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!!!!!!


  1. The hostilities stopped in our area once the French and English ended their war. In modern conflicts, it might be better to have a tunnel complex like the VC rather than a fort.

    1. Sf - Perhaps bunkers more than tunnels per se but I see your point.

  2. PP,

    Off topic but the kids and me watched Shaun the sheep tonight and the littlest ones want a sheep. I had to explain real sheep don't build machines and things.


    1. Exile - LOL no but they do like to taste every machine I leave out with them and attempt to climb on it!!!

  3. In the decades between Columbus' discovery of America and the Mayflower landing at Plymouth Rock, the most devastating plague in human history raced up the East Coast of America. Just two years before the pilgrims started the tape recorder on New England's written history, the plague wiped out about 96 percent of the Indians in Massachusetts.

    In the years before the plague turned America into The Stand, a sailor named Giovanni da Verrazzano sailed up the East Coast and described it as "densely populated" and so "smoky with Indian bonfires" that you could smell them burning hundreds of miles out at sea. Using your history books to understand what America was like in the 100 years after Columbus landed there is like trying to understand what modern day Manhattan is like based on the post-apocalyptic scenes from I Am Legend.Historians estimate that before the plague, America's population was anywhere between 20 and 100 million (Europe's at the time was 70 million). The plague would eventually sweep West, killing at least 90 percent of the native population.
    The time you are describing had but a fraction of the original population left.

    1. Anon - Even the most biased pro-Indian works rarely claim more than 7 Million North of the Rio Grande and that was pre-1400's. Even Thorton who titled his work as an Indian Holocaust admits the population was probably in decline long before Columbus entered the scene. You're simply dreaming. But go ahead and do so nothing I write here will change your mind.

      The fact is your laughable 100 million number or even your low end 20 million could not have been sustained with the neolithic stone age technology the Indians had at the time.

      North America has never been anything more than a over spill continent either from Europe or Asia since long before recorded time. Maybe someday the White Europeans you hate so much will be pushed back across the ice sheets and the Asians can come across once again like has been going on since time began.

  4. Dennis

    Considering the "the white man did everything they could to kill the natives, including bio warfare, it was only a matter of time before the West was won. It all comes down to a numbers game and technology. The natives had no really hope.

    (Please forgive the spelling and gammer mistakes. It is hard to read a write will being slouched down in a chair for the cat on the shoulder. :) )

    1. Dennis - In many cases. In some the Whites did not do everything or as a matter of fact there would be none left today. Could it have been handled better? Certainly it could have and that includes actions on both sides. I dare say that in general the White settlers treated the various tribes better than they treated each other when one vanquished another.

  5. It is undeniable that the population was far higher pre columbus. Even Lewis and Clarke documented the reduced population caused by European and Asian diseases that they saw and heard about. As Ambrose notes in his book Lewis and Clark were all to aware that their men also carried various ailments with them which they would unwittingly spread even further. One thing is certain had the native population been immune then the settlers would have faced far stiffer opposition!

    1. Ro - Far higher is irrelevant really. There were no real permanent settlements remaining long before Columbus landed and little direct trade between groups. As I mentioned above even the most biased pro Indian researchers struggle to claim 7 Million people North of the Rio Grande before 1400 AD and that still averaged out to one person per every 45 square miles or so. Sorry that is NOT enough of a base population to claim ownership of a land mass. That would literally be like me claiming the moon as part of my own territory. At most I can see it, so it is mine?

      Seems funny to me that the disease thing only swung one way, especially if the population had been anywhere near as high pre-Columbus as 7 million.

      Still these posts are not about wrong or right in the colonization of N. America. It's about defense of settlements and what they faced. The population density is an important factor in how it all went down.

  6. where i come from most of us are part indian, a surprising number part cherokee, which tells you that those counted as dead didn't all die on the trail of tears. used to be many family stories about how a forebear's family hid and protected the kees in west virginia and kentucky. look at loretta lynn.
    satellites have shown the outlines of big cities long turned to dust in the south. all of this is very interesting.
    but i am not going to be forced to pay in any way for the putative sins of my forebears, indian or european. the past is gone and the study of it interesting, from whatever perspective.
    let us just say that people are sinners and survival is all, when you get down to brass tacks. and none of us knows the absolute truth about anything.

    God will sort us all out, and we can rest easy in that knowledge.

    pp, thanks for this very interesting history. will be glad to read anything else you may have along this line.
    it is, after all, a description of techniques of defense and survival.

    1. deborah - My sentiments exactly. I am not some anti-Indian cowboy type generally speaking but I do insist that things are presented factually and that includes the good and bad from both sides and not some fairyland made up Indian civilization that if it ever existed (which maybe it did) was long gone before Columbus got to N. America. I also do not subscribe to the all White men bad doctrine or the grand conspiracy of disease warfare that is kicked around. Supposedly a cooperative effort of generations I might add. Whatever happened by the later half of the 1700's there weren't enough American Indians left to use a fraction of the land mass here even by aboriginal hunter gatherer methods.

