Treatment, of the Vanquished…

Their conflicts were sometimes continued for several successive days before either army retreated; and, on some occasions, both parties discontinued the contest as if by mutual consent, from despair of victory, or an evil omen revealed by the diviners. Such a battle was called rukurua, both beaten. This, however, was a rare occurrence; they generally fought till one of the armies was vanquished and fled. When routed in the field, some fled to the pahu tapu, sacred enclosure, called also puhonua, or place of refuge; others repaired to their pari or fortress; and when these were distant, or the way to them intercepted, they all fled to the mountains, whither they were pursued by the victors for weeks, and even months, afterwards. When discovered, they were cruelly massacred on the spot, or brought down to the king and chiefs. When led to the king’s presence, they usually prostrated themselves before him, and exclaimed, “E make paha, e ora paha, —i runa te aro 2 i raro te aro” To die perhaps, to live perhaps, upwards the face? or downwards the face?—If the king did not speak, or said “The face down,” it was sentence of death, and some one in attendance either despatched the poor captive in his presence, or led him away to be slaughtered. But if the king said, “Upward the face,” they were spared, though perhaps spared only to be slaves, or to be sacrificed when the priests should require human victims. The persons of the captives were the property of the victors, and their lives entirely at their disposal. A chief taken in the field, or during the retreat, was sometimes spared, and allowed to return to his home. The victors usually buried their dead; but the bodies of the slain, belonging to the vanquished, were generally left unburied on the field, and were devoured by hogs and dogs, or suffered to rot. Small heaps of stones were afterwards piled over their bones, or on the spot where they had fallen, probably as trophies of victory. When the king or any chief of high rank was known to be humane, or any of the vanquished had formerly been on terms of friendship with him, avoiding carefully the warriors, an individual, risking his life on the conqueror’s clemency, would lie in wait for him in his walks, and prostrating himself in his path, supplicate his compassion, or rush into his house, and throw himself on the ground before him. Though any one might have killed him, while on his way thither, none dare touch him within the king’s enclosure, without his orders. When the king did not speak, or directed the fugitive to be carried from his presence, which was very unusual, he was taken out and slain. Generally the prince spoke to the individual who had thus thrown himself into his power; and if he did but speak, or only recognize him, he was secure. He might either join the retinue of the sovereign, or return to his own house. No one would molest him, as he was under maru, shade, or screening protection of the king. These individuals, influenced by feelings of gratitude, generally attached themselves to the persons or interest of the prince by whom they had been saved, and frequently proved, through subsequent life, the most faithful attendants on his person, and steady adherents to his cause. When the vanquished were completely routed, or nearly cut off, their country was hoopahora, portioned out, by the conqueror, among the chiefs and warriors who had been his companions in the war, by whom it was settled. The wives and children of those whom they had defeated were frequently made slaves, and attached to the soil for its cultivation, and, together with the captives, treated with great cruelty.  (Ellis)

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 (These are excerpts from a book by William Ellis that has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain. A public domain book is one that was never subject to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired.)

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Single Combats Sacrificing the Slain…

At times the whole army, except the reserve, engaged at once, but their battles were most commonly a succession of skirmishes, or partial engagements. The hooparau, single combat, was not unusual. A haughty and boastful warrior would advance beyond the line of his companions, and toho or aa, (insult,) in opprobrious terms the whole army of his enemies. A warrior from that army would hasten to meet him, and the encounter was continued till one was disabled or slain. We do not know whether, like the Grecian heroes, these combatants addressed each other before engaging in the mortal strife, as did their neighbours in the southern seas. There the challenger, when he beheld his antagonist approaching, would exclaim, “Who are you, that come to contend with me?—I am so and so, who slew such a one, whose name is famous to the farthest of these islands; the son of such a one, who achieved such an action: are you come to add to our fame?” The other would answer, “I am such a one, the son of so and so, who performed such an action, celebrated in every island.” And after much more rhodomontade, one would ask the other, “Know you how to lift the spear?” or club ; and immediately commence the combat. We are not certain, but think it probable, that, like the Society Islanders, they had orators, whose duty it was to go through the camp, and through the ranks, on the day of battle, stimulating the men, by reciting, with most violent gesticulations, the warlike deeds of their ancestors, and the victories their island or district had formerly obtained. Their battles were with confused noise, and boastful shouts. The first that either party slew, they called erehua; frequently the victor jumped upon the expiring body, or, spurning it contemptuously, dedicated its spirit to his gods. He then cut or tore off the hair from the top of the forehead, and, elevating it in the air, shouted aloud, He oho, a frontlet; and if it was a chief or warrior of note he had slain, his name was added. He oho He oho! Was reiterated through the ranks of the victor, while he despoiled the fallen warrior of his ornaments, and then dragged the heana, slain body, to the king, or the priest, who, in a short address, offered the victim to his god. The first offering they called urukoko, increasing blood. The second slain was called maka-wai, face of water, and the third herua-oni, sand-dug. They were all likewise brought and offered to the gods on the field.  (Ellis)

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 (These are excerpts from a book by William Ellis that has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain. A public domain book is one that was never subject to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired.)

