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' A Soldier' on the Employment of Indians in America



Having served in America during the greatest part of last war, I think I may, without vanity, presume to be a tolerable judge of the best method of conducting the operations


of a campaign in that country; and notwithstanding the aversion which General Carleton is said to have to the employing Indians in his army, yet I must freely give it as my opinion, that nothing could tend more to render his schemes successful than a competent number of these men under proper regulations.

The employing a body of fifteen hundred or two thousand Indians would be attended with many and great advantages. I shall content myself at present with pointing out a few of them. And first, such a body would effectually secure the British troops from all kinds of surprise, by scouring the woods for many miles round, and giving timely notice of any danger before it arrived. No one who has not been in America can conceive with what swiftness the Indians scamper through their woods, and with what certainty they can distinguish objects at a considerable distance. The fact is that the Indians will distinguish objects in their woods at twice, if not three times, the distance that Europeans can; and this faculty (or, if you will, habit, as it is only the improvement of a natural faculty) they acquire by their daily practice in pursuing their enemies or their game. In these pursuits they are as swift and as sharp-sighted as lynxes, and, I may add too, as cunning as foxes; for they will sometimes lie flat upon the ground, covering themselves with the leaves and branches of trees, and in this way will remain undiscovered till their enemy or their game is close upon them, when they suddenly start up, and make sure of their prey.

The security which such a body of Indians would give to the King' s forces, particularly by night, would be of the last importance, as it would enable them to sleep as quietly and as soundly in camp as if they were at home in their own beds; whereas when troops are in danger of being every moment surprised, they may be said to dose rather than to sleep; and though the usual time might be allowed them every night for rest, yet they are very little refreshed by these broken slumbers, and in the space of a few days are so totally exhausted as to be altogether unfit for action.

In the next place, these Indians might be employed in distributing manifestoes among the inhabitants of the back settlements, acquainting them with the approach of the Royal army, which would restrain the factious, confirm the wavering, and encourage the loyal and well-affected to persevere in their pacifick intentions.

But the chief advantage accruing from such a body of Indians, is the terrour it would strike into the Colonists in general; for nothing can exceed the idea they entertain of a hostile visit from these savages. God forbid, however, that I should recommend the letting loose these barbarians in all their native cruelty and ferocity. Rather than consent to this, I would willingly forego all the benefits arising from their service. But I think there is a possibility of using them as bugbears, without allowing them to act as hellhounds, though this will require tire most delicate management: it will require the direction of a man open, frank, generous, and affable, such as was that of the late Sir William Johnson, who could rule and control the passions of these Indians at pleasure; but whether this be the character of General Carleton is best known to those who are personally acquainted with him, which is not the case of yours, &c˙,


London, October 22, 1776.