Popular Resistance in the French Wars: Patriots, Partisans and Land Pirates

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After the initial phases of the war, when large swaths of the North China Plain rapidly fell to the Japanese, underground resistance, supported by either Communist sympathizers or composed of disguised Nationalist soldiers, would soon rise up to combat the garrison forces. They were quite successful, able to sabotage railroad routes and ambush reinforcements.

Many major campaigns, such as the four failed invasions of Changsha , were caused by overly-stretched supply lines, lack of reinforcements, and ambushes by irregulars. The Communist cells, many having decades of prior experience in guerrilla warfare against the Nationalists, usually fared much better, and many Nationalist underground groups were subsequently absorbed into Communist ones. Usually, in Japanese-occupied areas, the IJA only controlled the cities and railroad routes, with most of them countryside either left alone or with active guerrilla presence.

The People's Republic of China has emphasized their contribution to the Chinese war effort, going as far to say that in addition to an "overt theatre", which in many cases they deny was effective, there was also a "covert theatre", which they claim did much to stop the Japanese advance. Many clandestine organizations often known as resistance movements operated in the countries occupied by German Reich during the Second World War.

These organizations began forming as early as when, after the defeat of Poland , the members of what would become the Polish Home Army began to gather. A guerrilla movement in Ethiopia was formed to rout out Italian forces as early as From the second half of , the total forces of the Yugoslav Partisans numbered over , men organized in four field armies , which engaged in conventional warfare.

When Britain was under threat of invasion, SOE trained Auxiliary Units to conduct guerrilla warfare in the event of invasion. Even the Home Guard were trained in guerrilla warfare in the case of invasion of England. Osterley Park was the first of 3 such schools established to train the Home Guard. Not only did SOE help the resistance to tie down many German units as garrison troops, so directly aiding the conventional war effort, but also guerrilla incidents in occupied countries were useful in the propaganda war, helping to repudiate German claims that the occupied countries were pacified and broadly on the side of the Germans.

Despite these minor successes, many historians believe that the efficacy of the European resistance movements has been greatly exaggerated in popular novels, films and other media. Contrary to popular belief, in the Western and Southern Europe the resistance groups were only able to seriously counter the German in areas that offered the protection of rugged terrain. Only when operating in concert with conventional Allied units were the resistance groups to prove indispensable.

All the clandestine resistance movements and organizations in the occupied Europe were dwarfed by the partisan warfare that took place on the vast scale of the Eastern Front combat between Soviet partisans and the German Reich forces. The strength of the partisan units and formations cannot be accurately estimated, but in Belorussia alone is thought to have been in excess of , Guerrilla tactics were employed in the war in the Pacific as well.

When Japanese forces invaded the island of Timor on 20 February , they were resisted by a small, under-equipped force of Allied military personnel— known as Sparrow Force —predominantly from Australia, United Kingdom, and the Netherlands East Indies. Although Portugal was not a combatant, many East Timorese civilians and some Portuguese colonists fought with the Allies as guerrillas criados , or provided food, shelter and other assistance. Some Timorese continued a resistance campaign following the Australian withdrawal.

Colonel Wendell Fertig in organized a large guerrilla force which harassed the Japanese occupation forces on the Philippine Island of Mindanao all the way up to the liberation of the Philippines in After the surrender of Bataan and Corregidor which was the last organized resistance against the Imperial Japanese Army , Filipino guerillas fought the Japanese throughout the war and became a very important force during the liberation of the Philippines. Others included Col. Aaron Bank , Col.

Russell Volckmann , and Col. William R. Because it was never larger than a few hundred Americans, it relied on support from various Burmese tribal groups. In particular, the vigorously anti-Japanese Kachin people were vital to the unit's success. They were formed to put into effect Orde Wingate 's newly developed guerilla warfare tactic of long range penetration. The Japanese military themselves also used guerrilla warfare during the later part of the Pacific War, when Japan's resource was already dwindling and the Allies have started invading.

Tadamichi Kuribayashi famously used guerrilla warfare during the Battle of Iwo Jima , where the general used network of tunnels and caves to attack American forces. His tactic was somewhat successful, delaying the Americans from taking Iwo Jima for 36 days. The same tactic was used during the Battle of Okinawa.

After World War II, during the s and s, thousands of fighters in Estonia , Latvia and Lithuania see Forest Brothers , Latvian national partisans , Lithuanian partisans — participated in unsuccessful guerrilla warfare against Soviet occupation. Within the United States, the Vietnam War is commonly thought of as a guerrilla war. However, this is a simplification of a much more complex situation which followed the pattern outlined by Maoist theory. The National Liberation Front NLF , drawing its ranks from the South Vietnamese peasantry and working class, used guerrilla tactics in the early phases of the war.

