around Hayto Mayor, conducted himself as a German might be expected without regard for feelings of natives, with no attempt at courtesy, and with a good deal of arbitrariness,” Thorpe wrote.40 But Thorpe also argued that Merkel “had a great amount of energy and ability to endure hardships and is thorough; he is an excellent officer with the exceptions noted.”41
      By this time, Merkel had acquired a notorious, but not violent, reputation among his superior officers for being forceful and harsh, which came up often in his fitness reports. Major H. G. Snyder’s report claimed “Merkel is a capable officer; an indefatigable worker; but he is super sensitive; and at times bull headed and peevish, requiring tactful handling.”42 In a fitness report dated March 1918, Merkel’s general temperament was described as “calm and even tempered,” although Merkel was also “very active . . . forceful . . . and thorough.”43 Despite these cautionary words, the reviews are bereft of any real indication that Merkel would one day turn malicious or murderous. Under Thorpe’s command, however, Merkel transformed his sensitive and forceful nature into violent and cruel conduct.
      The subsequent capture and torture of Pedro Hernandez Rivera of Hayto Mayor shortly after Agapito’s death illuminated what Thorpe and others described as “thorough” and “forceful.” Merkel reportedly tied Rivera to a horse by his neck and hands. Marines trotted the horse for several kilometers to reach a secluded area. Merkel then reportedly tortured Rivera, who testified that “I was placed on my back, with my face to the sun, and was kept there for about two hours while water was poured through a funnel at intervals, and when I refused to open my mouth they forced it open with a stick.”44 The simulated drown- ing reportedly continued for two minutes at a time or until Rivera lost consciousness. Merkel repeated the process for four or five days before realizing he had captured the wrong man. These actions did not endear the Marines to the Dominicans.
      In June 1918, Captain Merkel enacted his operational methodology on the people of Pedro Santana when they failed to answer his questions about the whereabouts of local bandits. He ordered 25 men, women, and children to be tied together, “threatening them with death if they did not state where they [the bandits] were to be found.”45 Merkel then forced them to march blindfolded toward San Lorenzo, where he stopped the column just outside of town and spent four days interrogating and torturing the prisoners. Those awaiting interrogation were tied to a tree.46 He eventually released the prisoners but then captured another group of people and repeated the process.47 By the summer of 1918, the 2d Brigade, 3d Marine Regiment, faced an intense counterinsurgency campaign, caused by local reactions to either cultural misunderstandings or Marine misconduct.48 Since the Marines’ arrival two years prior, counterinsurgency in the Dominican Republic had been a significant challenge, and by most accounts, the experience was very frustrating for the American forces present. One Marine lieutenant claimed that on most patrols when enemy contact was made, the bandits would fire a few shots then flee.49 Often the local population would not identify the insurgents. In June 1917, a Marine officer complained that the Dominican people “hate us so that they will not give us information of any value . . . in practically all of Seibo Province the people have a deep dislike of us.”50 The insurgency strained the Marines’ patience and endurance. Brigade Commander, Brigadier General Pendleton, dispatched companies into the interior of the country to track and eliminate roving bands of Dominicans reportedly looking to commit raids, theft, and murder. “Detachments are often out several days,” Thorpe reported. “That’s the only way to catch the enemy—to get on the trail and stay on it.”51 Marine companies patrolled for days at a time in the Dominican hills and jungles. “Those who have really been doing good work are hollow-cheeked and thin as crows,” claimed Thorpe.52

Captain Charles F. Merkel: Early Marine Career

The life Merkel had before serving in the Dominican Republic is worth recounting be- cause his nationality, connection to Thorpe, and behavior all became relevant to the alleged atrocities. Merkel was born on 26 June 1889 in Mannheim, Germany. At an unknown date, he im- migrated to the United States. According to records, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps on 15 Septem- ber 1908 at age 19. Interestingly, Major George C. Thorpe, then serving as a recruiting officer in New- ark, New Jersey, enlisted Merkel.1 Thorpe was likely one of the first Marines that Merkel ever knew.
      Merkel served as a guard at the Portsmouth Naval Prison in Maine, and he requested transfers to the Philippines and Panama in 1909 but was denied due to a lack of vacancies at both places. Merkel’s duty stations included the Navy yards in New York, Portsmouth, and Norfolk, Virginia, and the Marine Barracks in Annapolis, Maryland, and Charleston, South Carolina. In 1912, as a sergeant and temporary gunnery sergeant, Merkel became warden of the naval prison onboard the USS Hancock (AP 3). He deployed to Veracruz, Mexico, in 1914 and later served with the Marine detachment on the USS New York (BB 34).2 Except for a few instances of insubordination during his first year in the Marine Corps, superior officers gave Merkel excellent proficiency and conduct marks on his fitness reports throughout his first two enlistments.3
      Merkel’s rapid promotions indicate a successful and competent Marine. By 1916, Merkel attained the rank of first sergeant. In July 1917, he received a commission as a temporary second lieutenant followed quickly by first lieutenant. By 17 December, he was promoted to captain.4 After serving several months at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, Merkel arrived in the Dominican Republic in March 1918 and assumed command of the 52d Company, 1st Battalion, 3d Marines, operating out of San Pedro de Macorís.5 Merkel’s Marine Corps records prior to the Dominican Republic did not indicate violent behavior.

