Saturday, November 28, 2015
Defending the Booneslick Country, Part III The Attackers
The Missouri settlements were mostly attacked by five tribes that lived along the frontier. The Sac and Fox tribes who principally lived in Northern Illinois and Wisconsin. The Ioway who resided mostly in present day Iowa and Northern Missouri, this group also contained a few remnants of the Missouria Indians and the Otoe tribes. The Winnebego Indians from Wisconsin. The Potawtomi from Illinois and a group of Miami who had been moved into the Booneslick area after the battle of Tippecanoe in 1811.
The Osage tribes which resided South of the Missouri river were generally considered allies although the official stance of the US government during the war of 1812 was that all Indians were to be kept as neutral whenever possible. In several cases the Osage and other tribes were convinced by one US agent or settler to attack one or another of the warring tribes only to have the action blocked by the Territorial government.
Generally speaking these Eastern Plains tribes were armed pretty much as their Eastern woodland cousins were during the American Revolution. There were of course some later models of smoothbore muskets and rifles available but mostly little had changed in the 30 years since the Revolution period. Horses were utilized more by Indian raiding parties and were prime looting targets but I am not aware of any of these tribes fighting from horseback during this period.
The Ioway were the major attackers along the Booneslick road and settlements, with the other tribes usually striking further to the East towards the St. Louis area.
Estimates of the time period show that all told the entire loose federation of tribes could barely field a total of 3000 warriors of all ages and had a combined population of maybe 6 to 7000 people spread over most of the Midwest and the Eastern part of the Central Plains states. An area that covers about six and a half states by today's division. For those who want to comment about this area being the Indian's home like someone did on the last post, all I can say is it would take one hell of an amount of arrogance to claim a backyard of that size to house 7000 people but believe what you want.
So as you can see the Settlers were not in such dire straights as it first appears. The Indians had the advantage in that they could mass their attacks outnumbering the defenders by 20 to 1 in some cases BUT if they did not catch the defenders in the open and unprepared their chances of success were much reduced. Once the settlers made it into the makeshift forts the odds of survival increased greatly.
In one skirmish the defenders of the Fort near present day Jefferson City, mostly Women as it turned out, ran out of water to quench the fires the attackers set and were forced to use what was in their chamber pots. When one block house burned and a stash of powder exploded killing 18 of the attackers the Indians were forced to retire.
In another case were the Sac, Fox and Ioway warriors attacked the principal Booneslick settlement and actually overran two of the forts, one warrior dug a hole through the wall of Cooper's fort and managed to shoot Col.Cooper and killing him.
While mass and numbers favored the attackers, time and logistics did not. The attackers were forced to consume what they brought with them or could hunt or loot on the raid which severely lessened their numbers to do so. The defenders once "Forted" up had whatever supplies they had on hand which was usually far more than the attackers had. The settlers on the other hand were constantly hampered by losing able bodied people to sentinel duty though it must be said.
After the cessation of hostilities between the US and England the supply of war materials to these tribes dried up and they sued for peace. Thus ending the frontier skirmishes. The tactics of defense used is a good study in how to defend an open community against armed raids as long as large weapons are not used anyway. It takes very few defenders v. attackers to hold a hardened structure but is also important to note that all the settlers defended themselves. Something today's ultimate doomers like to discount.
Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!!!