The Indian WarsÓ
Gerald. L. Atkinson
15 December 2005
I have taken considerable time to research and write about the brutal nature of warfare from the beginnings of recorded history – the era of pre-conscious bicameral man through the age of Absurbanipal, the Assyrian king in the 1300s to the ancient Greek period (1,000 B.C. to 150 B.C.) and the Roman period (400 B.C. to 430 A.D.). This was accomplished in an attempt to understand the current bestiality exhibited by Islamic terrorists of global reach as well as the Islamic jihadist insurgents in the current conflict in Iraq and its environs. The essays which address this subject have been published in several issues of the Eternal Vigilance journal during 2005. Four of those issues are accessible on the Internet FREE of charge.
I have endeavored to present a summary treatment of this subject through the changes that have occurred in the brutal nature of warfare up through the past hundred years by documenting the fact that it has not changed much except in the means by which technology has increased the lethality of weaponry and the ability to bring to bear its vast destructive power over shorter periods of time. After all, at base, war is about killing human beings and breaking the will of those who would place our survival in question. That summary addressed the major and minor wars – World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.
In those wars, only during World War II did the United States resort to terror weapons to create fear in the minds of the enemy and its leadership on a mass scale – the fire bombing of Dresden and Tokyo and the use of nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. During the Cold War we threatened the use of nuclear weapons on the Soviet Union and were prepared and willing to use them if the occasion warranted. The threat of the Hydrogen Bomb was a ‘stabilizing’ instrument of terror used by both sides in that war. In today’s world we have come to realize that nuclear weapons are not a useful instrument of fear to break the will of insurgents in Iraq, al Qaeda hiding in the mountains of Pakistan, or our ‘enemies within’ – foreign and domestic.
The insurgency with which we are engaged in Iraq, in particular, raises the specter of fear at home and abroad as we watch beheadings, suicide bombings, summary executions carried out randomly – but continuously – on civilian as well as military targets. This, of course, is a calculated tactic aimed at undermining our will to carry out our objectives – an assurance that we will not be attacked again on our home soil by terrorists of global reach. We appear unable to adapt our awesome military power to assure this end. There is, however, an answer to this dilemma. The answer is found in American history during the period of the Indian Wars of the 1750s through the early 1800s.
We have overlooked, either by design or failure to recall a period in our history when America faced just such a threat. Our people were being savagely attacked, brutalized, mutilated, tortured, and killed in the most monstrous ways. Fear was so rampant that citizens were reluctant to travel far from their homes and only did so when well armed and in the company of others. What follows is a summary account of not only how our ancestors steadfastly resisted this threat but succeeded in eliminating it.
We must look to the ‘age of Jackson’ to understand how our ancestors lived and overcame their fear of savage attack by Indians on America’s then-frontier. This was the age which followed the first wave of immigration to our shores (1629) by about 120 years. During this 120 year period the colonies were populated and stabilized such that they were generally free from wholesale Indian attack all along the East Coast and as far westward as the Appalachian mountain range. At the time (1750s) the ‘Northwest Territory’ was a wilderness area that stretched from that mountain range through Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, and westward to the Mississippi River as well as southward to New Orleans. It was during the settling of this frontier that stalwart men like Simon Kenton  (the Frontiersman) and Andrew Jackson (the Indian Fighter) learned how to protect American settlers from attack by marauding Indian bands as well as wholesale warfare conducted by various confederations of Indian tribes. It was not pretty, but it was very effective.
Little attention has been paid to Andrew Jackson as an important historical figure. The seventh President of the United States of America has recently, however, received renewed attention as a major American figure. H. W. Brands, a renowned historian, writes , “Abraham Lincoln was an unlikely Jacksonian: an opponent of slavery, a corporate attorney, a defender of banks. But he was also a child of the frontier, a son of the West, an Indian fighter, a common man, and most decisively, a devout believer in democracy and the Union. It was Lincoln who articulated the Jacksonian creed best – better than Jackson himself – when he declared that ‘government of the people, by the people, for the people’ must not perish from the earth. And when it didn’t, when the Union emerged intact from its severest trial, it stood as a monument to Andrew Jackson, who had devoted his life to making democracy possible and the Union indivisible.”
It was Jackson’s feats as an Indian fighter, however, that are instructive in the matter of his use of fear as a weapon in successfully quelling the Indian ‘insurgencies’ and ‘wars.’ After many years fighting the Cherokees in the Southeast, Jackson had learned  “to hit them where they are weakest. ‘The commanding general ought to find where their women are, and with his combined forces and by forced marches reach and capture them, he said. ‘This done, they will at once surrender.’”
Although this advice may seem a bit harsh and ‘beyond the pale’ by modern standards (e.g. Senator John McCain’s efforts to tie our hands in the interrogation of captive Islamic terrorists, it was considered comparatively humane in that age. It was an age when the survival of American settlers was at stake. They were being slaughtered, murdered, scalped, and mutilated, in the most barbaric manner by, first, insurgencies carried out by small, roving warrior war parties, and later by wars involving Indian confederations alone and in concert with British allies. Examples abound.
The largest of the conflicts, called the French and Indian War by the English in America, began in 1754 and inspired the Delawares and Shawnees, allies of France, to try to drive the English away from the frontier. To this end they launched a campaign of terror against British settlements in the Ohio Valley. According to Brands , “The terror began successfully and over three years threatened to throw the English all the way back to the coast. But British victories in Canada and elsewhere weakened the French and emboldened Britain’s allies, including the Iroquois, and when the war ended in 1763 the French surrendered all their North American territories.”
This was bad news for nearly all the Indians on the frontier, including Britain’s allies. As long as the British and French had vied for control of America, each had to bid for the support of the Indians, who learned to play the Europeans against one another. With the French departure the bidding ended and the Indians were left to confront British power alone. According to Brands, “The Ottawa chief Pontiac was among the first to appreciate the new state of affairs…When that war ended in French defeat, Pontiac saw disaster looming for the Ottawas – and for Indians generally…The fighting between Britain and France had hardly ceased before he welded together a coalition of tribes dedicated to expelling the British from the interior of the continent. Pontiac’s forces besieged Fort Detroit above Lake Erie during the spring of 1763. From there the offensive spread north and east along the Great Lakes and south into the Ohio valley. One British garrison after another was surrounded and destroyed. As this was a psychological offensive [based on fear] as much as a military one, the methods of destruction often included the most gruesome treatment of those soldiers, traders, and dependents who fell into the attackers’ hands.”
Brands describes the assault on a British fort at Mackinac which showed the swiftness with which the Indians commenced their attacks and the brutality with which they completed them. The Indians took the fort by complete surprise and rushed through the unguarded gate. According to Brand , “The surprise was total and the carnage almost equally so. A trader…who managed to hide in a storage closet, left a chilling account: ‘Through an aperture, which afforded me a view of the area of the fort, I beheld, in shapes the foulest and most terrible, the ferocious triumphs of barbarian conquerors. The dead were scalped and mangled; the dying were writhing and shrieking under the unsatiated knife and tomahawk; and from the bodies of some, ripped open, their butchers drinking the blood, scooped up in the hollow of joined hands, and quaffed amid shouts of rage and victory.”
Brands relates that “The story was much the same all along the frontier. The [Indian] offensive continued to outrace reports of it, and in many cases the first intimation of the English settlers and soldiers had of trouble was the arrival of war parties. One by one the garrisons fell, until Pontiac and his allies controlled the entire region west of Fort Pitt, at the forks of the Ohio. Isolated frontier settlements were even more vulnerable and the destruction was commensurately greater. Some two thousand settlers were killed, and about four hundred soldiers. Many others were taken hostage. Those who survived the attacks and evaded capture fled east, bearing tales of calamity and horror.”
The British commander in North America blamed the incompetence among his subordinates for the success of Pontiac’s offensive. Upon receiving a report of a massacre of the British garrison at Presque Isle, which followed the fort’s surrender by its commanding officer, he could hardly contain his anger. “It is amazing that an officer could put so much faith in the promises of the Indians as to capitulate to them, when there are so many recent instances of their never failing to massacre the people whom they can persuade to put themselves in their power,” he wrote in his journal…”There is absolutely nothing but fear of us that can hinder them from committing all the cruelties in their power.”