      Yes the US government did some terrible things to some Indians. Yes some Indians did some equally terrible things to White settlers over land that hadn't seen a human foot in centuries before the settlers got there too. There is also the Solutrean theory that could be thrown around as well but none of this is the purpose or point of this series of posts as you say.

      I will admit though I knew this last post would bring out such comments and feelings. These days only one side is presented as having done bad things and when you have circumstances like US Senators claiming to be part Indian just to get votes and benefits denied Whites it's a sure sign the propaganda gears are spinning in overtime in only one direction.

  7. There is no mystery as to why so few diseases came from the native Americans and why so many affected them so fatally. Native Americans have unusually homogenous immune types. The major histocompatibility complex, MHC, is a arge geonomic found in most vertebrates. It plays a huge role in the immune system and autoimmunity. Bacteria, viruses constantly mutate but where as they may find a host in one individuals MHC they will be rejected and killed by another. For most species thie helps defend them agianst disease. In Africans only 1 person in 300 has identical MHC in Europeans it is slightly higher. In native Americans it is one in 3. The settlers brought well over a dozen new diseases. Once a disease found a favourable host that lacked immunity the chances were that the next host would have the same immune deficiency.
    Such vulnerability would result in 90 percent mortality or even higher.
    The reason for such a vulnerability is thought to be that the first native Americans were an extremely small group and thus lacked genetic diversity.
    Such a loss of numbers and knowledge, most evident in south America, would have it their society's hard. It also made colonisation a doddle!

    1. Ro - Ok I will take you at your word on that I have no real knowledge of genetics, haplo groups/types or what not but that still does not equate into intentional germ warfare by Europeans and at best simply means a die off was inevitable if my understanding is correct anyway. At some point they would have been exposed one way or another and not survived. We cannot blame Europeans for this any more than we can blame Chinese for the Black Plague in Europe.

      Even assuming a 90% die off rate had never happened though that still leaves say the Ioway tribes with a total population of only 25 to 30K (figuring 10% left in 1800) total people that would claim an area roughly the size of Iowa, Northern Missouri above the Missouri river, part of Wisconsin, Illinois and Kansas. I could figure out the population density of that roughly but without running the numbers I can tell it would be HUGE. Way too large to justify the ownership some would like to give them credit for in my book anyway.

  8. PP, I never said it was intentional. When most of the diseases swept though the native population the western world had barely even begun to grasp how infections spread.
    Lewis and Clark actually took along medical treatments recommended by doctors that were actually poisonous.
    Most European people would be utterly unaware that they carried the diseases and even if they were they would know that the bulk whilst making most people very sick it would not kill them. To the native Americans even measles had an astonishingly high mortality rate.
    It is not altogether certain that the source of the disease was only from Europe. In 1423 chinese explorers mapped the Nergo and Solimoes rivers. Pretty much all European diseases were to be found in China as well.
    Your calculations for population density hwever may well be way off. Don't forget that a lot of these diseases spread up from the south by the spanish. Well over 100 years passed before regular contact with European settlers would have occurred. There would have been multiple epidemics in that time reducing the population each time. There was no guarantee that any native that was immune to smallpox would not be killed by measles. Hernando de soto explored the Mississippi and Tennessee river valley in 1539. That contact alone could have started the spread!
    South America alone was thought to have had a population in excess of 115 million.
    New research and new techniques have shown most of what is now the Amazon rainforest was heavily populated and the actual rainforest is less than 500 years old.
    The period of global cooling known as the little ice age from 1500to 1750 was caused by the massive and rapid expansion of forest following the rapid population decline.

    Unfortunately having the entire population pretty much originating from one extended family group meant that lack of genetic variety largely sealed their fate!

    1. Ro - I wasn't pointing a finger at you specifically about the Germ warfare claim just in general as it seems to be a common claim by many these days.

      As for the population estimates as I said I can find just as many instances of the "experts" claiming the other way as well and it certainly wasn't until the current pro-Indian bias and mania took off that these claims of tens of millions and beyond took shape which honestly makes them very suspect to me. The other is the undeniable fact that any peoples in N. America never progressed beyond the stone age and numbers of the like that are being spread recently are just not possible with stone age technology. Pointing that out usually leads to the unicorn kingdom hypothesis and mouth foaming types claiming the White Man stole all the Indian's artifacts and burned them or something.

      In the end it matters not one wit to me these days. As far as I am concerned by 1608 N.America was an undeveloped land that needed to be colonized as it had been from Europe well before this last go around. European tribes have as much claim to the place as Asian ones and right now more of a claim.

      Of course if the multi-cult bleeding heart White guilt Feminist liberals have their way in another few centuries someone else will be having this argument about whether the White population was native and how we were genocided.


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