Red Indian Warfare

1891 Royal United Services Institution Journal  
RED INDIAN WARFARE. By the Author of "The Campaign of Fredericksburg.' I. TIE sober narratives of tm-ellem and sportsnieii have altogetlicr dispelled the 1,alo of roilinlice which, tlianks to Cooper and hraync &id, oiicc enveloped die aboriginal tribes of North America That "all Indians are isen," need ]lot be accepted in its integritj-; but it is a statement, iieeerdeless, wit11 diicli uiost pcople aru iiiclinecl partially to agree, esprcssiq as it does the conviction tliat as a race the red
more » ... as a race the red ~i i m is an excrescence OII civilieatioii, and a product of h'atme whose nheiice would not be regretted. It is possible tlitt this feeling is accentuated by B coiisciousness tliat tlic " Iiitliair question " IS appreiitly a probleni the solutioii of wliicli would be very grcatly facilitated by tlie elimination of the rnaiii factor. Better. than undcrmoiiig tlie liumiliation of confessing that tlierc is a question witli vliicli die wit of man is powerless to deal, is to i n a h it inlpossiblo that such a qiiestion oliould exist. As tlie process of extermination, gently aduiuisteretl by the aid of "firewater " and epidemics, is sapposed to be gmdunlly briiigiiig this desirable consummation within reasorialle.clistniice, the popular interest in the present troubles in the Western States of AIueriu is by no ~iicaiis warm. Still there are lessons to be learnt from tlic story of tlic ciideavoiirs of tlio United States Government to fit tlie orbinal occnpants of the contilielit into tlicir proper place in tlic p u~e of CiviGItioii. itti tier to the pegs hare all prorecl round and tlie holes square. But both pliilautliropists arid statesinen may gather wisdom from the experiment ; wliilst soldiers, who have so niucli to do with reducing tlic p e p represented by savage tribes to B shape iii wliicli tlicy can be opemtcd on by civilian Iia~ids, may find some useful suggestions in the practice of their American cornrades. If there is notliiiig novel in this practice, a brief glance at tlie sort of work that occupies arid trains nu A m y with wliicli, both in mce, in speech, and duty, we have so mucli hi comoii, ought at least to prove professionally interesting. l'ersonally and wentally uiisavoury as lie is, the Indian is still the first cliaracter to be introduced. If his part is riot one which i.o~ii~naiids our sppatliy, we must at least allow that it is nost essential to the plot, probably contemplated by liiniself with an absorbinn and even painful interest, and certainly 11ayctl with nri uncommon deal of ,&ill. Divested of his heroic trappings as lie has bccii, not even tlie author of IIiawatlia Iiimsclf, if lie were still living, ~o u l d (lare n o i d a y s to apply to this Christoplier Slyof r e d life the epitlict of "noble." And yet lie lias sczrccly been brought down, like Shakespeare's hero, to the l e d of "a rascally tinker" a t a single plunge. Uiiprejudiced 4mrvcix liavc rccortlcd tlieir belief tli:it lie is not altogctlier iii@nous ; ? l i a~ if lie is treacherous, the white inan 113s not set him B very bnglit example of truth-telling and word-keepinn ; that if lie is merciless, he has never been sho\w what mercy is ; that if Tie spires neither ECX nor qy, the pioneers and trappers, so long his enemies, were not too particular w iethcr the " varmint " they 'I wipctl out " was buck or squaw ; that if lie gloats over tlie tortures of Jiis prisoners, he is ready himself to face the same fate with stoiczl composure. "I am not disposed to be over-fond of Indians," rritev Imd Dunmveii, who knew them vell, "to gloss over tlieir faults, aid magnify their virtues. But still I am fond of tlieni. I respcct their