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Go Back   Armchair General and HistoryNet >> The Best Forums in History > Historical Events & Eras > American Age of Discovery, Colonization, Revolution, & Expansion > American Colonial Era

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American Colonial Era 1660-1763 The growth of North American colonies, often with a change in native & national control.

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  #1  
Old 08 Nov 09, 16:53
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American Indians ever use boats for military purposes?

Did any of the American Indians ever use boats or ships against the European powers? I'm specifically wondering if they attacked up of the ships while they were at anchor, as this would have put a world of hurt on, for example, the early New England colonists. Did anything like that happen in King Phillip's war or earlier?
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Old 08 Nov 09, 17:04
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I know the Aztecs used boats against Cortes at Tenochtitlan.

They used them to attack the Spaniards on the causeway during their retreat.

Later when Cortes returned and set siege to the city I believe there were some naval battles fought on the lake between ships that the Spaniards built and the Aztecs.
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Old 08 Nov 09, 19:35
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The Micmac (Mikmaw) used canoes and even European style ships for transport, and some of their war parties included Acadian cousins, so it is entirely possible they used water craft on occasion to attack English and Yankee ships at anchor.
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Old 09 Nov 09, 00:57
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Despite their seagoing tradition, the few cases of Tongva resistance were on land and got nipped in the bud early. Oh well.

I did learn about a new hero - a kind of Boudicca of Los Angeles, Toypurina!

http://www.habitatauthority.org/pdf/...an_history.pdf
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Old 09 Dec 09, 22:12
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The Indians must have come at John Oldham's pinnace in canoes. See the following from Google books.

Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society
By Massachusetts Historical Society

From the General History of New England from the Discovery to MDCLXXX
By the Rev. William Hubbard, Minister of Ipswich, Mass.

John Oldham murdered by the Indians of Block Island ; how discovered, and the war that followed thereupon with them, and the Pequods, their abettors.
Capt. Stone was killed by the Pequods in the year 1634, which they excused with false pretence, earnestly soliciting the Massachusetts to make a peace with them. But in the year 1636, John Oldham's death was so manifest, that it could neither be concealed nor excused : the discovery whereof being remarkable, was as followeth. One J. Gallop, with one man more, and two boys, coming from Connecticut, and intending to put in at Long Island, as he came from thence, being at the mouth of the harbour, was forced by a sudden change of the wind to bear up for Block Island, or Fisher's Island; where, as they were sailing along, they met with a pinnace, which they found to be John Oldham's, who had been sent to trade with the Pequods, (to make trial of the reality of their pretended friendship, after the murder of Capt. Stone.) They hailed the vessel, but had no answer, although they saw the deck full of Indians, (fourteen in all,) and a little before that had seen a canoe go from the vessel full of Indians likewise, and goods.Whereupon they suspected they had killed John Oldham, who had only two boys and two Narraganset Indians in his vessel besides himself; and the rather because they let slip, and set up sail (being two miles from shore, the wind and tide coming oft" the shore of the island, whereby they drave toward the main land of Narraganset). Therefore they went ahead of them, and having nothing but two pieces and two pistols, they bore up r/fear the / Indians, who stood on the deck of the vessel, ready armed with guns, swords, and pikes. But John Gallop, a man of stout courage, let fly among them, and so galled them, that they got all down under hatches; and then they stood off again, and returning with a good gale, they stemmed her upon the quarter, and almost overset her; which so affrightened the Indians, that six of them leaped overboard, and were drowned. Yet they durst not board her, but stood off again, and fitted their anchor, so as stemming her the second time, they bored her bow through with their anchor, and sticking fast to her, they made divers shot through the sides of her, and so raked her fore and aft, (being but inch board,) as they must needs kill or hurt some of the Indians ; but seeing none of them come forth, they got loose from her, and then stood off again; then four or five more of the Indians leaped into the sea, and were likewise drowned. Whereupon, there being but four left in her, they boarded her; whereupon an Indian came up and yielded : him they bound, and put him into the hold. Then another yielded ; him they also bound : but J. Gallop being well acquainted with their skill to unloose one another, if they lay near together, and having no place to keep them asunder, he flung him bound into the sea; then looking about they found John Oldham under an old sail, stark naked, having his head cleft to the brains, his hands and legs cut as if they had been cutting them off, yet warm; so they put him into the sea; but could not well tell how to come at the other two Indians, (who were in a little room underneath with their swords) so they took the goods which were left, and the sails, and towed the
boat away; but night coming on, and the wind rising, they were forced to turn her off, and the wind carried her to the Narraganset shore, where they left her.
On the 26th of said July, the two Indians which were with John Oldham, and one other Indian, came from Canonicus, (the chief sachem of the Narragansets,) with a letter from Mr. Williams, to signify what had befallen John Oldham, and how grievously they were offended ; and that Miantonimo, (the second sachem of the Narragansets) was gone with seventeen canoes and two hundred men to take revenge. But upon examination of the other Indian, who was brought prisoner to them, they found that all the sachems of the Narragansets, except Canonicus and Miantonimo, were contrivers of John Oldham's death; and the occasion was, because he went to make peace, and trade with the Pequods last year. The prisoner said also that Oldham's two Indians were acquainted with it; but because they were sent as messengers from Canonicus, they would not imprison them. But the governour wrote back to Mr. Williams, to let the Narragansets know, they expected they should send home J. Oldham's two boys, and take revenge upon the islanders ; and withal gave Mr. Williams caution to look to himself, if there should be occasion to make war with the Narragansets, (for Block Island was under them) and the next day he wrote to Canonicus, by one of those Indians, that he had suspicion of him that was sent, and yet he had sent him back, because he was a messenger; but did expect, if he should send for the said two Indians, he should send them to him.