LtCol George C. Thorpe with Vicentico Evangelista, a captured insurgent
Marine’s Magazine, September 1917, 5

  1. Charles F. Merkel personnel file, National Personnel Records Center (NPRC), St. Louis, MO, hereafter Merkel personnel file.
  2. Application for examination as Marine gunner, 8 September 1916, Merkel personnel file, NPRC, St. Louis, MO.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ibid.

      Merkel and his Marines endured some of the worst of the insurgency. On 15 July, bandits ambushed his patrol in the hills outside of San Pedro de Macorís. The opening shot of the ambush passed Merkel’s face and knocked off the hat of another Marine.53 In the fight that ensued, Merkel’s company suffered three casualties but claimed to have killed eight of the enemy and wounded two. The bandits fled into the countryside, however, leaving Merkel and his men empty handed. This engagement was covered in the U.S. newspapers and in Clyde Metcalf ’s A History of the United States Marine Corps.54 The newspapers and Metcalf used Merkel’s skirmish as an example of the tough job that Marines were doing in the Do- minican Republic. Metcalf, who published his book in 1939, mentions nothing further about Merkel.
      Another engagement with insurgents undoubtedly added to Merkel’s frustration. While leading a patrol of about 30 Marines and guardia troops, Merkel stumbled across a group of suspected bandits crossing a flooded area. Merkel ordered his men to open fire. Thorpe reported that “the whole Marine detachment had that bunch under fire in the open at about 300 yards or less for a long time and didn’t hit one of them.”55 Merkel and his Marines could do nothing but continue to track the elusive enemy through tough terrain and unfriendly indigenous communities during the hot Dominican summer. To persevere under these conditions required patience and determination. But the situation in Seibo Province also required restraint, something that Merkel—already known among his peers for being forceful and peevish—used sparingly.
      A crucial turning point in Merkel’s behavior came in August 1918 when Thorpe instituted a campaign known by the locals as reconcentraciones. The campaign gathered Dominicans from the countryside into camps located in the larger urban centers.56 By placing populations of Dominicans under surveillance and control, the plan was to allow the Marines to separate the good Dominicans from the bad.57 During this campaign, Merkel committed his most notorious crimes. Prior to August, Merkel had been abusive toward indigenous people but had not committed murder. That changed when the intensive campaign began.
      Merkel’s actions outside of the concentrated areas indicate that he treated every Dominican like a ban- dit. Technically, this behavior followed the 20 August campaign orders signed by Thorpe that stated explicitly

All good Dominicans are then supposed to be in the cities, leaving the country clear for operations . . . Armed Dominicans that flee will be shot [emphasis author’s]. Other persons suspected of being enemies or aiding the enemy will be arrested and sent to nearest base under guard. Hunt out the bandits in all the hills and barrios in the designated zones.58

Merkel also received classified orders titled “Instructions for Troops in Fight Against Bandits” that mandated that “a court-martial must be ordered for every case of prisoner escape if [a] soldier is properly present.”59 The latter order likely stemmed from Captain Knox’s murder the previous January, where the alleged perpetrators were insurgents who had escaped from Marine custody. Therefore, Merkel not only had a mandate to use deadly force on flee- ing prisoners, but he could potentially face a court-martial if they escaped. Dominicans died under this pretext, the exact number is unknown.
      According to eyewitness testimony gathered be- fore the U.S. Senate Committee on Haiti and Santo Domingo in 1920–21, Merkel terrorized the countryside around Hayto Mayor and San Pedro de Macorís in September 1918. Four years after the alleged atrocities, witnesses gave their accounts of events, which often included conflicting dates.60 But all who testified agreed that Merkel had murdered Dominicans after the beginning of Thorpe’s campaign in late August and early September.
      Merkel led a detachment of Marines and guardia from San Pedro de Macorís toward Dos Rios. During that trek, according to Emilio Suarez—Merkel’s guide and interpreter—Merkel ordered the towns of Matapolacio and El Salto burned. Merkel’s men then captured a wounded man named Armado Mejia outside of El Salto near a riverbank. Believing that Mejia was a bandit, Merkel told Mejia that he “ought to state where his companions were.”61 Mejia replied that he did not know. Merkel then beat him, cut off one of his ears, and carved crosses into his chest.62 Marines then tightly secured Mejia, who was bloodied, bruised, and in excruciating pain, to a horse and took him to Dos Rios.
      What happened next is known as the “pickax incident” and represents one of Merkel’s most malevolent acts. Upon arriving in Dos Rios, Merkel ordered the capture of two men suspected of banditry, one of them suffered from a virulent skin disease known as yaws.63 Merkel suspected the men were bandits because they defied Thorpe’s orders to stay in the town. Both men claimed “they were suffering with that bad disease, and [were afraid] they might infect people of the city,” and so they stayed out of town.64 That evening, Merkel ordered Suarez and a few Marines to use their knives to kill the diseased man. Suarez said he refused “because the man had not offended us, and he (Merkel) had many rifles and machine guns and could use them on him.”65 Merkel then tasked a sergeant with shooting the man, and the sergeant did. “He [the man] fell on the ground alive,” Suarez testified. “Then, the enlisted man drove a pickax through his head from one side to the other.”66 Merkel ordered the body to be buried, but Suarez and the sergeant feared that they would contract the disease if they touched the body. So the two used 
a rope to drag the corpse out of town and disposed of it in the hills. Then, irritated that Suarez had dis- obeyed an order, Merkel allegedly threatened to kill Suarez on the spot.67
      A short time later, Marines brought three Do- minicans accused of theft before Merkel, who decided to make an example of them “in order that no more robberies might be committed in Dos Rios.”68 Merkel brought all five prisoners—Mejia who had been tortured, the companion of the man with yaws, and the three suspected thieves—back to Hayto Mayor with the Marine company. Just off a road in a field near Mata Lambre, Merkel reportedly executed four of the prisoners under the guise of attempted escape.69 “Then he ordered Armado Mejia, whose ear had been cut off, to tell him [Merkel] where his companions were, saying that if he [Mejia] did not tell him, he [Merkel] was going to shoot him,” Suarez claimed.70 Mejia reportedly could not state where his companions were. According to Suarez, Merkel then set Mejia’s pants on fire attempting to persuade Mejia to talk, but he reportedly had nothing to tell.
      Merkel then ordered his Marines to throw oranges at Mejia and beat him. Suarez testified that Mejia “asked them [the Marines] to kill him and not torture him so much,” to which Merkel reportedly replied coldly “that he [Mejia] was a bandit and should die little by little; that bandits should neither eat, drink, nor sleep . . . and that he would not give him anything else to eat until he died of hunger and thirst.”71 But, after about a week of torture, Mejia’s ordeal ended once Merkel and his detachment arrived in Hayto Mayor. Mejia’s savior was Lieutenant Colonel Thorpe. Upon seeing Mejia’s condition, Thorpe took Mejia out of Merkel’s custody and assigned a physician to see him. Merkel likely met with Thorpe at this time, but no records document such a meeting or, if a meeting occurred, what was said. Mejia survived the torture, and his horrifying experience ultimately led to Merkel’s arrest.