instinct; Downloaded by ["Queen's University Libraries, Kingston"] at 10:21 30 December 2014 182 RED INDIAN WARFARE. I adinire tlieir intense love of freedom ; and, while admitting that Cool)cr's lieroes are somewlint imaginary, I mnst confess tliat the ' iioblr red inan' is not altogether sucli a mytlricnl being as one sc!iool of writers would haw us believe. He has some :;oble.;md excellent trait.. of cliaractcr, and it must not be forgotten that although certain of Ilia rintuml actions ,and thoughts nre sliocking to our iclcas of decency null morality, yet tlre chief causes tliat render tini obnoxious to u s are to be traced tlircctly to tlie contanhating influence of tlic white ninn. Indians, though sometimes nieaii and treaclierous, yet oftcii crliibit :I gruid simplicity ant1 nobleness of clinracter. As n rule, thcy exercise grcnt sclf-controi, tlioiigli now and tlieii they break out i n wild orgies and cscesses of 811 kiiidr." Kor does lie rate wry higlily tlie capacity for "getting religion." " I will not stop; lie adds, " t o cAcnlate liow rii~icli tca and sugar, pork and tobacco, sullice to convert a tribe or individual ; or to iioticc how, in coilsequence of this peculiarity nrnong the natives, Cliristiaiiity.rules hiili ill gcaix of scarcity, and l i b n dowiward tendency w~ieri buffdo IS scarce." Tliis is a scanty tide of virtues a t best-Aiiierioui soldiers will even bc inclined to c:iyil at the existence of the riiost proiuineiit iteius-mid if, at the same time, i t be admitted that, however courageous lie inay sliow hinuelf wlien a11 Iiope is lost, liis me:isurc of actual physical cou1q.y is best coniparetl to that of rat in a corner," the red niaii of Sortk Anierica raiiks low iii conqnrison with otlier ~v q e peoples with wlioni v-ve linrc acquaintance. But if lie lacks tlie disciplined c:ilour of the Zulu, the fearless kinticism of the G1i:izi or the Soudaiiese, it is due, pcrliaps, ratlier to tlio influence of the ?:ictics lie lias itilieritetl from his forefatliers, ancl to tlie conscious;liess that, iu tlieir overivheliniiig 1iumbei3, his enernies CIU atrord to w u t e tlrc lives of a Luiidred soldiers wlierc lie miinot spare that of a single warrior. A t nll cvcnts, what lie lacks iii daring lie makes np for in iutelligencc niiil craft ; :irid Lord Diitirawii supplics n. passage that tends to prow that their wry tleficiency in tlan is, pcrlinps, only R consequence of clitferent inodes of tl10ught. J udgcd by our standard," he say4 tlie Indians are, as n rule, coivards ; and we suppose, tlierefore, that-tliey inwt be coiirinced of our superiority in courncre. Not a bit of it. Tliey look upon our bravery .as the lieiglit of folly, ant1 fiFid u s lackiug entirely in tliose great qualities tliey so rnuc~i adinirc-. We cniiiiot endure the tortures of physical Inin or starve as they cui. Their mode of carryilia on war is quite clissitnilar to ours, ant1 tliey do not appreciate tlint t~espeiatc, Enll-dog courage that 1encls a soldier to struggle to tile bitter eiid against overpowering odds ; nor tlo they IiigLly esteeni n iuan wlio is ready at all times to sacriGce his life for the cause. 0 1 1 the contmry, they would regaid sucli an one as a fool? \+o lint1 prtecl with n. raluable coiniiiotlity, 11~1111c1~, his life, without obtaining nn :itlcquatc rcturn for it. Tliow chiefs arc disgraced wlio bring back the \var-ii:Lrty with diininisliecl ranks. Occasionxlly they make up tlieir iniiit1.J to a .great effort, ant1 espose a iiuniber of lives to compass tlie destruction of the.cne~iiy, as in tlre case of tlie Fort I-. They view with indiffer-Downloaded by ["Queen's University Libraries, Kingston"] at 10:21 30 December 2014
doi:10.1080/03071849109417266 fatcat:sdk4vo5bzffyflcrjl2b66xhae