Warfare in Early America: 1585–1840

Warfare in Early America: 1585–1840

Led by: Prof. Timothy Shannon (Gettysburg College)
Course Number: AMHI 606
Semesters: Fall 2023



Image: Eighteenth-century military drawing of a soldier in uniform, ca. 1770–1780 (The Gilder Lehrman Institute, GLC01450.071)

Sketch of a soldier from the eighteenth century
  • New Course for Fall 2023

Course Description

One of the most enduring symbols of early American history is the colonial militiaman, who supposedly used his experience fighting Indians to defeat British redcoats and win independence. Historians have challenged that popular image by presenting a much more complex narrative about the clash between Native and colonial peoples in early America. In this course, we will explore the evolution of warfare in North America from the earliest contacts between Native Americans and Europeans through the early nineteenth century. Our focus will be on the cultural values and gender roles that shaped armed violence in various forms, including Indian wars, rebellions, and international conflicts. We will trace the development of an American way of war that influenced the formation of national identity and left important legacies for modern Americans.

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Lecture Preview

Lecture 1: “The Native American Way of War”

About the Scholar

Timothy Shannon, Professor of History, Gettysburg College

Timothy Shannon teaches early American, Native American, and British history. His book Indian Captive, Indian King: Peter Williamson in America and Britain (2018) was awarded the 2019 Frank Watson Book Prize for best book in Scottish history. His work has been supported by fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the John Carter Brown Library, and the Huntington Library. His current project examines Benjamin Franklin’s relations with and writings about Native Americans.