Sunday, November 20, 2005

Winning the West: The Army in the Indian Wars, 1865-1890

Winning the West: The Army in the Indian Wars, 1865-1890 - Chapter about tactics and strategy in differing parts of the American West, extracted from the U.S. Army's official series on American military history.

The Indian wars were brutal. Under current international law, many of the events of the wars (by the US and various tribes) would be classified as war crimes. However, that would be an ex post facto application of international law to prior events and would be unfair. There were heroes on both sides of the conflicts who were just defending their families and their way of life and I believe these individuals outnumbered the scoundrels.

From the site:

Perhaps because of a tendency to view the record of a military establishment in terms of conflict, the U.S. Army's operational experience in the quarter century following the Civil War has come to be known as the Indian wars. Previous struggles with the Indian, dating back to colonial times, had been limited as to scope and opponent and took place in a period when the Indian could withdraw or be pushed into vast reaches of uninhabited and as yet unwanted territory to westward. By 1865 this safety valve was fast disappearing; routes of travel and pockets of settlement had multiplied across the western two-thirds of the nation, and as the Civil War closed, white Americans in greater numbers and with greater energy than before resumed the quest for land, gold, commerce, and adventure that had been largely interrupted by the war. The showdown between the older Americans and the new—between two ways of life that were basically incompatible—was at hand. The besieged red man, with white civilization pressing in and a main source of livelihood—the buffalo—threatened with extinction, was faced with a fundamental choice: surrender or fight. Many chose to fight, and over the course of some twenty-five years the struggle ranged over the plains, mountains, and deserts of the American West, a guerrilla war characterized by skirmishes, pursuits, massacres, raids, expeditions, battles, and campaigns, of varying size and intensity. Given its central role in dealing with the Indian, the Army made a major contribution to continental consolidation.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This comment is not related to the current post, but I was wondering, as an academic, what's your take on the quality of Wikipedia history articles? I love Wikipedia, but sometimes I wonder about the quality. Some articles seem really well done, but others (e.g., the Yoga article) are crap.