Library of Congress Throughout the American Civil War, as vast armies in blue and gray clashed on conventional battlefields, a drastically different kind of conflict was raging as well: Characterized by ambushes, surprise raids, and irregular styles of combat, this guerrilla war became savage, chaotic, and often disorganized. The guerrilla war, as waged by both Confederate guerrillas and Unionists in the South, gathered in intensity between and and had a profound impact on the outcome of the war.
Guerrilla warfare as a continuum[ edit ] Simplified guerrilla warfare organization An insurgencyor what Mao Zedong referred to as a war of revolutionary nature, guerrilla warfare can be conceived of as part of a continuum. In ancient times these actions were often associated with smaller tribal policies fighting a larger empire, as in the struggle of Rome against the Spanish tribes for over a century.
In the modern era they continue with the operations of insurgent, revolutionary and terrorist groups.
The upper end is composed of a fully integrated political-military strategy, comprising both large and small units, engaging in constantly shifting mobile warfare, both on the low-end "guerrilla" scale, and that of large, mobile formations with modern arms.
In between are a large variety of situations - from the wars waged against Israel by Palestinian irregulars in the contemporary era, to Spanish and Portuguese irregulars operating with the conventional units of British General Wellington, during the Peninsular War against Napoleon.
Guerrillas can operate as small, scattered bands of raiders, but they can also work side by side with regular forces, or combine for far ranging mobile operations in squadplatoon or battalion sizes, or even form conventional units.
Based on their level of sophistication and organization, they can shift between all these modes as the situation demands. Successful guerrilla warfare is flexible, not static. In Phase Three, conventional warfare and fighting are used to seize cities, overthrow the government, and assume control of the country.
Some authors have stressed this interchangeability of phases inherent in this model and guerrilla warfare more generally, especially as applied by the North Vietnamese guerrilla. Some jihadist guerrilla attacks for example, may be driven by a generalized desire to restore a reputed golden age of earlier times, with little attempt to establish a specific alternative political regime in a specific place.
Ethnic attacks likewise may remain at the level of bombings, assassinations, or genocidal raids as a matter of avenging some perceived slight or insult, rather than a final shift to conventional warfare as in the Maoist formulation.
Guerrillas need not conform to the classic rural fighter helped by cross-border sanctuaries in a confined nation or region, as in Vietnam but now include vast networks of peoples bound by religion and ethnicity stretched across the globe.
It is also different from the activities of pirates or robbers. Such criminal groups may use guerrilla-like tactics, but their primary purpose is immediate material gain, and not a political objective. Guerrilla tactics are based on intelligenceambushdeceptionsabotageand espionageundermining an authority through long, low-intensity confrontation.
It can be quite successful against an unpopular foreign or local regime, as demonstrated by the Cuban RevolutionAfghanistan War and Vietnam War.
A guerrilla army may increase the cost of maintaining an occupation or a colonial presence above what the foreign power may wish to bear. Against a local regime, the guerrilla fighters may make governance impossible with terror strikes and sabotage, and even combination of forces to depose their local enemies in conventional battle.
These tactics are useful in demoralizing an enemy, while raising the morale of the guerrillas. Attacking in small groups, using camouflage and often captured weapons of that enemy, the guerrilla force can constantly keep pressure on its foes and diminish its numbers, while still allowing escape with relatively few casualties.
The intention of such attacks is not only military but political, aiming to demoralize target populations or governments, or goading an overreaction that forces the population to take sides for or against the guerrillas. Examples range from the chopping off of limbs in various internal African rebellions, to the suicide bombings in Israel and Sri Lankato sophisticated manoeuvres by Viet Cong and NVA forces against military bases and formations.
Whatever the particular tactic used, the guerrilla primarily lives to fight another day, and to expand or preserve his forces and political support, not capture or holding specific blocks of territory as a conventional force would. Ambushes on key transportation routes are a hallmark of guerrilla operations, causing both economic and political disruption.
Careful planning is required for operations, indicated here by VC preparation of the withdrawal route. In this case the Viet Cong assault was broken up by American aircraft and firepower. However, the VC did destroy several vehicles and the bulk of the main VC force escaped.
As in most of the Vietnam War, American forces would eventually leave the area, but the insurgents would regroup and return afterwards. This time dimension is also integral to guerrilla tactics. Functions such as security or propaganda were duplicated at each admin.
Guerrilla warfare resembles rebellion, yet it is a different concept. Guerrilla organization ranges from small, local rebel groups of a few dozen guerrillas, to thousands of fighters, deploying from cells to regiments.
In most cases, the leaders have clear political aims for the warfare they wage. Typically, the organization has political and military wings, to allow the political leaders "plausible denial" for military attacks.
Surprise and intelligence[ edit ] For successful operations, surprise must be achieved by the guerrillas. If the operation has been betrayed or compromised it is usually called off immediately. Intelligence can be harvested in several ways.
Collaborators and sympathizers will usually provide a steady flow of useful information.Guerrilla Warfare during Revolutionary War Guerrilla Warfare during Revolutionary War Guerrilla tactics were first used at the battles of Lexington and Concord by the Patriots at April 19, At first, the patriots fought in linear formation with the British redcoats, then when the British started retreating, the patriots armed with.
May 30, · Watch video · The Vietnam War started in the s, according to most historians, though the conflict in Southeast Asia had its roots in the French colonial period of the s.
The United States, France, China. T.E.
Lawrence on guerrilla warfare: For an editor of the Encyclopædia Britannica, it must have been a small triumph to persuade T.E. Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia (–), to contribute an article on guerrilla warfare to the 14th edition ().
The guerrilla war, as waged by both Confederate guerrillas and Unionists in the South, gathered in intensity between and and had a profound impact on the outcome of the war. As soon as the Civil War broke out in April , guerrilla warfare emerged as a popular alternative to enlistment in the Confederate army.
Guerrilla warfare, also spelled guerilla warfare, type of warfare fought by irregulars in fast-moving, small-scale actions against orthodox military and police forces and, on occasion, against rival insurgent forces, either independently or in conjunction with a larger political-military strategy.
The most fully elaborated guerrilla warfare structure is by the Chinese and Vietnamese communists during the revolutionary wars of East and Southeast Asia.
A simplified example of this more sophisticated organizational type - used by revolutionary forces during the Vietnam War, is shown above.