War-gods are Carried to Battle…

They did not employ any banners or colours, but in their warlike expeditions were attended by their idols. The national war-god was elevated above the ranks, and carried by the priest near the person of the king, or commander-in-chief. Nor was this the only idol borne to the battle: other chiefs of rank had their wargods carried near them by their priest; and if the king or chief was killed or taken, the god himself was usually captured also. The presence of their deities inspired the warriors with courage, who supposed their influence essential to victory. A description of Tairi has already been given, and he may be taken as a sample; the image was four or five feet high, the upper part wicker-work, covered with red feathers, the face a hideous form, the mouth armed with triple rows of dog’s or shark’s teeth, the eyes of mother of pearl, the head crowned with a helmet, the crest sometimes formed of long tresses of human hair. They were fixed on a small pillar or pedestal; were sometimes carried by the priests, or placed on the ground, upheld and defended by them. We have often conversed with Hevaheva, the priest of Tamehameha’s war-god, and though there is nothing naturally repulsive in his countenance, we have been told, that, in the battle, he often distorted his face into every frightful form, and uttered most terrific and appalling yells, which were supposed to proceed from the god he bore or attended.  (Ellis)

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 (These are excerpts from a book by William Ellis that has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain. A public domain book is one that was never subject to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired.)

The warriors Dressed for War…

The warriors seldom went to battle with any other dress than a maro or narrow girdle round their loins. Some, however, wore a quantity of cloth bound round their head, which was called ahupoonui, and the chiefs were frequently dressed in their war-cloaks and helmets. The cloaks, though they gave the wearers an imposing appearance, must have proved an incumbrance, without affording much protection. Some of the helmets were made of close wicker-work, exactly fitted the head, and were ornamented along the crown. But those worn by the high chiefs only, and called mahiori, though not more useful, were peculiarly beautiful. They were made in the form of the Grecian helmet, with towering crest, and were thickly covered with the glossy red and yellow feathers of a small paroquet found in the mountains, (with whose feathers the war-cloaks are also ornamented,) and though they did not appear adapted to defend the head, any more than the cloaks were to guard the body, they increased the effect of the towering height and martial air of the chiefs, whose stature was generally above that of the common people. The long cloaks reaching to the knees, or even to the ancles, were worn only by the king and principal chiefs. The royal colour was yellow, and no one besides the king was allowed to wear a cloak made entirely of yellow feathers. Those of the other chiefs were of red and yellow rhomboidal figures intermingled or disposed in alternate lines, with sometimes a section of dark purple or glossy black. Tippets were manufactured of the same materials, and worn by the inferior chiefs, or some of the principal warriors, whose rank did not entitle them to wear the cloak.

In addition to the helmet and cloak, the high chiefs occasionally wore a paraoa, or other ornament, like a breastplate, suspended from the neck by finely braided strings of human hair. The diviners were consulted immediately before they engaged; they slew their victims, noticed also the face of the heavens, the passage of clouds over the sun, the appearance of the rainbow; and, if they augured well, the principal war-god was brought out in the front of the whole army, and placed near the king. The priest then addressed a prayer to the gods, urged them to exercise their power, and prove themselves, in the ensuing engagement, mightier than the gods of their enemies; promising, at the same time, hecatombs of victims in the event of victory. The king, or commander-in-chief, now addressed the assembled warriors; and if they were to attack, gave the signal for the hoouta, or onset, and they rushed to hui, or mix in fight. (Ellis)

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 (These are excerpts from a book by William Ellis that has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain. A public domain book is one that was never subject to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired.)

