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Thread: Looking for resources that detail US efforts countering Native American insurgency

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    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    Default Looking for resources that detail US efforts countering Native American insurgency

    One could agree or disagree widely on the effectiveness--and morality--of the Government approach to quelling Native American resistance insurgency from the period of the 1860-1890 Indian Wars. I'll also admit doubt that the COIN measures employed over 100 years ago have relevance to the current environment, but I'd like to read up on the Indian Wars and figure someone on the forum has read a book or two that handles the topic professionally.

    Which book(s) on the topic warrant(s) purchase and review?

    S/F,

    Jon C.

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    Council Member TheCurmudgeon's Avatar
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    I Never looked at that as a COIN "problem". I did explore it as an issue of forced assimilation. I may have a few journal articles that look at it from that perspective if you are intersted.
    "I can change almost anything ... but I can't change human nature."

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    Council Member ganulv's Avatar
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    The Handbook of North American Indians is the starting point. Literally, as in that’s the rationale behind spending U.S. taxpayer dollars on it.

    For the time period in question you would likely most want to consult volumes 4 and 13. You can get them new for $65 and $111.50, respectively. The prices are absolute steals given the quality, though most libraries of any size will have copies if you understandably do not want to make the investment. The only problem there is that they are usually in the Reference section so can not be checked out.

    Volume 4 was published in 1988 and volume 13 in 2001, so there has been some additional work since. The Plains are not my area of regional expertise but I do know something about them via my graduate school advisor (the editor of volume 13) if you were to have any specific bibliographic or other questions.
    Last edited by ganulv; 12-02-2013 at 07:51 PM.
    If you donít read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed. Ė Mark Twain (attributed)

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Just a thought: Apaches

    Jon,

    Not my subject your native American wars, but the nearby University of Birmingham has a resident expert on the Apache Wars, Dr Robert Watt, a Scotsman and his short Osprey book has been well reviewed:http://www.amazon.com/Apache-Tactics.../dp/1849086303
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheCurmudgeon View Post
    I Never looked at that as a COIN "problem". I did explore it as an issue of forced assimilation. I may have a few journal articles that look at it from that perspective if you are intersted.
    I am interested in taking a peek at them.

    Would you agree or disagree that the suppression of Native Americans displayed elements of successful COIN principles, such as population control measures?

    I got on this path of query because I thought about the issue during my visit to the Castillo De San Marcos at St. Augustine, FL. There were several historical presentations about captured Indian warriors who were imprisoned in the fort for a space of time.

    I spent a lot of time thinking on the Indian Wars and realized that I only have a topical level of knowledge about them, which does not necessarily support my casual belief that the Indian Wars are an example of effective COIN.

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    Council Member ganulv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcustis View Post
    Would you agree or disagree that the suppression of Native Americans displayed elements of successful COIN principles, such as population control measures?
    The outcome of the Great Sioux War hinged largely upon what could be called population control measures. Little forced relocation was involved, however. The greater part of the Sioux had relocated near federal agencies after Red Cloud's War. (Red Cloud's War is sometimes described as having been won by the Sioux. Whatever term one uses, the terms were quite favorable to them.) Here is a brief report I drew up this past summer touching on some of that.

    Population control, if I understand the way in which you are using the term, was often not an option because the Native group had the option to relocate and would do so. That was the situation after the Yamasee War, for example. The Yamasee had a long history of cooperation/conflict cycles with European settlers that began with the Spanish in the 17th century. They later allied with the Carolina Colony and relocated to the Sea Islands (I believe they had a presence at Parris Island at this time). Shortly after aiding the Carolinians in the Tuscarora War, poor trading policy contributed to the outbreak of the Yamasee War. In the wake of that, they relocated west with the nascent Creek Confederation. Some of them eventually moved south to become part of the Seminole.

    Quote Originally Posted by jcustis View Post
    I got on this path of query because I thought about the issue during my visit to the Castillo De San Marcos at St. Augustine, FL. There were several historical presentations about captured Indian warriors who were imprisoned in the fort for a space of time.

    I spent a lot of time thinking on the Indian Wars and realized that I only have a topical level of knowledge about them, which does not necessarily support my casual belief that the Indian Wars are an example of effective COIN.
    It depends a lot on the definition of "effective." The Seminole Wars almost certainly were not.