However, by when U. The NVA regiments organized along traditional military lines, were supplied via the Ho Chi Minh trail rather than living off the land, and had access to weapons such as tanks and artillery which are not normally used by guerrilla forces. Furthermore, parts of North Vietnam were "off-limits" by American bombardment for political reasons, giving the NVA personnel and their material a haven that does not usually exist for a guerrilla army.

Over time, more of the fighting was conducted by the North Vietnamese Army and the character of the war become increasingly conventional. The final offensive into South Vietnam in was a mostly conventional military operation in which guerrilla warfare played a minor, supporting role. Throughout the Vietnam War, the Communist Party closely supervised all levels of the conflict.

Consisting principally Hmong hill tribesmen , L'Armee Clandestine under General Vang Pao was the only guerrilla army to ever enjoy air supremacy. It fought the Vietnamese regulars from — before reduced numbers and dwindling American support led to their defeat. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan started with a rapid takeover of the major cities but then turned into a decade-long guerilla resistance.

The Afghan side was a collection of tribes who initially fought with obsolete weapons such as rifles from the 19th century or the First World War. The resistance fighters were known collectively as the Mujahideen. The United States started to support the Afghanistan resistance with gradually more potent weapons and eventually anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles which then would cause so much damage to the far larger Soviet army that the Soviet Union abandoned its occupation and retreated back to the Soviet Union. Pakistan Army Regulars disguised as locals infiltrated the LOC and together with local militias, tried to carry out a guerrilla campaign in Indian Kashmir for destabilising the region but it came to an end after farmers captured the operatives and handed them over to the police.

This aggression was considered as an act of war, resulting in an all out war between Pakistan and India in September It was dynamically formed by mostly Bengali regulars and civilians after the proclamation of independence for Bangladesh formerly East Pakistan on March 26, The civilian groups continued to assist the armed forces during the war.

After the war "Mukti Bahini" became the general term to refer to all forces military and civilian of former East Pakistani origin fighting against the Pakistani armed forces during the Bangladesh Liberation War. Often Mukti Bahini operated as an effective guerrilla force to keep their enemies on the run. In the late s the Troubles began again in Northern Ireland.

They had their origins in the partition of Ireland during the Irish War of Independence. They came to an end with the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in The violence was characterised by an armed campaign against the British presence in Northern Ireland by the Provisional Irish Republican Army , British counter-insurgency policy, and attacks on civilians by both loyalists and republicans.

There were also allegations of collusion between loyalist paramilitaries and British security forces, and to a lesser extent, republicans and both British and Irish security forces. Although both loyalist and republican paramilitaries carried out terrorist atrocities against civilians which were often tit-for-tat, a case can be made for saying that attacks such as the Provisional IRA carried out on British soldiers at Warrenpoint in was a well planned guerrilla ambush.

In the s, s, and s, Latin America had several urban guerrilla movements whose strategy was to destabilize regimes and provoke a counter-reaction by the military. The theory was that a harsh military regime would oppress the middle classes who would then support the guerrillas and create a popular uprising. While these movements did destabilize governments, such as Argentina , Uruguay , Guatemala , and Peru to the point of military intervention, the military generally proceeded to completely wipe out the guerrilla movements, usually committing several atrocities among both civilians and armed insurgents in the process.

Several other left-wing guerrilla movements, sometimes backed by Cuba , attempted to overthrow US-backed governments or right-wing military dictatorships.

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US-backed Contra guerrillas attempted to overthrow the left-wing Sandinista government of Nicaragua. During the eight-year Iran—Iraq War , irregular warfare was used against Iraqi military. The Greek Marxist 17 November disbanded around following the capture and imprisonment of much of its leadership.

The ongoing war between pro-independence groups in Chechnya and the Russian government is currently the most active guerrilla war in Europe. Most of the incidents reported by the Western news media are very gory terrorist acts against Russian civilians committed by Chechen separatists outside Chechnya.

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However, within Chechnya the war has many of the characteristics of a classic guerrilla war. See the article History of Chechnya for more details. They are dwarfed in size by the Provisional IRA and have been less successful in terms of both popularity among Irish republicans and guerrilla activity: The Continuity IRA has failed to carry out any killings, while the Real IRA's only attacks resulting in deaths were the Omagh bombing , which killed 29 civilians, a booby trap torch bomb in Derry which killed a former Ulster Defence Regiment soldier, and a attack on a Northern Ireland military installation which killed 2 British soldiers and wounded several others.

