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Guardia NACIONAL Homepage

     THIS IS THE HOMEPAGE for documents relating to the Guardia Nacional de Nicaragua, from which can be accessed the following:

PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE GUARDIA NACIONAL — dating from before the "new" Guardia's founding in May 1927 and continuing through the 1960s & after.  Housed mainly in the first pages of the USMC-GN thematic collection in the Photo-Docs section of the website.  Also housed in the Photo-Doc collections of individual repositories, especially USNA1, USNA2, and MCRC.  Most are in high-resolution (600 dpi).  There are some marvelous photographs here  (& bearing in mind that all these Photo-Doc pages are still in progress).

GUARDIA NACIONAL MISCELLANEOUS DOCUMENTS (M-DOCS), 1925-1934.   An expansive collection culled from M-Docs, most from RG127, that shed light on diverse specific aspects of the Guardia's formation & activities from May 1927 until the Marine withdrawal & afterward.  This is will be the meat of this website's collection of materials on the Guardia — a repository for not only military reports but newspaper stories, consular despatches, personal letters & diaries, and other types of evidence that speak in some fashion to the Guardia's development, organized chronologically and with critical introductions & analyses.  Pages in progress.

1916 MILITARY MONOGRAPH OF NICARAGUA, FIRST LT. ROSS E. ROWELL, U.S.M.C. INTELLIGENCE OFFICER.  This 14-page report (PDF file, 9.8 MB) by Marine Corps Intelligence Officer Lt. Ross E. Rowell offers a well-researched & authoritative synopsis of the organization & main characteristics  of the Conservative-controlled Nicaraguan military forces during the years of US military occupation.  (In the late 1920s Major Rowell played played a key role in the air war against the Sandinistas & their supporters & in the development of aerial counterinsurgency doctrine; see the Air War pages.)  Housed on a separate web page and accompanied by maps & graphics, this 1916 report was commissioned by the War College Division of the War Department.

THE FIRST FAILED GUARDIA NACIONAL DE NICARAGUA, 1925-1927 UNDER US ARMY MAJOR C. B. CARTER.    In 1925 the Nicaraguan government under newly-inaugurated President Carlos José Solorzano agreed to create the first incarnation of the Guardia Nacional, headed by a US Army Major C. B. Carter.  The goal was to develop a non-partisan national army that would create political order & stability and permit the US Marines to withdraw from the country.  The effort floudered for a host of reasons, as seen in the critically analyzed document collection to be housed here.  Pages in progress.

GUARDIA NACIONAL FOUNDATIONAL DOCUMENT 1:  LA GACETA, DIARIO OFICIAL, 4 ABRIL 1929.  The full text of the 1927 agreement that created the Guardia Nacional, published in first five pages of the official government registry, La Gaceta, Diario Oficial in April 1929 (PDF, 400 dpi, 20 MB).  This is the same text, in Spanish, as the agreement between the US and Nicaraguan governments signed on 22 December 1927.  This  “Convenio Creador de la Guardia Nacional de Nicaragua” worked its way through the Nicaraguan legislative process and was signed into Law on February 21, 1929 and published in La Gaceta on April 4.

GUARDIA NACIONAL FOUNDATIONAL DOCUMENT 2:  AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE UNITED STATES AND THE REPUBLIC OF NICARAGUA, CREATING THE GUARDIA NACIONAL, SIGNED DECEMBER 22, 1927.   Copy of the agreement above, in English (PDF, 400 dpi, 18 MB).   Signatories are US Minister Dana G. Munro and Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Carlos Cuadra Pasos, but the author was clearly the US State Department, probably Henry Stimson, in consultation with the US Marine Corps & others.  Total number of troops in the initial agreement:  1,229.  Number of enlisted men:  1,064.  Total first-year budget:  $689,132.00.  Members of the Band:  37.  The preample is especially noteworthy for its liberal-capitalist assumptions, terms & phrases, conceptual categories & discursive features.

LOS VOLUNTARIOS:  A FAILED COUNTERINSURGENCY EXPERIMENT OF THE US MARINES & GUARDIA NACIONAL, JANUARY-JUNE 1929.  Four webpages housing 96 documents in 137 JPEG files on the Voluntarios, with critical introductions and interpretive comments, and all known photographs of Voluntario troops & chieftains (13 photos with interpretive captions housed in Photo-Docs > USMC-GN > Page 7: Voluntarios).  Collection includes intelligence reports, patrol & combat reports, citizens' complaints, property-owners petitions, telegrams, letters, newspaper articles, and more.  Linked to pages housing related document collections in the Top 100, PC-Docs, and elsewhere. 

guardia Newsletters.  74 in total, nos. 46-87 and 98-131 (1931-32), comprising over 1,400 pages of text — issued every 7-14 days, more or less, and usually overlapping with the previous & next 7-14 day period, for most of the 20 months from 30 April 1931 to 23 December 1932.  Simple, unadorned, and formulaic, the newsletters offer a wealth of information on various aspects of the Guardia's activities, including movements of units & patrols, exemplary or especially interesting patrol, combat & intelligence reports, and other odds & ends.  Some combat reports that don't appear elsewhere appear in these pages.  The Marines & State Dept. probably hoped that after the US withdrawal, the "newsletter" would be revamped by whomever took over the directorship of the Guardia Nacional.  As we see below, it was.

