Abraham Lincoln Brigade
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The Abraham Lincoln Brigade refers to volunteers from the United States who served in the Spanish Civil War in the International Brigades. They fought for Spanish Republican forces against Franco and the Spanish Nationalists.
As time went on, the name Abraham Lincoln Brigade became used loosely, in the United States, as shorthand to describe any unit with an American component. Volunteers from the United States also served with the Canadian Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion, the Regiment de Tren (transport), and the John Brown Anti-Aircraft Battery. North Americans also ran a very well-organized and well-equipped field hospital (funded and staffed by the American Medical Bureau to Save Spanish Democracy).
Creation of the Battalion 
The Abraham Lincoln Brigade (in fact, a Battalion—see the etymological note below) was made up of volunteers from all walks of American life, and from all classes. Many of the people who volunteered for the Abraham Lincoln Brigade were official members of the Communist Party USA or affiliated with other socialist or anarchist organizations, such as the Uruguayan Hugo Fernández Artucio. Members of the Industrial Workers of the World ("Wobblies") were also represented. It is sometimes thought to be the first American military unit to be commanded by a black officer, Oliver Law.
American volunteers began organizing and arriving in Spain in 1937. Centered in the town of Figueres, near the border with France, the battalion was organized in 1937. The Lincolns went into action in February 1937 after less than two months of training. They initially fielded three companies, two infantry and one machine gun.
They suffered heavy losses during the battle of Jarama on February 27, 1937, including their commander Robert Hale Merriman (who was badly wounded), in a futile assault on Nationalist positions. The battalion was slowly rebuilt while maintaining their front line trenches. The unit was pulled out of the lines for the Brunete Offensive.
Joined by the newly trained George Washington Battalion the Lincolns went into action at Villanueva de la Cañada on the second day of the Brunete Offensive and secured the town after hard fighting. The Lincolns were then deployed against Misquito Ridge but were unable to dislodge the Nationalist troops holding that key piece of terrain. The Lincoln's commander Oliver Law was killed during this action. The Lincoln and Washington Battalions were merged after this action and took the name Lincoln-Washington Battalion.
During August and September the Lincoln-Washington Battalion fought at Quinto and Belchite in the Aragon Offensive. The engagement at Quinto was a combined arms action as the Lincolns were led into their second assault on the town by T-26 tanks. Belchite was a severe test for the Lincoln-Washington Battalion as they fought house to house. The Battalion took heavy casualties at Belchite.
On October 13, 1937 the Lincoln-Washington Battalion fought at Fuentes de Ebro. The Lincoln-Washington Battalion took far fewer casualties than the other battalions in the XV BDE. After Fuentes the Battalion was pulled back to a reserve position where it received its first extended period of rest and relaxation since going into combat at Jarama.
In late December the Lincoln-Washington Battalion was alerted for service at Teruel. The winter of 1938 was among the coldest on record and the troops fought off frostbite. The Lincoln-Washingtons briefly held positions within the city of Teruel before being pulled back to positions on the heights surrounding the city. The XV BDE including the Lincoln-Washington Battalion were pulled out of the line for rest after three weeks in the lines. However, they were recalled before they reached their reserve positions and were used to spearhead an attack on Nationalist fortifications at Segure de los Banos.
March 1938 found the Lincoln-Washington Battalion in reserve positions in the Aragon. The Lincoln-Washington Battalion was swept up in the disaster known as The Retreats that occurred when Nationalist forces punched through the Republican lines and drove to the sea cutting the Republic in two. During the two phases the Lincoln-Washington Battalion lost most of its personnel killed, captured or missing. The remnants of the Battalion gathered on the far side of the Ebro River where they were reconstituted with an influx of Spanish conscripts.
In July 1938 the rebuilt Lincoln-Washington Battalion went into action crossing the Ebro in the last Republican offensive. After the offensive stalled the Lincoln-Washington Battalion fought in defensive actions in the Sierra Pandols before the Republican government pulled out the internationals in September.
Approximately 2,800 Americans served the Republic during the Spanish Civil War. In excess of 700 were killed in action or died of wounds or sickness. Most American volunteers returned in December and January 1938, though the last POWs did not arrive until September 1939.
In 1939, The Roosevelt Administration's Attorney-General, Frank Murphy indicted 16 alleged Communists and fellow travelers for having recruited volunteers for the Abraham Lincoln Brigade supporting Spanish Republican forces against Franco and the Nationalists. This earned Murphy censure from liberals.
The International Brigade took part in several battles in Spain. They unsuccessfully defended the supply road between Valencia and Madrid in the Jarama Valley from February 1937 until June 1937. They were also present at the battles of Brunete, Zaragoza, Belchite, Teruel, and Ebro River.