      By late September 1918, news of Merkel’s atrocities reached his regiment and brigade commanders, probably from multiple sources. According to Calder, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Santo Domingo notified Marine authorities of Merkel’s actions after hearing about them from terrified locals.72 Suarez testified that he never reported Merkel to the authorities because he feared for his life. According to Suarez, Merkel “had several men who used to go around with him [Merkel] in the country . . . and more than one was killed by Captain Merkel himself, because they [the men] had been eyewitnesses to these acts.”73 Ultimately, a fellow Marine reported Merkel to the authorities, which eventually put a stop to the violence.
      After Merkel’s return to Hayto Mayor, Marines of the 52d Company openly talked about what they had done in the interior, sharing their stories with Ma- rines of other companies. A Warrant Officer, Gunner David H. Johns, was appalled by what he heard. On 26 September, Johns reported Merkel to the chain of command. Major R. S. Kingsbury served as the investigating officer and found that
      On or about 13 September, on the road be- tween Hayto Mayor and Dos Rios, that the said Merkel did cut of[f] an ear of a native prisoner, name unknown [Mejia], and that he did beat said prisoner with a stick; that the said Merkel did maliciously cause the said prisoner to be cut across the breast and salt to be put in his wounds . . . that this prisoner was by Captain Merkel’s order kept without food or water for a period of at least three days . . . Further, that Captain Merkel did on or about 13 September 1918, unjustifiably cause four native prisoners, names unknown, to be shot down by machine gun and rifle range [sic] . . . And further unlawfully and unjustifiably [b]urned down . . . many houses in Seibo Province, this in direct disobedience of the said Merkel’s orders, received from his commanding officer.74
      After reading this report, Thorpe ordered Merkel 
to San Pedro de Macorís. On his way there from Hayto Mayor, Merkel went on a final rampage, taking and executing two prisoners near El Higuamo and firing upon laborers who fled from his patrol. On 1 October, Thorpe placed Merkel under arrest.75 Thorpe, who had brought Merkel into the Marine Corps and supported and praised his tough and thorough nature, placed Merkel in a cell to await court-martial. Thorpe had worked hard to associate the war in Hispaniola with the greater war in Europe. His method of fighting that war, the recontraciones campaign, led to Merkel’s downfall.
      The next morning around 0930, Private Howard L. Sampson, who served as the sentry over Merkel, heard a pistol shot. Sampson rushed to Merkel’s cell and found that Merkel had shot himself in the head.76 Merkel had acquired a .380 Savage automatic pistol though no one knew where or when he got it. In a report to Commandant Major General George Barnett, Brigadier General Pendleton claimed that Merkel hid the revolver on his person.77 Marine Corps historians Stephen Fuller and Graham Cosmas take Pendleton at his word.78 Historians Lester Langley and Ivan Musicant, however, suggest that two Marine officers visited Merkel in his cell the night before and left him the pistol with one round.79 However, no evidence exists that this occurred. No Marine on guard that day had any knowledge of where the pistol came from. As the ranking officer, Captain Russell Duck, who participated in the killing of Agipito the previous April with Merkel and Taylor, responded to the scene. When Duck arrived, the corporal of the guard handed him Merkel’s pistol and a handwritten letter.
      Merkel’s suicide letter—addressed to his friend, Captain Duck—revealed Merkel as a man who felt betrayed, who believed he had carried out his superior’s orders, and who wanted to save the Marine Corps from disgrace. Merkel wrote

I can’t bear to think that I shall go to prison after carrying out my CO’s [commanding officer’s] orders, which were as follows: after the people are concentrated in the various towns designated, everyone found out in the hills will be a bandit unless they have a proper pass. The only way we can settle this revolution is by drastic measures and that is to kill a whole lot of people.80 [emphasis author’s]