The British battered an Indian army at Bush Run near Fort Pitt, and sent troops to burn Indian villages and drive off their inhabitants, many of whom then perished of hunger and disease. According to Brands , “The villages were always the weak spot of Indians, for although Indian warriors were masters at raiding garrisons and terrorizing settlers, they lacked the numbers and firepower to defend their own women and children against British counterattack. In the face of [the British] scorched-earth policy, Pontiac’s allies fell away band by band and tribe by tribe, to make peace with the British.”
Pontiac failed to drive the British from the Ohio territory, but his mark was left on the American colonists. “The lesson American colonists drew from Pontiac’s War was similar in content to that drawn by the Indians but altogether different in tone. The uprising had sent shudders all along the American backcountry, from New York to Georgia. In every community that lived within sight or consciousness of the great forest that stretched away to the west, the reports of the Indian atrocities – with the torture of prisoners and the mutilation and cannibalism of the murdered recounted in excruciating detail – caused hearts to clutch and eyes to examine every grove of trees for signs of the enemy’s approach. The flood of refugees from the war provided additional evidence of the scope and meaning of the Indian uprising.”
Brands describes the affect of this uprising on the American settlers . “An inhabitant of Frederick Maryland, noted, ‘Every day, for some time past, has offered the melancholy scene of poor distressed families driving downwards through this town with their effects, who have deserted their plantations for fear of falling into the cruel hands of our savage enemies, now daily seen in the woods.’ A witness in Winchester, Virginia explained, ‘Near 500 families have run away this week. I assure you it was a most melancholy sight to see such numbers of poor people, who had abandoned their settlements in such consternation and hurry that they had hardly anything with them but their children. And what is still worse, I dare say there is not money enough amongst the whole families to maintain a fifth part of them till the fall; and none of the poor creatures can get a hovel to shelter them from the weather, but lie about scattered in the woods.”
For the refugees, and for the many more who held on to their homes but watched their cold, hungry compatriots stream by, the outcome of Pontiac’s War was decidedly unsatisfactory. According to Brands , “…nearly all the Americans who lived anywhere near the frontier considered the Indians an existential danger…And when the post-Pontiac settlement essentially restored the status quo, the Americans once more saw the tomahawk hanging over their heads.”
It was into this milieu that Andrew Jackson was thrust as a young man, born of Scots-Irish ancestry in 1767 in northern South Carolina. William O’Neill, in a review of H.W. Brands’ biography of Andrew Jackson, summarizes his early life . “Jackson joined the Revolutionary Army at the age of 13 and became a British captive. His mother secured his release but soon died, leaving him an orphan at 14. Although he had almost no education he became a lawyer by way of apprenticeships, and in 1788 accepted appointment as solicitor, or prosecutor, for the frontier town of Nashville…[Eventually, he was elected] to head the Tennessee militia with the rank of major general, the job that made him famous. Despite his scant military experience, Jackson had a talent for command and proved himself to be a resourceful and pitiless Indian fighter.”
A contemporary of Jackson, and the epitome of the legendary frontiersmen of the time , was Simon Kenton – born 12 years before Andrew Jackson in 1755. Simon Kenton was born on a farm in the Hopewell community of Virginia. He was what the historian, David Hackett Fischer labels a ‘backsettler,’ a Borderer American. His father, born in 1701, immigrated to British America in his late adolescence from the border country of northern Britain as an indentured servant. After serving his indenture of five years, he became a tenant farmer, eking out a meager living with little promise of a better life. Though less well known than Jackson, Simon Kenton became a legend among the settlers of the ‘Northwest Territories’ for his bravery, courage, marksmanship skills, and knowledge of Indian ways.
After running away from home in his late teenage years, Simon met up with frontier characters and joined them in excursions during which he became very adept at using his rifle, tomohawk, and knife. In the company of these frontiersmen, he came to know much of Indian ways, customs, and speech. He experienced narrow escapes from deadly encounters with various Indian war parties. He became so familiar with the Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana territory that he knew it as well as any man, Indian or white.
By the time that Indian raids on settlers along the Ohio River had prompted a militia to be organized to put down these uprisings, few people living on the frontier were not familiar with Simon’s name. He had proven himself well in the events leading up to the Indian wars. Where messengers had to traverse dangerous, Indian-infested country, Simon was first choice to get through. Usually three couriers were dispatched with the same message and twice only Simon had delivered it, not only himself unscathed, but considerably faster than had been anticipated. Bareback or in saddle, he rode as if he had been bred to it and when it became necessary, as occasionally it did, he could run all day without dropping.
By mid-1776, Indian attacks along the Ohio River and in Kentucky were growing stronger and more vicious. Settlers were forced to take refuge in the forts that were constructed on the frontier. The year of 1777, the year of the ‘three sevens,’ wound up with the distinct feeling among borderers that they were precariously balanced on a needle point, with grave peril in every direction. The entire Shawnee nation was aflame with a great desire to avenge the deaths of several of their chiefs at the hands of the white man. The Indians knew Simon Kenton  by sight as well as reputation, and they feared him greatly, calling him ‘the man whose gun was always loaded’…Great honor would come to the warrior who could take the auburn scalp of this huge frontiersman.
Conversely, however, according to Eckert, “Over and again, so frequently as to become monotonous, the settlers, both men and women, were writing in their diaries or journals or letters fundamentally the same sentence: Simon [Kenton] saw an Indian about to fire upon me [or a friend]: he fired first and the Indian fell. His fantastic ability with the rifle was a phenomenon commented upon by virtually everyone on the frontier. No other person they had ever seen or heard of had such deadly aim nor so frequently pulled off such incredible shots which not only saved the lives of his friends but eliminated the enemies.”
During the Spring of 1780 the settlers experienced an increase in depredations by small roving Shawnee bands . “Cattle were slaughtered by herds, abandoned cabins and settlements were burned, scores of horses stolen and all too frequently men, women and children were either killed or captured…Fortunately, no attacks had yet been made this year on the inhabited forts, but individuals were rarely safe.”
“As had to happen sooner or later, the forts were no longer large enough to house the increase in population and lonely cabins were springing up all over. If these appeared well defended they were left alone, but it was always a moment of extreme danger in the morning to open the door and step outside. More than one settler, his wife or child had been met by arrow or bullet and crumpled dead on the threshold.”
The British, intending to contest the Americans for the ‘Northwest Territory,’ assembled a force of 1,250, including 850 Indians and started attacking the small American forts that dotted the landscape. One such fort, badly outnumbered, was forced to surrender. The Americans did so under the stipulation that their women and children would be permitted to travel on their own to safety at the nearest settlement. But the Indians had no intention of being cheated out of their long-promised revenge against the Americans . “The instant the gates were opened, they rushed inside with terrifying shrieks. Their tomahawks fell with unerring accuracy and as the whites dropped they were scalped without regard to sex or age. [A woman’s] infant son was torn from her arms and thrown into a fire and when she leaped to save him, she was tomahawked and fell into the flames herself. [Her husband] hastened to her aid and he, in turn, fell with his head broken and his scalp lifted.”
Simon Kenton kept busy during this time assisting settlers who were coming in droves down the Ohio River to Kentucky. The Indians were preying on these people with fierce abandon. “Panic-stricken survivors of attacks reached [a little settlement in Kentucky] and told of the horrors they had undergone – of how the peaceful river had suddenly come alive as a dozen or two canoes, each carrying ten or twenty warriors, sped from hiding in little coves or creeks and converged on the boats of the emigrants. More often than not, no one escaped.
Eckert provides an example . Atrocities were numerous. In one instance two boats out of Wheeling carried sixteen men, twelve women, eight children, and three infants. They were attacked by half a hundred screaming savages. Simon Kenton, who was on a rescue mission in the area at the time, found the spot where the Indians forced the whites ashore. He and his fellow rescuers advanced cautiously afoot. “They heard no sound, but abruptly Simon saw before them in a clearing an awful scattering of bodies guarded by an Indian; he was sitting erect, but his head was bent as is in sleep, his rifle in a ready position over his knees and a blanket draped over the back of his head and shoulders and tucked around his body.”
“Simon began to suspect something wasn’t right. The sitting figure was altogether too erect; he felt sure the man was dead, and yet there appeared to be nothing holding him in this position. For long minutes he studied the figure and the careless scattering of bodies around it, and then abruptly strode boldly into the open, calling the others to join him. The scene in the clearing was terrible. Every last one of them was dead and, in addition to being scalped, most of the bodies had been disemboweled with tomahawk blows. Fingers, hands, arms or feet had been chopped from four of the men and from two of the women, and from the amount of blood in evidence it was apparent that these atrocities had been committed before the victims were killed.”
