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Early American Way of War: Tactics and Practices Essay


Tactics Used by Early Colonist

The early colonists in the United States used to divide and rule as one of the basic military strategies to conquer the Native American opponents. Through Christianity brought by the early explorers and missionaries, the colonists were able to convert a number of Native Americans who they installed as village rulers. The colonists used these converts to understand the plans of the local rebels and to organize surprise attacks on them which had devastating consequences. They always knew the plans of their opponents hence they could easily strike them before they could organize an offensive (Lovern and Locust 79).

The biggest strength of this strategy was that the colonists were always ahead of their Native American rivals in war planning. They infiltrated the camps of the Native Americans and knew all their planned activities well in advance. On the other hand, the Native Americans knew nothing about the military plans of the colonists hence they were always unaware when the enemy would strike (Kalayjian and Eugene 113). This strategy also helped the colonists to determine the size and strength of their enemy. This way, they were able to make necessary preparations to attack the enemy or defend their camp.

The main weakness of this tactic was that in some regions it failed to work. Not all the locals were willing to help the settlers to fight Native Americans. Some considered this a betrayal of their own people, hence opted to die instead of helping the colonists. Tucker says that in some cases, the natives acted as a spy to the Native American army instead of being a reliable informer to the colonists (19).

Native American Military Practices

The Native Americans had their own military practices that helped them protect their territory from the intruders. Guerrilla warfare was one of the most popular strategies that they used, especially to fight the White settlers (Tucker, Arnold, and Wiener 56). This strategy was effective in their political and cultural environment given that the settlers had superior weapons. Engaging the settlers in direct combat was dangerous to the Native Americans hence they employed this strategy as a way of inhibiting the settlers’ ability to conquer their land. Although the Native Americans failed to stop the settlers from taking over their land and imposing their rule on the locals, the strategy complicated the administration of the colony by the settlers. This strategy was later used to successfully achieve independence from the British rulers.

The Native Americans also employed scalping as a strategy to drive away from the settlers from their land. According to Gregory, the colonists were always brutal in their attacks and they did not spare anyone when conquering a region (61). The Native Americans employed the dreaded scalping strategy to send a message to the foreigners that they too would show any mercy to the settlers. Scalping was considered more appropriate than beheading the victims. Given the political environment at that time, this strategy was considered very appropriate because the locals were able to pass a message to the colonists that they were willing and ready to do anything to protect their territory. The strategy forced most of the settlers to stay in specific locals where they could protect themselves and avoid this severe punishment (Lundquist 78). It was one of the practices that the colonists feared.

Works Cited

Gregory, Sheila. Voices of Native American Educators: Integrating History, Culture, and Language to Improve Learning Outcomes for Native American Students. Hoboken: Wiley, 2013. Print.

Kalayjian, Ani, and Dominique Eugene. Mass Trauma and Emotional Healing Around the World: Rituals and Practices for Resilience and Meaning-Making. Santa Barbara: Praeger, 2010. Print.

Lovern, Lavonna, and Carol Locust. Native American Communities on Health and Disability: A Borderland Dialogue. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013. Print.

Lundquist, Suzanne. Native American Literatures: An Introduction. New York: Continuum, 2005. Print.

Tucker, Spencer, James Arnold, and Roberta Wiener. The Encyclopedia of North American Indian Wars, 1607-1890: A Political, Social, and Military History. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2011. Print.

Tucker, Spencer. Almanac of American Military History. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2013. Print.

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1. IvyPanda. "Early American Way of War: Tactics and Practices." August 20, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/early-american-way-of-war-tactics-and-practices/.


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IvyPanda. 2020. "Early American Way of War: Tactics and Practices." August 20, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/early-american-way-of-war-tactics-and-practices/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Early American Way of War: Tactics and Practices'. 20 August.

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