Guerrilla Warfare History
Warfare and Guerrilla War
History, Tactics and Strategy, Objectives and Goals"
What is the difference between Guerrilla War and Guerrilla
Warfare? While new terms and words are continually being coined to define and describe Guerrilla War and Guerrilla
Warfare, there is technically a difference between the two terms. Guerrilla War is also known as an Unconventional
War, while Guerrilla Warfare is the conduct and tactics used to prosecute a war, usually, but not always, during
a Guerrilla War. During the American Civil War (1861-1865), while large armies fought in Napoleonic formations
using lines of battle, there were units such as partisans and irregulars, which operated as guerrillas or bushwhackers by
engaging in Guerrilla Warfare.
This lesson covers Guerrilla Warfare in American history, the tactics and strategy
used, and the common objectives and goals of the Guerrilla War. The
primary objective of the lesson is to enable the reader to have a basic understanding of the subject with examples from American
|Guerrilla Warfare and Guerrilla War Map
|Map showing two different war strategies, but exigencies of conflict required radical tactics
Guerrilla means small war, the diminutive of the Spanish
word Guerra, meaning war. The Spanish word derives from the Old High German word werra and from the middle
Dutch word warre, and adopted by the Visigoths in A.D. 5th century Hispania.
The difference between Guerrilla War and Guerrilla Warfare
Guerrilla War is defined as an armed conflict, while
Guerrilla Warfare is defined as the activities involved in the Guerilla War.
Guerrilla War is an unconventional war, and Guerrilla Warfare is
the conduct used to prosecute the Guerrilla War.
The Department of Defense defines an insurgency as
an organized movement aimed at the overthrow of a constituted government through the use of subversion and armed conflict.
Insurgency is often interchanged with the terms rebellion and insurrection. Not all rebellions are insurgencies,
however, as a state of belligerency may exist between one or more sovereign states and rebel forces. For instance,
during the American Civil War, the Confederate States of America was not recognized as a sovereign state, but it was recognized
as a belligerent power, and thus Confederate warships were given the same rights as United States warships in foreign
A Belligerent is an individual, group, country, or other
entity that acts in a hostile manner, such as engaging in combat. Unlike the use of belligerent as an adjective to
mean aggressive, its use as a noun does not necessarily imply that a belligerent country is an aggressor.
Guerrilla Warfare Definition and Tactics
Guerrilla Warfare is unconventional warfare, also
known as irregular warfare, in which a small group of combatants such as armed civilians or irregulars use military tactics
including ambushes, sabotage, raids, petty warfare, hit-and-run tactics, and mobility to fight a larger and less-mobile traditional
military. In United States doctrine, Guerrilla Warfare is interchanged with the term unconventional warfare (UW) and
is one aspect of the broader term insurgency.
Guerrilla Warfare Strategy Objective
Guerrilla Warfare consists of activities conducted to enable a resistance movement or insurgency
to coerce, disrupt or overthrow an occupying power or government by operating through or with an underground, auxiliary and
guerrilla force in a denied area.
|Civil War Guerrillas & Cherokee Guerrilla Unit
|Cherokee Indians (Guerrillas) of Thomas Legion at
(About) Cherokee veteran soldiers of Thomas' Legion at 1903 New Orleans Confederate
Reunion. The Thomas Legion, which resembled an army brigade, was a Roman-style fighting unit consisting of Confederate
infantry, cavalry, and artillery, and it initially fielded some 2,500 troops. The legion was composed of one infantry
regiment, one cavalry battalion, one battalion of Cherokee infantry, one artillery battery, one company of sappers, and personal
guards for Colonel William Thomas. While the soldiers of the command were raised primarily from the North Carolina mountains
and the area known as East Tennessee, the men served as a line of defense in the Smoky Mountains while operating as
guerrillas for most of the Civil War. Whereas the legion was the last Confederate force east of the Mississippi River
to surrender, it concluded its military service by applying guerrilla tactics and capturing a Union occupied city, and then,
after presenting its own surrender terms to Federal commanders, quit the war and returned to their homes.