He employed the force against Iraqi military during the Iran—Iraq War. The unit was later disbanded. Many guerrilla tactics are used by the Iraqi insurgency against the U. Such tactics include the bombing of vehicles and human targets, suicide bombings , ambushes , sniper attacks, and traditional hit and run raids. Although it is unclear how many U. In addition the Sunni insurgents established de facto control over the Al Anbar Governorate and Diyala Governorate , over a third of Iraq's land.

European Jews fleeing from anti-Semitic violence especially Russian pogroms immigrated in increasing numbers to Palestine. When the British restricted Jewish immigration to the region see White Paper of , Jewish immigrants began to use guerrilla warfare against the British for two purposes: to bring in more Jewish refugees, and to turn the tide of British sentiment at home.

Jewish groups such as the Lehi and the Irgun — many of whom had experience in the Warsaw Ghetto battles against the Nazis, fought British soldiers whenever they could, including the bombing of the King David Hotel. They also conducted attacks against the Arabs, and prepared the infrastructure for the coming conflict.

Some of these groups were amalgamated into the Israel Defense Forces and subsequently fought in the War of Independence. The Naxals, begun their People's War through radical students in the city of Calcutta, however it continues today, having its bases in rural India and top universities. The area under maoist control has been viewed as a war zone and the group itself has been called the biggest threat to Indian Security by the Prime Minister.

Khalistan movement was a movement initiated by the Sikhs of the Indian Punjab. The Punjab region is of historical and religious significance for Sikhs and was contested during the separation of United India.

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Though it ended in India in the s, the Khalistan movement still has supporters across the world, mainly in Canada, and the British Sikh Community. One of the proponents of the ideology are the Khalistan Zindabad Force. The Taliban uprising took place after Afghanistan 's invasion by Allied forces in As in the earlier wars against the British and Soviets , Afghan resistance to the NATO intervention took the traditional form of a Muslim " holy war Jihad against the infidels". The Taliban have now become a dominant role in the Afghan life once again. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Main article: Guerrilla warfare in the American Civil War. Main article: Brigandage in the Two Sicilies. See also: Laotian Civil War. War before Civilization. September 22, Retrieved September 22, from Encyclopedia. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list. Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia. Print this article Print all entries for this topic Cite this article.

Esdaile, Charles J. Many French officers were, in fact, keenly aware that their aim had to be driving a wedge between the insurgents and the populace as a whole and struggled hard to keep their men under control, whilst further restraints were often exercized by the civilian officials who became involved in the various anti-bandit tribunals established by such rulers as Joseph Bonaparte. But the fact is that levels of repression were high and, on occasion, extreme, and that in the short term this exacerbated the problem. Thus, the population of entire villages might flee their homes and in consequence be left with no other means of survival than violence; equally, if some of the particular tales told in this respect are mere fables — among the Spanish guerrilla leaders who are falsely.

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Nor was the situation aided by other aspects of occupation policy. The chief culprit here was conscription. Though never introduced in Spain and Portugal, fear that it was coming was undoubtedly an underlying factor in the Iberian insurrections, whilst it played a major role in radicalizing the population of the Tyrol, this province having traditionally enjoyed exemption from service in the regular army under the Habsburgs.

But its impact was at its most severe in Calabria. Thus, by the spring of three years of a mixture of ferocious repression and efforts to win over the populace had done a great deal to reduce the strength of the insurrection. At this point, however, Joachim Murat, who had replaced Joseph Bonaparte as King of Naples when the latter had been transferred to Spain, introduced conscription. The result was immediate: large numbers of fresh recruits fled to the bands, whilst the French lost control of many villages that had hitherto been quiet.

On occasion, too, compromise was reached in Spain where a pattern of tit-for-tat executions eventually led Francisco Espoz y Mina and the French governor of Navarre to respect the lives of prisoners. In rare exceptions, however, this was not the case, in which respect it behoves us to pay particular attention to the most obvious example, and all the more so as this has been regularly advanced as proof of the way in which the Napoleonic Wars generated new styles of warfare. We come here to the events that ravaged central Portugal between September and April In brief, faced by a French army of invasion commanded by Marshal Massena which he suspected he would not be able to check in the open field, Wellington fell back from his positions on the frontier of Beira in the direction of Lisbon, which he had protected by an impregnable zone of fortifications known as the Lines of Torres Vedras.

As the French advanced, moreover, they were confronted by a scorched-earth policy that saw large numbers of the inhabitants driven from their homes and forced to migrate to ad hoc refugee camps created around the capital and such food stocks as could not be transported to Lisbon burned or spoiled. To these demands,. Confronted by the Lines of Torres Vedras, the invaders — some 60 men — came to a dead halt, but, whilst Massena realised that trying to fight his way through the maze of inundations, abattis, escarpments and redoubts that Wellington had constructed was impossible, he refused to retreat, and therefore blockaded the Anglo-Portuguese forces in their positions in the hope that fresh troops might arrive from Spain.