    There might be some justification for referring to the series of conflicts occurring on the Plains and in the Southwest in the decades immediately before and after the Civil War as the Indian Wars. They have some things in common. But if you are calling all conflict between the U.S. government and Native peoples the Indian Wars I think you are lumping a lot of apples and oranges.

    Links to some articles I like follow. I have bunches more, as well as scores of references. The best provide good social and historical context.

    If you donít read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed. Ė Mark Twain (attributed)

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Both of Robert Utley's books dealing with the Frontier Army provide good starting points. I'd also suggest focusing on the period from about 1866 to 1873 or so...that covers the immediate postwar period and the debate about who should actually administer Indian policy. Starting in 1874 you had the demise of Grant's Peace Policy and what might be considered a transition to more conventional warfare (both the Red River War and the Great Sioux War took place after 1873). While the Apache remained a threat until much later in the period, you have to navigate a whole flood of George Crook propaganda and there are significant gaps in coverage (mainly the period from 1860 until 1871 or so when Crook came on scene).

    Ganluv is also correct in saying that it's difficult to lump all these conflicts into a single "war." There were simply too many differences.

    I suppose you could consider the situation in Indian Territory and Texas to resemble population control, especially when it came to the Kiowa and the feeling among Army leaders that the reservations near Fort Sill did nothing more than provide safe havens for raiders hitting into Texas (which had no reservations) and then falling back to the Government "safe zone" provided by the reservations. That also ties into control of Indian policy...many within the Army always felt that they were better-suited to manage Indian policy and resented Grant giving that authority to the Indian Bureau and the Quakers (who provided a number of Indian agents and were usually hostile to the Army).

    I could go on at some length about this stuff... But Utley's books are a good starting point and then you can drill down into specific areas and conflicts.
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
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    Default Jon,

    I'll take a crack at this from the level of national security policy, doctrinal military strategy and the legal framework. In short, what were the "rules of engagement" for the expansion of massive American settlement from the Atlantic to the Pacific (Manifest Destiny, the "Indian Wars" and forced assimilation from the Indians' standpoint) ?

    First off, one cannot find a presentation of comprehensive strategic doctrine for the "Indian Wars". For example, John Bigelow's The Principles of Strategy: Illustrated Mainly from American Campaigns (1891; free from Google) focuses on the Civil War and barely mentions the Indian campaigns in the period 1860-1890. See, John M. Gates, The U.S. Army and Irregular Warfare - chap. 2, Indians and "Insurrectos", for the paucity of doctrine at the policy and strategic levels:

    Much of the army's work on the frontier was that of a federal constabulary. It served eviction notices on Indians and then forcibly removed them when required. lf "imprisoned" Indians "broke out" of the reservations, the army found them and coerced them back. Failing in the latter, it would attempt the equivalent of an arrest, an armed attack to force the Indians to surrender. Bands that raided white settlers, peaceful reservation Indians, or army posts engaged in criminal activity, in white eyes at least, and the army's task was that of the police officer, to track down the guilty parties and bring them back for punishment. Because of the numbers involved those activities sometimes looked like war, and in a few instances, when entire tribes fought against the intrusion of the white, it was. Most of the time, however, it was routine though difficult police work.
    ...
    In his excellent study of the army in the West, Robert Wooster found neither a significant connection between the army's Civil War experience and its approach to Indian warfare nor the development of a doctrine of irregular warfare out of its Indian fighting experience. Officers often disagreed over such fundamentals as the timing of offensives, the optimum composition of forces, and the use of Indian auxiliaries. As Wooster observed, "military success against Indians was thus not attributable to a national strategic doctrine understood and practiced by officers in the field. It was instead the result of a commander's personal experiences in the West, his perceptions of Indians and the natural environment, the abilities of his subordinates, and simple good fortune."[11]

    [11] Wooster, The Military and United States Indian Policy, 1865-1903 (1988) p.213.
    Weigley and Linn are to the same effect. No "Small Wars Manual" exists for the "Indian Wars".

