Charlemagne Péralte

Charlemagne Masséna Péralte (1886 - 1 November 1919) was a Haitian nationalist leader who opposed the US Invasion of his country in 1915. Leading guerrilla fighters called the Cacos, he posed such a challenge to the US forces in Haiti that the occupying forces had to upgrade their presence in the country.[1]:213 Péralte remains a highly praised hero in Haiti.

Charlemagne Péralte
Portrait of Charlemagne Péralte

Early life

Born in 1886 in the central city of Hinche, Péralte was born into a family that had migrated from an area that is the present day Dominican Republic, (Péralte is a French version of the Spanish name Peralta). Péralte is revered in Haiti as a national hero.

Name on birth certificate: François Borgia Charlemagne Peralte

Date of birth on birth certificate: 10 October 1885

His father was General Remi Massena Peralte.

Source for correction: 1885–1985, Un Centenaire; Charlemagne Peralte,, Georges Michel. Privately published in Port-au-Prince, 1989. Footnote, p. 19. Cites research of Roger Gaillard concerning birth and baptismal certificates in Premiere Ecrasement du Cacoism, Port-au-Prince:Le Natal, 1981. Also appears in Douglas Henry Daniels's English translation of Michel's book,Charlemagne Peralte and the First American Occupation. Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall/Hunt Publishing CO., 1996.

Guerrilla resistance

An officer by career, Charlemagne Péralte was the military chief of the city of Léogane when the US Marines invaded Haiti in July 1915. (See United States occupation of Haiti (1915–1934))

Refusing to surrender to foreign troops without fighting, Péralte resigned from his position and returned to his native town of Hinche to take care of his family's land. In 1917, he was arrested for a botched raid on the Hinche gendarmerie payroll, and was sentenced to five years of forced labor.[1]:212 Escaping his captivity, Charlemagne Péralte gathered a group of nationalist rebels and started guerrilla warfare against the US troops.

The troops led by Péralte were called "Cacos", a name that harked back to rural troops that historically took part in the political turmoil of late 19th century Haiti. The guerrilla warriors of the Cacos were such strong adversaries that the United States upgraded the US Marine contingent in Haiti and even employed airplanes for counter-guerrilla warfare.[1]:213 His forces attacked Port-au-Prince in 1919, but were driven off.

Death and aftermath

Corps de Charlemagne Péralte
The body of Charlemagne Péralte

After two years of guerrilla warfare, leading Péralte to declare a provisional government in the north of Haiti, Charlemagne Péralte was betrayed by one of his officers, Jean-Baptiste Conzé, who led disguised US Marines Sergeant Herman H. Hanneken (later meritoriously promoted to Second Lieutenant for his exploits) and Corporal William Button into the rebels camp, near Grand-Rivière Du Nord.[1]:215-217

Péralte was shot in the heart at close range.[1]:217 Hanneken and his men then fled with Peralte's body strapped onto a mule.[1]:218

In order to discourage rebel support from the Haitian population, the US troops took a picture of Charlemagne Péralte's body tied to a door, and distributed it in the country.[1]:218 However, it had the opposite effect, with the image's resemblance to a crucifixion making it an icon of the resistance and establishing Péralte as a martyr.[3]

Charlemagne Péralte remains were unearthed after the end of the US occupation in 1935. A national funeral, attended by the then-President of Haiti, Sténio Vincent, was held in Cap-Haïtien, where his grave can still be seen today.

A portrait of Charlemagne Péralte can now be seen on the Haitian coins issued by the government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide after his 1994 return under the protection of US troops.

As a footnote, for their daring exploit, Corporal Button (1895–1921) and Sergeant Hanneken (1893–1986) were both awarded the Medal of Honor for killing the "supreme bandit of Haiti". Hanneken later served in World War II, notably at Guadalcanal and ended his career as a Brigadier General. In his late days, he constantly declined to comment on his exploits in Haiti, notably to Haitian journalist asking for interviews on the 100th anniversary of Péralte's birth, in 1986.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Musicant, I, The Banana Wars, 1990, New York: MacMillan Publishing Co., ISBN 0025882104
  2. ^ France and the History of Haiti by Gearóid Ó Colmáin, Global Research, January 22, 2010
  3. ^ "An Iconic Image of Haitian Liberty". The New Yorker. Retrieved 6 January 2017.
Battle of Port-au-Prince (1919)

The Battle of Port-au-Prince took place on either the 6 or 7 October 1919 when Haitian rebels, known as cacos, attacked the capital of Haiti during the Second Caco War and the American occupation of Haiti.