There followed one of the most dreadful episodes of the entire Napoleonic era. Assailed by ever growing hunger, the French turned on the inhabitants who had been left behind and set about extracting such food supplies as remained to them. Increasingly desperate, foraging parties resorted to torture and murder as a matter of course. It was, therefore, without any proper magazines, and soon it found itself without food of any sort.

Nevertheless, it was necessary to live. Once the initial resources had run out. Woe be to the peasant who was caught by such an expedition! The poor unfortunate was stripped of all he had and often. When the troops were operating in places they did not know, guides were needed. If no-one came forward at their call, someone would be seized at random. Having got such a person, he would be ordered to take them to a village. The poor devil would not know where it was any more than those who were searching for it, and the confusion into which he was necessarily thrown was taken as proof of bad faith by the soldiers.

Worse than barbarous as they were, these atrocious means sometimes succeeded, but this was only when fate had pitched upon an inhabitant of the village that was being raided. Unless that was the case, such men. You are a brigand: hanged you were and hanged you will remain! In brief, there was nothing else left for them to do: it was literally a question of seizing food from the French or starving to death, and, still more bluntly, killing the invaders before they themselves were killed.

To picture the infamous way in which they have left the country and the inhabitants is quite impossible: they have burned every village and town they went through, and murdered every peasant they could find. To quote the British diplomat, Thomas Sydenham: The feelings of all the provinces through which I have passed are decidedly inimical to the French and favourable to the common cause. At the same time. It is a passive feeling which murmurs under the oppression and tyranny which it suffers without exerting itself to remove or diminish what it complains of.

The people pay their contributions and deliver up their mules, grain and provisions whenever they are demanded. Of course they complain of these exactions and are happy to see the English. At the same time, it was something that was likely to take root only in certain very specific circumstances. Only very rarely could the common people be relied on to fight for the Old Order on social or economic grounds. But in the absence of the conditions that made revolt a reality the publication of such documents remained an empty gesture.

There is little evidence that the efforts of Arndt, Von Kleist and Von Hormayr had much effect on the situation in Germany: only one popular insurrection — that seen in Hamburg — occurred in the campaign of , and this not only took place after the French had evacuated the city; but also seems to have been the work of the ruling oligarchy, the chief aim of this group being to maintain order and ensure that their homes and businesses were not sacked by the Cossacks who appeared hot on the heels of the French. In Germany, then, it can safely be said that there was little real enthusiasm for independent action on the part of the people.

Nor was this only the case in Prussia, Austria and the states of the Confederation of the Rhine: In Spain, too, there was real ambivalence about the issue of guerrilla warfare. In consequence, the Patriot authorities were besieged by pretendientes anxious to secure a commission as a cabecilla. Yet, whether implicitly or explicitly, there was constantly a sense of dicing with the devil: the people, might, or so it was argued, hate the French, but they were also brutal, ignorant, irrational and ungovernable.

Even when formed into organized militias, in fact, the populacho — literally, the rabble — could not be relied upon. As Antonio Moliner shows us in. Esdaile 17 his paper on Catalonia, the somatens and miquelets of that province were always prone to riot, desertion and pillage, and could not always be trusted to put up much of a fight. As was implicitly recognised, in fact, to the extent that it existed at all, the desire to take up arms reflected not devotion to the patria, but rather an attempt to find a solution to some of the problems that beset the populace: the partidas, as we have seen, offered food, pay, plunder, freedom from service in the regular army and the chance to make an end of hated social superiors.

Even the worst brigands, of course, could still inflict harm on the enemy on occasion, but little was to be expected from such privateering. This cannot be supposed to influence the minds of their gallant chiefs [a belief in which Stothert was sadly mistaken], but the peasant, when compelled by the ravages of war to abandon the scenes of peaceful industry, becomes of necessity a soldier. It is not surprising.

But it is perfectly evident that the deliverance of Spain can never be achieved by the efforts of a force so rudely constituted, however. This leads. Did this encourage the mass armies that everywhere had perforce to be fielded against the French to fight harder and show greater willingness to accept their lot?

As Hartley shows, in the case of Russia at least this cannot be proved: the officers were in many instances enthused by a new spirit that had as one of its consequences the Decemberist revolt of , but it is difficult to argue the case one way or the other with regard to the common soldiers.

Certainly, the Orthodox religion was made use of to stimulate loyalty and devotion, and certainly, too, at Borodino and other battles the Russian forces fought with desperate heroism. But had anything really changed? In all this the self-same factors generally identified as the mainspring of Russian patriotism in had made an appearance. Thus, throughout the eighteenth century commanders such as Rumiantsev and Suvorov had made every effort to play on the devotion of the soldiery to the Orthodox faith and to instill love of the tsar.

