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Spanish Civil War: Lincoln Brigade?



Ed Eisen wrote:"Originally the American contingent to Spain was divided into two battalion, the Abraham Lincoln Battalion and the George Washington Battalion. After Belchete and very heavy losses of personnel, they were reorganized as the Abraham Lincoln Brigade under the aegis of the International Brigade ". Tim Brown comments: "The commander of the Lincoln "Whatever", Robert Hale Merriman, was the only graduate of my alma mater, Sparks High School in Sparks, Nevada to become famous, so I have a proprietary interest. His biography, co-authored by his widow, Marion Merriman and Pulitzer prize winning Nevada journalist Warren Lerude, is entitled American Commander in Spain - Robert Hale Merriman and the Lincoln Brigade (University of Nevada Press, 1986). Then, immediately thereafter, on the book's inside cover it says this book is about"...Robert Hale Merriman, the first commander of the Lincoln Battalion...". The index lists about 40 citations under Abraham Lincoln Brigade (Battalion) and a number under George Washington Battalion. They were both part of the 15th International Brigade. As Mr. Eisen notes, the two American battalions were combined into one after each suffering about 50% casualties in combat, although Mrs. Merriman, who was serving in Spain alongside her husband at the time, says this happened "in Brunete in July." According to her, after being combined, the remnants of the two battalions became the Lincoln Battalion as one of four battalions of the 15 International Brigade Commanded by Vladmir Copic and Merriman was promoted to International Brigade Chief of Staff. The other three battalions were the Dimitrovs (Yugoslavs), a British battalion and the Spanish 24th Battalion. As far as I can gather, within the ranks of the International Brigade, the Abraham Lincoln continued to be considered a battalion. Mrs. Merriman strongly suggests that the name Lincoln Brigade was adopted outside Spain to enhance the unit's reputation and to make it easier to collect money and other support during drives in the US".

RH: The explanation given by Mrs. Merriman makes sense to me. Moreover, Belchete should be Belchite should be Brunete. The devil is in the details.

Ronald Hilton - 2/16/03


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