Guerrilla War and "Defensive Guerrilla Warfare Strategy"
Warfare is a good example of an oxymoron. At initial glance it appears to be a misleading phrase, since Guerrilla
Warfare is an offensive action, but the term does have merit. Prior to the American Civil War most soldiers had
no military training, so they coined terms which explained a military action other than those they had been
taught in camp, e.g. "left oblique, march."
the word counterinsurgency wasn't used by the military until ca. 1950, the phrase Defensive Guerrilla Warfare,
meaning Guerrilla Warfare Strategy
as a Defense, was used in the southern United States by common soldiers of the Civil War (1861-1865).
During the conflict, guerrilla activities were generally viewed by Washington as cowardly acts performed by bushwhackers,
and in today's military the nouns guerrilla and bushwhacker remain interchangeable terms.
What is Defensive Guerrilla
Defensive strategy means to defend, while Guerrilla
Warfare refers to the tactics used.
Guerrilla Warfare strategy
as a Defense is employed by a group or unit in defense of an area or region it claims or controls
against a military force engaging in counterinsurgency operations.
Guerrilla Warfare Strategy Examples
Defensive Guerrilla Warfare was conducted
by some Partisan units in the South by aggressively defending the home terrain with guerrilla tactics against
Guerrilla Warfare is an offensive defense of an area or region claimed or controlled by the defending group or force.
Guerrilla Warfare, meaning Guerrilla Warfare as a Defense Strategy
common Defensive Guerrilla Warfare goal is to convince the enemy that the war is futile, and consequently the enemy's political and civilian
elements become demoralized and seek a resolution to end the conflict, e.g. Vietnam War. During the U.S. Civil War, the South did not need to win, it only needed a draw or stalemate.
Defensive Guerrilla Warfare tactics are based on intelligence,
ambush, psychological warfare, psychological operations, sabotage, espionage, friendly civilian populace, strong and localized
logistical support, and undermining an enemy through long, low-intensity confrontation. These tactics are useful in demoralizing
an enemy, while raising the morale of the guerrillas. In many protracted conflicts, guerrilla tactics allow a small force
to resist a much larger and better equipped enemy. It can be very successful as demonstrated during the American
Revolutionary War, Vietnam War, Soviet-Afghan War, Russia’s Second Chechen War, and the Iraq War (2nd Gulf
During the Civil War, since the Union army typically outnumbered
the Confederate army by more than two-to-one, Defensive Guerrilla Warfare proved to be effective for the Confederacy,
particularly in the Appalachian Mountains.
|Morgan's Famous Raid of the North
|Map showing route of famous Guerrilla raid during the U.S. Civil War
(Right) Map showing the route of Morgan's Raid of 1,000 Miles. Morgan's Raid was a highly publicized
guerrilla incursion by Confederate cavalry into the Northern states of Indiana and Ohio during the American Civil War. The
raid occurred from June 11–July 26, 1863, and is named for the commander of the Confederates, Brig. Gen. John Hunt
Morgan. During his daring raid, Morgan and his men captured and paroled approximately 6,000 Union soldiers
and militia, destroyed 34 bridges, disrupted the railroads at more than 60 places, and diverted tens of thousands of troops
from other duties. He spread terror throughout the region, and seized thousands of dollars worth of supplies, food, and other
items from local stores, houses, and farms. In Ohio alone, approximately 2,500 horses were stolen and
nearly 4,375 homes and businesses were raided. Morgan's Raid cost Ohio taxpayers nearly $600,000 in damages and over $200,000
in wages paid to the 49,357 Ohioans called up to man 587 companies of local militia. To Morgan's men, the long raid had accomplished
much, despite their military defeat and high casualties. Col. Basil Duke later wrote, "The objects of the raid were accomplished.
General Bragg's retreat was unmolested by any flanking forces of the enemy, and I think that military men, who will review
all the facts, will pronounce that this expedition delayed for weeks the fall of East Tennessee, and prevented the timely
reinforcement of Rosecrans by troops that would otherwise have participated in the Battle of Chickamauga."