      In the suicide letter, Merkel also claimed that, in a meeting held just before his arrest, he begged Thorpe to admit to ordering Merkel to kill people, but Thorpe refused. Merkel then claimed that “the conversation about killing a lot of people took place at his [Thorpe’s] office on the evening of August 19” and that several officers were present.81 “I am doing this in order to save disgracing the M. Corps and myself,” Merkel wrote, “but I sincerely hope that god will punish Thorpe some day for he is not fit to have command of anything and his sole object is to get people into trouble.”82
      Thorpe acted quickly to defend himself and used the fact that Merkel was German to explain his behavior. In the suicide letter, Merkel identified Captain Robert S. Hunter, Lieutenant C. C. Simmons, and Lieutenant Carroll F. Byrd as being present at the meeting when Thorpe gave the order to “kill a whole lot of people.” Captain Duck forwarded Merkel’s suicide note to Thorpe who then rounded up the officers Merkel mentioned. All the mentioned officers signed documents swearing that Thorpe gave no such order.83 Thorpe denied all of Merkel’s allegations but also tried to explain himself. “As for his [Merkel’s] statement that my sole object ‘is to get people into trouble,’ I presume he [Merkel] refers to numerous prosecutions that I have initiated against Germans . . . I was particularly considerate of the late Captain Merkel and tried to make him a loyal subordinate,” Thorpe wrote.84 Ultimately, everyone 
distanced themselves from Merkel and claimed his actions directly disobeyed orders.
      However, Thorpe’s behavior calls his innocence and integrity into question. Thorpe’s racism, like many Marines stationed in the Dominican Republic and Haiti, tainted his opinions of the population. Regarding Agapito—the Syrian killed by Taylor, Merkel, and Duck in April 1918—Thorpe claimed Agapito and all Syrians in-country “will do anything for money and have no bowels; they are a very low order of humanity.”85 Believing that Dominicans could not possibly conduct their own campaigns, Thorpe wrote to Pendleton that “the general opinion here is that whoever is running this revolution . . . is getting a lot out of the n——s.”86 On 14 August, Thorpe praised Merkel claiming “I believe that Captain Merkel and Lieutenant Simmons (commander of 114th Company) are working hard and doing well. . . sympathize with our hard task and be patient with us for we certainly are trying to bring home the black bacon.”87
      The exact details of what Thorpe said to Merkel and the other officers during the 19 August meeting is unknown. However, Merkel’s claim that Thorpe mentioned the need to “kill a lot” is supported by documents. Thorpe wrote those exact words to his own superior on 21 August, two days after the meeting where Merkel claimed Thorpe gave the orders “to kill.”88 In a letter to Brigadier General Pendleton, Thorpe indicated that he stood to benefit from the deaths of many Dominicans. “If I do a good job of clearing these two provinces of insurgents and kill a lot [emphasis author’s] maybe I go to a more active field of endeavor too . . . I ought to show that I’d be a good German killer,” Thorpe wrote.89 He, like many officers, wanted to fight the Germans in France, not wage a frustrating counterinsurgency campaign in what they considered a backwater arena.
      Evidence suggests that Thorpe bears at least partial responsibility for the crimes committed under his command. Other officers under Thorpe’s command, such as Taylor and Hatton, also committed atrocities against indigenous people. Thorpe’s concentration of Dominicans in urban centers and campaign orders, dated 20 August 1918, gave officers the latitude to abuse Dominicans found outside the designated areas. What is impossible to know is whether or not Thorpe ordered his company commanders to explicitly kill “a lot of people.” On 20 August, he did order his company commanders to “kill the enemy,” but Thorpe also ordered his Marines to “be courteous to everyone. It costs nothing, and it pays well.”90 Thorpe’s letter to Pendleton, however, strongly suggests that Thorpe believed killing Dominicans would lead to positive results, at least for himself. Also, Merkel’s murderous and torturous acts against the Dominicans did not occur until after the concentration campaign began and only a few days after Thorpe’s letter to Pendleton.\
Because of Thorpe, the Marine Corps allowed Merkel to take the blame. Perpetrators of cruelty, of which Merkel serves as a heinous example, inflamed the insurgency and therefore damaged the Marines’ ability to accomplish its mission in the Dominican Republic. Thorpe placed the onus for that on Merkel and attributed Merkel’s crimes to his German heritage claiming

All insurgents that continued in that state during the past two months have done so be- cause they felt they could not do otherwise as they feared being killed if they surrendered, since they are the criminal class and could expect nothing better than capital punishment if brought to trial; furthermore, they have a fear of being summarily executed . . . This last mentioned belief is founded upon the fact that the late Captain C. F. Merkel, MC, a German, tortured and murdered some prisoners.91