“Of them all, only the three infants and the blanket-wrapped sitting figure had not been scalped. The latter had been used merely as a tactic to delay pursuit should it come; it had been positioned and draped to look like an Indian, but when Simon touched the shoulder the head lolled and the blanket fell back. In his years on the frontier Simon had seen death in many forms, but what he saw now almost caused him to retch. An inch-thick stake had been sharpened and the dull end buried firmly so that the tip projected nearly two feet above the ground. The man’s clothing had been stripped from him. Though he was unbound now, marks on wrists and ankles indicated that he had been tied and then lifted over the stake and positioned so that when released, the point of the stake entered his rectum and the weight of his body drove it through him until he was sitting on the ground with the entire exposed portion of the stake inside him. From the marks where his heels had dug into the ground in his struggling and the amount of blood beneath his buttocks, it was apparent that he had not been killed instantly by being so impaled, but had gradually bled to death. Then his hands and feet were untied, the blanket draped about him and his knees propped up so that the battered and useless flintlock could be positioned.”
“They buried them all in a shallow common grave, placing the infants under the arms of women whose breasts showed them to have been nursing mothers. All the way back they had been silent, each man visualizing the horror they had witnessed and hearing again the single sentence the big frontiersman had spoken as they mounted to return. ‘I got a bad feeling,’ [Simon] had said softly, ‘that this is only the beginning.’”
The carnage continued apace as the Shawnees retaliated against the reprisals of the frontiersmen. In 1791, Kenton was at the point of another savage Indian attack . “Once again, as had happened so many times in years past, the initial burning fury that had swept through Simon Kenton upon viewing the remains of Indian depredations had settled down to a steady sick rage. His hands were badly blistered from digging the shallow graves in the rocky soil in which to bury the many who had fallen and he determined to bury his own clothing when they reached his Station, knowing the sickening smell of those swollen, mutilated bodies would never leave the apparel.
On another ‘rescue’ mission, Simon Kenton found “Forty-nine bodies of men, women and children, all of them scalped and most of them mutilated in some respect…Most of [the soldiers] had been shot to death and then scalped and severely hacked with tomahawks. They buried them quickly in a common grave and next found the thirteen men and two women of the May party, all of whom were in similar condition. The final discovery – the Greathouse party of sixteen – was worst, for it was immediately apparent that most of these had been tortured to death.”
“The twelve children, two young men and a young woman had been stripped and lashed to trees and beaten to death with limber hickory switches which still lay on the ground nearby. The mutilation of this form of torture was dreadful and the agonies they suffered must have been intense. All of them, down to the youngest child – a girl of about five – had been scalped. Fires at their feet had destroyed the legs and lower bodies of all.”
Jacob Greathouse, who had been party to retaliatory cruelty and butchery of a defeated Indian chief, was accorded a very special death, as was his wife. “They had been stripped, these two, and beaten terribly with switches, but not enough to kill them. What followed was simple, but not pleasant, to deduce…Greathouse and his wife had been tethered each to a different sapling with a loop running from neck to tree. Their bellies had been opened just above the pubic hairs and a loose end of the entrails tied to the sapling. They had then either been dragged or prodded around and around so that their intestines had been pulled out of their bodies to wind around the trees as they walked. Mrs. Greathouse had apparently died before getting much more than half unwound, but Greathouse himself had stumbled along until not only his intestines but even his stomach had been pulled out and wound into that obscene mass on the tree. They had then been scalped and burning coals were stuffed into their body cavities before the Indians departed.”
“The hatred of the Shawnee was strong, his memory long and his vengeance great. Every man on this expedition, particularly Simon Kenton, would carry the picture of this atrocity with him for the rest of his life and many a night’s sleep from this time forward would be interrupted by horrible nightmares.”
It was not often that Simon Kenton had an opportunity to set up an ambush for Indians. Normally the reverse was true when Kenton took the leadership of his men in the resultant chase of retaliation. But this time it was different. He organized a small group of frontiersmen to set a trap for a band of perhaps fifty or more Indians who had hidden their canoes and gone inland to raid the settlements. Unsuspecting Indians in groups of three to five were ambushed as they returned to their canoes. The Indians they killed were scalped. One of Simon’s men wanted to skin one of the Indian’s body to make some fine parchment and razor straps from the hide and was miffed when Kenton wouldn’t permit it. Instead, the scalpless body was consigned to the river in a canoe filled with rocks and sunk. When the next small group of Indians arrived with their booty of horses taken from the raid on the settlers, Kenton and another five men hastened to shore and an exact reenactment of what had happened earlier occurred. The horses were captured, the Indians scalped and dumped into the water. But there was a difference this time . “As a warning to any Shawnees who might come this way, the head of the scarred Indian was severed and carried back to the [Indian] camp where it was impaled atop a twenty-foot pole.” This would be a warning to the Indians that they were up against frontiersmen who were equal to or better than them – a foe to be taken seriously – as wise in the Indian ways as were the Indians. Fear could be used to counter fear. The white man had learned how to defeat the Indian uprising.
It was during this period in the first decade of the 19th century that another accomplished Indian warrior and visionary, Tecumseh, a Shawnee in the Ohio territory, assembled a confederation of Indian tribes. His vision was to drive the white man out of the region in which they had settled and back to the East Coast from whence they came. Tecumseh’s agitation of these tribes for war had a disquieting affect on the American settlers in the backcountry . “Although it was a long time in coming, the edge of fear that now sliced through the Ohio settlements had not been dulled by over eleven years of peace. In fact, the specter of Indian uprising was all the more frightful after such a lapse and scarcely a frontier town did not immediately see to its defenses: to erect blockhouses if it had none, to improve them if it did. There began something of an exodus of women and children on horseback, returning to friends or relatives in Kentucky until the trouble should pass.”
Brands, the Andrew Jackson biographer, describes Tecumseh and his grand scheme to drive the white man from the Indian lands . “In August 1811 William Henry Harrison encountered the most remarkable man he had ever met. Others were equally impressed, as Harrison observed. ‘The implicit obedience and respect which the followers of Tecumseh pay to him is really astonishing and more than any other circumstance bespeaks him one of those uncommon geniuses, which spring up occasionally to produce revolutions and overturn the established order of things. If it were not for the vicinity of the United States, he would perhaps be the founder of an Empire that would rival in glory that of Mexico or Peru. No difficulties deter him. His activity and industry supply the want of letters. For four years he has been in constant motion. You see him today on the Wabash and in a short time you hear of him on the shores of Lake Erie or Michigan, or on the banks of the Mississippi, and wherever he goes he makes an impression favorable to his purposes.’”
Brands continues, “Harrison wasn’t indulging idle curiosity in describing the Shawnee leader. He went on to say, ‘There can be no doubt but his object is to excite the Southern Indians to war against us.’ Harrison was in his twelfth year as governor of Indiana Territory, following a decade of military and civilian service on the Ohio frontier. No one knew the Indians of the West better than Harrison [save, of course, Simon Kenton – the Frontiersman], and no western Indian worried him more than Tecumseh.”
“Tecumseh traveled from village to village and nation to nation, forging military alliances of Indians against whites…Tecumseh’s challenge was…threatening [to the whites] because it was realistic. He didn’t eschew civilization but aimed to acquire it, or at least its accoutrements, from the British.” Of course, in the lead up to the War of 1812, the British encouraged an alliance with the Shawnee-led confederacy.
Andrew Jackson knew Tecumseh only by reputation . Yet he understood what [his] movement meant for life all along the frontier. Indian attacks had continued to diminish during the first decade of the nineteenth century, but only a fool would have attributed the decline to any broad conversion of the natives to white manners and practices. Rather it reflected a fatalistic feeling that resistance was futile. This feeling might change in a moment, should an able and persuasive leader – Tecumseh, for example – begin preaching unity in strength. And if that leader had access to British weapons – as Tecumseh apparently did – there might be bloody hell to pay.”