    I see three basic "rules of engagement" policies:

    1. Law Enforcement ("constabulary") Rules

    These are noted by Gates and Wooster (Utley is also cited by Gates), where Indians were tried for various offenses under civil laws in civilian courts. The status of those Indians was roughly that of resident aliens (an ironic analogy, indeed). Law enforcement rules were applied even when actual armed conflict occurred with regular Federal troops - as in 1898 Minnesota (when members of the 3rd Infantry were killed). See, Matsen, The Battle of Sugar Point - a Re-Examination (1987) ("As for Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig himself, he remained true to his conviction regarding the white judicial system and once again avoided arrest. None of the Ojibway who fought at Sugar Point ever surrendered, and it is not clear what they could have been charged with if they had."); and Roddis, The Last Indian Uprising in the United States (1919):

    Troops were poured into the Indian country, not only for the sake of actual protection in case of an extensive uprising, but also to impress the Indians with the fact that recourse to arms was hopeless and that the government was determined to suppress any armed resistance to its authority. At the same time a thorough investigation of the Indians' complaints in regard to the disposal of the dead timber on their land was promised.

    Influenced by the tact of the Indian commissioner, persuaded by the chiefs and leading men of the tribe, which has always been conspicuously friendly to the whites, and also, probably, impressed by the military force brought to the scene, the Bear Islanders gradually acceded to the demands of the marshals and by the middle of October practically all the men for whom warrants had been issued were in the hands of the authorities. They were transferred to Duluth for trial.

    When their cases came up before Judge Lochren on October 21, all were found guilty and were given sentences varying from sixty days imprisonment and a fine of twenty-five dollars to ten months and one hundred dollars. On December 13, the Indian office recommended that the term of imprisonment be commuted to two months and that the fines be remitted, and finally on June 3, 1899, the pardons were granted.
    2. U.S. Insurrection (cf., Lieber Code) Rules

    In those cases, Indians were treated as rebels and tried before military tribunals, rather than in civilian courts. One could fairly analogize them to the Mexican War precedents (applicable to Mexican nationals resisting in occupied territory) or the Civil War precedents (applicable to Confederate irregulars). Two examples are the Dakota War of 1862:



    and U.S. Army hangs four Modoc Indians for the murder of a Civil War hero.

    3. Traditional Laws of War

    Since the Indian "First Nations" were not recognized as sovereign states by the US, this was not a popular theory given the 19th century's state-centric concept underlying application of the Laws of War. Today, an Indian tribe could be much more easily found to be a group engaged in an armed conflict, to which the Laws of War apply. In any event, a brave (and/or politically astute) Federal Circuit judge (brother of a Supreme Court justice) held that the Laws of War applied. See, Di Silvestro, In The Shadow of Wounded Knee: The Untold Final Chapter of the Indian Wars (2005) (HT to Polarbear1605 for recommending the book to me):

    On December 29, 1890, the U.S. Seventh Cavalry killed more than 150 Lakota men, women and children at Wounded Knee, S.Dak. Was it a battle or a massacre? That became the key point of dispute when a Brul Lakota warrior named Plenty Horses was brought to trial for the murder of Lt. Edward Casey, whom he had killed a week after the slaughter. If the U.S. was not at war with the Lakota, reasoning went, then the Lakota were murdered; but if a state of war did exist, then Plenty Horses's "fatal bullet through the back of Casey's skull" was also an act of war, not murder. Complicating the juridical conundrum was a simpler case: shortly after Casey's death, the "infamous" Culbertson brothers attacked a peaceful Indian encampment. Would an Indian hang for killing a white officer? Could two white men be convicted for killing a settlement of Indians?
    The answer in both cases was "No".

    Regards

    Mike

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    There were also some significant differences between campaigns fought during the Civil War (1860ish through 1865-66) and those that came after mid-1866. Most of those came from the nature of the troops that were doing the fighting. The great majority of the campaigns in the Southwest during that period were conducted by Volunteer regiments (mostly from California), and they brought a different dynamic to the conflict. Although some of the senior leaders had Regular Army experience (James Carleton to name one example), the majority of the regimental and company officers were also volunteers and shared the motivations of their men to a great degree.

    Volunteer units were, on the whole, more aggressive than their Regular counterparts and more likely to wage what Utley called an "exterminationist" style of warfare. Chivington's men are (of course) the ultimate example of this, but that mindset did exist to lesser degrees in units from California and New Mexico. Regular units tended to be less extreme, although some officers were more aggressive than others when it came to campaigning.

