MANY OF AMERICA'S WARS REMEMBERED BY VERY FEW
United States Has Taken Up Arms On Average of Every Year and a Half
During Entire National Existence
(by Mary Jane Moore)
In how many wars has the United States engaged? How often have the armed forces of the country been called into service since the Resolution?
With the approach of Memorial Day, which comes next Friday, these questions are of timely interest, especially in view of the fact that the answers are not generally known, even to many who pride themselves upon their knowledge of American history.
Every school child can name the six major wars of the United States - the Revolution, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War and the World War - but how many realize that there have been more than 100 disturbances of greater or lesser importance which have demanded the sue of the nation's armed forces?
Research at the War Department in Washington, D.C., reveals some highly interesting data in this connection - data which indicates that the memorial services to be held so generally next Friday should be broadened to include the forgotten heroes of forgotten campaigns which, in their time, were of vital concern to the welfare of the nation.
Forgotten Wars Recalled
According to a special War Department compilation, the armed forces of the country have been called into service every year and a half of our national existence, and the total time the United States hs spent in a state of war equals more than 111 years.
Let us recall the record of some of the campaigns which have been so nearly forgotten and which nevertheless lengthened the roll of American heroes and which in their time played significant parts in the development of the nation.
In 1782, the first disturbance other than the Revolution itself and following upon the Declaration of Independence, was the Wyoming Valley Insurrection, and in 1786 there occurred the famous Shay's Rebellion. During 1790 the Northwest Indian War, the prelude to almost a century of conflict between the Indians and the federal government. The notorious Whisky Insurrection occurred in 1791 and was promptly put down by federal military.
The most important conflict - politically, but not in point of lives lost - following the Revolution was the trouble which the United States had with France following the accomplishment of our independence. This culminated in the war in 1798. France was molesting our vessels at sea, and after several affairs in which the American government made it plain to her erstwhile ally that she would tolerate none of it, the breach was healed.
America Again Victorious
The next year came a disturbance known as Fries Rebellion, and in 1801 the United States declared war on Tripoli, the result of piratical tactics - pursued for centuries before - by the Barbary corsairs. In this conflict America again was victorious.
In 1806 we find the Burr Conspiracy chronicled. This forms at once one of the most dastardly and yet romantic pages of American history. Aaron Burr had visions of a vast southwestern empire, with himself as chieftain or emperor. The federal government thought otherwise and the plan went glimmering when American troops swung into action. The next year after the Burr trouble witnessed the celebrated Chesapeake Bay affair, followed in 1808 by the Lake Champlain affair. In 1811 the Northwest Indian War again cropped into the picture of national events and the year 1812, of course, saw the beginning of the war with Great Britain, which, in some respects, was a second wear of independence.
However, while fighting the British, the United States had internal troubles with the Indians. In 1812 federal troops battled the Seminoles in Florida, in 1813 the Peoria Indians arose, and in the same year the Creeks demanded armed attention.
Indians Fight Whites
From this period until as late as 1890 the federal government was almost constantly engaged in Indian fighting, and many a brave man perished in these conflicts. This was the period of westward expansion, when the white man was pushing his way in ever-increasing numbers to the Golden Gate. Resentful of the intrusion upon the preserves which for ages had been their untrammeled stamping grounds, the Indians fought bitterly to stem the white tide. But their efforts were unavailing. However, the United States did not gain its end without grave sacrifices of many stalwart soldiers, and behind the glamour which fictionists have thrown upon the days of Indian fighting there lies a grim story of hardship, suffering and privation.
These years are characterized by the making and breaking of treaties; by massacres and horrible dangers; by great bravery and sordid treachery; by the passing of countless unremembered heroes who died in blazing the trail of empire.