GUARDIA NACIONAL:  Boletín del Ejército de Nicaragua  (BULLETIN OF THE NICARAGUAN ARMY)  — Successor to the "Guardia Newsletters," produced by the Guardia Nacional & its Jefe Director Anastasio Somoza García after the US withdrawal in January 1933.  Much higher production values than the Newsletters, still stapled but typeset & printed, with a cover (off-white with blue letters), table of contents, photographs, reprinted articles taken from newspapers, and an increasing number of short pieces commissioned specifically for the boletines.  An incomplete set for 17 month, starting in June 1933 & ending in December 1935.  A fascinating source that offers a compelling illustration of how Somoza turned the Guardia into his own private army.

The Official List of Contacts of the Guardia Nacional de Nicaragua".    A compilation of 510 military contacts — with a "contact" defined as a military encounter between opposing ground forces in which both sides discharged firearms — from 16 July 1927 to 31 December 1932, enumerating a total of 197 Guardia casualties (75 killed, 122 wounded), 1,641 EDSN casualties (1,115 killed & 526 wounded).  By my count, the actual number of contacts, determined by combing through the patrol & combat reports, was closer to 735.  This 34 MB PDF file provided via the kind courtesy of the Marine Corps Research Center, Quantico, VA.

Julian C. Smith, et al., "A Review of the Organizations & Operations of the Guardia Nacional de Nicaragua (1927-1933)".   33 MB PDF file, 516 pgs.  The complete unpublished manuscript from the Marine Corps Research Center, 1933.  An invaluable source of information on many aspect of the Guardia's institutional history. Hard-copies available on eBay for around $60.

"The Nicaraguan National Military Academy" (CHAP. XIII), excerpted from Julian C. Smith, et al., "A Review of the Organizations & Operations of the Guardia Nacional," pp. 102-106.  A concise & informative summary of the early development of the National Military Academy in Managua from its founding April 1930 — the institution most responsible for populating the officer corps and governing the Guardia's growth & expansion — excerpted here for convenient reference.  Photo at left a detail of an inspection at the National Military Academy in 1932 — see the Photo-Docs > Marines-GN pages.

Guardia Troop Distribution tables & Figures.   Covers the 13 months from December 1931 to December 1932, in 13 PDF files in 256 pages.  These serial lists provide much valuable information about the asymmetric geographic distribution of the military arm of the Nicaraguan state during the Guardia Nacional's most dynamic and formative period.  Accompanied by a detailed map (using the 1934 US Army map as a basemap) showing the spatial distribution of GN posts in the Northern & Central Areas in December 1932.  PDF files provided via the kind courtesy of the Marine Corps Research Center, Quantico, VA.

captain G. R. Weeks, U.S.M.C., "The Summary of the Organization, Training and Operations of the Guardia Nacional de Nicaragua Troops of the Central Area under American Supervision, with Critical Analysis Thereof."  Marine Corps Schools, Marine Barracks, Quantico, VA, May 1940.  Links directly to a PDF file of 14 pages, again via the kind courtesy of the Marine Corps Research Center, Quantico, VA.

GUILLERMO E. CUADRA G., "MEMORIAS DE UN EX-OFICIAL DE LA GUARDIA NACIONAL" (REVISTA CONSERVADORA, ENERO-MARZO 1962).  A powerful indictment of the personalism & corruption that came to dominate the Guardia under the Somozas after the US withdrawal, covering many specific episodes and written in clear, compelling prose.  Links directly to the PDF file.  See also the spy report by Cuadra, TOP 100 PAGE 82.

ANASTASIO SOMOZA GARCÍA PROPAGANDA SHEET:  "EL TRANSCENDENTAL Y PATRIÓTICO DISCURSO DEL MAYOR GENERAL SOMOZA, ANTE LA GRAN CONVENCIÓN DEL PARTIDO LIBERAL NACIONALISTA" (JUNIO 1936).  A classic expression of Somocista populist-nationalist ideology, issued at a crucial historical juncture, just as he was wresting power from the constitutionally elected president Juan B. Sacasa and poised to be nominated for president by the newly-formed Partido Liberal Nacionalista.  The backside was scanned in two pieces, the first containing the conclusion of Somoza's "discurso," and the second with handwriting at the bottom (in English) by US State Dept functionaries dated July & August 1936.  The top backside with the remainder of the text is accessible HERE, and the State Dept. notes on the bottom HERE.  (Three JPEG files, 8-11 MB each.)