    "To Cross the Deadly Ground" goes into tactics between the Civil War and the Spanish-American War, and does comment to a degree on the field tactics used by the Army. There was informal doctrine, mainly pushed out by officers through private publishers or articles in The Cavalry Journal (once it was established) or The Army and Navy Journal and Journal of the Military Service Institution. Don't forget that the Army didn't really have a strong education system at this time, either (it took the Little Bighorn to push most of that along, although both Sherman and Sheridan had recognized the need prior to that).
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
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    See also Andrew Birtle's "U.S. Army Counterinsurgency and Contingency Operations Doctrine, 1860-1941." Chapter 3, The Constabulary Years, is focused primarily on the Indian Wars.

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    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Here are some books that I read and enjoyed. I think I learned a lot from each and would recommended them. Steve Blair might know more than I about their true worth, but I liked them.

    As ganulv suggested, there is a lot of history and a whole lot to be learned from the years prior to the last years of the Indian fights. Some of these books go over some of that.

    Yellowstone Command. This is an account of Miles' campaign against the Sioux in the winter of 1876-77. Small war lesson to be learned is getting on their trail and staying on it, negotiating while keeping up the pressure, use of Indian auxiliaries and other things.

    http://www.amazon.com/Yellowstone-Co...=UTF8&sr=&qid=

    Blood and Thunder. About the Navajos, the Southwest and Kit Carson. This is a wonderfully well written book about conflict between Navajos, New Mexicans and Americans that went on for maybe hundreds of years.

    http://www.amazon.com/Blood-Thunder-...od+and+thunder

    Lone Star Justice. Another one of Utley's books, this one about the first years of the Texas Rangers. Small war related in that civilian aux and paramilitary forces are of very great importance and this is one of the most famous and maybe effective of those forces.

    http://www.amazon.com/Lone-Star-Just...+texas+rangers

    Rustic Warriors. I just finished this and found it fascinating, especially the second half. Again small war app is the importance of civilian aux forces. Also it covers a period which we don't often focus on.

    http://www.amazon.com/Rustic-Warrior...ustic+warriors

    Little Lion of the Southwest. A biography of Manuel Chaves who was a New Mexican who fought Indians and Confederates before and during the Civil War. This guy was something. Small war import is this is a portrait of a guy who did the fighting both as a civilian and volunteer military.

    http://www.amazon.com/Little-Lion-So...+the+southwest

    Maintain the Right. This is about the Mounties in the beginning and how they handled the Indians and others. Small war import has to do with police/constabulary units and how critical they can be.

    http://www.amazon.com/Maintain-Histo...he+right+atkin
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Anything by Jerome Greene is worth reading when it comes to the Indian Wars, and Blood and Thunder is a great book. It's one of the few modern works that looks at James Carleton in a fairly unbiased way.

    Since the Army didn't really have a fixed doctrine at this time, studying anything like COIN in the Indian Wars really comes down to the study of specific campaigns and personalities. Some commanders were far more successful than others, but that success doesn't always translate to quality available sources.
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    JC, you might try contacting the surviving tribes directly. Where I live they are big into sharing there history.

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    Council Member Sargent's Avatar
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    Default Insurgency?

    Jon - It might be worth looking at the issue from the perspective of Colonial/Imperial history for the US Army and partisan warfare for the Native tribes. An insurgency tends to suggest a conflict which represents a break from the established and expected governance, which would not have been the case with respect the westward expansion and assumption of control over new space and territory. Essentially the US march west was an invasion - a slow moving one, to be sure - and conquest, and although that might be disquieting to our national sense of self as "good" I think being honest about things will lead you down a better path of inquiry.

    Going back in time to the 1830s, there is an excellent history by John Hall about the Black Hawk War (_Uncommon Allies_) which I think puts the issue in this perspective. Old school history, there is Edward Coffman's The Old Army, which will provide a wealth of bibliographic material, if a little dated. As well, there is also the relevant section from Millet and Maslowski's For the Common Defense to provide you with paths of research.

    Jill

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    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    That is a very astute observation about it not really being about insurgency after all.

    The same for the fact that there was not concerted, orchestrated campaign and rather several smaller incidents, operations, and purSuits which were very much influenced by personalities.

    Great recommendations folks! Thank you.

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