A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels - Volume 05 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 641 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels.
but all bear a star, which is the national device.  The soldiers are not clothed in uniforms, but all have cuirasses of hardened leather below their ordinary dresses, with shields and helmets of the same material.  The cavalry are armed with swords and lances; and the infantry with pikes or clubs pointed with iron.  In battle, the cavalry is distributed on the two wings of the army, while the infantry forms the centre or main body, divided into its several battalions or regiments, the ranks being composed alternately of pikemen and soldiers armed with clubs or maces.  The right wing is confided to the vice-toqui, and the left to an experienced officer next in rank; while the toqui is present wherever occasion requires, and exhorts his soldiers to fight valiantly for the liberties of the nation.  They formerly employed bows and slings in war; but taught by experience to avoid the destructive effects of musquetry in distant fight, they are now eager to close with their enemies.  Impressed with the opinion that to die in battle for their country is the greatest honour that can be acquired, whenever the signal for battle is given, they advance with the utmost rapidity, despising the slaughter produced by the cannon and musquetry, yet preserving the strictest order and discipline, and often succeed in bearing down the firmest array of the Spaniards.

One of the first measures of the national council, when war is resolved upon, is to dispatch messengers to the confederate tribes, and even to the Indians who live under the Spanish government, to summon them to make common cause with their countrymen.  The credentials of these messengers are some small arrows tied together by a red string, the symbol of blood.  But if hostilities have been already commenced, the finger of a slain enemy accompanies the arrows.  This embassy is called pulchitum, which signifies to run the arrow, and the messengers are called guerquenis.  The toqui or military dictator directs what number of soldiers is to be furnished by each Uthal-mapu or principality.  The particular toquis regulate the contingencies of the Apo-ulmens; and these last apportion these among the several Ulmens of their provinces.  The army of the state usually consists of five or six thousand men; besides which, a body of reserve is always in readiness for particular occasions, or to replace those who may be killed in battle.  Before taking the field, the general assigns three days for consultation with his principal officers, during which the plan of the campaign is maturely deliberated upon, and every one has liberty to offer his opinion:  But the general finally settles the plan of warfare in secret consultation, with his principal officers.  After all is agreed upon, the army commences its march to the sound of drums, and is always preceded by several advanced parties, to guard against surprise.  During the march, the infantry as well as the cavalry are on horseback; but on coming to action, the infantry

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A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels - Volume 05 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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