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contacts  homepage

   THIS IS THE HOMEPAGE  for evidence relating to the military dimensions of the conflict between the Marines-Guardia and the Sandinista rebels, with special focus on "contacts." 


   In the lexicon of the Marines-GN, a "contact" was an on-the-ground encounter between the Guardia Nacional and an opposing group of armed men in which both sides discharged firearms.  "Contacts" thus ranged from brief skirmishes to hours-long battles.  They excluded military encounters between airplanes and ground forces.  They also excluded violent encounters involving no Guardia (only Marines), and violent encounters between Marine-Guardia-allied Voluntarios and opposing forces (both Sandinista and Conservative). 

    These "Contacts" pages distinguish between these varied types of violent encounters, and consider them together along a spectrum of violence-making.  But the main focus is on military contacts between the Marines-GN and the EDSN.

    The Marines brought with them to Nicaragua a penchant for making lists, a practice adopted by its offspring, the Guardia Nacional.  Various lists of contacts in-the-making can be found in various boxes of RG127, culminating in the "Official List of Contacts" completed sometime in 1933, a booklet of 111 pages with data on 510 contacts.  (For a PDF file of the Official List, at 39 MB, click on the cover image at upper right.) 

    As GN Jefe Director Major General C. B. Matthews wrote in the Official List's undated introduction,

"The data for the booklet was extracted under the direction of Colonel LeRoy P. Hunt, GN, GN-2, GN-3, from the Operations Files of the Guardia Nacional. Errors may be found and omissions may occur, but the book represents our best efforts considering available time and data.  The inception of the idea for this booklet originated with Lieutenant Emil M. Kreiger, GN, and the compiling of the data, the printing, the designing,Audemars Piguet Replica publishing and distribution thereof are entirely due to his efforts."

   An early set of lists that includes Marines-only contacts was found in Box 12 of Entry 113C of Record Group 127 in the US National Archives, presented here as a 21-page PDF file:  EARLY LISTS OF CONTACTS, 1927-1928  (69 MB; or click on image at right).  The material is presented in its original sequence, which as is often the case means in reverse chronological order.  The collection is notable for its inclusion of 10 ground contacts & one aerial contact between the USMC and non-Sandinista Liberal forces in March, April, and May 1927, months before the first contact between the Marines-Guardia and Sandino's forces on 16 July 1927 ? including:

?  near Le?n (March 27)

?  near Le?n (March 28, aerial contact)

?  Nagarote (April 19)

?  Chichigalpa and Posoltega (April 20)

?  El Paso and El Viejo (May 13)

?  Chinandega, Le?n, and Las Banderas (May 14)

?  La Paz Centro (May 16). 

    Another useful list compiled by the Office of Naval Intelligence for the two years from April 2, 1928 to April 5, 1930 includes 63 contacts ? 36 with Marines exclusively (no Guardia and thus excluded from the "Official List"; for a full image click on the image below): Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Replica


    My own list of contacts for the Marines, the Guardia, and the Voluntarios, compiled by combing through extant evidence (including telegrams, intelligence reports, patrol reports, and letters) exceeds 750.  Including aerial contacts brings the total close to 900.  Including instances in which shots were fired by only one side, and violence against property, brings the total number of discrete episodes of violence-making to several thousand. 

    Mapping and analyzing these contacts and related episodes of violence-making in time & space shines a bright light on the rebellion's social geography and the ebbs & flows of the process of insurgency & counterinsurgency over time.


    Further sections of these Contacts pages remain in progress.