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Influence Of Indian Warfare On The Development Of The United States Army

3027 words - 12 pages

Influence of Indian Warfare on the Development of the United States Army

Throughout history, when two or more armed groups oppose one another in battle, certain tactics are transferred from one to the other. These tactics are usually perceived by either group as superior to their own. This process of transferring tactics often occurs over a length of time, and usually encompass a number of conflicts between the groups. This is a natural phenomenon for armed forces that mimics the Darwinian Theory of Evolution; the strongest survive, the weak die. For a group to become the strongest in armed conflict, it must employ superior tactics and doctrine over its enemy. One method that an armed force uses to become stronger is to adapt the superior tactics of its enemy, incorporating them into its own doctrine.

Today, the United States Army is undoubtedly the strongest armed force in the world. This has not occurred without the Army also adapting tactics used by forces which opposed it throughout its development. One such opposing force were the American Indians. The history of opposition between these two groups can be traced back to the conflicts that occurred between the Amerindians and the English Colonists, whose militias were the ancestor of the U.S. Army.

The colonial militia was an institution of the English that was imported to their colonies in the New World in the sixteenth century. The colonial militias thrived, however, as those of England faded into relative non-existence in the seventeenth century while a new, professional army was developed in their place. No colony could afford to develop a professional armed force because every able-bodied man had to devote all his energy to the economic survival of the colony. As a result, a professional army never arose in the colonies, rather all of them retained the old English principle of universal obligation to military service so that a military body of armed civilians could be mustered to defend it in times of need (Weigley 4).

The militia was strictly a local institution to a colony's townships or counties. They consisted of males usually between the age of sixteen and sixty, who were obliged to keep weapons in their homes and be prepared to be called in the event of Indian attack. Periodically throughout the year, the militias were called to train at their local county or town seat (Bell 28). Although the local militia trained together, they rarely fought together. Whenever a colony was threatened, the government of the colony directed the militia commander of the locality that was threatened to assemble his men. This commander would then muster the most able of his militia, usually the youngest, in the number he thought he would need. This was also similar to the process used to form a militia for an expedition into Indian country. Upon completion of the defense of the colony or the expedition, the men would immediately disband and return to their homes (Bell 29).

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