At no point did Thorpe take responsibility for actions of the officers under his command—not Taylor, not Hatton, and especially not Merkel. Nor did Thorpe appear to see the link between his explicit orders to shoot Dominicans attempting to escape and the Dominicans “fear of being summarily executed.”92
      The Marine Corps was fortunate that the press attributed American victories in France against the German army to Marines, and Merkel’s suicide obviated a court-martial. The cancelled court-martial delayed the promulgation of the atrocities, which proved beneficial to the Corps’ public image and rep- utation. Had Merkel decided to face a court-martial, he may have defended himself against Thorpe, refer- ring to the facts mentioned in his letter.
      A year later, courts-martial of Marines in Haiti for similar crimes brought down a firestorm of negative attention on the 1st Provisional Brigade. In September 1919, Major General Barnett ordered an investigation of Marines in Haiti after he heard of the court-martial of two Marines who killed an indigenous prisoner. Barnett noted that “practically indiscriminate killing of the natives has gone on now for some time.”93 Newspapers published Barnett’s remarks, which precipitated a barrage of bad press coverage for the Marine Corps. Shortly thereafter, officials opened up investigations of Marine actions in the Dominican Republic.
      As a result, in late 1919 and through 1921, U.S. newspapers ran the stories of military misconduct, which caused the publicity nightmare that Marine officials had hoped to avoid. “The military record in Haiti is a blot on the (Woodrow Wilson) administration and a stain on the honor of the American people,” wrote one columnist for the New York Evening Post. News of Marines killing Haitian indigenous people indiscriminately “is a shock to those who have cherished the conviction that American military rule did not imitate the coercive methods of some experienced and more callous governments,” claimed the author (the implication being Germany). The Philadelphia Public Ledger reported that “while we [the United States] were ‘making the world safe for democracy’ in France . . . we were ruthlessly practicing machine-gun imperialism.”94 And regarding the Dominican Republic, the Cleveland Gazette ran a story with the headline “Outrage After Outrage Perpetrated in the Little Mulatto Republic, As in Haiti, So in Santo Domingo.”95 The Gazette reporter accused Marines in the Dominican Republic of using “Belgium Congo or Prussian-Belgian methods of eliciting information” such as burning and torturing indigenous people.96 “I did not meet a single Dominican who did not want the Americans out, band and baggage.”97
      And in all likelihood, Merkel’s and Thorpe’s actions also fueled resistance to the military government’s political programs in the Dominican Republic. By 1921, indigenous organizations, such as the Antielection League of the Santo Domingo Province, opposed all elections sanctioned by the military government. The league called the Marine occupation of the Dominican Republic “a pirate expedition” that controlled the country “merely by the virtue of their [the Marines’] machine guns and bayonets.”98 The league accused Marines of hurting, not helping, the Dominican people: “They [the Marines] commit murder, burn, and concentrate the poor peasants of entire regions, depriving them of their lands and water for the benefit of despicable Yankee Corporations.”99 The description of Marine brutality reflected memories of not only the Tiger of Seibo, Charles Merkel, but also the concentration campaigns of George Thorpe.
      The handling of Merkel’s burial indicates the lengths to which the Marine Corps restricted acknowledgement of Merkel’s actions, even among Marines. The Corps shipped Merkel’s body to New 
Jersey without a military escort, where he was buried in Hamilton Cemetery, Monmouth County. Hilda Merkel, Charles’s sister and closest relative in the United States, was hurt by the perceived slight to her brother and her family’s honor.100 In a letter written to Hilda Merkel, dated 1 November 1918, Brigadier General Charles G. Long expressed regret that Captain Merkel did not receive the honors due to him but noted the Marine Corps’ perceived slight was not intentional. “I am very sorry that a misunderstand- ing arose which led to such a bitter experience for you [Hilda],” he wrote, claiming that the misunderstanding “might have been avoided had your request been directed to these headquarters, in which case an effort would have been made to comply with your wishes.”101 Regarding Hilda’s continued inquest into the events leading to her brother’s suicide, Long ex- pressed surprise noting, “I am at a loss to suggest any circumstance which should have prompted the act which resulted in his [Merkel’s] death.”102
      In mid-November, after learning of the charges against Merkel, Long wrote to Joseph C. Waller, who continued to inquire about Charles Merkel on behalf of his sister. “Your own discretion will dictate what portion of the facts you should communicate to his sister,” advised Long.103 Whether Hilda ever learned of her brother’s actions in the Dominican Republic is unknown.
      The Marine Corps contacted Hilda at least three more times after 1918 regarding her brother. Apparently, Charles Merkel owed a driver named Melchor Bernol $75 in transportation fees for several trips made in the summer of 1918 between Hayto Mayor and San Pedro de Macorís. Bernol went to Thorpe for payment; Thorpe paid the man $50 and had the balance forwarded to Hilda because Thorpe believed the rest should come from Merkel’s estate.104 In 1921 and 1923, respectively, Hilda received her brother’s Victory Medal and Mexican Service Badge “to cherish its possession in precious memory of your dear brother, who died while in the service of his country.”105 Merkel’s ambiguous legacy, which has troubled historians since his death, may have begun with those very words.
      Merkel’s story, like the Marine interventions in Hispaniola, is fraught with ambiguity. In Hispaniola, the Marine Corps gained experience in counterinsurgency warfare, experience that some historians say proved valuable in later small-war conflicts.106 Some experts argue that Marines accomplished their mission in the country by halting the Dominican Civil War, suppressing organized banditry, protect- ing American commercial interests, and establishing an indigenous peacekeeping constabulary, the Guar- dia Nacional Dominicana. But these successes came at a cost; many Marines engaged in brutal misconduct of the indigenous population, particularly in the summer of 1918. One historian notes that “it was the style of Marine rule, not its accomplishments, that was remembered,” among the Dominicans and among members of the American press.107
      No Marine encompasses this legacy more than Merkel, whose actions during one summer in the Dominican Republic eclipsed 20 years of honorable service. His superiors often extolled him as an excellent officer. Some of his skirmishes with bandits made positive headlines in U.S. newspapers. However, Merkel is also the Marine Corps’ most infamous case of illicit, lurid, and murderous conduct during that occupation. Historians selectively choose parts of Merkel’s story when answering questions about the incident. Marines will do the same when figuring out what lessons can be learned from his actions. However, it is important to remember that Merkel did not act alone. Thorpe, Merkel’s superior, had a hand in the misconduct, and the Marines’ actions were symptoms of institutional problems the Corps faced during World War I.
      Merkel and Thorpe represent a dark time in Marine Corps history. Both were responsible for some 
of the worst atrocities committed by Marines in the Dominican Republic, and historians have failed to illuminate the significance of Merkel’s and Thorpe’s actions. From 1918 until the present, Marine Corps historians have argued that Marines like Merkel represent isolated cases of Marine misconduct in the Dominican Republic. To an extent, this contention is true since most Marines did not commit atrocities while in-country. Atrocities, isolated or not, have a greater impact on the Marines’ mission and legacy than the countless number of Marines who served honorably. Merkel’s story elucidates the Ma- rine Corps’ Small Wars Manual, which notes “mistakes may have the most far-reaching effect and it may require a long period to reestablish confidence, respect, and order.”108





