Skip to main content

Merrill's Marauders

MERRILL'S MARAUDERS

MERRILL'S MARAUDERS. In 1943, global priorities dictated that General Joseph W. Stilwell's command be scaled down from a 30,000-man corps to a three-battalion (3,000-man), all-volunteer force for his forthcoming operation to retake north Burma and reopen the land route to China. Coded GALAHAD and numbered the 5307th Provisional Unit, the force was nicknamed "Merrill's Marauders" by the press, after its field commander, General Frank D. Merrill. Merrill broke his three battalions down into two 472-man combat teams (the remainder had noncombat duties), plus pack animals.

Benefiting from the experience of British army officer Brigadier O. C. Wingate, GALAHAD's strengths lay in its tactical mobility, its potential to hit Japanese flanks and rear areas, and its unique air supply. The Marauders were to spearhead short envelopments while Stilwell's Chinese columns pushed back the enemy's front.

Entering combat on 24 February 1944, GALAHAD attacked down the Hukawng Valley and by March 29 entered the Mogaung Valley, gateway to the Irrawaddy River and its rail system. Stilwell aimed for Myitkyina, with a road to the Burma Road junction at Wanting. Reduced in numbers, the Marauders struck at Myitkyina's strategic airfield through a 6,100-foot mountain pass, surprising the 700-man Japanese garrison on 17 May. The Japanese retaliated with a force of 4,000 men, beginning a siege that would not end until 3 August. By 4 June, GALAHAD was spent: 123 dead, 293 wounded, 8 missing, 570 ill. Grievances that had mounted during a five-month, 500-mile campaign broke out dramatically at Myitkyina until Stilwell bestowed a Distinguished Unit Citation and explained how they had given heart to the Chinese soldiers to fight on to their homeland.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Bjorge, Gary J. Merrill's Marauders. Fort Leavenworth, Kans.: Combat Studies Institute, 1996.

Hunter, Charles N. GALAHAD. San Antonio, Tex.: Naylor, 1963.

Charles F.Romanus

ChistopherWells

See alsoBurma Road and Ledo Road ; China, U.S. Armed Forces in .

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Merrill's Marauders." Dictionary of American History. . Encyclopedia.com. 24 Nov. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Merrill's Marauders." Dictionary of American History. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 24, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/merrills-marauders

"Merrill's Marauders." Dictionary of American History. . Retrieved November 24, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/merrills-marauders

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.