Was the US army well equipped for war with the Plains Indians?

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  • Created on: 04-05-14 12:01
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  • Was the US army well equipped for war with the Plains Indians?
    • Enlisted Men
      • Recruits to the army would include not only Americans but European immigrants as well.
      • However, they didn't always have the work ethic as many of them would be found drunk or didn't care to work.
    • The army was relatively weak to begin with in the 1840s and 1850s.
      • By 1856, the army had grown and they were responsible for keeping the peace on the Plains for over four million square kilometres.
        • The Indians and the army fought very different softs of war and sometimes if was expensive to keep running the army.
        • The soldiers would spend most of their time guarding the forts, patrolling the land and routes or searching for Indians.
    • Forts
      • The forts in the West were built to protect the overland routes and to keep watch over reservations.
      • They served as a base from which soldiers could patrol the routes and also attack the Plains Indians.
      • Although the Indians would attack the forts, they never managed to capture one.
    • Indian Scouts
      • These were recruited from other Indian nations.
      • They were invaluable for their knowledge of the country and the other nations battle tactics.
      • The failure of the different nations to fight together against the US army contributed to their eventual defeat.
    • The Impact of the Civil War
      • As the regular army had to go and fight in the civil war, they had to be replaced by volunteers.
      • These lacked discipline and they were sometimes led by men with political ambitions.
    • New strategies
      • Total War
        • This strategy had been used in the civil war and was useful.
        • It meant going to war against a whole enemy population.
        • But it did not mean killing women and children.
        • Instead it meant destroying all the food, shelter, clothing, possessions and animals of the Plains Indians.
        • This left them with a choice of starvation, going to relative for help or going to the reservation and surrendering.
      • Winter Campaigns
        • The Indians were vulnerable to attack in the winter.
        • With the heavy snow and the sub-zero temperatures it was the time of year when they needed to stay in one place for long periods of time.
        • They also needed to be able to conserve food and strengthen their ponies.
        • This meant that defeat in the winter was devastating and it was an important factor that led to the destruction of the Indians.




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