• 1775 •


  1. Luis Bautista, Inquiry into the Occupation and Administration of Haiti and Santo Domingo (statement, Hearings Before the Select Committee on Haiti and Santo Domingo: Pursuant to S. Res. 112, vol. 1, 67th Cong., 1st and 2d sess., 14 December 1921), 1132.
  2. Lester D. Langley, The Banana Wars: United States Intervention in the Caribbean, 1898–1934 (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1983), 146.
  3. Robert D. Heinl Jr. and Clyde H. Metcalf focus on Merkel’s combat record, not his criminal acts, and use Merkel’s experience in-country as an example of how hard Marines fought against Dominican insurgents. See Robert Debs Heinl Jr., Soldiers of the Sea: United States Marine Corps, 1775–1962 (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1962), 248; Clyde H. Metcalf, A History of the United States Marine Corps (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1939), 359; Lester Langley uses Merkel as an example of an officer who “grew increasingly resentful of occupation duty” as a result of being left out of the Great War. See Langley, Banana Wars, 147. Allan R. Millett and other historians blame Merkel for inflaming the insurgency and sending peaceful Dominicans into the bandit ranks; Allan R. Millett, Semper Fidelis: The History of the United States Marine Corps (New York: Macmillan Publishing, 1980), 200; Bruce J. Calder, The Impact of Intervention: The Dominican Republic during the U.S. Occupation of 1916–1924 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1984), 131; and Alan McPherson, The Invaded: How Latin Americans and Their Allies Fought and Ended U.S. Occupations (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014), 93, 97. Stephen M. Fuller and Graham A. Cosmas cite Merkel’s misconduct as a result of “life in isolated outposts, where they [Marines] often exercised wide authority under minimal supervision from superiors, offered temptations of corruption and misuse of power to which a few Marines fell victim.” See Stephen M. Fuller and Graham A. Cosmas, Marines in the Dominican Republic, 1916–1924 (Washington, DC: U.S. Marine Corps History and Museums Division, 1974). Ivan Musicant argues that Merkel’s actions constituted “one of the most serious atrocities committed” by a Marine against the Dominican people. See Ivan Musicant, 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: Macmillan, 1990), 281.
  4. Charles F. Merkel letter to Russell W. Duck, 2 October 1918, Charles Merkel personnel file, NPRC, St. Louis, MO.
  5. Steeve Coupeau, The History of Haiti (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2008), 68.
  6. Frank Moya Pons, The Dominican Republic: A National History (Princeton, NJ: Markus Wiener Publishers, 1998), 314–15; and Ian Bell, The Dominican Republic (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1980), 62–64.
  7. Butler letter to his parents, 6 October 1917, Smedley D. Butler Papers, Marine Corps History Division Archives Branch, Gray Research Center (GRC), Quantico, VA, hereafter Butler letter to his parents.
  8. Ibid.
  9. Ibid. Emphasis in original.
  10. Ibid.
  11. Hans Schmidt, Maverick Marine: General Smedley D. Butler and the Contradictions of American Military History (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1987), 1.
  12. George C. Thorpe letter to Joseph Pendleton, 21 August 1918, Joseph Pendleton Papers, Marine Corps History Division Archives Branch, GRC, Quantico, VA.
  13. Calder, The Impact of Intervention, 22; and Hans Schmidt, The United States Occupation of Haiti, 1915–1934 (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1971), 34–35.
  14. Mary A. Renda, Taking Haiti: Military Occupation and the Culture of U.S. Imperialism, 1915–1940 (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2001), 51; Schmidt, United States Occupation of Haiti, 91; and Calder, The Impact of Intervention, 68–69.
  15. Schmidt places the number of Germans in Haiti around the time of intervention at 210. See Schmidt, United States Occupation of Haiti, 91.
  16. American foreign policy from 1823 focused on three ideas: separate spheres of influence for the Americas and Europe, no further colonization in the Americas, and no intervention in Western matters.
  17. Schmidt, United States Occupation of Haiti, 95; and “Reports Relating to Operations in Haiti and Santo Domingo, 1915–21,” Records of U.S. Marines in Haiti, RG 127, box 2, U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC.
  18. Col George C. Thorpe to Joseph Pendleton from San Pedro de Macorís, Dominican Republic, 18 August 1918, Pendleton Papers, Marine Corps History Division Archives Branch, GRC, Quantico, VA.
  19. L. Nogart to Joseph Pendleton, 16 April 1918, Pendleton Papers, Marine Corps History Division Archives Branch, GRC, Quantico, VA.