Jackson understood the Tecumseh challenge. He had witnessed the Cherokee Indian attacks on the settlers in Tennessee during the same period that Simon Kenton had witnessed attacks by the Shawnees in Ohio and Kentucky. According to Brands , “This simple fact would explain much of Jackson’s career during the next thirty years, as he gravitated toward military command rather than civilian office. In the meantime it reflected the remarkably tenuous hold the inhabitants of the Cumberland settlements had on life in their new home. A chronicler of early Tennessee tallied settlers killed by Indians, noting that during the first decade and a half of its existence, the Cumberland lost a man, woman, or child every ten days, sometimes in the most ghastly fashion. The early summer of 1791 was especially cruel.”
Brands gives an account. “June 2nd, 1791, the Indians killed John Thompson in his own cornfield within five miles of Nashville. June 14th, they killed John Gibson and wounded McCoon in Gibson’s field, eight miles from Nashville. They killed Benjamin Kirkendall in his own house in Summer county, and plundered his house of every thing the Indians could use. In June, 1791, three travelers from Natchez to Nashville were found dead on the trace near the mouth of the Duck river; there were eight in company, and only two came in. On the 3rd of July, 1791, Thomas Fletcher and two other men were killed on the north side of the Cumberland; their heads were entirely skinned. In the same month a man was killed within a hundred and fifty yards of Major Wilson’s on the public road, as he was riding up to his house. On the 12th, Thomas White was killed in the Cumberland mountains.”
“The violence colored every aspect of life for the settlers. No man traveled unarmed, even from cabin to fields. Rifles rested across plow handles throughout the valley. Children didn’t fetch water or pick berries without an escort. Widows competed for lodgers or second husbands: anyone handy with weapons. When the attacks grew especially intense, fields went unplowed and crops unharvested. Later generations of Americans, without knowing why, would discover rest for the soul in park-like vistas where open spaces separated trees with branches pruned well above the ground. The westerners of Jackson’s generation – like people of a thousand generations before them – knew perfectly well why such parks appealed to them: they allowed the hunted to see where the hunters weren’t. But until the settlers cleared the fields, every canebrake (with reeds towering to twenty feet, their stalks impenetrably close together), every oak copse (with trunks thicker than a man’s body and branches intertwined), every river bank (with walls of sedges and curtains of willows) put them on guard. They lived in a state of siege and acted like a people under assault.”
Brands describes the men of the west at that time . “Their heroes were the men who could protect them. Every able-bodied male was expected to serve in the militia, whose members chose their own leaders. This made the election of militia officers the closest thing to democracy that existed in the West (or any other part of the country, outside the townships of New England). To be chosen commander of the militia was a great honor. The militia general was the beau ideal of the men, the protector in chief of the women and children. Most important, his position owed to merit and ability, not to wealth or connections. Westerners could tolerate incompetence in judges, prosecutors, and other officials, without jeopardizing their very existence, but incompetence in militia officers meant that lives – perhaps many lives, and farms and even whole communities – would be lost. For this reason, the westerners chose their officers very carefully.” Andrew Jackson was appointed Commander of the Tennessee Militia by the governor of the state.
According to Brands , “As Tecumseh’s message took hold, attacks against white settlements increased. In the spring of 1812, a band of Creeks killed six settlers in Humphreys County and carried off another, Martha Crowley, the wife of a riverboat man… Jackson believed, correctly, as it turned out – that the British were behind the Creek rising. This made swift retribution all the more essential…[Jackson stated that] ‘With such arms and supplies as I can obtain I shall penetrate the Creek towns until the captive, with her captors, are delivered up, and think myself justifiable in laying waste their villages, burning their houses, killing their warriors, and leading into captivity their wives and children until I do obtain a surrender of the captive and the captors.’”
Though Jackson didn’t know it as he prepared to lead the Tennessee militia into battle, war had already been declared. In June 1812 Madison urged Congress to declare war on the British, which it did on June 18. But Jackson had local priorities. Brands relates that  “…to Jackson and most westerners, the Indian threat lay at the heart of the reason for war. Tecumseh had accomplished something no Indian leader since Pontiac had achieved: an alliance of several tribes against the whites. Memories of Pontiac’s War – of the terror unleashed against men, women, and children; of refugees fleeing farms and villages for their lives – remained an active part of the western consciousness. The old folks told their children, who told their children, who shivered in their beds at the thought. Now the scourge had returned. The tomahawk and scalping knife were sharpened and raised. By all evidence, Tecumseh was even more adroit and persuasive than Pontiac had been. This new alliance was broader, stretching from the Great Lakes to the lower Mississippi. And it had the backing of the British, who had never scrupled to employ the natives against enemies of the Crown.”
Jackson had the proper outlook to lead his militia to war. “Jackson wanted to fight the British, but the Indians came first. ‘Before we march,’ he told his officers and men, ‘we must have an assurance that our wives and children are to be safe in our absence; and that assurance can only be derived from the surrender and punishment of the assassins who have taken refuge with the Creeks, or by marching an army into their country and laying it waste with fire and sword.”
Brands reminds us that , “Tecumseh was even happier than Jackson at the commencement of hostilities between the Americans and the British. The race war Tecumseh had been preaching – of Indians against whites – had already started, and it wasn’t gong well. After his confrontation with William Henry Harrison at Vincennes in 1810, Tecumseh had continued to travel and to stir up anger against the whites…And in the autumn of 1811, when he learned that Tecumseh was away in the South, the Indiana governor determined to preempt the resistance Tecumseh was raising.”
Harrison led a force of regulars and militiamen up the Wabash River from Vincennes toward Prophetstown and won a decisive battle there against the Shawnees…Decades later Harrison’s supporters would treat the Battle of Tippecanoe as the turning point in the struggle for the Northwest. At the time, the battle itself was overshadowed by Harrison’s obliteration of Prophetstown, which was left undefended upon the Indians’ retreat. Even this accomplishment was less important than the destruction of the Indians store of food for winter. As always, the weakest link in the chain of Indian defense was the need of their women and children to eat.”
A battle between Tecumseh and his Shawnees and another American commander resulted in the American surrender of Fort Detroit. This debacle resulted in a terrible disaster for the Americans defending Fort Dearborn . “Most of the garrison preferred their chances behind the fort’s walls to their prospects on the prairies outside, but the commander followed Hull’s orders. He arranged an escort of Potawatomi Indians who pledged to see the whites to safety. But once in the open the Indians turned on the whites, killing most of them and, according to an eyewitness, beheading one officer and eating his heart.”
Jackson called for volunteers for his Tennessee militia and 3,000 responded. It was well that they did for Tecumseh was stirring up great trouble. Shocking news came from the southern frontier that he had been at work among the Creeks, Choctaws, and Seminoles, preaching union and defiance. Tecumseh told of his exploits in the north : “In defiance of the white warriors of Ohio and Kentucky, I have traveled through their settlements, once our favorite hunting grounds. No war whoop was sounded, but there is blood on our knives. The palefaces felt the blow, and knew not whence it came.” He preached his race war more passionately than ever.
Tecumseh railed, “They seize our lands. They corrupt our women. They trample on the ashes of your dead. Back, whence they came, upon a trail of blood they must be driven. Back! Back! Ay, into the great water whose accursed waves brought them to our shores! Burn their dwellings! Destroy their stock! Slay their wives and children! The Red Man owns the country. War now! War forever! War upon the living! War upon the dead! Dig their very corpses from the grave. Our country must give no rest to a white man’s bones!”
As a result of such urging a faction of Creeks, who called themselves Red Sticks, carried out a civil war against other Creeks and produced terror and chaos on the southern frontier. White settlers fled their farms for the safety of forts and blockhouses erected along the Alabama and other rivers . Fort Mims was one such outpost…In the late summer of 1813 it sheltered, besides Mims and his family and the regular clerks and clientele, hundreds of settler families from the Alabama Valley. The Creek war had frightened them, and in their fright they took refuge within the nearest wooden walls, flimsy though they were…The governor sent 200 untested troops to protect the fort…After a few weeks…the Red Sticks rose silently from their hiding place. No one saw them until they surged across the open area ringing the fort and raised a soul-rending war cry…[the Indians reached the gate before it could be closed]…their numbers – at least a thousand – were overwhelming. The Red Sticks slaughtered every white person they could reach, and when some of the whites took refuge in the buildings of the fort, [they] set the buildings on fire and murdered them as they streamed out…Women and children died by the score and then the hundred, often dispatched in the most brutal fashion. Friendly Indians and black slaves were swept up in the carnage. The sole survivors were a dozen soldiers who cut a hole in the stockade and fled into the woods and some black slaves whom the Red sticks appropriated for their own use.”
