Indian Attacks in Southwest Virginia:Data Caveats


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Hamilton's Atrocity Stories
The Data
Distribution in Time
Spatial Distribution

For purposes of these articles an "event" is considered to be one specific instance where one or more settlers are described as being "killed", "captured", or "wounded". (Also included in this grouping are instances where an attack on an individual was documented, but for which there is no specific outcome described; in these instances the person is presumed to have escaped unscathed.) The term "attack" is used to describe specific assaults on an individual settler. For example, if in a given event, one settler was killed, and three taken captive, the number of attacks is listed as "four". A "raid" is considered to be one or more events that occurred within the space of a few days

An alternative way of counting "attacks" would be to score each event, no matter the number of persons killed or captured (etc.), as a single attack. This is difficult to do because some "events", as described in the literature, stretched over several days, and because we can not always distingush separate events during a single raid. An extensive raid on the settlements, for example, might result in attacks on several individual, and widely separated homesites, over the course of a week, but might be recorded in the records as simply "X persons killed in July". An attack on a single family that resulted in the loss of ten settlers, would score the same as ten separate events over the course of a raid that resulted in the loss of the same number of settlers. But the planning and execution of a raid stretching out over ten days, and involving attacks at ten separate locations, albeit less successful attacks, imlies much more activitity than a single event that was very successful. The approach chosen biases the results in favor of very successful raids (from the perspective of the native Americans), provides a good index to the effect on the settlers, but does not gauge the level of Indian activity very well.