The Brigade was a cause célèbre in some liberal and socialist circles in the United States. Some groups organized fundraising activities and supply drives to keep the brigade afloat. News of the brigade's high casualty rate and bravery in battle made them heroic figures to Americans opposing the rise of fascism. Paul Robeson was one high profile supporter, even going so far as to visit the Lincolns in the field in Spain and appearing in publicity photographs (the XV International Brigade had its own photographic unit).
The war dragged on and the Nationalist forces, supported by Nazi Germany under Hitler and Fascist Italy under Mussolini, gained victory after victory over the Republic, which was increasingly dominated by the Spanish Communist Party (PCE). The International Brigades were withdrawn from battle by the Spanish prime minister Juan Negrín, in the spring of 1938 in the vain hope that the Nationalists would withdraw their German and Italian Troops in turn. Most of the surviving Lincolns were repatriated by early 1939.
During and after the Spanish Civil War, members of the brigade were generally viewed as supporters of the Soviet Union. However, the Hitler-Stalin pact caused a division among the Lincoln Brigade veterans. Some of them, adopting the official Communist line that regarded the war in Europe as "an imperialist war", joined with the American Peace Mobilization in protesting U.S. support for Britain against Nazi Germany. Others, however, persisted with the anti-Fascist line which they had followed to Spain. In particular, former Lincoln Brigade commander Milton Wolff volunteered in 1940 for the British Special Operations Executive, and arranged the provision of arms for the European resistance organizations.
During World War II the U.S. government considered former members of the brigade to be security risks. In fact, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover persuaded President Roosevelt to ensure that former ALB members fighting in U.S. Forces in World War II not be considered for commissioning as officers, or to have any type of positive distinction conferred upon them. In 1947, the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade were placed on Attorney General's List of Subversive Organizations. The Veterans would be one of only five groups that would stay intact, to at least 1970, after receiving this designation.
The name Brigade is a misnomer. In the Spanish Civil War, a brigade consisted of four to six battalions. American volunteers mostly joined the two battalions (the Lincoln Battalion and the Washington Battalion) within XV International Brigade. The XV International Brigade was made up of six battalions of volunteers from nations around the globe, topped up with Spanish conscripts. Irish volunteers formed the Connolly Column of the battalion under the command of Frank Ryan. In late 1936 this column joined the American rather than the British battalion on nationalist grounds.
Anthem: "Valley of Jarama" 
Members of the XV International Brigade adapted a song by Alex McDade to reflect the losses at the Battle of Jarama. Sung to the tune of the traditional country song Red River Valley, it became their anthem.
Lincoln Battalion Commanding officers 
- James Harris
- Robert Hale Merriman
- Martin Hourihan
- Oliver Law
- Mirko Markovics
- Steve Nelson
- Hans Amlie
- Leonard Lamb
- Phil Detro
- Dave Reis
- Aaron Lopoff
- Milton Wolff
Lincoln Battalion Commissars 
- Phil Bard
- Sam Stember
- George Brodsky
- David E. Jones
- Fred Lutz
- Steve Nelson
- John Q. Robinson
- Fred Keller
- George Watt
Other notable members 
- James Walker Benét - Author and journalist (San Francisco Chronicle)
- Alvah Bessie - Hollywood Screenwriter who was one of the Hollywood Ten.
- Herman Bottcher - Earned two Distinguished Service Crosses in World War II.
- Edward A. Carter, Jr. - Earned the Medal of Honor in World War II.
- Carmelo Delgado Delgado - Puerto Rican nationalist, among the first U.S. citizens to die in the war.
- Leo Eloesser - Noted US thoracic surgeon.
- Moe Fishman - co-founder and Executive Secretary/Treasurer of the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade.
- John Gates - Political Commissar of the Battalion, later editor of The Daily Worker.
- Robert Klonsky - One of the defendants in the Smith Act trial of the mid-1950s.
- Harry Lidz—Heroic, eccentric uncle in Franz Lidz's 1991 memoir Unstrung Heroes and his 2003 urban historical Ghosty Men: The Strange But True Story of the Collyer Brothers
- Conlon Nancarrow - Composer.
- Edwin Rolfe - Poet
- George Sossenko - Also fought in the Durruti Column.
- Robert G. Thompson - Awarded the Distinguished Service Cross in World War II; among the 1950s Smith Act trial defendants.
- Harry Wayland Randall - Chief Photographer of the Photographic Unit of the 15th International Brigade.
- William Herrick - Novelist
- Maury Colow - Artist and Peace Activist
Supporters of the Spanish Republicans 
- Paul Robeson -Honorary member
- Dashiell Hammett
- Lillian Hellman
- Gypsy Rose Lee
- Dorothy Parker
- Pablo Picasso
- Sam Yorty
- Helen Keller
- Ernest Hemingway
- Woody Guthrie
- George Orwell
Memorials & Awards 
- Currently, there are four memorials dedicated to the veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade.
- The first is located on the campus of the University of Washington in Seattle.
- The second is located in James Madison Park in Madison, Wisconsin.