Last edited by Jannie; 09 Dec 09 at 22:49..
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  #6  
Old 09 Dec 09, 23:37
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Very interesting Jannie, thanks for posting that! With the old-style words, I had to read it several times to understand it.
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Old 10 Dec 09, 00:04
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There is a more current account of Indian War canoes on the Mississippi
in the book The Natchez Indians: A History to 1735 by James F. Barnett on Google Books

In pages 3—12 there is a very interesting and exciting account of Indians on the river in great war canoes harassing and shooting arrows and overturning some of the boats of the Spaniards of DeSoto’s Expedition in 1542, from probably north of current day Natchez to the mouth of the Mississippi.

This is still in copyright so I won't copy any of it here but it is well worth reading the account.
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Old 10 Dec 09, 01:42
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Lots of instances

I remember in Command Magazine they had a story about the savagery of the Pilgrims. There was a little story about some Indians seizing a boat that they then used to sail the coast and used for pirating of fishing boats. The Indians were able to sail it properly as well. The New Englanders thought it would be easy to out maneuver the boat and were amazed to be out sailed.

The Mayans also put to sea to warn off Cortez's expedition in canoes. Many Caribbean Indians were adept at using canoes. The Great Lake Indians were well known for sailing in Fleets and amphibious warfare. The Iroquois also used the Lakes to subdue surrounding tribes. On the Pacific Coast the Haida were compared to the Vikings as they terrorized the coast as far South as California.

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Old 11 Dec 09, 08:39
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There was an incident during the siege of Detroit whereby Pontiac and warriors successfully attacked a ship on the lake. I forget the details of how they did it but there is great detail on the entire siege in Allen Eckert's The Conquerors.
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Old 24 Dec 09, 09:38
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Another fortunate factor for the Pilgrims was that the Haidas were a West Coast tribe. It may have been different if a similar native culture had developed on the East Coast. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haida
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Old 23 Feb 10, 17:24
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In the last quarter of the late 18th century in the Ohio Valley rivers (and their navigation) were crucial to the frontier war. There are numerous accounts of tribes such as the Shawnee, Mingo and Wyandot ambushing river parties though they tended to do this from land. They did, however, also use their own canoes expertly to attack and sieze vessels, particularly flatboats sailing down the Ohio River. I'll try and dig up some sources in the next few days
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Old 23 Feb 10, 18:26
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That would be interesting. Thanks and welcome to the Forums.
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Old 26 Feb 10, 00:17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whiskey-galore View Post
In the last quarter of the late 18th century in the Ohio Valley rivers (and their navigation) were crucial to the frontier war. There are numerous accounts of tribes such as the Shawnee, Mingo and Wyandot ambushing river parties though they tended to do this from land. They did, however, also use their own canoes expertly to attack and sieze vessels, particularly flatboats sailing down the Ohio River. I'll try and dig up some sources in the next few days
Darren,

A hearty welcome to the forum. Where might I get a copy of the book mentioned in your signature? I suspect that your research includes my ancestors William and Esther Whitley. Here are a few links that I've posted about them.

http://www.armchairgeneral.com/forum...illiam+whitley

http://www.armchairgeneral.com/forum...illiam+whitley

http://www.armchairgeneral.com/forum...illiam+whitley
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Old 18 Nov 10, 21:06
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Mostly all of them used canoes extensively to transport "supplies" (they tended to supply themselves) and execute flanking maneuvres.

The speed gained from using rivers and lakes (remember so dep in the forest an advancing column migh as well crawl) allowed them to be the major factor in most of the battles fought for the continent.

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Old 05 Jan 11, 17:14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lirelou View Post
The Micmac (Mikmaw) used canoes and even European style ships for transport, and some of their war parties included Acadian cousins, so it is entirely possible they used water craft on occasion to attack English and Yankee ships at anchor.
I've read, but I'm d----d if I can recall where, maybe Parkham's book, that the Micmac did in fact use their watercraft to attack and board enemy shipping, taking several throughout the course of conflicts with the Brits. Lunenberg & Fundy in Nova Scotia if I remember correctly. Any mudheads up there confirm that?
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