Irish Stew (1823) & Madrid Stew/Tapas (1968)

James A. Landau JJJRLandau at AOL.COM
Mon Apr 8 15:00:04 UTC 2002

In a message dated Mon, 8 Apr 2002  4:06:12 AM Eastern Daylight Time, Bapopik at AOL.COM writes:

>(The NYPL lists "Sherer, Moyle" as the author--ed.)
>London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Ormer, and Brown
>Pg. 182:  In Catalonia, Navarre, Arragon, and Biscay, Eroles, Lacy and Mina commanded large bodies of Guerrillas, equally formidable from their surprising activity, and their undaunted courage.

Undoubtedly Wellington and his British soldiers in the Peninsular War picked up the word "guerrilla" from their Spanish allies.  The earliest such reference I could find in a quickie Google search was, by coincidence, also 1823.  URL

Memorandum from Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington, to George Canning, explaining the impact of Spanish jealousy on the Peninsular War, 2 March 1823


General Blake had in the end of 1811 lost in an operation in Valencia the only body that could be called an army by capitulation, [f.5v] and Lord Wellington commanded already the guerillas and other troops within his reach as he paid them.

Wellington must have used the term earlier, but the particular archive this is quoted from only has Wellington's papers from the 1820's onward.

>(I'll look harder for an earlier "guerrilla."  Note that today's Palestinians went from "guerrilla" to "terrorist" to "gunmen."  Probably too close to "gorilla"--ed.)

"Guerrilla" to the military has a specific meaning: INDIGENOUS persons, usually but not always civilians, who conduct hit-and-run operations against enemy military.

Note the emphasis on "indigenous".  A Palestinian shooting at Israeli soldiers in the "West Bank" might well be classified as a guerrilla.  A Palestinian attacking Israeli civilians within the pre-1967 Israel borders is definitely NOT a guerrilla---not indigenous and not fighting enemy military forces.  "Terrorist" therefore is NOT a default term but rather the most accurate word to describe someone who attacks civilians in an area where he is not an indigene.  "Gunmen" does not apply to people whose weapons are bombs rather than guns.

The problem is that journalists are enamoured of the word "guerrilla" and use it freely, often without justification and without regard to military subtleties.

     - James A. Landau

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