Brands described the scene . “The destruction of the fort is horrible to tell,” [wrote a survivor]. “There were 553 citizens and soldiers and among the number about 453 women and children…Only 13 escaped. The way that many of the unfortunate women were mangled and cut to pieces is shocking to humanity, for very many of the women who were pregnant had their unborn infants cut from the womb and lay by their bleeding mothers. They were stripped of every article of apparel; not satisfied with this, they inhumanly scalped every solitary one.”
“An army major who later led a squadron to bury the dead gagged at what he found. ‘Indians, Negroes, white men, women and children lay in one promiscuous ruin. All were scalped, and the females of every age were butchered in a manner which neither decency nor language will permit me to describe. The main building was burned to ashes, which were filled with bones. The plains and woods around were covered with dead bodies.’”
“The Fort Mims massacre signaled a terrifying escalation of violence along the frontier. Inhabitants and onlookers were accustomed to spontaneous raids that killed isolated settlers by the handful. This attack was entirely different. It was premeditated, it targeted a garrisoned fort, and it produced hundreds of deaths. Everyone knew what Tecumseh had been preaching. The Fort Mims attack showed that the sermon was being taken to heart. One didn’t have to be an alarmist to fear that the aboriginal war against all the whites had begun.”
Jackson led his troops on a search and destroy mission against the Red Stick Indians. “Before the Creek campaign ended, the southern tribes would call Jackson ‘Sharp Knife’ and deem him a fearsome war chief. At the beginning he was already acting like a chief.”
Jackson found a large number of Red Sticks at Talladega. His victory was overwhelming, “three hundred hostiles killed, against seventeen Tennesseans…[Jackson later] cornered the main body of Red Sticks who had built a fortress near the confluence of the Tallapoosa and Coosa rivers, where the Tallapoosa looped back on itself in a horseshoe bend, forming a narrow-necked peninsula comprising between eighty and one hundred acres. According to Brands , “Jackson’s battle plan reflected his overall strategy for the campaign. The objective was not the Red Stick village but the destruction of the enemy…The combined force of Tennesseans and friendly Indians…[wrecked havoc on the Indians]…When the killing finally ceased, even Jackson was shocked by its extent. ‘The carnage was dreadful,’ he wrote [his wife]. ‘Exclusive of those buried in their watery grave, who were killed in the river and who after being wounded plunged into it, there were counted five hundred and fifty seven.’ [A soldier] ‘estimated the dead in the river at 250 to 300. Many had tried to cross,’ [he said]. ‘But not one escaped; very few ever reached the bank, and those were killed the instant they landed.’ The slaughter in the river was confirmed in substance if not detail by William Bradford, and infantry officer who remarked succinctly, ‘The river ran red with blood.’”
Brands asserts that  “…Horseshoe Bend [was] not only the most complete – that is, bloodiest – single victory of whites over Indians in American history to that date but would forever retain that dubious distinction. It was also the decisive victory in the climactic struggle for what was then the American Southwest. The Creek war represented the last, best hope of the counteroffensive preached by Tecumseh and the final phase of the contest for the dark and bloody ground of the old Southwest. In the bend of the Tallapoosa River, in the spring of 1814, Andrew Jackson seized the prize for which six generations of Euro-Americans and Native Americans had been fighting.”
The Lessons of Andrew Jackson
What can we learn from the great Indian fighter, Andrew Jackson? There are two major lessons, the first of which Jackson shared with President Thomas Jefferson. It was one which he had learned in the Revolutionary War, one that would inform his military policy – and in fact his whole political philosophy – for the rest of his life . “‘The poor always make the best soldiers,’ he said. The rich are unreliable. ‘In the day of danger the wealthy enjoy too much ease to court danger.’ The poor knew hardship and danger from their daily lives. When the nation called, they were the first to answer. A republic that relied on the poor would survive, a republic that depended on the rich perhaps not.”
It must be said as well that it took a special breed of ‘poor’ to accomplish the winning of the American West. Both Andrew Jackson, the Indian fighter, and Simon Kenton (the Frontiersman) were Borderers – of Scots-Irish ancestry. David Hackett Fischer describes this breed of warrior . The people of the backcountry brought their own folk games which had long been popular on the borders of north Britain. According to Fischer, “These entertainments were often very violent — as many folk amusements had been throughout England in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries...Border folk-games, like so many other parts of its culture, not only reflected the insecurity of life in that region, they also prepared men to deal with it. More than other parts of England, the sports of the border were contests of courage, strength and violence. The border sport of bragging and fighting was also introduced to the American backcountry, where it came to be called ‘rough and tumble.’ Here again it was a savage combat between two or more males (occasionally females), which sometimes left the contestants permanently blinded or maimed...Bloodsports have existed in many cultures, but this was one of the few that made an entertainment of blinding, maiming, and castration...the sports of the early settlers of this country were imitative of the exercise and stratagems of hunting and war. In this respect, they were much the same as the war games of the British borderlands.”
James Webb, himself of Scots-Irish ancestry, has written a detailed account of how and where this ethnic group has developed its credentials as our nation’s premiere fighting men. Yes, they were ‘poor,’ as Andrew Jackson (himself of Ulster Scots-Irish ancestry) exclaimed. But they were and are much, much more. Webb, Vietnam War combat veteran and former Secretary of the Navy, tells the story . “[The Scots] bloodline was stained by centuries of continuous warfare along the border between England and Scotland, and later in the bitter settlements of England’s Ulster Plantation in Northern Ireland. Between 250,000 and 400,000 Scots-Irish migrated to America in the eighteenth century, traveling in groups of families and bringing with them not only long experience as rebels and outcasts but also unparalleled skills as frontiersmen and guerrilla fighters. Their cultural identity reflected acute individualism, as well as a dislike of aristocracy and a strong military tradition; and, over time, the Scots-Irish defined the attitudes and values of the military, of working-class America, and even of the peculiarly populist form of American democracy itself.”
It was in their early period, when the Scots were fighting for their own independence from England, that they learned to distrust their own ‘aristocracy.’ When the chips were down and their lives were at stake, the ‘elites’ – that is, those who took titles and acquired land – cut and ran in the face of the enemy . It is almost certain that Andrew Jackson knew of this history via the strong oral tradition of his ancestors. This tradition is at the heart of his exclamation that the ‘poor’ make the most reliable warriors during time of great danger.
The second lesson we can take from Andrew Jackson, the Indian fighter, is how to wage a campaign of fear against a brutal, barbarian enemy. He learned this on the frontier against his Indian enemies. Several instances informed this choice of strategy. When the Creek Indians were rampaging over the old Southeast frontier, murdering, scalping, burning, and torturing the settlers and their wives and children, Jackson counseled  “They must be punished…I shall penetrate the Creek towns…and think myself justifiable in laying waste their villages, burning their houses, killing their warriors, and leading into captivity their wives and children...”
And again, when the chief of the Red Sticks remained a fugitive in the weeks after Jackson’s victory at Horseshoe Bend, the fugitive came to realize that further resistance [to the white man] would destroy not only his warriors – most of whom were dead already – but their dependents . “As always, the women and children suffered the most. They hid in the forest from Jackson and his Indian allies, but in the forest they couldn’t find enough food. They weakened, sickened, and began to die, forcing [the Red Stick chief] to sue for peace.”
And finally, when Jackson counseled the successor of a failed general in the Cherokee uprising in later years, Jackson counseled, from his years of experience fighting the Indians , “…hit them where they are weakest. ‘The commanding general ought to find where their women are, and with his combined forces by forced marches reach and capture them,’ he said. ‘This done, they will at once surrender.’” This ‘scorched earth’ policy was instrumental in winning the Indian Wars of the old ‘Northwest Territories.’
Implications for the Present
In the current age, when America has been attacked on its home soil by Islamic terrorists of global reach and involved in a guerrilla war with Islamic insurgents in Iraq, there are lessons from the past if we jut look for them. These lessons are vitally important to America’s future. We must understand that we are in a Fourth Turning, an historically recurring time of great danger in a cyclical pattern that has prevailed ever since our ancestors first came to our shores nearly 400 years ago. The precursor event, signaling the beginning of our current Fourth Turning, was the terrorist attack on 11 September 2001.