The assault began at 4:00 a.m., with between 200 and 300 cacos, armed with "swords, machetes, and pikes" and commanded by Charlemagne Masséna Péralte, entering the city from the North, only to be met by fearsome rifle and machine gun fire from the American Marines and Haitian gendarmes garrisoning the city. The latter were ready for the attack, since Péralte had "sent an advance warning to the British embassy." The defenders counterattacked and, within two minutes, the caco raid disintegrated.On 8 October, Lieutenant Kemp C. Christian, leading 12 Haitian gendarmes, captured Péralte's base camp, killing 30 Caco rebels and capturing 20 horses, some rifles and swords, and a field gun (Péralte's only one). The rebel leader managed to escape.

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. 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."

Centre (department)

Centre (Haitian Creole: Sant) is one of the ten departments (French: départements, Haitian Creole: depatman) of Haiti, located in the center of the country along the border with the Dominican Republic. As of 2015, its estimated population was 746,236. Its capital is Hinche. It borders the Dominican Republic to the east and is the only landlocked department in Haiti.

False flag

A false flag is a covert operation designed to deceive; the deception creates the appearance of a particular party, group, or nation being responsible for some activity, disguising the actual source of responsibility.

The term "false flag" originally referred to pirate ships that flew flags of countries as a disguise to prevent their victims from fleeing or preparing for battle. Sometimes the flag would remain and the blame for the attack be laid incorrectly on another country. The term today extends beyond naval encounters to include countries that organize attacks on themselves and make the attacks appear to be by enemy nations or terrorists, thus giving the nation that was supposedly attacked a pretext for domestic repression and foreign military aggression.Operations carried out during peacetime by civilian organizations, as well as covert government agencies, can (by extension) also be called false flag operations if they seek to hide the real organization behind an operation.

Herman H. Hanneken

Herman Henry Hanneken (June 23, 1893 – August 23, 1986) was a United States Marine Corps officer and a recipient of the U.S. military's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor.

Beginning his career as an enlisted man, Hanneken served in the Banana Wars of the 1910s and 1920s. During the United States occupation of Haiti, he assassinated the resistance leader Charlemagne Péralte, for which he was awarded the Medal of Honor. Subsequently, granted a commission, Hanneken served in Haiti for several more months and was awarded a Navy Cross for killing another rebel leader. He received a second Navy Cross for his actions during the occupation of Nicaragua in the late 1920s.

After a decade of stateside duty, he served in the Pacific Theater of World War II. During this conflict, he was awarded the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit, and the Bronze Star. He retired in 1948, after a thirty-four-year career, and was promoted in retirement to brigadier general.


Hinche (Haitian Creole: Ench; Spanish: Hincha) is a commune in the Centre department Haiti. It has a population of about 50,000. It is the capital of the Centre department. Hinche is the hometown of Charlemagne Péralte, the Haitian nationalist leader who resisted the United States occupation of Haiti that lasted between 1915–1934.

Institution Saint-Louis de Gonzague

Institution Saint-Louis de Gonzague is a Roman Catholic primary and secondary school in Haiti. It was founded and is run by the Brothers of Christian Instruction (FIC) (Frères de l'instruction chrétienne de Ploërmel). The school colors are red and green.

List of Haitians

This is a list of Haitians, born in Haiti or possessing Haitian citizenship, notable in Haiti and abroad. Due to Haitian nationality laws, dual citizenship is now permitted by the Constitution of Haiti, therefore people of Haitian ancestry born outside of the country are not included in this list, unless they have renounced their foreign citizenship or have resided extensively in Haiti and made significant contributions to Haitian government or society. The list includes both native-born and naturalized Haitians, as well as permanent foreign residents who have been recognized internationally for artistic, cultural, economic, historical, criminal, or political reasons, among others. If not indicated here, their birth in Haiti and notability are mentioned in their main article. This list does not include fictional characters or Haitian associations and organizations.

List of Medal of Honor recipients

The Medal of Honor was created during the American Civil War and is the highest military decoration presented by the United States government to a member of its armed forces. The recipient must have distinguished themselves at the risk of their own life above and beyond the call of duty in action against an enemy of the United States. Due to the nature of this medal, it is commonly presented posthumously.The President of the United States, in the name of the United States Congress, has awarded more than 3520 Medals of Honor including 19 second awards to the nation's soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, and coast guardsmen since the decoration's creation in 1861.The citations highlighting acts of gallantry that received the Medal of Honor have been and continue to be regularly released by book publishers. After the Second World War both the Army and Navy produced hardbound Medal of Honor compilations. Between 1964 and 1979, the United States Senate Subcommittee on Veterans' Affairs of the Committee on Labor and Public Welfare and later the Committee on Veterans' Affairs produced a number of consolidated compilations of all Medal of Honor citations to date. Additions and changes to the list of recipients of the medal since the 1979 have been regularly published by the Congressional research Service.The first Army Medal of Honor was awarded to Private Jacob Parrott during the American Civil War for his role in the Great Locomotive Chase. The first African American recipient for this award was William Harvey Carney who, despite being shot in the face, shoulders, arms, and legs, refused to let the American flag touch the ground. The only female Medal of Honor recipient is Mary Edwards Walker, a Civil War surgeon. Her medal was rescinded in 1917 along with many other non-combat awards, but it was restored by President Jimmy Carter in 1977.While current law, (10 U.S.C. § 6241), beginning in 1918, explicitly states that recipients must be serving in the U.S. Armed Forces at the time of performing a valorous act that warrants the award, exceptions have been made. For example, Charles Lindbergh, while a reserve member of the U.S. Army Air Corps, received his Medal of Honor as a civilian pilot. Although Medals of Honor can only be awarded to members of the U.S. armed forces, being a U.S. citizen is not a prerequisite for eligibility to receive the medal. Sixty-one Canadians who were serving in the United States Armed Forces have received the Medal of Honor; most received it for actions in the American Civil War. Since 1900, only four have been awarded to Canadians. In the Vietnam War, Peter C. Lemon was the only Canadian born recipient of the Medal of Honor. However, he was a US citizen.