  20. Col George C. Thorpe to Joseph Pendleton, 18 August, 1918.
  21. BGen Joseph Pendleton to the secretary of the U.S. Navy, 24 July 1919, Pendleton Papers, Marine Corps History Division Archives Branch, GRC, Quantico, VA.
  22. Schmidt, United States Occupation of Haiti, 92.
  23. Capt John H. Craig, Development of the Republic of Haiti, general correspondence, Operations and Training Division, intelligence section, 1915–1934, H-134, Haiti box 14, entry 38, National Archives, Washington, DC.
  24. Bruce J. Calder, “Caudillos and Gavilleros versus the United States Marines: Guerilla Insurgency during the Dominican Intervention, 1916– 1924,” Hispanic American Historical Review 58, no. 4 (November 1978): 656.
  25. Millett, Semper Fidelis, 196.
  26. BGen George Barnett, Report on Affairs in the Republic of Haiti, June 1915 to June 30, 1920 (Washington, DC: Headquarters Marine Corps, 1920), 50.
  27. Millett, Semper Fidelis, 196.
  28. Ibid., 196.
  29. L. Nogart to Joseph Pendleton.
  30. Millett, Semper Fidelis, 200.
  31. LtCol George C Thorpe, “Confidential Report upon Conditions in Seibo and Macorís Provinces,” hereafter “Confidential Report,” 30 May 1918, Joseph Pendleton Papers, Marine Corps History Division Archives Branch, GRC, Quantico, VA. 1stLt Hatton’s full name is mystery, at the moment. According to 1st Battalion, 3d Regiment, muster rolls for 1918, copies of which are held at Marine Corps History Division, Quantico VA, Hatton does not exist. “Hatton” might be a misspelling of “Patten,” however. If that is the case, then this Marine was probably Lt Gerald R. Patten of the 115th Company.
  32. Thorpe, “Confidential Report.”
  33. Ibid.
  34. Ibid.
  35. Ibid.; Millett, Semper Fidelis, 200; cabilleros is Thorpe’s spelling for the Spanish word gavilleros, which in the Dominican Republic meant “rural bandit.” According to Bruce Calder, some Dominican insurgents resented being called gavilleros and preferred the title revolutionary; Calder, “Caudillos and Gavilleros,” 660.
  36. Thorpe, “Confidential Report.”
  37. Major General Commandant letter to the judge advocate general of the Navy, 9 November 1925, RG 80 general correspondence, National Archives, Washington, DC, hereafter Major General Commandant letter to the judge advocate general. Agapito was also known as Azepto José, who was a store owner in the Dominican Republic. His real name was Habib Koziah.
  38. Hearings into the Occupation and Administration of Haiti and Santo Domingo, Before the Select Committee on Haiti and Santo Domingo, 67th Cong. 1136 (14 December 1921) (statement of Jesus M. Vasquez).
  39. Major General Commandant letter to the judge advocate general.
  40. Thorpe, “Confidential Report.”
  41. Ibid.
  42. Report on the fitness of officers of the U.S. Marine Corps, Charles F. Merkel, 10 November 1917 (Merkel personnel file, NPRC, St. Louis, MO) 4.
  43. Report on the fitness of officers of the U.S. Marine Corps, March 1918 (Merkel personnel file, NPRC), 2.
  44. Hearings into the Occupation and Administration of Haiti and Santo Domingo, Before the Select Committee on Haiti and Santo Domingo, 67th Cong. 1122 (13 December 1921) (statement of Pedro Hernandez Rivera).
  45. Ibid., 1142.
  46. Ibid.
  47. Ibid.
  48. Millett, Semper Fidelis, 200; Calder, The Impact of Intervention, 131; and McPherson, The Invaded, 93, 97.
  49. LtGen Edward A. Craig, intvw by Maj L. E. Tatem, 1968, transcript, Marine Corps Oral History Collection, Marine Corps History Division Archives Branch, Quantico, VA.
  50. Henry C. Davis to regimental commander, “Report of Field Operations,” 34th Provisional Regt, 1 June 1917, Campaign Files, Dominican Re- public, Marine Corps History Division Archives Branch, Quantico, VA. 1.
  51. George C. Thorpe to Joseph Pendleton, 19 September 1918.
  52. Ibid.
  53. Capt Charles F. Merkel to battalion commander, “Operations, field, from 15 July 1918 to 16 August 1918,” geographic files, Dominican Repub- lic 1917–1919, Marine Corps History Division Archives Branch, Quantico, VA.
  54. “U.S. Marines Kill Domingo Bandits,” Washington Post, 30 July 1918; and Clyde H. Metcalf, A History of the United States Marine Corps (New York: G. P. Putnam, 1939), 359.
  55. Thorpe to Pendleton, 19 September 1918.
  56. Campaign Order No. 1, Headquarters Battalion, 3d Provisional Regt, San Pedro de Macoris, DR, 20 August 1918, Pendleton Papers, Marine Corps History Division Archives Branch, GRC, Quantico, VA, hereafter Campaign Order No. 1.