This Fourth Turning may well require another Herculean military effort – on a level (again recurrent in our nation’s history) of the Revolutionary and Civil Wars as well as World War II and the Cold War. We must seriously begin to question whether or not we have a military which can meet such a challenge. Our All-Volunteer Force has become so weakened by decades of social engineering wherein it has essentially become a Jobs Corps for women and minorities – from the bottom to the top – that one may reasonably question its ability to maintain our national security.
It must be affirmed and reaffirmed – shouted loudly so all can hear -- that our ‘fighters’ on the ground in Iraq are performing magnificently. Those troops are ‘breaking down doors and killing the terrorists’ while the ‘feminized’ tail is battened down at headquarters behind impenetrable fortress walls and – while some are even living it up in air-conditioned quarters with state-side conveniences (including access to ‘beauty products’) – protected by ‘fighters’ who could be better used carrying the offensive to the enemy on the outside. In spite of the nay-saying and carping by the far-left democratic political opportunists and the elitist-left media establishment, our troops are beating back the insurgency there. It is a thankless, time consuming, and brutal type of warfare and our troops are rooting out the terrorists, from hut to hut, town to town, and enclave to enclave. Even with their hands tied behind their backs by our over-ambitious political softies in the Congress and hungry hyenas on the rabid left, they are making slow but steady progress. They are, however, hindered and weakened by the still-present radical feminist agenda leftover from the disastrous Clinton years. And this agenda could well prove to be the 800-pound gorilla in the tent. If continued indefinitely, our armed forces could be so weakened that even the ‘fighters’ will tire of pushing the huge bolder uphill while the cultural Marxists continue to forward their agenda of ‘feminizing’ still further those elements that are performing so well. There are reasonable military experts who describe this weakness. William S. Lind is one such expert.
William Lind, an authority on modern warfare, has described our armed forces as being comprised of fighters, filler, and fodder. The fighters in today’s nontrinitarian war are comprised of the infantry, Marine expeditionary forces, rangers, special forces, and the Delta Force. These latter forces are now deployed in over 100 locations round the world and are especially active in Afghanistan and Iraq. Each of these forces have a large support tail comprised of filler and fodder. The latter are the supply, intelligence, public information, and other support troops such as those who were ambushed during the ‘rush to Baghdad’ in 2003. Jessica Lynch, a former supply clerk, was typical of both the filler and fodder groups. She did not even fire her weapon at the enemy during the ambush in which she was captured, tortured, raped, and otherwise brutalized by the Iraqis. In addition, she was accepted into the U.S. Army in spite of the fact that she was nearly blind without eyeglasses. The main component of the fodder group consists of those enlisted troops taken from the bottom of the IQ stratum – the Category Fours. The fodder also consists of military police battalions and other support troops which (despite the radical feminist propaganda to the contrary) do not carry the fight to the enemy but are subject to suicide bomber and other sneak attacks by improvised explosive devises placed on the roadways by the insurgents in Iraq. They do not in any way carry the fight to the enemy in Iraq.
Lind describes the 350 mile supply line overland to Baghdad as an obvious risk . “While the risk here is obvious, there is a dimension to it that is not – because ‘Political Correctness’ forbids talking about it. In today’s U.S. military, the supply line is full of women. History suggests that if rear-echelon units, where women may make up 20% to 30% of the personnel, are attacked, two things will happen, then a third. The two things are, first, the women will panic, and second, the men will forget about their mission in order to rescue and comfort the women. Both acts are built into human nature, and no military regulations or orders can overrule them. The third thing that will happen as a consequence of the other two is that the rear area will dissolve in chaos.” Our current reaction to counter this fate in Iraq is to construct impenetrable fortresses within which the filler and fodder (and nearly all of the women) can be kept safe – at the expense of a large fraction of our fighters whose mission is to protect them. If even one woman soldier were to be captured, tortured, and publicly beheaded on Al Jazeera, the Arab television outlet for the insurgency, it would be all over. And the military knows this to be true.
Lind continues. “An interesting if little-known military fact is that, from the days of the Greek phalanx onward, most military units that collapse do so from the rear forward, not from the front back. If the American supply line deep inside Iraq collapses, so will the combat forces up front, in part because they will run out of fuel and bullets and in part for psychological reasons. Simply put, when you feel cut off you want to run away, and sometimes you do.
Lind writes that on the ground in Iraq, America’s war is coming unglued . “Most of the soldiers and Marines I’ve talked to who have recently returned say the situation is much worse than American newspapers report. Evidence of that came last December, as the U.S. moved to shift its resupply efforts from ground to air. Why? Because the Iraqi resistance controls so many of the roads, including the road from Baghdad’s Green Zone to the airport. ‘They have had a growing understanding that where they can affect us is in the logistics flow,’ said Central Command’s Lt. Gen. Lance Smith. ‘They have gotten more effective in using IEDs. The enemy is very smart and thinking. It is a thinking enemy. So he changes his tactics and he become more effective.’”
Lind draws some conclusions regarding the debacle of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal . “First, the apparent breakdown in discipline among the MPs at Abu Ghraib may relate to the presence of women, and especially to the fact that the commander was a woman, Brigadier General Janis Karpinski. The climate of ‘Political Correctness’ (or, to give it its true name, cultural Marxism) that has infested and overwhelmed the American armed forces makes it almost impossible to discipline a women – and risky for a man to attempt to do so.”
Lind recounts, “Some years ago, I asked an Army friend, a sergeant major in the medics, how he disciplined the many women in his unit. He laughed and said, ‘We just let them do whatever they want.’ When I expressed astonishment, he replied ‘Look, it just isn’t worth it. Anytime you discipline a woman, she may try to get even by accusing you of ‘sexual harassment.’ And since, as a man, you are presumed guilty until proven innocent, your whole career is on the line. So we let ‘em do whatever they want.’”
Lind concludes, “This unpleasant reality of life in America’s ‘PC’ Army may have relevance to the roles of female MPs in what went on in Abu Ghraib. At General Karpinski’s level, the effect of the ideology of cultural Marxism, which defines women as ‘victims’ and men as ‘oppressors,’ was undoubtedly more subtle. If one of her male subordinates, say a colonel, or a peer, or even a superior officer, had raised issues that might have damaged the career of ‘a senior Army woman,’ his career would immediately have been in jeopardy. He would probably have been ‘counseled’ [read forced to undergo ‘sensitivity training’], and his concerns quietly suppressed. Even [then], when asked her present status by the Washington Post, General Karpinski replied, ‘I am still in the Army Reserves. I am still in command of the 800th Military Police Brigade.’ Under the rules of cultural Marxism, because she is a woman, she remained untouchable; any man in her situation would [quickly] have been relieved of command, at the very least. What happens to an Army full of women when women may not be disciplined? Exactly what we have seen at Abu Ghraib.” Karpinski was eventually reprimanded and removed from command, but only after a prolonged period of ‘grace’ so her incompetence could be stuffed down the memory hole and ‘forgotten’ by the mass media.
It was announced by the Associated Press in May 2005 and picked up by nearly every national newspaper that Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski had been reduced in rank to Colonel, issued a reprimand and relieved of her command . These sanctions were based on a broad charge of dereliction of duty, as well as on a charge of shoplifting, “essentially clearing her of responsibility for the abuse at Abu Ghraib prison.”
It was August 2004 that we ‘quietly’ learned that three other high ranking Army officers were also subjected to ‘career termination’ by linkage to the low-level misconduct at Abu Ghraib. Investigators concluded that the generals were partly responsible, but not legally culpable, for the abuse at the prison. All four are essentially  “finished in the military.” In addition to Karpinski, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the former commander of Southern Command and his deputy, Maj. Gen. Walter Wojdakowski, as well as Maj. Gen. Barbara Fast, Sanchez’s intelligence Chief, were reprimanded and relieved of their posts. It is abundantly clear, that if two female Army general officers were going to ‘hang’ for incompetence in supervising their troops, then the Army had to find two male general officers to hang also. What is good for the goose is good for the gander in today’s politically correct Army.
And it is easy to find out why. In the original announcement in May 2005 that Brig. Gen. Janice Karpinski would be disciplined, the Associated Press reported the ominous observation that, “The Senate Armed Services Committee has said it intends to hold hearings soon to assess whether Defense Department civilian and military leaders were adequately held accountable for the Abu Ghraib prisoners abuses.
