An armed population deterring invasion

I’m wondering how many examples in history there have been of an armed civilian population being a factor in deterring a military invasion by another country (as opposed to a militia/partisans hindering an invasion once it’s started). It would obviously be one factor in many and possibly a small one, but do we know of many cases?

I’ve been looking up two such examples; a probably apocryphal quote said supposedly to the German Kaisar by a Swiss when asked what they would do if the German army invaded; “Shoot twice and go home.” Operation Tannenbaum, the Nazi invasion of Switzerland, was eventually called off for reasons unknown.

There’s also a quote misattributed to Japanese Admiral Yamamoto; “You cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass.”. Wiki says this is bogus, but he did say “To make victory certain, we would have to march into Washington and dictate the terms of peace in the White House.”; he goes on to state the difficulty of this, possibly thinking of the theme in spirit.

The Japanese did attempt to invoke this trope, arming civilians with bamboo spears and awls (!). However if push came to shove it wouldn’t have deterred America.

Well if you don’t want to include partisans and militias then what do you have? Completely random civilians taking on armies without any plan? That’s not going to work at all as it’s basically suicide and contrary to human behavior. It’s human behavior to band together against an common enemy.

I don’t mean partisans and militias fighting when there’s already been an invasion; that’s happened innumerable times in history. What I’m asking is instances where an armed civilian population is a factor in an invasion never even happening.

I think you are not doing justice to the Swiss quote - or at least destroying its humor (which I read recently after news surfaced that apparently the Swiss air defense only operates during business hours - so a hijacked jet was able to land there with no resistance).

I think the quote was more along the lines of:

“Ok soldiers, what would you do if the German army was TWICE what we are expecting?”
“We’d each use two bullets and then go home.”

Don’t think I got it exactly, but that was the gist.

I think the mountains helped a bit in the Swiss case.

wouldn’t vietnam be an example?

No. It doesn’t fit any aspect of the case described in the OP. The local forces in the South were mostly partisans, and they hardly stopped any US “invasion.” Any US invasion of the North was inhibited mainly by the possibility of China becoming involved (and to a lesser extent by the North Vietnamese Army.)

ah, ok, the case is supposed to be foreknowledge of an armed populace prevented or diminished and invasion. ok.

It’s a bad example in two ways.

French Indochina was a colony until France was defeated in WWII, at which point the Japanese occupied it. France then retook control. There was an insurgency against both of them and it came to a head in 1954 when the French lost the battle of Dien Bien Phu. Vietnam was temporarily partitioned. A vote was taken in 1955 to see if the public wanted the country reunited, and the dictator rigged it in a rather spectacular fashion. It got a 133% yes vote in Saigon, according to Wikipedia. After that the country was in perpetual turmoil, with the North being backed by China and the South by the U.S.

So, one, there was never an invasion by another country in the sense of the OP, and two, the North always had a well-organized army along with the civilian support.

Colibri got in ahead of me, but we agree on the basic point.

Well, for centuries a war was one king’s troops attacking another. Most of the population were not involved in the fighting unless it happened to be in their town; professionals did most of the actual fighting. I think it’s doubtful that peasants any any weapons (other than farm tools pressed into service).

Wars eventually had mass conscription, but those were soldiers doing the fighting, not civilians taking up arms (except in the sense that they were conscripted into the army). Trained troops have advantages that individual people do not: they work together, have far more practice on the skills of war, don’t argue orders, etc.

After an invasion, then partisans are able to organize, but guerilla units have to be built up afterwards, since there’s no reason for them before an attack.

As for Switzerland, there lack of invasion was due to factors other than the Swiss army. The mountainous terrain would have made any attack difficult, but probably more importantly, there were many reasons why the Nazi leadership liked the idea of a independent but neutral Switzerland, if nothing else to have a place to stash their money if things went wrong.

Australia? I don’t recall it ever being invaded. Perhaps due to fear of Mel Gibson, AC/DC, Paul Hogan and Olivia Newton John.

I think there is a flaw in OP’s initial statement.

As I see it, partisan groups form more or less naturally when a country is invaded and its population has access to weapons. People get together, receive some rudimentary training (in some cases not even that), and fight the invading force. It’s the natural response because a semi-organised militia fights more effectively than uncle Bob taking cover behind his living room couch.

So in my opinion there can be no case where an armed population deterred an invasion without partisans

Any organized armed forces are going to be much more effective in combat than an unorganized civilian force, even if the latter are more numerous. (Within some limits, but it would take an enormous disparity in numbers to put an organized force at a disadvantage.) So the only scenario in which this would work is one where the country lacks any significant army, yet has a heavily armed civilian population that isn’t organized into a militia (such the US National Guard or the Swiss). Such examples may be existent.