Offensive Guerrilla Warfare Strategy definition
- Offensive Guerrilla Warfare Strategy is used by a group or
command which initiates and employs guerrilla tactics in areas or regions that it does not claim nor control.
- Offensive Guerrilla Warfare Strategy consists of
armed incursions and guerrilla tactics by a group or force into an
area or region it does not claim nor control.
Offensive Guerrilla Warfare Strategy Example
- When the Southern units conducted Offensive Guerrilla Warfare
operations in the Northern states, it had limited supplies and was met by an unfriendly civilian populace.
Offensive Guerrilla Warfare Strategy
A common Offensive Guerrilla Warfare goal is
to overthrow a government. Although similar to Defensive Guerrilla Warfare, Offensive Guerrilla
Warfare, however, often exposes the guerrillas to an unfriendly and uncooperative civilian populace, greatly extends
and stretches its logistics and supplies, and it loses familiarity of terrain (home field advantage). It can, however, be
very successful against an unpopular regime.
Native Americans and 250 years of Guerrilla War
The Apaches and Navajos shared the Southwest, where their proximity
to Mexico put them in contact with the Spanish. Like the Comanches, the Apaches were divided into many small bands, but they
were able to fend off the Spanish through 250 years of guerrilla warfare. The Navajos, on the other hand, adopted some aspects
of Spanish culture and learned to farm and raise livestock. In the East, the Indigenous Americans employed guerrilla
tactics while battling superior numbers of what seemed to be an ever increasing number of arriving French and British.
As the new arrivals pushed inland in hopes of settling new territory, it served only to provoke the area's local
inhabitants. Eventually the American Indians were forced onto reservations,
but some remained relentless guerrillas before fading into the history books.
American Revolutionary War and Southern Guerrillas
Believing the loyalists were strongest in the South and hoping to enlist the
slaves in their cause--an objective that seems incompatible with a focus on Southern loyalists--the British turned their efforts
from the North and to the South. In fact, the British had some important military successes in the South. They occupied
Savannah, Georgia, in late 1778 and Charleston, South Carolina, in May 1779. They also struck a disastrous blow on General
Horatio Gates' forces at Camden, South Carolina, in August 1780.
Although the British were successful in most conventional battles, the fighting
in the South, under the leadership of Generals Nathanael Greene and Daniel Morgan, turned toward guerrilla and hit-and-run
warfare. Moreover, the British had overestimated loyalist sentiment in the South; their presence actually forced many, who
had been sitting out the war, to take sides, most in favor of the Patriots. At the same time, the British underestimated the
logistical problems they would encounter, especially when their army was in the interior away from the supplies offered by
their fleet. Patriot forces, on the other hand, were supplied and could hide among the local population. As a result, the
British southern strategy was a dismal failure and it led to the defeat and withdraw of its military forces.
|Civil War Guerrillas and Guerrilla Warfare
|Civil War Guerrilla Leader "Bloody" Bill Anderson
American Civil War and Guerrilla Units
Disorder and unrest plagued the Union in a variety of spheres during
the conflict that lasted four years. Most vexing were the Border States, which fostered guerrilla warfare at its most vicious. Missouri was contested terrain throughout the war, with two governments—Confederate
and Federal—wrestling for control of the population. This state suffered the second largest number of armed encounters
(after Virginia) and was a land awash with blood from decades of violence. Union guerrilla leader James H. Lane began by targeting
homes that hosted rebel forces but ended with the wholesale plunder of towns and counties. The Southern guerrillas unleashed
even greater atrocities. Confederate Captain William C. Quantrill began his career opposing slavery but ended it while leading the well-known guerrilla unit called Quantrill's Raiders. He launched a raid on Lawrence, Kansas, an antislavery stronghold, on August 21, 1863, marching nearly five hundred of his
men into the town in the early morning hours. Reputedly, while Quantrill breakfasted, his men butchered nearly 150 men and
boys, most unarmed, while women and children were forced to witness the barbaric executions. The town was burned to the ground
except the saloon, which they looted and left standing.