As William Lind says, females cannot be disciplined at the lower levels in the U.S. Army — their supervisors just ‘let them do what they want to do.’ We now find that this works as well at the higher levels. If a female general officer — or even two female general officers — are found to be incompetent, then we must find two male officers, presumably higher ranking than the incompetent females, to hang as well. Andrew Jackson would never have allowed political meddling in such affairs in his militia command. But he was a military leader. The likes of which we lack today.
Lind reported a ‘reality gap’ recently when the Washington Post published a story entitled, ‘Wars Strain U.S. Military Capability.’ The response from the Pentagon was essentially that we should not worry, the U.S. military could not be defeated. Lind comments , “The idea that the U.S. military cannot be defeated is disconnected from reality. Let me put it plainly: the U.S. military can be beaten. Any military in history could be beaten…Why? Because war is the province of chance…The Post article suggests the reality gap is even greater than it first appears. It quotes the Pentagon’s classified annual risk assessment as saying ‘that the risk is increased but is trending lower’ – as we prepare to attack Iran. It reports that the Army obtained less than 60% of the recruits it needed in April. Most strikingly, it says that so far in fiscal 2005, which is more than half over, the Army has trained only 7,800 new infantrymen. Fourth generation war and urban warfare are above all infantry warfare.” It cannot maintain a fighting force with women and minorities who see the danger and refuse to sign up. We need fighters – not more filler and fodder.
Lind then asks, “Why do our senior military leaders put out this ‘we can’t be beaten’ bilge? Because they are chosen for their willingness to tell the politicians whatever they want to hear.” It is clear that we need to ‘clear the air’ in a return to the kind of ‘no nonsense’ advice given to the nation by Andrew Jackson and other military leaders in our history who were descended from the Borderers who came to our shores from the northern English border in the early to late 1700s. Soldiers and their leaders who have been so successful in fighting our nation’s wars – from the Indian wars to the Vietnam War – must be trained and cultivated in the Jackson mold. We need warriors who will fight and leaders who will lead.
Lind reminds us that we are destroying the nation’s National Guard. The militia that America counted on to fight and win the Indian wars of the 1750 to 1814 period has disappeared. He observes that  “The unit knew it would soon be shipped to [Iraq]. Some soldiers responded by deserting. Others got drunk and fought. In response, officers locked the unit in its barracks, allowing the troops out only to drill, not even to smoke a cigarette, until it could be put on the transport that would take it into combat. It sounds as if I am describing some third echelon Soviet infantry regiment, in say, 1942. In fact, I am talking about the 1st Battalion of the 178th Field Artillery Regiment, south Carolina National Guard, in September 2004. According to a front-page story in the September 19 Washington Post, the unit was disintegrating even before it was deployed to Iraq.”
Lind continues. “ One of the likely effects of the disastrous war in Iraq will be the destruction of an old American institution, the National Guard. Desperate for troops as the situation in Iraq deteriorates, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld is using the National Guard in a mission for which it was never intended: carrying on a ‘war of choice’ halfway around the world. Most Guardsmen enlisted expecting to help their neighbors in natural disasters, or perhaps maintain order locally in the event of rioting. They never signed up for [a real war].”
“Yes, the Guard was mobilized and deployed overseas in both World Wars, but those were true national wars, in which the American people were all involved one way or another. Cabinet wars, as they used to be called, are something altogether different. As Frederick the Great said, cabinet wars must be waged in such a manner that the people do not know they are going on. But National Guardsmen are the people. To send them into a cabinet war is to misuse them in a way that will destroy them. Even in the American Revolution, militiamen were seldom asked to fight outside their own state. When they were, they usually responded by deserting.”
“The fault does not lie with the soldiers of the National Guard. Even within their units, they are being horribly misused. One of the Guard’s strengths is unit cohesion: members of a unit come from the same place and usually know each other well, both in the unit, where they serve long-term, and often in the local community as well. In the case of the 1st Battalion, 178th Field Artillery, the Post reports that ‘to fully man the unit, scores of soldiers were pulled in from different Guard outfits, some voluntarily, some on orders.’ Cohesion went out the window. One soldier in the unit said, ‘Our moral isn’t high enough for us to be away for 18 months…I think a lot of guys will break down in Iraq.’ That is always what happens when unit cohesion is destroyed, in every army in history.” It occurs, as well, when women are introduced into forward deployed units.
“The real scope of the damage of Mr. Rumsfeld’s decision to send the Guard to Iraq – 40% of the American troops in Iraq are now reservists or Guardsmen – will probably not be revealed until units return. One of the few already back saw 70% of its members leave the Guard immediately.”
Lind, whether he knows it or not, has stumbled onto a deep truth in the vulnerability of our nation to the loss of a ‘fighting spirit’ in the very people on whom we have depended over our entire history as a nation. James Webb has done an admirable job in describing this ‘forgotten’ ethnic group – the Scots-Irish. Webb explains , “They were poetic and warlike. They followed strong leaders, even to their deaths. They brought their women and children to the battlefield and put them behind their ranks so they would be sure not to retreat. And they did not retreat. But they refused to recognize leadership beyond their local tribes and thus would not become a nation. And they had a permeating discontent that caused the more determined of them to keep pushing, every generation, a little bit farther into the wild unknown.”
“Until God played his greatest trick on them. Up the English Island they moved, a generation at a time, ever northward, each generation seeing the more restless and aggressive push farther, breeding a new generation of even more restless and aggressive travelers. To the far north they moved, into what is now called Scotland, and when it ended or became too bleak they found sea bridges into Ireland. And so after hundreds or thousands of years of insistent wandering, the most migratory and curious among them found that they were caught in a cruel genetic joke, all their energies bottled up in wild, desolate places that only faced each other or the sea. So back and forth they went, across the sea bridges from Ireland to Scotland and then back again, waves of them that they called ‘clans’ taking out their fury on each other, then uniting once in a while when the Romans or the English sought to conquer them. The wildest, most contentious people on all the earth, trapped in a sea-bound bottleneck, their emotions spattering out into poetry and music and brawls, calling each other Irish and Scottish now, or Catholic and Protestant, anything that might make another reason for a good, hard fight.”
Webb continues. “Until they became the British Empire’s greatest voyagers, indeed its greatest export, settling in odd places all around the world. And for that splinter of them…the Scots-Irish, this meant the Appalachian mountains, their first stop on their way to creating a way of life that many would come to call, if not American, certainly the defining fabric of the South and the Midwest as well as the core character of the nation’s working class.”
Webb describes the fighting spirit of the Scots-Irish . After the terrorist attack on America on 11 September 2001, “American flags [were] frequent on [their] trucks and in the yards and on the porches. America got bombed and mountain people don’t forget, even if it happened in New York and Washington, because when it comes to fighting wars, mountain people have always been among the first to go…they [have lived by the Pioneer’s Creed] ‘The Cowards Never Started. The Weak Died Along the Way. Only the Strong Survived.’”
“Two hundred years ago the mountains built a fierce and uncomplaining self-reliance into an already hardened people. To them, joining a group and putting themselves at the mercy of someone else’s collectivist judgment makes about as much sense as letting the government take their guns. And nobody is going to get their guns…They came to America on small boats that took months to cross the Atlantic, as many as 30 percent of their passengers dying on a typical voyage. They settled…in the raw and unforgiving mountain wilderness…the overwhelming majority populating an area along the Appalachians that stretched from Pennsylvania to Georgia and Alabama. It was not unusual to find that their first task beyond building a cabin was to defend themselves against the bloodcurdling attacks of Indian war parties.”
“They fought the Indians and then they fought the British, comprising 40 percent of the Revolutionary War army. They were the great pioneers – Daniel Boone, Lewis and Clark, and Davy Crockett among them – blazing the westward trails into Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, and beyond…They formed the bulk of the Confederate Army and a good part of the Union Army as well, and even later provided many of the greatest generals and soldiers our nation has ever seen. Stonewall Jackson comes to mind, as do Sam Houston, Nathan Bedford Forrest, Ulysses S. Grant, George S. Patton, and a slew of army chiefs of staff and Marine Corps commandants. Not to mention Sgt. Alvin York, the most remembered hero of World War I, Audie Murphy, the most decorated soldier of World War II, and David Hackworth, America’s most decorated veteran from Korea and Vietnam. Indeed, they have fed dedicated soldiers to this nation far beyond their numbers in every war – for instance, the heavily Scots-Irish people of West Virginia ranked first, second, or third in military casualty rates in every U.S. war of the twentieth century…”
Webb informs us that the English ‘borderers’ were as warlike as the Scots-Irish, “…the Scots-Irish had nothing in common with either the English aristocracy in Virginia or the New England WASP settlements. Nor, for that matter, did the typical English who made their way into the mountains to join them. Some of the English in the mountain communities had come from Ulster with the Scots-Irish. Some came from the border areas between England and Scotland and were, in contrast to the New England English, heavily Celtic in their origins.”
