Joined to their revulsion for Indian practices in war was the conviction that the Indians were useless for most forms of military operation. Their value as scouts and guides was generally recognized, and some officers were also pre- pared, under proper controls, to use them as weapons of terror. But the Indians were commonly seen as undependable, undisciplined, incapable of organized tactics, ineffective against all but the rawest of militia and inordinately expensive to maintain in the field.
Nevertheless, from the outset of the Revolution there were powerful pres- sures upon British commanders to make the fullest possible use of Indian auxil- iaries. As the prospect for some political solution to the rebellion evaporated and the attitude of the home government hardened, ministers responsible for the prosecution of the war insisted upon the use of "all the means that God and na- ture put into our hands" to suppress a rebellion that was itself unnatural.5 Adver- sity and the shortage of regular forces wore down scruples, and, especially on the northern and western frontiers, military and economic necessity appeared to dictate a more extensive employment of Indian manpower.
Just as General Gage has been charged with responsibility for initiating the policy of enlisting the Indians on the British side, so also the earliest plans for their use are attributable to him. In June 1775, in the course of advising the home government on the nature and size of the forces which would be required to put down the rebellion, Gage recommended the employment of large bodies of Indi- ans with regular forces in two of the three theatres of operations he foresaw. New England, he thought, would require an army of 15,000, "a large part of which should be good Irregulars, such as Hunters, Canadians, Indians, etc." In the Lake Champlain-Hudson River borderland another 7,000 troops would be needed, including "a large Corps of Canadians and Indians".6 Although he did not specify the military role he intended for the Indians, it is probable that he wished them to be used as scouts and along lines of communications, as they had been employed during the Seven Years' War.
The home government accepted Gage's recommendation that the Indians be drawn into the war, and gave him a free hand to deploy them as he saw fit. In July the Secretary of State, the Earl of Dartmouth, ordered the active recruitment of the Indians. "The unnatural rebellion now raging," he told Guy Johnson, act- ing superintendent in the Indian Department, "calls for every effort to suppress it, and the Intelligence His Majesty has received of the rebels having excited the Indians to take a part, and of their actually having engaged a body of them in arms to support their rebellion, justifies the resolution His Majesty has taken of requiring the assistance of his faithful adherents the Six Nations".7 Johnson was instructed to induce the Six Nations to take up the hatchet immediately, and to engage them in operations in conformity with Gage's plans for them.