RECOLECCIÓN HISTÓRICA SOBRE HECHOS DE LA GUARDIA NACIONAL DE NICARAGUA, POR JOSÉ WENCESLAO MAYORGA D., TNTE. CNEL. EX GN, 2011.  Unpublished manuscript by a former Lt. Colonel in the Guardia Nacional who enlisted in the Guardia in 1954, at 16 years of age, and served more than 20 years, most in the Judicial Branch (Cuerpo de Leyes).  Some valuable historical information here, with the names & ranks of some of the key players in the Guardia in the postwar years and data on the revamping of the Military Academy in the late 1930s.  Manuscript reproduced here via the kind courtesy of Sr. José Wenceslao Mayorga D.

RICHARD L. MILLETT, SEARCHING FOR STABILITY: THE U.S. DEVELOPMENT OF CONSTABULARY FORCES IN LATIN AMERICA & THE PHILIPPINES.  OCCASIONAL PAPER 30, COMBAT STUDIES INSTITUTE, US ARMY COMBINED ARMS CENTER, FORT LEAVENWORTH, KANSAS (2010).   Chapter 7 of this manuscript offers a detailed, authoritative & lucid account of the creation & formation of the Guardia Nacional de Nicaragua by the author of the 1977 classic, Guardians of the Dynasty (Maryknoll NY: Orbis Books) — which remains the best account, in English or Spanish, of the institutional history of the Guardia Nacional de Nicaragua.   We acknowledge the kind permission of the Combat Studies Institute to publish this manuscript here.  (PDF file, 1.7 MB)

Forthcoming soon:

— Excerpts from Francisco Gaitan's unpublished multi-volume chronicle of the history of the Guardia Nacional, similar to but different than Smith, et al., above.

— Critiques of the Guardia in the Nicaraguan press, pamphlets, and other texts, including a series of articles by Solomón de la Selva in the Managua daily La Tribuna in 1929.

— A compendium of Sandino's views of the Guardia Nacional. 

— and more.   (right: Guardia Nacional corporal Juan Torres, #588, March 1928, US National Archives)



Lt. Col. Robert Y. Rhea Brig. Gen. GN 12 May—29 June 1927
Maj. Harold C. Pierce Maj. GN 30 June—10 July 1927
Lt. Col. Elias R. Beadle Brig. Gen. GN 11 July 1927—10 March 1929
Col. Douglas C. McDougal Maj. Gen. GN 11 March 1929—5 Feb. 1931
Lt. Col. Calvin B. Matthews Maj. Gen. GN 6 Feb. 1931—1 Jan. 1933
Gen. Anastasio Somoza García General 2 Jan. 1933—assassination in 1956

Brig. Gen. Logan Feland February 21, 1927—August 23, 1927
Col. Louis M. Gulick August 24, 1927—January 15, 1928
Brig. Gen. Logan Feland January 16, 1928—March 26, 1929
Brig. Gen. Dion Williams April 18, 1929—June 4, 1930
Brig. Gen. Frederic L. Bradman June 26, 1930—November 26, 1931
Brig. Gen. Randolph C. Berkeley November 25, 1931—January 2, 1933


Source:  Maizie Johnson, comp., "Records of the United States Marine Corps, National Archives Inventory Record Group 127," National Archives & Records Administration, Washington D.C., 1970, pp. 43-44.


Anastasio Somoza García (centro de la primera fila) en Jinotega, Mayo de 1934.

Sentados de izquierda a derecha en primera fila:  Hugo Reese (un alemán casado con Bertha Adam), Luis Amado Pastora (?), Eusebio Rizo, Gral. Anastasio "Tacho" Somoza García, Gral. Rigoberto Reyes, Francisco Rosales, Isidro León York, único de pie agarrándose las manos: Gilberto Morales.  Primera fila de pie, de izquierda a derecha:  Celestino Cantarero, después de dos militares, Humberto Torrez Molina (de camisa blanco), Cuto Fajardo (?), Dr. Edmundo López Pineda (papá de la Dora y Marina), Dr. Luis Manuel Debayle, Antonio López (padre del Dr. Federico López).  Ultima fila de izquierda a derecha:  desconocidos los primeros siete, después, chaparrito: José María Meneses, Justiniano Blandón (?), Zacarías Malespín (de Granada?), Dr. Ernesto Vaca Torres (con las manos sobre los hombros del Dr. López), Braulio Torres (le decían “nuca panda”, véase la posición de la nuca) y el de corbatin, Gregorio Gutierrez de San Rafael del Norte.  El resto no se ha podido identificar.  Ver el artículo del Boletín de la Guardia Nacional de Mayo 1934, pp. 6-8.  Según Arturo Castro-Frenzel, este foto fue tomado durante esta gira triunfal de Gral. Somoza.

Photograph, caption, and verification of venue via the kind courtesy of Arturo Castro-Frenzel.