In this respect it is the opinion of some historians that they appear to have had at least some success. Amidst the Russian qualities, the love of country is. Esdaile 19 also pre-eminent, and inseparable from the Russian soldier. This feeling is paramount, and in the very last hour his gaze is directed towards its nearest confines. Indeed, it could even be argued that the Russian armed forces were actually less patriotic in than they had been in, say, Thus, as Hartley rightly points out, there were many non-Russian conscripts, most notably Ukrainians, in the army of Alexander II.

What she neglects to say, however, is that conscription had only been extended beyond the frontiers of Great Russia in the reign of Paul I, and that a number of contemporary writers had been expressing fears that this would dilute the morale and fighting power of the soldiery. Why, then, was he able to give the French, the Prussian and the Turks such a tough time? One explanation that is sometimes put forward is that the conscripted serfs who fought for the Romanovs were so brutalized, so stupid and so devoid of initiative that they simply did not understand the concept of running away.

In the late eighteenth century, the Russian army had evolved a tactical doctrine that stressed initiative, flexibility and speed of movement, and, whilst Paul I did make some reforms, the fact is that he really only altered the emphasis of the regulations: firepower was now to be more important than the bayonet, but the same offensive spirit was still very much in evidence; simultaneusly, meanwhile, the tsar initiated the practice of awarding medals to common soldiers.

At Eylau, Friedland and Borodino the Russians certainly fought in dense masses, but this was not the result of bovine stupidity: rather, the position of the army was in each case very cramped with the result that there was little option but to form the troops in column and no means for them to change their position or take shelter.

From this it follows that the performance of the Russian army was in the end determined by military factors. In the first place, it was plentifully supplied with artillery and therefore able to inflict terrible damage on its opponents, who were generally less well served in this respect: at Kay 28 Prussians and fifty-six guns faced 40 Russians and guns, whilst at Kunersdorf 51 Prussians and guns faced 41 Russians and guns; moreover, both the organization and the armament of this arm of service were greatly improved under Paul I and Alexander I.

The benefits of this situation continued to pertain in — at Borodino the Russian guns were both more numerous and heavier than their French opponents and even at the very end of the day they were still able to impose their superiority. Our artillery caused immense damage with its roundshot and compelled the enemy batteries to fall silent, after which all the French infantry and cavalry withdrew.

Thus, the eighteenth-century reformer, Rumiantsev, the towering genius, Suvorov, and the victor of Borodino, Kutuzov, had all placed great emphasis on realistic battle drills, the fact being that the Russian army was therefore a very tough nut to crack. The issue of the extent to which patriotism became a force amongst the soldiers of the mass armies that eventually overthrew Napoleon is one that needs to be explored much further. If one has room to doubt the extent to which it was a factor of much importance in Russia, in the Prussian forces there is some evidence that there was a sea-change in the feelings of the soldiery.

At Leipzig and Waterloo, by contrast, it is claimed that a very different vision was on show. Let us here quote Gunther Rothenberg: In the typical Prussian soldier had been a mercenary or a reluctant conscript; now he was animated both by patriotism and by a deep and even savage hatred of the French. The first expressed. Esdaile 21 itself, as it had in the days of Frederick, by religion. Hatred of the French expressed itself in bitter fighting and in the ability to rally after initial defeat.

But all the evidence suggests that conscription was hated, desertion rife and volunteers both few in number and for the most part confined to the same groups that had always provided German rulers with the bulk of the men who had chosen to enter their service without compulsion. Only through the examination of such bundles of private letters will we ever be able to test the claims put forward by Rothenberg, and until that task has been carried out it is probably wise to remain at least a little sceptical.

With this remark, we return to our point of departure, which was to reassert the need for greater attention to be paid to the subject of popular resistance. In this respect the Liverpool symposium undoubtedly provided a useful forum for debate, but at the same time it revealed just how little we know about this issue. For many years to come, then, the patriots, partisans and land-pirates whom we have discussed in these pages will, or so it is hoped, continue to occupy the attention of the historical community.

One might even voice the hope, indeed, that they might attract the attention of more of the historical community than has hitherto been the case. Spain has, perhaps, now been dealt with adequately, but Italy, the Tyrol and Portugal all offer opportunities for truly ground-breaking monographs that would add enormously to our understanding of the subject whilst at the same time testing out some.

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In brief, these are five-fold. In the first place the popular will to take up arms was relatively limited even in those areas of Europe — a clear minority — which did experience armed resistance on the part of the populace. In the second, outbreaks of armed resistance were rarely ideological: whilst the masses were frequently worked on by members of the establishment, they do not seem to have been much moved by anti-French propaganda per se, but rather by their experience of enemy occupation and the extent of their ability to feed themselves and their families and to carry on some semblance of normal life.

