“…..in performing the duties of a spy they had to carry
their provisions with them it being against the nature of their Oath and
instructions and also jeopardizing their own safety to make a fire at knight
no matter how inclement the wether might be; and that during the whole time
that he was engaged in the service as an Indian Spy as aforesaid he was not
engaged in any civil pursuit….”
Revolutionary War Pension Application of John Bradshaw
State of Virginia, County of Pocahontas
This small excerpt of a Revolutionary War pension application is short but rich in advice for a Scout even in modern times. Think about it, this is a first hand account of a soldier who’s tactics were successful in keeping him alive to apply for the pension. From this document, he states he and other Scouts swore an oath and was given instructions on tasks to include no fire-building. Get used to not having a fire when outside of the wire and know when you can and cannot build a fire. Fire building skills are important for cooking food, boiling water to drink and warmth but, will get you killed. Get used to eating cold food, get used to carrying food that requires no preparation and get used to eating as you patrol. Get accustomed to harsh conditions just like our forefathers did on the frontier. There is a lot we can learn from tactics of 200 years ago and we should heed the advice laid out for us.
If you attended Brushbeater’s Basic Tracking Course last year, you will know that even the ashes of a burned out fire offers up a lot of intelligence by its properties as it ages. An active fire can give away your position by its smoke smell, the food cooking and the light it gives off at the very least. Its too easy to let your guard down and enjoy the luxury of a fire. Learn to live without luxuries and the contents of your rucksack should reflect that too.
In contrast to the pension application at the beginning of this article, read how the luxury of a fire and letting your guard down didn’t end well for another group….
“With the first faint ray of light, six Indians rose, and stood
around the fire. With breathless expectation the whites waited for the remainder to
rise; but failing, and apprehending a discovery, the Captain moved his elbow, and
the next instant the wild-wood rang with the shrill report of the rifles of
the spies. Five of the six Indians fell dead.”
By Walter Whipple Spooner
Train like you fight.