Cacos (military group)

Cacos were bodies of armed men, originally drawn from the enslaved population of Haiti, who came to wield power in the mountainous regions of Haiti following the victory of the Haitian Revolution in 1804.[1] The nickname "cacos" was derived from local terms for the red-plumed Hispaniolan trogon because the insurgents "used to hide, like the bird of the same name, under the leaves so as to come unexpectedly upon and attack their enemy."[2]

Resistance to US occupation 1915–1934

U.S. Marines and guide in search of bandits. Haiti, circa 1919., 1927 - 1981 - NARA - 532584
US Marines in search of Cacos, circa 1919

The United States invaded Haiti on 28 July 1915, and maintained a force of marines to occupy the island until 1934. While US forces were able to seize control of the cities quite quickly, the Cacos maintained stubborn resistance in the mountainous areas to the north. Near Cap-Haïtien, the Cacos threatened to inflict a defeat on the US Marines at the Battle of Fort Dipitie, but last minute reinforcements enabled the marines to launch a successful counter attack that resulted in the entire Caco force being either killed or taken prisoner. The marines then slowly encroached upon the mountainous Cacos territory, eventually trapping and defeating the guerilla army at the Battle of Fort Rivière.

Prominent Cacos leaders

  • Charlemagne Péralte emerged as one of the Cacos leaders from his escape from captivity until his death on 1 November 1919.
  • Benoît Batraville, a lieutenant of Péralte, took over as commander of the Cacos in December 1919. He was killed by the US Marines on 20 May 1920.[3]


  1. ^ Tierney, Jr., John. "America's "Black Vietnam": Haiti's Cacos vs. The Marine Corps, 1915-22". The Institute of World Politics. Retrieved 19 October 2017.
  2. ^ Horace Pauleus Sannon (1938). Histoire de Toussaint-Louverture. Port au Prince: Aug. A. Heraux. Retrieved 19 October 2017.
  3. ^ "Haïti– Identité : Manifestation à Savanette pour la réforme de l'Etat civil national". AlterPresse. Retrieved 20 October 2017.

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