- A third memorial to the veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade was dedicated on the Embarcadero in San Francisco, California on March 30, 2008. Among the speakers were San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom and a few of the several ALB veterans still living.
- The fourth memorial commemorates the Students & Faculty of The City College of New York who fought in the Spanish Civil War, including the 13 Alumni who died in the Struggle. The memorial is located in the North Academic Center of CCNY.
In museums 
In 2007, Facing Fascism: New York and the Spanish Civil War at the Museum of the City of New York examines the role that New Yorkers played in the conflict, as well as the political and social ideologies that motivated them to participate in activities ranging from rallying support, fundraising, and relief aid, to fighting — and sometimes dying — on the front lines in Spain. The stories of these New Yorkers will be told through photographs, letters, uniforms, weapons, and an array of personal and historical memorabilia.
See also 
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- American Medical Bureau
- International Brigades
- International Brigades order of battle
- Irish Socialist Volunteers in the Spanish Civil War
- Jewish volunteers in the Spanish Civil War
- List of surviving veterans of the Spanish Civil War
- Polish volunteers in the Spanish Civil War
- Spanish Republican Air Force
- Spanish Republican Army
- Yankee Squadron
- Songs of the Lincoln Battalion
- John Q. Barrett, Politicians, Attorneys General, Justices, and Parallels (2007)
- La Pasionaria's Farewell Message to the International Brigade fighters
- "Here is List of Groups Branded as Subversive". Modesto Bee. 1947-12-05. p. 12.; cf. Goldstein 2008, p. 62, 66
- Goldstein 2008, p. 66
- Eby (2007), p. vii
- Eby (2007), p. 266
- The International Brigades in the Spanish War 1936-1939: Flags and Symbols, fig. 36
- A communist, Nelson became commander of the battalion on the first day (6 July 1937) of the Battle of Brunete, replacing Martin Hourihan who was badly wounded. Eby, p 184
- Martin, Douglas (January 17, 2008). "Milton Wolff, 92, Dies; Anti-Franco Leader.". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-03-25. "Milton Wolff, the last commander of the American volunteers who fought against Franco in the Spanish Civil War and the longtime commander of the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, died Monday in Berkeley, Calif. He was 92."
- Nolte, Carl (2012-12-22). "Author, activist James Benét dies at 98". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2013-01-08.
- Guide to the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Records 1933–2006
- "Paid Notice: Deaths LIDZ, HARRY H.". The New York Times. 1999-04-08. Retrieved 2010-04-23.
- ALBA - Announcements - Madison Monument dedication
- Goldstein, Robert Justin (2009). American Blacklist: The Attorney General's List of Subversive Organizations. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas. ISBN 978-0-7006-1604-6
Further reading 
- Beevor, Antony, The Battle for Spain, 2006.
- Bermack, Richard. The Front Lines of Social Change: Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, Heyday Books, 2005.
- Brandt, Joe (Ed.). Black Americans In The Spanish People's War Against Fascism 1936–1939. New York: Veterans Abraham Lincoln Brigade, no date, ca. 1979.
- Carroll, Peter N.; James D. Fernández (2007). Facing Fascism: New York and the Spanish Civil War. New York University Press.
- Eby,Cecil. Between the Bullet and the Lie: American Volunteers in the Spanish Civil War, New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1969.
- Eby, Cecil. Comrades and Commissars, 2007.
- Glazer, Peter. Radical Nostalgia: Spanish Civil War Commemoration in America. New York: University of Rochester Press, 2005.
- Orwell, George, "Homage to Catalonia", 1938.
- Osheroff, Abraham. "Dreams and Nightmares", 1974.
- Rolfe, Edwin. The Lincoln Battalion: The Story of the Americans Who Fought in Spain in the International Brigades, New York: Random House, 1939.
- Thomas, Hugh, The Spanish Civil War, 4th Rev. Ed. 2001.
- Yates, James. Mississippi to Madrid: Memoir of a Black American in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. Seattle: Open Hand Publishing, 1989.
- The Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives (ALBA)
- The Volunteer, the quarterly journal of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives
- The ALBA Blog
- An essay on the Lincolns
- Some Men Put Up Their Lives
- Columbia Historical Review Dutch Involvement in the Spanish Civil War
- List of Abraham Lincoln Brigade Volunteers New York University Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
- Online guide to the archives of the Lincoln Brigade, Tamiment Library (New York).
- Finding Aid to the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, Bay Area Post records, 1928-1995 (bulk 1937-1988), The Bancroft Library
- Fighting Fascism: The Americans - Women and Men - Who Fought In the Spanish Civil War (Democracy Now! show, aired April 30, 2007)
- Facing Fascism at the Museum of the City of New York (New York Times)
- FBI Monograph: Summary Memorandum on The Veterans of The Abraham Lincoln Brigade 1937 – 1948
- McArdle, Joe. The Spanish Civil War and the Pacific Northwest, Great Depression in Washington State Project.