Natives, crimes and military justice: the French and Indian war disciplined?

author David Gilles
journal RIDP (ISSN: 0223-5404)
volume 2022
issue Military Justice. Contemporary Challenges, History and Comparison
section Part 1. Military Justice as it was. History of Military Justice
publicatie datum 22 décembre 2022
langue English
pagina 27

The Amerindian allies during the French and Indian War were legally auxiliary troops, even illegal combatants in the minds of Europeans, thus stigmatizing the ‘savagery’ of their actions. The black legend characterizing the actions of the Native American allies in the dynamics leading to the Seven Years' War is well anchored in people's minds. The question of sanctioning their behavior and actions against it is, however, difficult to resolve. Faced with a certain ambiguity of civil justice as to their status, military justice is the legal vehicle favored by the French, to which is added a strong diplomatic weight. Among Europeans, the strong prejudices relating to the acts of war of the Amerindians, derogating from the honors and the laws of war, only exceptionally lead to councils of war, and rarely to sanctions. In the same way, rare are the behaviors of European soldiers against Amerindians sanctioned by justice. The lack of sanction for these acts is explained by the asymmetry between values and modes of warfare, and by the need to maintain military force at all costs and not to lose the support of troops, be they regular, militiamen or Native Americans.