In the third, except in the cases of spontaneous riots and revolts such as those that gripped Pavia and Gaon — instances of violence that were on the whole very short-lived — the organization of effective popular resistance in many cases clearly depended on the state and its collaborators rather than springing from the populace itself.

In the fourth, in those cases where popular resistance did spring from below, it was generally ineffectual and in the end prone to slide into mere banditry. And in the fifth it is clear that the subject cannot be studied effectively without a readiness to grapple with traditional military history: as the current author has shown in these pages, the motivation of the Russian army in needs to be discussed with the aid of some knowledge of its organization and war record; equally, in Fighting Napoleon: Guerrillas and Bandits in Spain, — he has established that the partidas will never properly be understood if the role played in them by the Spanish regular army is not accorded its full weight.

So where, then, does all this leave us? With a subject of great complexity, certainly: the successful historian of popular resistance must necessarily be able to draw on a variety of different sub-disciplines, identify and manipulate sources that are frequently as obscure as they are fragmentary and have an eye for events not just in his or her own area of study but in Napoleonic Europe as a whole.

That said, however, it is also a subject of great potential: a rich orchard whose fruits await only the hands that should be stretched out to pluck them. North London, , p. Esdaile 23 4. Fisher, Napoleonic Statesmanship: Germany Oxford, , pp. For a very helpful, discussion of the economic impact of French rule on the Rhineland, cf. His conclusion confirms the impression given by Fisher, viz. For the banditry and unrest that gripped the Rhineland in the s, cf. For a discussion of the military situation in Spain and Portugal at the beginning of the Peninsular War, cf.

For some details of the barbetti, as they were called in Piedmont, cf. For the revolt in Piacenza, cf. Broers, Europe under Napoleon, — London, , p. The Dos de Mayo has yet to receive the scholarly analysis which it deserves. However, for a relatively recent Spanish account, cf. Rambaud London , pp. For a digest of these views, cf. Esdaile, The Wars of Napoleon London, , pp.

Eyck, Loyal Rebels, pp. For all this, cf. Esdaile, Fighting Napoleon, pp. For events in Galicia in —09, cf. Finley, Most Monstruous of Wars, pp. Bousson de Mairet ed. Finley, Most Monstruous of Wars, p. Bourachot ed. Muir ed. However, for a most thoughtful and well-researched fictional version, cf. Forester, Death to the French London, Sydenham to H. For the Hamburg insurrection, cf. Esdaile, Wars of Napoleon, p. Kagan and R. Duffy, Borodino and the War of London, , p. Zhomodikov, Tactics of the Russian Army, p. Duffy, Borodino, pp. Matthew 9, 37—8. The text is from the New RSV.

Thieves gathered in bandes to attack mail coaches and rob passing traders, often secure in the knowledge that, as local men, they could expect to enjoy a degree of protection from their own communities against the attentions of the law. They congregated on frontiers, mingling with bands of smugglers and contrebandiers who were assured rich pickings in the sand dunes around Dunkerque or the mountain pastures of the Pyrenees, areas where only they knew the hidden paths that led across into Spain or the Austrian Netherlands.

The only successful repression of a bande of thieves recorded over a seventy-year period revealed a few neighbours supplementing their income with occasional moonlight sorties, not at all the sort of banditry that spread fear and panic through the French countryside. They may have been feared by local people, and respected for their power and their defiance of the authorities, but there is no evidence that they were hated, especially since, like all the best bandit gangs, they served a useful and much-appreciated function in redistributing wealth, artificially injecting money stolen from merchants and other travellers into a hard-pressed local economy.

They belonged to the same popular class as the mass of the people, yet they had turned their backs on poverty and cocked an almighty snook at the dual authority of Church and State. Even unexceptional robbers like Poulailler, by the time of the Revolution, were being featured in popular prints, distributed by peddlars at village fairs and in the popular quarters of Paris.

Behind every bandit leader there was just a vestige of Robin Hood. Yet we should not be deceived. Not all bandits could aspire to be local heroes, just as not all had the swagger and the anarchic style needed to appeal to the popular imagination. Bands of outlaws were often formed from those with little or no stake in local society — vagabonds who had come into the area from elsewhere, from communes that could not give them sustenance, and were desperate for food and lodging, however they might come by it.