According to Webb, “[The Scots-Irish] came to America and took the land that no one else wanted, a difficult movement to sell in today’s politically correct environment, since in many eyes they took it from the Indians…They suffered 70 percent killed or wounded in the Civil War and were still standing proud in the ranks at Appomattox when General Lee surrendered…They are a culture founded on guns, which considers the Second Amendment sacrosanct, while literary and academic America considers such views not only archaic but also threatening…America’s elites have had very little contact with this culture…[The Scots-Irish] do not need [the elites’] goodwill in order to advance professionally. But [the elites] ignore [the Scots-Irish] at their peril. Because in this culture’s heart beats the soul of working-class America.”
“They are loyal Americans, sometimes to the point of mawkishness. They show up for our wars. Indeed, we cannot go to war without them. They haul our goods. They grow our food. They sweat in our factories. And if they turn against you, you are going to be in a fight…[The Jacksonian Tradition defines] a movement that came out of the Scots-Irish settlements and later migrations and was personified by President Andrew Jackson…this political movement takes its views from the Scots-Irish definitions of personal honor, equality and individualism…To understand the movement and its future implications, one must understand the people who created it and still sustain it. And to understand the people who created it, one must comprehend their journey, which has been not simply one of hardship or disappointment, but rather of frequent and bitter conflict. These conflicts, from which they have never in two thousand years of history retreated, have followed a historically consistent cycle of, among other things, a values-based combativeness, an insistent egalitarianism, and a refusal to be dominated from above, no matter the cost…the hyper-individualistic Scots-Irish and their Jacksonian allies will very likely have more influence [in our future] than at any time since the age of Andrew Jackson himself.”
And this is the major lesson that we must learn from our history and apply it to the present. If our ‘warfighters’ – that is, primarily our military leaders and a large portion of our enlisted ‘warriors’ become disillusioned with the directions taken by our political leaders, they will ‘bail out’ in vast numbers. This has already occurred in the U.S. Navy – via the purge after the infamous 1991 Tailhook ‘bacchanal which took on the characteristics of a witch hunt that cost over 300 of our naval aviator ‘warriors’ their careers. A military that has, over the past 15 years been purged of the ‘warrior spirit’ by the socialization, feminization, and cultural Marxist forces in our midst – military and civilian – will not have the necessary toughness to carry us through the major challenges (possibly requiring military resoluteness) during our current Fourth Turning. The events in Iraq, as depicted above do not give us much comfort that we will reform our military leadership sufficiently and in time to prevail during our coming time of need.
Will Durant described how ancient Greece decayed into oblivion — from within. Durant explains that  "The life of thought endangers every civilization that it adorns. In the earlier stages of a nation's history there is little thought; action flourishes; men are direct, uninhibited, frankly pugnacious and sexual. As civilization develops, as customs, institutions, laws, and morals more and more restrict the operation of natural impulses, action gives way to thought, achievement to imagination, directness to subtlety, expression to concealment, cruelty to sympathy, belief to doubt; the unity of character common to animals and primitive men passes away; behavior becomes fragmentary and hesitant, conscious and calculating; the willingness to fight subsides into a disposition to infinite argument. Few nations have been able to reach intellectual refinement and esthetic sensitivity without sacrificing so much in virility and unity that their wealth presents an irresistible temptation to impecunious barbarians. Around every Rome hover the Gauls; around every Athens some Macedon." In the above quote, one can recognize parallel events in our own American society which are leading our experiment with democracy down the same road that ancient Greek democracy traveled. Indeed, around every civilized society is poised the possibility of its slide into dissolution and chaos. A more 'virile' enemy is always in the shadows, patiently awaiting any society's dissolution from within.
The United States of America is at a crossroads in its experiment with democracy. Danger, as described here, lurks. We must not be foolish enough to believe that we are immune from these dangers. For, as the distinguished scholar, Will Durant, observed in his ten-volume account of 'The Story of Civilization,' all civilizations work against a common enemy. The enemy is the barbarian, reincarnated today as the multiculturalist, the radical feminist; “For barbarism is always around civilization, amid it and beneath it, ready to engulf it by arms, or mass migration, or unchecked fertility. Barbarism is like the jungle; it never admits its defeat; it waits patiently for centuries to recover the territory it has lost.”
Who is the enemy then? The enemy is us!
1) Eckert, Allan W., “The Frontiersmen: A Narrative,” Jesse Stuart Foundation, 2001.
2) Brands, H.W., “Andrew Jackson: His Life and Times,” pp. 560, Doubleday, 2005.
3) Ibid, Brands, H.W., pp. 536.
4) Ibid, Brands, H.W., pp. 4-5.
5) Ibid, Brands, H.W., pp. 6.
6) Ibid, Brands, H.W., pp. 8.
7) Ibid, Brands, H.W., pp. 8-9.
9) O’Neill, William L., New York Times Book Review, “Old Slickery,” 20 November 2005.
10) Eckert, Allan W., “The Frontiersmen: A Narrative,” Jesse Stuart Foundation, pp. 1, 2001.
11) Ibid, Eckert, Allan W., pp. 146.
12) Ibid, Eckert, Allan W., pp. 214-215.
13) Ibid, Eckert, Allan W., pp. 220.
14) Ibid, Eckert, Allan W., pp. 242-243.
15) Ibid, Eckert, Allan W., pp. 355-357.
16) Ibid, Eckert, Allan W., pp. 359.
17) Ibid, Eckert, Allan W., pp. 459.
18) Ibid, Brands, H.W., pp. 164-167.
19) Ibid, Brands, H.W., pp. 169.
20) Ibid, Brands, H.W., pp. 61.
21) Ibid, Brands, H.W., pp. 62.
22) Ibid, Brands, H.W., pp. 172.
23) Ibid, Brands, H.W., pp. 175.
24) Ibid, Brands, H.W., pp. 176-177.
25) Ibid, Brands, H.W., pp. 178-179.
26) Ibid, Brands, H.W., pp. 192-193.
27) Ibid, Brands, H.W., pp. 193-195.
28) Ibid, Brands, H.W., pp. 195.
29) Ibid, Brands, H.W., pp. 216-218.
30) Ibid, Brands, H.W., pp. 219.
31) Ibid, Brands, H.W., pp. 170
32) Fischer, David Hackett, “Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America,” Oxford University Press, pp. 735-736, 1989.
33) Webb, James, “Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America,” Broadway Books, 2004.
34) Ibid, Webb, James, pp. 51-52.
35) Ibid, Brands, H.W., pp. 172.
36) Ibid, Brands, H.W., pp. 220.
37) Brands, H.W., pp. 536.
38) Lind, William S., “Hippos Can’t Tap Dance,” On War #8, 19 March 2003, http://www.d-n-i.net/lind/lind_archive.htm
39) Lind, William S., “Coming Unglued,” 22 January 2005, http://www.lewrockwell.com/lind/lind55.htm..
40) Lind, William, S., “The Power of Weakness,” 22 May 2004, http://www.lewrockwell.com/lind/lind23.html
41) White, Josh, “General Demoted, But Cleared in Abuse Probe,” The Washington Post, 6 May 2005.
42) Associated Press, “Generals May Pay Price for Abuse,” 31 August 2004.
43) Lind, William, S., “The Reality Gap,” 12 May 2003, http://www.lewrockwell.com/lind/lind64.html.
44) Lind, William, S., “Destroying the National Guard,” 25 September 2004, http://www.lewrockwell.com/lind/lind40.html.
45) Ibid, Webb, James, pp. 4-5.
46) Ibid, Webb, James, pp. 6-20.
47) Durant, Will, "The Story of Civilization, Volume II, The Life of Greece," pp. 470, Simon & Schuster, 1939 and 1966.
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