The Disposition of War Forces…

The Sandwich Islands not being surrounded with coral reefs, there is but little smooth water; and the roughness of the sea, most likely, induced them generally to select terra firma for their theatre of war. They do not appear to have practiced many stratagems in war, seldom laid ambushes, generally sought open warfare, and but rarely attacked in the night. Whenever they expected an action, they proceeded to hoonoho ka kaua, (fix the war, or set their army in battle array,) for which they had a regular system, and adopted various methods for attack and defense, according to the nature of the ground, force of the enemy, When about to engage in an open plain, their army, drawn up for battle, consisted of a centre and wings, the latter considerably in advance, and the line curved in form of a crescent. The slingers, and those who threw the javelin, were in general distributed through the whole line. Every chief led his own men to battle, and took his position according to the orders of the commanding chieftain, whose station was always in the centre. The king generally commanded in person, or that authority was exercised by the highest chief among the warriors; occasionally, however, a chief inferior in rank, but distinguished by courage, or military talents and address, has been raised to the supreme command. When they fought in a defile, or narrow pass, they advanced in a single column. The first division, or advanced guard, was called the verau, or point, the name they also give to a bayonet. The other parts of the column were called by different names; the pohivi, or shoulder, was generally considered the strongest section. The chief who commanded was in the centre. Their weapons consisted of the pololu, a spear made of hard wood, from sixteen to twenty feet long, and pointed at one end. The ihe, or javelin, about six feet in length, made of a species of hard red wood, resembling mahogany, called kauira, pointed and barbed. The raau parau, a weapon eight or nine feet long, between a club and spear, somewhat resembling a halbert, with which they were accustomed to thrust or strike, and the pahoa, or dagger, eighteen inches or two feet in length, made of the hard wood, sometimes pointed at both ends, and having a string attached to the handle, which passed round the wrist to prevent their losing it in action. Besides these, they employed the sling, and their stones were very destructive. The slings were made of human hair, plaited, or the elastic fibres of the cocoa-nut husk; the stones they employed were about the size of a hen’s egg, generally ponderous pieces of compact lava, from the bed of a stream or the sea-beach, where they had been worn smooth by the action of the water. They had no shields or weapons of defense, except the javelin, which they used in warding off those that might be thrown at them; they were very expert in avoiding a stone, if they saw it thrown, and the spearmen excelled in parrying the thrusts of their enemies’ spears. (Ellis)

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 (These are excerpts from a book by William Ellis that has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain. A public domain book is one that was never subject to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired.)

The Development of War Encampments and Fortifications…

When the different parties arrived at the place of rendezvous, the chief of the division or district, with some of inferior rank, waited on the king or commanding chief, and reported the number of warriors they had brought. They then selected a spot for their encampment, and erected their Hare-pai or Auoro, in which they abode till the army was collected. The former were Small huts, built with cocoa-nut leaves, or boughs and green ti leaves, which each party or family erected for their own accommodation, around that of their chief; and thus formed a small encampment by themselves. The latter was a large open building, constructed with the same materials, in which the chief and his warriors all dwelt together. Their camp was near an open space, and they generally selected the most broken and uneven ground, frequently rugged tracts of lava, as their fields of battle. Sometimes they encamped on the banks of a river, or deep ravine, which lying between them and their enemies, secured them from sudden attack. But they do not appear to have thrown up lines or other artificial barriers around their camp; they did not, however, neglect to station piquets at all the passes by which they were likely to be approached. Each party usually had a pari or pa-kaua, natural or artificial fortress, where they left their wives and children, and to which they fled if vanquished in the field. These fortresses were either eminences of difficult ascent, and, by walling up the avenues leading to them, sometimes rendered inaccessible; or they were extensive enclosures, including a cave, or spring, or other natural means of sustenance or security. The stone walls around the forts were composed of large blocks of lava, laid up solid, but without cement, sometimes eighteen feet high, and nearly twenty feet thick. On the tops of these walls the warriors fought with slings and stones, or with spears and clubs repelled their assailants. When their pari was an eminence, after they had closed the avenues, they collected large stones and fragments of rock on the edges of the precipices overhanging the paths leading to the fortification, which they rolled down on the heads of their enemies. Sometimes they engaged in fleets amounting to upwards of one hundred canoes on each side. At a distance they fought with slings and stones, and other missiles, and, at close quarters, with club and spear. Their fleets were not lashed together like those of the Society islanders. (Ellis)

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 (These are excerpts from a book by William Ellis that has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain. A public domain book is one that was never subject to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired.)

The Methods of Levying the Armies…

In the meantime, the Runapai (messengers of war) were sent to the districts and villages under their authority, to require the services of their tenants, in numbers proportionate to the magnitude of the expedition. These were ordered to come with their weapons, candle nuts for torches, light calabashes for water, dried fish, or other portable provisions. The summons was in general obeyed with alacrity, and as their spears, clubs, javelins, and slings, were usually suspended in some part of every house, they armed with these, and soon joined the forces at the appointed rendezvous. When the people en masse were required, the Tuahaua was sent, whose office it was to bring every individual capable of bearing arms. Sometimes the Uruoki, another officer, was afterwards despatched; and if he found any lingering behind who ought to have been with the army, he cut or slit one of their ears, tied a rope round their body, and in this manner led them to the camp. To remain at home when summoned to the field, was considered so disgraceful, the circumstances attending detection so humiliating, and the mark of cowardice, with which it was punished, so indelible, that it was seldom necessary to send round the last named officer. These messengers of war were sometimes called Rere, a word which signifies to fly, probably from the rapidity with which they conveyed the orders of the chiefs. They generally travelled at a running pace, and, in cases of emergency, are reported to have gone round the island of Hawaii in eight or nine days; a distance which, including the circuitous route they would take to call at different villages, exceeds three hundred miles. (Ellis)

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 (These are excerpts from a book by William Ellis that has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain. A public domain book is one that was never subject to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired.)