  57. Langley, Banana Wars, 146; and Calder, The Impact of Intervention, 149. Dr. Alejandro Coradin of Hayto Mayor witnessed the concentration efforts firsthand, however, and noted that the “concentration of the wretched inhabitants of the commune of Hayto Mayor who had been locked up like pigs in stockades under the pretext of investigating whether or not they were bad persons, a procedure which we can call puerile.” Dr. Alejandro Coradin, Inquiry into the Occupation and Administration of Haiti and Santo Domingo (statement, Hearings Before the Select Committee on Haiti and Santo Domingo: Pursuant to S. Res. 112, vol. 1, 67th Cong., 1st and 2d sess., 13 December 1921), 1119.
  58. Campaign Order No. 1.
  59. George C. Thorpe, “Instructions for Troops in Fight against Bandits,” 20 August 1918, Pendleton Papers, Marine Corps History Division Archives Branch, GRC, Quantico, VA.
  60. Emilio Suarez, Inquiry into the Occupation and Administration of Haiti and Santo Domingo (statement, Hearings Before the Select Committee on Haiti and Santo Domingo: Pursuant to S. Res. 112, vol. 1, 67th Cong., 1st and 2d sess., December 14, 1921), hereafter Emilio Suarez state- ment, 1144.
  61. Ibid., 1142.
  62. Ibid.
  63. Yaws is a chronic bacterial infection that typically affects skin, bones, and joints.
  64. Emilio Suarez statement, 1144.
  65. Ibid.
  66. Ibid.
  67. Ibid.
  68. Ibid.
  69. Ibid.
  70. Ibid.
  71. Ibid.
  72. Calder, “Caudillos and Gavilleros,” 672–73.
  73. Emilio Suarez statement, 1145.
  74. Arrest of Capt Charles F. Merkel, 18 October 1918, geographic files, Dominican Republic 1917–1919, Marine Corps History Division Archives Branch, GRC, Quantico, VA.
  75. Emilio Suarez statement, 1146.
  76. Charles Merkel files, RG 80 Stack Area IIW3, E-19, General Correspondence, National Archives, Washington, DC.
  77. Joseph H. Pendleton to George Barnett, “Arrest of Captain Charles F. Merkel,” 18 October 1918, Charles Merkel personnel files, NPRC, St. Louis, MO.
  78. Fuller and Cosmas, Marines in the Dominican Republic, 33.
  79. Langley, Banana Wars, 147; and Musicant, Banana Wars, 281.
  80. Charles F. Merkel letter to Russell W. Duck, 2 October 1918, Charles Merkel personnel file, NPRC, St. Louis, MO.
  81. Ibid.
  82. Ibid.
  83. George C. Thorpe letter to regimental commander, letter from late Captain Charles F. Merkel, MC, to Captain Russell W. Duck, M. C., 10 October 1918, Charles Merkel personnel file, NPRC, St. Louis, MO.
  84. Ibid.
  85. Thorpe, “Confidential Report.”
  86. George C. Thorpe to Joseph Pendleton, 18 August 1918.
  87. George C. Thorpe to Joseph Pendleton, 14 August 1918..
  88. George C. Thorpe to Joseph Pendleton, 21 August 1918.
  89. Ibid.
  90. George C. Thorpe, “Instructions for Troops in Field against Bandits.”
  91. George C. Thorpe memo to commanding officer, 2d Provisional Brigade, “Observations re Seibo and Maceria Province,” 1918, RG 127, box 8, National Archives, Washington, DC.
  92. Ibid.
  93. George Barnett confidential letter to John H. Russell, 2 October 1919, George Barnett Papers, Marine Corps History Division Archives Branch, GRC, Quantico, VA.
  94. “What Other Papers Say: Puts Nation in Bad Light” Washington Post, 16 October, 1920, 6. The paper reported that “Gen. Barnett’s Revelations as to Haiti Held Not an Understatement. Blot on the Administration. Haitian Record Also Seen as Stain on honor of American People. Will Shock Humane Americans. Was Secretary Daniels Deceived? American Cannot afford Oppression. Lodge’s Devotion to Monroe,” Washington Post, 16 October 1920, 6.
  95. Cleveland Gazette, 25 June 1921, 6.
  96. Ibid.
  97. Ibid.
  98. Anonymous, Inquiry into the Occupation and Administration of Haiti and Santo Domingo (statement, Hearings Before the Select Committee on Haiti and Santo Domingo: Pursuant to S. Res. 112, vol. 1, 67th Cong., 1st and 2d sess., December 13, 1921), 1121.
  99. Ibid.
  100. Hilda Merkel letter to 2d Provisional Regt Headquarters, 30 October 1918, Charles Merkel personnel file, NPRC, St. Louis, MO.
  101. BGen Charles G. Long letter to Hilda Merkel, 1 November 1918, Charles Merkel personnel file, NPRC, St. Louis, MO.
  102. Ibid.
  103. BGen Charles G. Long letter to Joseph C. Waller, 13 November 1918, Charles Merkel personnel file, NPRC, St. Louis, MO.
  104. George Thorpe to regimental commander, 28 October 1918, Charles Merkel personnel file, NPRC, St. Louis, MO.
  105. LtCol H. Lay letter to Hilda Merkel, 27 January 1921, Charles Merkel personnel file, NPRC, St. Louis, MO; and LtCol Macker Babb letter to Hilda Merkel, 2 August 1923, Charles Merkel personnel file, NPRC, St. Louis, MO.
  106. James A. Warren, American Spartans: The U.S. Marines: A Combat History from Iwo Jima to Iraq (New York: Free Press, 2005), 32.
  107. Langley, Banana Wars, 158.
  108. Small Wars Manual: U.S. Marine Corps, 1940 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1940), 32.



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