American Civil War Guerrilla Tactics

Guerrilla Warfare during the Civil War
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“A Most Cruel and Unjust War:” The Guerrilla Struggle along the Missouri-Kansas Border

In Yugoslavia and Albania the communist takeover of government was simple and immediate; in China it was complicated and delayed; in South Vietnam it succeeded after nearly three decades; in Greece, Malaya, and the Philippines it was foiled—but only after prolonged and costly fighting. Noncommunist insurgents simultaneously used guerrilla warfare, with heavy emphasis on terrorist tactics, to help end British rule in Palestine in and Dutch rule in Indonesia in After the new state of Israel was faced with a guerrilla war conducted by the fedayeen of its Arab neighbours—a protracted and vicious struggle that over the next 30 years led to three quasi-conventional wars each an Israeli victory followed by renewed guerrilla war.

Meanwhile, a spate of new insurgencies, both communist and noncommunist, followed to end French rule in Algeria and British rule in Kenya, Cyprus, and Rhodesia.

The Afghan War of —92 saw a coalition of Muslim guerrillas known as the mujahideen , variously commanded by regional Afghan warlords heavily subsidized by the United States, fighting against Afghan and Soviet forces. The Soviets withdrew from that country in , leaving the Afghan factions to fight it out in a civil war. South Africa similarly was forced to relinquish control of South West Africa now Namibia in , and guerrilla activity by the African National Congress ANC —one of the most successful guerrilla operations of the modern era—was largely responsible for the end of the apartheid system and for the institution of universal suffrage in South Africa in In the early s the general failure of rural insurgencies in Central and South America caused some frustrated revolutionaries to shift from rural to urban guerrilla warfare with emphasis on the use of collective terrorism.

But terrorist tactics, urban or rural, even the most extreme, have always been integral to guerrilla and counterguerrilla warfare—indeed to all warfare. Initially, urban guerrilla warfare alone appeared to be a losing proposition, in that its promiscuous collective destruction—particularly mass murder—tended to alienate a formerly passive and even sympathetic citizenry.

The lack of organization in depth helps to explain the eventual demise of fringe advocates and practitioners of urban and international terrorism, groups far removed from guerrilla insurgencies.

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However, urban warfare, once properly organized and combined with rural guerrilla warfare and with the increased employment of bomb attacks, played an important role in bringing cease-fires and even peace however tentative to such places as Northern Ireland, Sri Lanka, and Israel-Palestine though not to Colombia, Spain, Indonesia, Nepal, the Philippines, or Chechnya. Not without reason did some experts conclude that guerrilla warfare and terrorism, rural or urban, internal or international, had become the primary form of conflict for that time.

Guerrilla warfare.

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Guerilla Warfare during the Civil War

Load Previous Page. Origins of modern guerrilla warfare Guerrilla warfare in time became a useful adjunct to larger political and military strategies—a role in which it complemented orthodox military operations both inside enemy territory and in areas seized and occupied by an enemy. Keith S. Bohannon , University of West Georgia,.

1. William C. Quantrill

Explore This Article Contents. Guerrilla Activity in North Georgia. Guerrilla Activity in South Georgia. Sherman's Response to Guerrillas. Guerrilla Guerrilla Warfare. According to historian Daniel Sutherland, Civil War guerrillas, regardless of what they called themselves or the side for which they fought, shared at least two characteristics. First, guerrillas utilized unconventional methods of warfare to harass and worry their foes, tactics that stood in marked contrast to those of conventional armies. Second, guerrillas saw their principal responsibility as defending their homes and communities from internal or external foes.

One of the earliest catalysts for guerrilla activity in Georgia was the Conscription Act, which was passed by the Confederate Congress in April Those men wishing to avoid the draft often formed armed bands, which were sometimes joined by Confederate army deserters. Such groups were particularly active in parts of north Georgia, where staunch Unionists and dissenting civilians who were disenchanted with Confederate government policies comprised a minority of the population.

Civil War Guerilla Warfare Skit

In July , for example, a citizen in Gilmer County noted that a contingent of well-armed and mounted men, roaming the countryside to avoid conscription, were stealing, burning houses, killing livestock, and threatening the wives of Confederate soldiers. In an effort to control guerrilla organizations and maintain order in north Georgia, Governor Brown granted commissions authorizing mounted commands to the region. Brown also attempted to address the problem of lawless bands of men stealing property from civilians around the state. The governor was careful not to accuse any of the bands raised under his authority with these crimes, Joseph Wheeler.

John P. Gatewood and his murderous gang comprised probably the best-known guerrilla force operating in north Georgia. Gatewood never received official state sanction, but he might have operated periodically under Wheeler's authority.

Although most of Gatewood's numerous victims were U. The southern part of the state was also periodically plagued with guerrilla violence, and the swamps and pine barrens of south Georgia provided hiding places for deserters, draft evaders, and Unionists.

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Guerrilla warfare in the American Civil War followed the same general patterns of irregular warfare conducted in 19th century Europe. Structurally, they can be. An overview of guerrilla warfare during the American Civil War.

In November an expedition involving state and Confederate troops passed through Wilcox , Ware , Coffee , and Clinch counties, arresting deserters and runaway slaves along the way. The Okefenokee Swamp was another refuge for individuals and small groups of men, although the number of draft evaders or deserters who hid there is impossible to determine. Citizens in Worth County reported in October that lawless villains prowled over the county, stealing and committing depredations.

Bands of deserters raided the town of Blackshear, in Pierce County , ransacking local stores seven times in February A Confederate inspector in Ware County reported that men seeking to evade conscription had banded together south of the Altamaha River to resist arrest. As Railroad Destruction.

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During Sherman's March to the Sea. By the final months of the war, local legal systems no longer functioned in many parts of Georgia, and guerrilla activity increased accordingly. Large numbers of Confederate army deserters in the Georgia mountains joined home guard, militia, or irregular organizations. Many of these deserters claimed that they had taken furloughs to protect their home communities from bushwhackers or robbers.

The presence of guerrilla and state-sanctioned irregular military organizations in north Georgia generated a passionate public debate over their activities and composition.

Some citizens characterized these bands as fearless protectors of Southern citizens, while others claimed that the groups sheltered deserters and even men who had formerly served in Union home guard companies. A civilian writing to an Augusta newspaper in January noted that lawless parties were too large to capture and predicted that anarchy would result in north Georgia if the war did not end soon.

In the preceding weeks, Wofford had attempted to meet with roughly guerrillas who had refused to obey his orders to surrender. Union general Henry M. Judah, who had negotiated with Wofford, announced that anyone who did not surrender would be considered an outlaw.

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Henry M. Guerrillas knew that their paroles would protect them from punishment at the hands of military authorities but not from local civil prosecution, leading Wofford to predict that most irregulars would move abroad. It is impossible to determine how many guerrillas actually migrated, but the notorious Gatewood and his gang were among those who departed the state, heading for Texas.

Hide Caption. Guerrilla Warfare. Joseph E.

Why be a guerrilla?

Joseph Wheeler. Railroad Destruction. Sherman's March to the Sea. Further Reading. Robert S. Davis Jr. Lee B. Jonathan D.