Guerilla warfare

Heuser, B. (2011) Guerilla warfare. In: Martel, G. (ed.) Encyclopedia of War. Wiley-Blackwell: Oxford. ISBN 9781444338232 (doi: 10.1002/9781444338232.wbeow260)

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Since its introduction during the Eighty Years' War (1568–1648), the term guerrilla (Spanish for “small war”) has been used for a variety of related phenomena. In 1611, the term meant “feud” or “civil war” (Covarrubias 1943: 666). By the following century it was used also in other languages, e.g., in French as la petite guerre. But now, and up to the French Revolution, it was used exclusively to denote operations conducted by special forces acting alongside regular armies. Such special forces had been employed already by the Roman (including Byzantine) and the late Holy Roman (Habsburg) empires, who recruited them from tribes with special warring traditions, involving reconnaissance, sabotage, and ambushes undertaken by lightly armed units, often on horseback. Other European states began to copy the Habsburg employment of such units for what today would be called special operations from the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648) onwards (Selig and Skaggs 1991: 12–14). The units they employed in this way were called Partheyen in German, parties in French, and their leader alone was called a Partheygänger or partisan. Until the American War of Independence (1775–1783), and the French Revolutionary Wars (1792–1802) and Napoleonic Wars (1802–1815), such “partisan warfare” was entirely devoid of ideology, but was warfare carried out by professional units specializing not in regular war and pitched battles but in irregular activities (Rink 1999). These professionals were also called Jäger (huntsmen or foresters) in German and later chasseurs in French; the terms survive in the German-speaking armies up to the present day. A series of manuals on this type of war was published from the mid-seventeenth century (Croix 1752; Grandmaison 1756; Jeney 1760; Ewald 1774, 1991; Emmerich 1789, and others) until the 1820s (Decker 1828).

Item Type:Book Sections (Encyclopaedia entry)
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Heuser, Professor Beatrice
Authors: Heuser, B.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Politics

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