The First Warriors

The Encounter With The Vikings

The Skraelings' Way of War

View Multimedia - Encounter with the Vikings

Caption: View Multimedia - Encounter with the Vikings

Although very brief, these tales from the sagas corroborate several pieces of information about the military arts of the Skraelings. They were apparently quite well organized militarily because they could mobilize large numbers of warriors in a short time. They were courageous, for they were prepared to attack an unknown people on ships or inside a settlement. It seems likely that courage in battle was one of the main values in their culture. They were very mobile, due in large part to the lightness of their boats. They were also capable of rapid retreat, which was not necessarily the defeat and rout that the Vikings thought it. As the Europeans were to learn over centuries of battles with the natives, lightning attacks followed by quick withdrawals were typical of the Amerindian method of waging war.

Finally, they handled their weapons extremely well and even displayed a knowledge of the psychology of combat because they invented and utilized objects intended to terrify the enemy, like the blue-black balls thrown at the Vikings with the expected results. Furthermore, the Vikings do not seem to have discovered the location of the Skraeling bases or villages, while the natives were able to locate the European settlements quite quickly. This reveals the existence of an effective surveillance system.