Iron Column

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Propaganda Poster that reads: "Iron Column; For a Free Humanity! For Anarchy!

The Iron Column (Spanish: Columna de Hierro) was a Spanish anarchist militia column formed during the Spanish Civil War to fight against the military forces of the Nationalist Faction that had rebelled against the Second Spanish Republic.


The Iron Column was formed in Valencia at the start of the Spanish Revolution by local anarchists including Rafael Martí (nicknamed 'Pancho Villa' after the Mexican revolutionary), José and Pedro Pellicer, Elias Manzanera and José Segarra. The Iron Column fought on the Teruel front. [1]

The Iron Column stood for defense (and extension) of the popular revolution rather than defense of the Republic. Among its earliest acts were the liberation of convicts from the San Miguel de los Reyes prison and the burning of judicial archives. Many of these liberated convicts joined the Iron Column upon being released from jail. However, the actions of some of these hardened convicts, many of whom had joined only for personal gain, soon gave the Iron column a notorious reputation. [2] Because the fact that the Iron Column vocally opposed the CNT-FAI (the leading Anarchist organization on the Republican side) entrance into the national government, the CNT refused to arm and supply the column, and thus it was forced to rely on confiscations and the aid of regional committees. [3] The Iron Column also found itself embroiled in factional fighting with Communist units and the assault guards.

The Iron Column resisted the government plan of turning the popular militias into regular army units longer than any other group. Reasons for this resistance can be read in an essay titled "A Day Mournful and Overcast", written by a member of the Iron Column. A delegate of the Iron Column said at a CNT congress:

"There are some comrades who believe that militarization settles everything, but we maintain that it settles nothing. As against corporals, sergeants, and officers, graduated from the academies, and completely useless in matters of war, we have our own organization, and we do not accept a military structure."[4]

The Iron Column became the 83rd Mixed Brigade (with many members who had previously been delegates becoming officers) in March 1937, but in fact many members of the column joined other mixed units, such as the 82nd Mixed Brigade and the 84th Mixed Brigade. [5]

See also[edit]


  • Bolloten, Burnett. The Spanish revolution: the left and the struggle for power during the civil war. ISBN 0-8078-4077-7
  • Manzanera, Elías. Iron Column, The: Testimony of an Anarchist. ISBN 1-873605-19-6
  • Paz, Abel. The Story of the Iron Column: Militant Anarchism in the Spanish Civil War. AK Press and Kate Sharpley Library, 2011. ISBN 978-1-84935-064-8
  • An 'Uncontrollable from the Iron Column'. A day mournful and overcast. ISBN 1-873605-33-1
  1. ^ Bolloten 1991, p. 333
  2. ^ Bolloten 1991, pp. 333–34
  3. ^ Bolloten 1991, pp. 334–35
  4. ^ Bolloten 1991, p. 333
  5. ^ Bolloten 1991, p. 342

External links[edit]