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Book Summary: ”The First Way of War” by John Grenier Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: Jan 16th, 2022

Introduction

America’s military heritage has always been one of the major topics in a lot of discussions and debates. Many historians conducted a tremendous amount of deep research on the war between European colonizers and indigenous peoples. In his book The First Way of War, John Grenier discusses the specific way of leading battles against Indian populations and their property, the violence associated with it, and how it determined American martial inheritance.

Using Indian Allies in Conquering North America’s Indigenous People

To begin with, colonists often exploited local humans to combat North America’s aboriginal communities. Grenier explains that Europeans were not quite experienced in the chaotic approaches used by Native Americans. Leading unorganized battles became a tremendously challenging task for the British troops. Thus, Benjamin Church engaged Indian scouts for cooperation, when he aimed to conduct the war against regional communities, using their own tactics against them. Initially, Indian allies were formed occasionally and were not permanent. Despite that, there was still a chance for the Europeans to gain knowledge about specific techniques of frontier warfare. Eventually, Church asked the Governor of Massachusetts to help him build a strong constant army of scouts in order to achieve more progress in the land of Casco Bay. His complaint was satisfied, therefore, there were enough volunteers to mentor colonizers. Local individuals knew the territories and were able to navigate quickly. Also, they contributed to the distribution of terror against civilians. Therefore, forming solid connections with them certainly empowered Europeans in their ranging campaigns.

Similarities in Differences in the Ways in Which the French and the English Adapted to the First Way of War

The French and the English colonizers had a lot in common in their approaches of leading the first way of war in North America, but, at the same time, there were differences. To start, Grenier points out that both the French and the English used American scouts to conquer territories. However, the French came up with this idea earlier, and that was the reason why they confronted British armies on July 9, 1755, for instance. The English did not tend to build stable connections with the locals. Moreover, Americans tended to consider the French commanders to treat them better than the English officers did. Even though the British army was more powerful, it is essential to mention that they often were located far away from the regulatory forces. The last but not least, French troops were more acquired with “skulking” techniques due to the previous colonization experience in India. The way they were trained allowed the French to adapt quickly enough.

Implementation of the First Way of War During the Final Conquest of the Trans-Appalachian West

The final conquest of the Trans-Appalachian West demonstrated how Anglo-Americans applied the unique way of leading the war. For example, The Tippecanoe campaign is a great illustration that can be used to support this claim. Warrior Harrison and his troops were unstoppable combating the villagers of Prophet’s Town. Despite many casualties, he made his warriors move through the town territories, allowing the army to maraud. They put on fire a huge number of structures and damaged a lot of agricultural resources. Another great example of how violent Anglo-Americans were while conquering local populations is the case with Vallonia village and the surrounding territories. In order to discharge the problems coming from that place, John Gibson sent the armed forces, which occupied the place and burned a few villages. That was a remarkable input in decreasing the number of raids coming from there. Again, all the actions mentioned above left acres of ground damaged, and many buildings crushed.

Conclusion

To conclude, the war against indigenous peoples on the American continent had a considerable impact on world history. British and French armies had to learn how to lead the fight in a new way. The European colonists had to use the help of the local population who played a supervising role as well. European powers were cruel by killing civilians and destroying property. Those barbarous actions began the era of American military heritage.

References

Grenier, J. (2008). The First Way of War: American War Making on the Frontier, 1607–1814 (Illustrated ed.). Cambridge University Press.

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IvyPanda. "Book Summary: ”The First Way of War” by John Grenier." January 16, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/book-summary-the-first-way-of-war-by-john-grenier/.

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IvyPanda. 2022. "Book Summary: ”The First Way of War” by John Grenier." January 16, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/book-summary-the-first-way-of-war-by-john-grenier/.

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