The slaughter of civilians led Union General Thomas Ewing to issue Order
No. 11, which required the evacuation of four Missouri counties while Union guerrillas, known as Jayhawkers, had their revenge.
A sympathetic Union officer condemned the exodus: "It is heart sickening to see what I have seen here." He went on to decry
the looting and pillaging, while near naked families stumbled onto the barren prairie. Confederates retaliated with renewed
efforts to stage a coup against Union authorities, and Confederate General Sterling
Price invaded with 12,000 troops. Rebel forces were turned back at the Battle of Pilot's Knob before being chased all the
way from northeastern Missouri back into Arkansas. Many stragglers followed Quantrill to Texas, but the spirit of counterrebellion
had been broken.
Missouri guerrillas splintered into bands, none more infamous than "Bloody Bill" Anderson, of Quantrill's Raiders, who was said to ride into battle with a necklace of Union scalps round his
neck, encouraging his men to mutilate the bodies of victims. Although a populist uprising against the Union never materialized
in Missouri, guerrilla fighters, such as William Clarke Quantrill, and Frank and Jesse James, fought for the Confederate cause, fomenting
rebellion in the interior, creating panic among civilians caught in the crossfire of war on the northern frontier. Post war
atrocities continued, as the James Gang joined forces with the Younger Brothers, and motivated by both revenge and greed, the James-Younger Gang of veteran guerrillas would blaze the trails with blood. See also The American Civil War and Guerrilla Warfare.
On Guerrilla Warfare, by Mao Tse-tung (Author), Samuel B Griffith (Author). Description: On Guerrilla Warfare,
by Mao Tse-Tung, has been translated into English by Samuel B. Griffith. Griffith
also provides a substantial introduction to the text. The book is written in the context of China's guerrilla war against Japanese occupiers; this conflict is mentioned often
by Mao. In this book, Mao discusses the differences between guerrilla and "orthodox" military forces, as well as how such
forces can work together for a common goal. Other topics covered include propaganda, psychological operations, psychological
warfare, and political concerns, the formation of guerrilla units, the qualities of a good guerrilla officer, discipline
in a guerrilla army, and guerrilla bases. Continued below...
Mao stresses the importance of speed, surprise, and initiative in guerrilla war. Among the most
interesting sections of the book is a code of conduct for guerrilla fighters. The book also reflects flashes
of passion, poetic imagery, and global vision that make this more than just a textbook. Translator Griffith
notes that Mao's text was first published in 1937. Despite the passage of time, I believe that this is still a relevant text,
and I recommend it in particular to all professional military personnel.
Recommended Reading: The
U.S. Army / Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual. Description: When the U.S. military invaded Iraq it lacked a
common understanding of the problems inherent in counterinsurgency campaigns. It had neither studied them, nor developed doctrine
and tactics to deal with them. It is fair to say that in 2003, most Army officers knew more about the U.S. Civil War than
they did about counterinsurgency. It was initially released as a government
document in December 2006, but owing to its enormous popularity . . . it has now been published by a university press,
with a provocative, highly readable new foreword and introduction that testify to the manual's `paradigm-shattering' content.
The U.S. Army / Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual was
written to fill that void. The result of unprecedented collaboration among top U.S. military experts, scholars, and practitioners
in the field, the manual espouses an approach to combat that emphasizes constant adaptation and learning, the importance of
decentralized decision-making, the need to understand local politics and customs, and the key role of intelligence in winning
the support of the population. The manual also emphasizes the paradoxical and often counterintuitive nature of counterinsurgency
operations: sometimes the more you protect your forces, the less secure you are; sometimes the more force you use, the less
effective it is; sometimes doing nothing is the best reaction. The University of Chicago Press will donate a portion of the
proceeds from this book to the Fisher House Foundation, a private-public partnership that supports the families of America’s
Strategy and Tactics of the Salvadoran FMLN Guerrillas: Last Battle of the Cold War, Blueprint for Future Conflicts
(Hardcover). Description: This book examines the military organization, strategy, and tactics of the Salvadoran FMLN guerrillas
during their efforts to overthrow the government. It is largely based on the authors' personal collections of guerrilla documents
captured in the war, interviews with former and captured guerrillas, and personal combat experience during one of the fiercest
wars fought in the Western hemisphere in the 20th century. The book describes the guerrilla tactics from a technical point
of view, and their evolution during the war in El Salvador.