They drew on a criminal underclass of men who had been released from jail after serving their sentence, gens sans aveu for whom no one would vouch and who had no escape from destitution; and deserters from the armies, their number swollen after each campaign, fearful of arrest and condemned to a life on the move, often, of course, armed, a prey to any temptation that might come along. It had, it seemed, always been so. So, too, it was bands of soldiers, turning to crime when they were paid off after the end of the Italian Wars, who murdered and tortured their way across France until Francis I, in a bid to end what the whole country saw as a fearful scourge, turned state terror against its perpetrators, importing from Germany the terrible punishment of breaking on the wheel as a final deterrent for highway robbery.

There was nothing romantic about this, a final act of savagery to add to the savage catalogue of crimes which the brigands had committed. But the popular prints of the day tell a slightly different story. The sheer horror of the wheel,. They were used to the violence and debauchery of the armies that crisscrossed the continent during the long wars of the century, many of them foreign mercenaries, and would have had little cause to draw any significant distinction between those fighting for the French monarchy and those against whom they fought.

Soldiers were reviled as being drunken, violent and — particularly when on foreign soil — gratuitously dangerous. Nor did they necessarily improve their behaviour when they ceased to be employed in the armed service of one or other of the European monarchs. As for the origins of the term, there the encyclopaedists admit to a degree of uncertainty. It could come from the name of Burgand, who laid waste much of Guienne in the time of Nicholas I.

Or again, they suggest, rising to their theme, it might stem from the reputation of a company of soldiers raised by the city of Paris back in , and fitted out with brigandines to defend them against enemy archers. So heinous was their reputation with local people, and so serious the destruction that they caused, that they were referred to as brigands, and so, it was implied, the word had entered the language. Alan Forrest 29 out army life to escape family squabbles at home, or had been given the option of enlistment or the gallows; this in turn fostered violence and produced a predictable explosion in crime.

Soldiers billeted far from home felt few of the social constraints that helped moderate their conduct in their home villages, while debt, hunger, drink and sheer desperation all contributed to an increase in violent behaviour. There was the usual flurry of thefts from lonely farmhouses, stabbings in wayside bars and murders committed under the influence of drink, all of which were regarded as customary when armies passed through a rural community.

Revolutionary and Napoleonic soldiers were no worse than those from previous eras; indeed, at certain times the laws against looting and pillage were so severe that standards of behaviour probably improved. But, more alarmingly for the authorities, there was an upsurge in highway robberies during these years, most particularly during the Directory. Soldiers were again turning to armed attacks and brigandage, though it was less a crime of serving soldiers than of those who sought to avoid service in the battalions, whether through desertion or by avoiding the draft, living a semi-clandestine existence in a demi-monde of vagrants and criminals.

Such was the case with the infamous bande de Salembier, which ravaged much of the Nord and Pas-de-Calais during Years III and IV, with army deserters merging into a band of ordinary criminals, sixty strong, complete with their women and their family groups. They were, it might appear, a rather indiscriminate bunch. Some were simple criminals, outlaws who lived in the woods or on the edge of remote villages, robbing strangers and merchants on the highways or — particularly during the Directory — concealing their criminal intentions.

They had made a conscious choice not to be citizens, and had in consequence forfeited the rights which citizenship bestowed. But the rise in the incidence of brigandage in this period, especially in some of the more peripheral areas of the country — barbets in the Alps, for instance, and chauffeurs in the Nord — alarmed the authorities and posed a severe threat to the governability of these regions, while the targets they selected for attack and the presence in their ranks of large numbers of army deserters alerted the government to their political as well as criminal intent.

They focussed their attacks on merchants and other outsiders so as not to alienate local people. Systematically, too, they attacked symbols of governmental prestige and authority, like mail coaches and liberty trees, while the presence in their ranks — in the South-east particularly — of priests and refractory clergy gave a clear indication to the communities where they were staked out of a Catholic and counter-revolutionary ideology.

Alan Forrest 31 without reference to revolutionary politics. To take one example from just outside the hexagone, if the introduction of the conscription law caused the initial outburst of violence in Ghent in , it cannot explain the so-called guerre des paysans which followed and which engulfed the Belgian departments: Conscription appears only to have been the pretext. The motors of the rebellion are men attached either to the government of the erstwhile Belgian state or to the party of the stathouder; and the rebels themselves priests, monks, vagabonds and foreigners.

Some of those denounced as brigands, like the barbets along the Italian frontier, appeared to start out with rather idealistic goals and were driven by a political agenda, but they fell into ordinary crime to keep themselves alive and were, by the end of a twenty-five year campaign of violence in the department of Alpes-Maritimes, indistinguishable from any other band of thieves and bandits.

In either case the effect was to dislocate local government and to deflect the military from their true vocation. Did it have to involve armed robbery, or could it be used in a more generic way, to cover all those who by their actions placed themselves outside society,. Napoleonic officials, both civil and military, sought to deny their opponents any vestige of dignity, to strip them of the kind of honourable feelings which only soldiers could be expected to display, in short to reduce them to the level of common criminals who abused popular trust in their quest for gain and local power.