In the Japanese example above, despite what might have been said by Yamamoto the US Armed Forces and logistics of a trans-Pacific invasion were what deterred a Japanese invasion, not an armed populace.

Deterred? No. The invaders already have an army and want whatever territory or treasures their intended victims have. However, the invaders would be expected to plan for any civilian opposition including sappers, snipers, sabotage, street-to-street fighting, and other forms of resistance beginning with the letter “s”. Will they need more army personal, armored vehicles, aircraft, anti-mine equipment, anti-aircraft weapons, atomic bombs, and other stuff starting with the letter “a”?

Different plans would/should be made to disarm an angry conquered population where 1 person in 1000 is “armed” (“armed” meaning knives, firearms, molotov cocktails, car bombs) vs a angry conquered population where 1 in 10 are armed.

The Nazis needed more military force to overrun Poland than they needed to annex Austria.

First thing that came to mind was Herodotus, where the previously unstoppable and immense Persian horde was forced to retreat and return to its starting point by the Scythians, who resisted and harried them unrelentingly.

I supose one could at least consider the numerous failed expiditions to Spartan Lacedaemon during the Peloponesian War, being as in theory all the full citizens of Sparta were armed and trained.

Or Rome vs. Hannibal. Or Rome vs. Pyhrrus. Or Rome vs. most of the other invaders, earlier on.

How about Hermann vs. the Romans in the Teutonberg Forest? But not Vercingetorix or Boudiccea (spelling?). Unity of the resisting population being key there, I guess. Lesson: Whoever has the greater dicispline wins.

The Franks vs. the Arabs? (The Visigoths didn’t fare too well, though.)

Or Harold of England vs. the Vikings? Worked well until the Normans.

The Irish vs. Whoever stopped by to visit? Sometimes it went well, other times less so.

The Revolutionary French vs. the Allies?

THe American Revolution?

The North wasn’t deterred from invading the South, but the wiser minds on both sides didn’t want it to devolve into the Fabian warfare already in play in Missouri. It did influence the reconciliatory nature of the peace.

I suppose Afghanistan, which more-or-less repelled British efforts to bring it under their direct influence in the 19th c. and while losing most of the formal battles, retained its independence. British punitive expeditions, while not unknown in the Federated Tribal Areas, had to be very carefully organised and were not launched lightly.
See Gen. Andrew Skeen, Passing It On (1923) reprinted more recently as Lessons In Imperial Rule. The author repeatedly cautions that you can expect to be under observation all the time and any laxity in military precautions will be certainly be punished by the tribesmen.

“If the enemy attacks, all you will see is a sudden burst of dirty grey lumps bounding down the hill at an incredible speed, while an equally sudden burst of bullets in your midst will delay return fire unless you are as ready to open it as I have said. And if you are not, probably all you will see after a few moments of unhealthy excitement will be one grey figure on the slope, with luck, three or four of your men knocked out, and two rifles lost, and no one’s fault but your own.”

I don’t believe an armed populace ever deterred an army. The two examples in the OP are both wrong. The quote by Yamamoto is bogus from the start. The Nazis didn’t attack Switzerland but it was the mountains (and the money) that prevented it, not the armed populace. The Swiss contingency plans at the time were to abandon all the low lands and retreat into the mountains. In other words even the Swiss didn’t think they could defeat the Nazis unless it was in the mountains.

There’s simply no telling as there has never been a populace armed with weapons anywhere near the technological sophistication of those available to the civilian population in the United States in the 21st century. Most populations in the past have been relatively small and have been mostly unarmed. Even the larger populations (say, China in the 19th century during the Tai-Peng Rebellion) didn’t have access to the latest available weapons technology and didn’t have advanced communications technology.

Perhaps a US military could prevail against an American populace which would be unarmed and untrained in the use of weapons. That would mostly be in the cities in the Northeast and in California. The South and the West have large numbers of armed civilians who are trained and knowledgeable about weapons. There are also a sizable number of military veterans in those areas, removing the some the edge that the military would have (assuming that the veterans sided with civilians over the government).

There simply is no historical setting which is comparable to the United States in the 21st century to make an accurate comparison between then and now.

How exactly can you tell if something was deterred to the point where it wasn’t even on the table? I mean, I can’t imagine the US ever pursuing a military aim that would require a ground war with China because hellz no, but is that deterred by this definition?