It includes discussions of such tactical concepts as concentration and deconcentration, urban combat, anti-air defense, the
use of mines, and homemade weapons.
It contains a chapter on the FMLN Special Forces--they were responsible for most of the spectacular attacks
of the war--and it examines the sophisticated logistical system of the FMLN that made the prolonged war possible. Wherever
possible, these concepts are illustrated by actual combat experiences from sources on both sides of the conflict. An important
text for all concerned with guerrilla warfare and counterinsurgency. Students of Guerrilla War, Latin Americans
and students of the developing world will also find this of great interest.
Recommended Reading: Bloody Bill Anderson: The Short, Savage Life of a Civil War Guerrilla. Description: Nowhere
was the Civil War as savage as it was in Missouri-and nowhere did it produce a killer more savage than William Anderson. For
a brief but dramatic period, "Bloody Bill" played the leading role in the most violent arena of the entire war-and did so
with a vicious abandon that spread fear throughout the land. A name associated with William Quantrill and Jesse James, Bloody
Bill Anderson was known for never taking prisoners. A former horse thief turned bushwhacker, he became the scourge of Kansas
and Missouri with a reputation for unspeakable atrocities. Sometimes he left the bodies of dead Federal soldiers scalped,
skinned, and castrated. Sometimes he decapitated them and rearranged their heads. Wherever Bloody Bill rode, the Grim Reaper
rode alongside. Continued below...
telling this story of bitter bloodshed, historians Castel and Goodrich track Bloody Bill's reign of terror over increasingly
violent raids. He rode with Quantrill in the infamous sack of Lawrence and killed more victims than any other raider.
Then he led the brutal Centralia Massacre, a blood-soaked nightmare recounted here hour-by-hour from firsthand accounts. More
than compiling a chronicle of horrors, Castel and Goodrich have produced the first full-fledged account of Anderson's career. They examine his prewar life, explain how he became a guerrilla, and then
describe the war that he and his men waged against Union soldiers and defenseless civilians alike. The authors' disagreements
on many aspects of Anderson's gruesome career add a fascinating
dimension to the book. Bloody Bill--only 26 when he was killed charging an ambush--had already become a legend; that legend
continues to this very day… This book takes readers behind the legend and provides a closer look at the man-and at the
face of terror.
Recommendedd Reading: Gray
Ghosts of the Confederacy: Guerrilla Warfare in the West, 1861-1865. Review:
Gray Ghosts is an excellent foray into a chapter of the Civil War that does not always garner attention -- the
establishment of a police state in Missouri and the subsequent backlash and ensuing war of sabotage by local guerrillas. "Complexifying"
the historical landscape, Missouri and Kansas had shared much animosity in the years leading up to the Civil War, and Kanasas,
who was a steadfast Union state, used the War as an opportunity to raid Missouri towns as Union Army representatives. Missouri
to this point had been a borderline state. Many of the bands of Guerrillas, while they received aid from the Confederacy,
never considered themselves a part of any Civil War cause. As Bill Anderson wrote, "I am a guerrilla. I have never belonged
to the Confederate Army, nor do my men...I have chosen guerrilla warfare to revenge myself for wrongs that I could not honorably
avenge otherwise" (201). Continued below...
included the murder of his father and mother and the imprisonment of Anderson's sisters. The book is excellently written with
thorough footnotes and documentation. Brownlee applies an array of primary and secondary sources, and also shows
himself to be an excellent writer, stringing together the accounts into a vivid portrait of the time. His conversations with
such characters as Jessie and Frank James, Bloody Bill Anderson, and William Quantrill represent Lazaras-esque scholastic
resurrections... From such a perspective, Brownlee comments on both the contextual factors shaping the guerrillas and
the decisions they made that in turn shaped history.