Starkey, Armstrong, 1998,
European and Native American Warfare, 1675-1815,
University of Oklahoma Press.
Military historian Armstrong Starkey offers to first book-length survey on European and Native American
Warfare during the 17th and 18th century (1675-1815), although the study is regionally focused on New
England with one chapter on the Northwest as well. Starkey applies to this subject not only the usual
methods of the historian, but also those of ethnohistory, the interface between anthropology and the study
of history (vii).
Also revisionism has led to a different agenda and interpretation of Indian-White relationships (see pp. 6-
7 for quote).
The first chapter provides a general overview and defines some of the basic concepts. The second and
third chapters, respectively, characterize the differences between Indian and European warfare in North
America. Chapters 4-6 describe particular wars, and Chapter 7 the Northwest. The brief concluding
chapter summarizes the main points.
The basic thesis or argument is that the various wars between the Indians and Europeans precipitated by
the invasion and colonization of the latter were a complex mixture involving different European groups
against one another and each with their distinctive Indian allies and accordingly others as enemies (viii).
While the European warriors was superior in numbers, artillery (canons), and fortifications, the Indian
warriors were superior in marksmanship (including with European muskets) and in knowledge and use of
the environment (forests)(3). Furthermore, the Indians modified their previous warfare patterns of ambush
and raiding with the new European weapons to offer substantial resistance in the form of what amounts to
what are now called guerrilla warfare, commandos, and special forces (19, 26). Largely because of the
tactical advantage of the Indians, in spite of the greater numbers and wealth of the Europeans, it took the
latter more than 140 years to achieve victory and peace over the lands of the numerous indigenous
societies east of the Mississippi River (168). Thus this was not only a clash of very different cultures, but
also of very different cultural patterns of military values, customs, laws, organization, tactics, and
warfare, and in a new environment for the European warriors, forests. Indeed, those Europeans who were
most successful in warfare against the Indians, modified European tactics and adopted many of those of
the Indians (6). Thus, both Indian and European warfare were variously transformed in the arena of North