Richard Calmit Adams.

Claims of the Delaware Indians; online

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Indians (Delawares) with them against the expedition.

The journal of Rev. William Rodgers, D. D., in the account of the
Sullivan expedition, mentions the fact that Col. Brodhead, from Fort
Pitt, had marched with a number of troops and friendly Indians
(Delawares) with an intention of forming a junction with Gen. Sulli-
van near Genesee. (Pa. Archives, series 2, vol. 15.)

The following is from Loudon's Indian Narratives :

"Let us take a view of the benefits we have received by what little
we have learned of their art of war, which cost us dear, and the loss
we have sustained for want of it, and then see if it will not be well
worth our while to retain what we have, and also to endeavor to im-
prove in this necessary branch of business. Though we have made
considerable proficiency in this line, and in some respects outdo them,
viz., as marksmen, and in cutting our rifles and keeping them in good
order, yet I apprehend we are far behind in their maneuvers, or in
being able to surprise or to prevent a surprise. May we not conclude
that the progress we had made in their art of war contributed con-
siderably toward our success, in various respects, when contending
with Great Britain for liberty? Had the British King attempted to
enslave us before Braddock's war, in all probability he might readily
have done it, because, except the New Englanders, who had formerly
been engaged in war with the Indians, we were unacquainted with any
kind of war ; but_ after fighting such a subtle and barbarous enemy as
the Indians, we were not terrified at the approach of British redcoats.
Was not Burgoyne's defeat accomplished, in some measure, by the
Indian mode of fighting And did not Gen. Morgan's riflemen, and
many others, fight with greater success in consequence of what they
had learned of their art of war? Kentucky would not have been set-
tled at the time it was had the Virginians been altogether ignorant of
tliis method of war.

"In Braddock's war the frontiers were laid waste for about 300
miles long and generally about 300 broad, excepting some that were
living in forts, and many hundreds, or perhaps thousands, killed or
made captives, and horses and all kinds of property carried off; but in
the next Indian war, though we had the same Indians to cope with,
the frontiers almost all stood their ground ; because they were by this
time, in some measure, acquainted with their maneuvers ; and the want
of this in the first war was the cause of the loss of many hundreds of
our citizens and much treasure.

R D 14-8



"Though large volumes have been written on morality, yet it may
be all summed up in saying, do as you would wish to be done by, so
the Indians sum up the art of war in the following manner:

"The business of the private warriors is to be under command, or
punctually to obey orders ; to learn to march abreast in scattered order,
so as to be in readiness to surround the enemy or to prevent being sur-
rounded ; to be good marksmen and active in the use of arms ; to
practice running ; to learn to endure hunger or hardships with patience
and fortitude; to tell the truth at all times to their officers, but more
especially when sent out to spy the enemy.

"Concerning officers. — They say that it would be absurd to appoint
a man an officer whose skill and courage had never been tried; that
all officers should be advanced only according to merit ; that no one
man should have the absolute command of an army; that a council of
officers are to determine when and how an attack is to be made; that
it is the business of the officers to lay plans to take every advantage of
the enemy, to ambush and surprise them, and to prevent being am-
bushed and surprised themselves. It is the duty of officers to prepare
and deliver speeches to the men in order to animate and encourage
them, and on the march to prevent the men, at any time, from getting
into a huddle, because if the enemy should surround them in this
position they would be exposed to the enemy's fire. It is likewise their
business at all times to endeavor to annoy their enemy and save their
own men, and therefore ought never to bring on an attack without
considerable advantage or without what appeared to them the sure
prospect of victory, and that with the loss of few men; and if at any
time they should be mistaken in this, and are likely to lose many men
by gaining the victory, it i< their duty to retreat and wait for a better
opportunity of defeating their enemy without the danger of lodng so
many men. Their conduct proves that they act upon these principles;
therefore it i> that from Braddock's war to the present time they have
seldom ever made an unsuccessful attack.

"The battle at the mouth of the Great Kanawha is the greatest in-
stance of thi-. and even then, though the Indians killed about 3 for 1
they lo^t, yet they retreated. The loss of the Virginians in this action
was 70 killed and the same number wounded. The Indians lost 20
killed on the held and 8 who died afterwards of their wounds. This
was the greatesl loss ( ,f men that I ever knew the Indians to sustain in
any one battle. They will commonly retreat if their men are falling
fast ; they will not stand cutting like the Highlanders or other British
lii 'ops, but this proceeds from a compliance with their rules of war
rather than cowardice. If they are surrounded they will fight while
there is a man of them alive rather than surrender * * *.

"Why have we not made greater proficiency in the Indian art of
war? Is it because we are too proud to imitate them, even though it
should be a means of preserving the lives of many of our citizens?



No ! We are not above borrowing language from them, such as
hominy, pone, tomahawk, etc., which is of little or no use to us. I
apprehend that the reasons why we have not improved more in this
respect are as follows : No important acquisition is to be obtained but
by attention and diligence ; and as it is easier to learn to move and act
in concert, in close order, in the open plain, than to act in concert in
scattered order in the woods, so it is easier to learn our discipline than
the Indian maneuvers. They train up their boys in the art of war from
the time they are 12 or 14 y ears of age, whereas the principal chance
cvir people had of learning was by observing their maneuvers when in
action against us. I have been long astonished that no one has written
upon this important subject, as their art of war would not only be of
use in case of another rupture with them, but were only part of our
men taught this art, accompanied with our continental discipline, I
think no European power, after trial, would venture to show its head
in the American woods.

"If what I have wrote should meet the approbation of my country-
men, perhaps I may publish more upon this subject in a future edition."


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Online LibraryRichard Calmit AdamsClaims of the Delaware Indians; → online text (page 6 of 6)