In 1817 there occurred the second Seminole war, and between 1819 and 1838 United States forces engaged the following tribes in battle: Yellowstone, Blackfeet, Sac, Fox, Cherokee and Pawnee. Abraham Lincoln served in the Blackhawk War of 1832 as a captain. The third Seminole war took place in the year 1835, the second Creek War in 1836, the Osage Indians were engaged in 1837, while the Heatherly Indian War was fought in 1838.
Two other affairs took place in 1838, One was the Mormon disturbance, which necessitated the use of United States troops when the followers of Joseph Smith defied the federal government, and the other took place on the New York-Canadian frontier.
There next followed a period of quietude, and it was not until 1846 that things began to happen for the army. In that year President Polk saw the need for war with Mexico. This was the most sanguinary engagement since 1812, and it resulted in substantial accretions to our territory.
Indian troubles again at this time became numerous, and there was scarcely a year that did not witness some sort of expedition against a recalcitrant tribe. Here are some of them, running from 1848 to 1859: Cavuse War, Navajo, Comanche, Pitt River Expedition (California), Yuma Expedition, Utah, Oregon and Washington Indians. Sioux. Snake. Yakima Expeditions, Cheyenne. Florida war with the Seminoles, Gila Expedition, the Mountain Meadow Massacre, Utah Expedition, Northern Indian Expedition, Puget Sound expedition, Wichita Expedition, Colorado River Expedition, Pecos Expedition, Antelope Hills Expedition, Bear River Expedition.
Civil War in Kansas
Reverting for a moment to the year 1856, we find that there then occurred the Kansas border trouble, the "bleeding Kansas" affair, which forms one of the darker pages of American history. It was a time of great sectional bitterness, and when the admission of the state into the Union had far reaching implications. Federal troops were used to quell a rancorous dispute which did not end without the shedding of blood.
In the year 1859 there occurred the San Juan "embroglio," and later in the same year there took place the dramatic John Brown raid. Once again the army took charge and succeeded in staving off further troubles. This raid by Brown, widely condemned in the North as well as in the South, nevertheless showed the temper of the times and was a colorful forerunner to the great war which was brewing between the states.
The year 1860 saw the sending out of the Pah Ute Expedition and of further troubles with the Comanche Indians, as well as with the Kiowas. The Apaches gave trouble in 1861, the year that marked the outbreak of the Civil War. Federal troops engaged the Indians almost throughout the Civil War, among the tribes then demanding attention being the Sioux, Cheyenne and Northwestern. In 1862 there occurred the sanguinary Indian massacres in Minnesota.
General Custer Perishes
Numerous Indian campaign followed the close of the Civil War, but perhaps the most famous was the Big Horn Expedition of 1876, in which Gen. George A. Custer perished so valiantly with every one of his little detachment. In "Custer's last stand" we have one of the most colorful incident in American history, one of the most superbly thrilling. Custer was a picturesque figure. He had a distinguished record in the Civil War and was deemed one the greatest of Indian fighters.
Indian troubles were fewer after the Sioux campaigns of 1876, but the country did not hear the last of them until 1898, when the Chippewas arose. In 1898 American troops, of course, were busy in the Spanish War, and in 1899 there came the Philippine Insurrection. The Stars and Stripes were carried in the Boxer Uprising in 1900 in China, while 1912 saw the dispatching of an expedition to Nicaragua. In 1913 our presence was demanded in Haiti and Santo Domingo; in 1914 we put into Vera Cruz, Mexico, and in 1916 General John J. Pershing - he was "Black Jack" Pershing then - chased the bandit, Pancho Villa, from the border.
Nation Enters World War
Hardly had the Mexican difficulties subsided when the United States was plunged into the maelstrom of the World War, and before the armistice was signed this country had 4,500,000 men under arms.
Since then American troops once more have seen action in Nicaragua.
This, then, just about calls the roll of the difficulties which the
United States has found necessary to answer by a call of arms. It is a
call that never has gone unheeded, and the forthcoming Memorial Day affords
splended opoprtunity for the national homage which is the just due of all
the nation's defenders. - Portland Oregonian, May 25, 1930