List of assassinated human rights activists

This is a list of murdered political dissidents and human rights activists. The list is chronological.

Louis Cukela

Louis Cukela (May 1, 1888 – March 19, 1956) was a Croatian American United States Marine numbered among the nineteen two-time recipients of the Medal of Honor. Cukela was awarded the Medal by both the US Army and the US Navy for the same action during the Battle of Soissons in World War I. He was also awarded decorations from France, Italy, and Kingdom of Yugoslavia.

Famous for his broken English, best exemplified by his unforgettable saying, "If I want[ed] to send a goddamned fool, I'd go myself" (when a messenger came back with a stupid garbled reply).


Léogâne (Haitian Creole: Leyogàn) is one of the coastal communes in Haiti. It is located in the eponymous arrondissement, the Léogâne Arrondissement. The port town is located about 30 km (19 mi) West of the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince. Léogâne has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature, cuisine, and architecture. It also holds importance for archaeological and ancient sites such as Fort Campan, and one of the most ancient windmills in the western hemisphere is located in Baussan Léogâne. The town was at the epicenter of the 12 January 2010 earthquake, and was catastrophically affected, with 80–90% of buildings damaged. It also had been destroyed in an earthquake in 1770. At the time of the arrival of the Europeans in 1492, Yaguana—modern-day Léogâne—was the capital of Jaragua, one of the five chiefdoms on the island of Hispaniola. This province was the last independent holdout during the Spanish conquest of Hispaniola until their leader Queen Anacaona was captured and killed by the Spaniards in 1503. The French secured legal access to one-third of the island from the Spanish crown by the Treaty of Ryswick in 1697 and established a city in Yaguana and renamed it Léogâne. In 1803, during the Haitian Revolution Jean-Jacques Dessalines ordered his men to burn the town to the ground to force out the last of the French colonists.

Philomé Obin

Philomé Obin (July 20, 1892 – August 6, 1986) was a Haitian painter.

Born in Cap-Haïtien, Obin was the third child of Mr. and Mrs. Obénard Obin. He received rudimentary instruction in drawing as a boy and produced his first known painting when he was 16 in 1908. He worked actively on his art for 75 years.Most of the paintings of Obin's first half-century—often on cardboard, sometimes on Masonite—are lost. They were, in any event, unappreciated by middle-class Haitians who preferred works that aped French paintings; they did not value Obin's representations of Haitian street scenes or his visions of Haitian history. The artist also painted murals and other decorative pieces for commercial establishments, fraternal organizations, and Protestant chapels in the beginning.

Roger Gaillard (historian)

Roger Gaillard (10 April 1923 – 2000) was a Haitian historian and novelist. Born in Port-au-Prince, Gaillard earned a philosophy degree at the University of Paris in France. He is best known for his multiple-volume chronicle of the United States' occupation of Haiti.

Timeline of Haitian history

This is a timeline of Haitian history, comprising important legal and territorial changes and political events in Haiti and its predecessor states. To read about the background to these events, see History of Haiti. See also the list of heads of state of Haïti.

United States occupation of Haiti

The United States occupation of Haiti began on July 28, 1915, when 330 US Marines landed at Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on the authority of US President Woodrow Wilson. The first invasion forces had already disembarked from USS Montana on January 27, 1914. The July intervention took place following the murder of dictator President Vilbrun Guillaume Sam by insurgents angered by his political executions of elite opposition.

The occupation ended on August 1, 1934, after President Franklin D. Roosevelt reaffirmed an August 1933 disengagement agreement. The last contingent of US Marines departed on August 15, 1934, after a formal transfer of authority to the Garde d'Haïti.

William Robert Button

William Robert Button (December 3, 1895 – April 15, 1921) was a United States Marine Corps corporal who received the Medal of Honor for his actions in killing Haitian nationalist leader Charlemagne Peralte on October 31–November 1, 1919. (Second Lieutenant Herman H. Hanneken was also awarded the Medal of Honor on that date.) Button rose to the rank of sergeant before dying at age 25 from malaria.

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