They could not, obviously, condemn foreign armies in these terms; men who fought against the French in the recognized military units of their states were accorded the meagre respect due to enemy soldiers, while their officers might expect to be treated with a respect appropriate to their rank. Brigands were men who were not soldiers — irregulars, freedom-fighters, guerrillas, militiamen, all might be wrapped up in the same term of condescension, and be criminalized in the event of a French victory.

They were men who did not fight cleanly and did not accept the rules of war, men who laid ambushes for the French, sought concealment amongst the local civilian population, or otherwise resorted to tactics unworthy of fighting men. Though they had acted under the orders of General Rostopchin, he implied that they were no better than common criminals, and in his bulletin from Moscow on 17 September he would say as much. The loss was incalculable.

When the French captured them, they briefly interrogated them to establish that they had acted under orders; then, in their hundreds, they were summarily shot. Italy was the first campaign where the French felt they were fighting brigands rather than soldiers, and where their efforts were undermined both by a local population that was always prone to revolt and by an army of part-timers and irregulars whom they were unable to repress. They could never be sure whom they were fighting, or who their real enemy was.

Each day, it seemed, villagers joined with escaped prisoners-of-war to attack the French; it was not like fighting an army, for the enemy was constantly changing and rarely identified itself as a military unit. The brigands are causing us a lot of trouble; for we are shooting large numbers of them, and we are the only ones to hunt them down, day and night. Lavit is not talking of fighting or armed combat, man to man, as he would when describing engagements with the Austrians or Prussians.

Rather it is the language of the hunter closing in on his prey. If the Italians were brigands, so, too, were the Spaniards and the Portuguese. Indeed, in the brigandage stakes, the Italian campaign faded into relative insignificance; the Iberian peninsula was, without doubt, the main feature. Here the term was almost automatically transferred to the villagers and guerrilla fighters who, without being incorporated into any regular force, demonstrated a natural genius for war on their own.

Local people connived with them, sheltered them and offered them protection, standing lookout for them and warning them of any French approach. They gave them food when they refused to sell anything to the French. They treated them as their own, as kith and kin, which they probably were in many cases, though the French had no means of knowing and little means of distinguishing between fighter and protector, soldier and civilian.

It was this that made the troops in the Peninsula so mistrustful of everyone they met, male and female, old and young. All were potential enemies, secretly and stealthily, turning their villages into armed encampments where any French soldier risked being treated with legendary cruelty. All might be allied against the invader in a war without rules, where killing was the major goal of soldier and civilian alike. Even in hospital beds they were not safe, since in Iberia public morals were such, they believed, that no form of brutality or deception, however contemptible, could be ruled out.

Letters spoke of troops being stoned and. Alan Forrest 35 ambushed by civilians, of prisoners being brutally massacred, even of soldiers being burned alive. In words carefully chosen for posterity, Jean Marnier recalled that in Spain French troops faced a quite different sort of war. Everyone was to be feared, even those seemingly hospitable people who took you into their homes. The soldiers accepted that, since they were dealing with bandits, they could not afford to treat the enemy with the respect which the rules of war demanded.

The Iberian front, the French were convinced, was one like no other, where no prisoners were taken and all — soldiers and civilians — could expect to be butchered without mercy. Any reprisals, however brutal, seemed justified as guerrilla warfare disintegrated into random tit-for-tat killings, with the French forced to accept the methods of the guerrillas and often tempted to ignore their own military discipline: Our light infantry picked up all those who had taken to flight and had hidden in the rocks. Not a single prisoner was taken. As thirtyfive dragoons had been murdered by the inhabitants of this area, all the villages were burned and their inhabitants put to the sword.

On the following day the same routine was repeated. The French torched the Portuguese town of Amarantes, for instance, after a number of men of the 17th Regiment had been seized and thrown on to a fire of live coals. The fire had been lit explicitly for the purpose, with an almost sadistic deliberation, and the soldiers had been quite callously left to burn painfully to death. It is easy to see why the French loathed fighting in the Peninsula, and how deeply they came to hate Spain and Portugal and their people.

They were prepared to treat other armies with decency because they shared the same conception of warfare, exposing themselves to the same dangers, admiring the same qualities of courage and military science. But guerrillas were different. They detested fighting against them, or responding to tactics which only too often were intended to goad regular troops into anger and outrages that would, in turn, help to unite local people against them.

The troops found it very hard to resist turning their fury on the local population; they were tired, constrained by military discipline, and revolted by what they saw; and often their tolerance had been pushed beyond endurance.