Prairie Dog Warfare

[May 20, 2018]  Prairie dog warfare is an obscure reference to tenacious close-quarter fighting; the type seen in several famous U.S. Civil War battles and with Japanese defenders during World War II.  I predict we will see more references to this kind of fighting in Western politics.

Confederate Lieutenant General Simon Bolivar Buckner coined the term, as much as we can tell, during his writings while a prisoner of war during the U.S. Civil War.  The concept was later applied to the planned battle on the Japanese mainland, scheduled to begin on November 1, 1945.

The battle for the capture of Japan and the defeat of their Imperial military was to be prairie dog warfare; where battles would be fought for yards, feet, and inches.  It would be brutal, deadly, and dangerous.  Many would die and the United States military predicted it alone would experience 1 million casualties in its forces alone.

In much of the Western world today, we are beginning to see this style of political infighting where brother fights brother and our political elites take sides in ideological battles across the spectrum.  Many say the political elite have overstepped their traditional bounds of civility and left behind their sworn duties to help their constituents as a whole rather than individual interest groups.

I’m not as pessimistic about our elected politicians in the U.S., although I have been disappointed in the actions of those who chose to divide us rather than unite.

Good leadership has always been regarded as the ability to rally people around a goal that betters everyone and is blind to one’s skin color, gender, religion, etc.  Many of those principles were famously pronounced by Martin Luther King, Jr. in his civil rights quest of the 1960s.

Will there be more prairie dog warfare?  Some predict things will only get worse as long as one side uses violence to advance their cause.  This type of fascist methodology will not come cheap to any society that tolerates it.  That is, unfortunately, exactly what is happening in America.

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Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

24 thoughts on “Prairie Dog Warfare

  1. Bill Sanders, Jr.

    A good dogfight (or catfight) is analogous and appropriate concepts here that may make us cringe but is worth the thinking about such concepts. What we need to put into context is the actual subject, rather than the method of fighting. What Gen Satterfield is getting at, for our edification, is that our current political elites have devolved into special interest politicians and that is antithetical to our democracy.

    1. Kenny Foster

      Two good articles that made me think. Thanks Gil.

  2. Mr. T.J. Asper

    Monday morning, I’ll be integrating this into my HS history class. Well done. Thank you Gen Satterfield.

  3. Drew Dill

    Good article today and informative about this Prairie Dog Warfare (never heard of it either).

  4. Albert Ayer

    I agree with Martin and many of the other commentators that this article, as well as the ease at which we can find lessons from the past, is VERY HELPFUL for the future leader. But is also incumbent upon us to actually LEARN from it.

  5. Martin Shiell

    Before the Internet, we had to travel to a library and find the right books in which to learn from. And, it required someone to make recommendations on certain subjects. Today, that is much easier to learn from the past by a simple search of the Internet and we have instant access right from our homes. That is good. This article today by Gen Satterfield is a great example of that.

  6. Joe Omerrod

    As in most professional fields, the study of the past and its application to our current circumstances is invaluable. In medicine, for example, we have future surgeons perform some of the old methods in order to have the appreciate new technology and newer procedures. They can now understand better the drawbacks of those older methods and also more fully understand the newer methods.

  7. Ronny Fisher

    I think that it is a good argument that political infighting has been going on since the beginning of most democracies. They are established on the principle that open and honest debate, done publically, is best for its citizens. Anything else is unacceptable because it lacks educational value.

  8. Greg Heyman

    What? You are suggesting we actually learn from history! /sarc Learning about things we often don’t think of as important is a trait of good leaders. Good leaders don’t reject a lesson from the past just because we might disagree with the circumstances surrounding it. So, we can learn from Adolf Hitler’s military and the US did. Now we are a little bit better fighting force for it.

    1. Janna Faulkner

      Greg. I assume when you write “/sarc” that the preceding sentence was sarcasm. Thanks for the symbology as I am not up on the latest fads.

  9. Andrew Dooley

    … this is why we study history. To learn those lessons, those that are worthwhile and of significant value, so that we don’t repeat mistakes of others. This is the epitome of learning good leadership and should be a core part of our education system. Sadly, it is not.

  10. Dennis Mathes

    I used to call it Trench Warfare after the WWI battles but I see that I had it wrong.

  11. Jonathan B.

    More articles like this and I might recommend you write a book on leadership, Gen Satterfield. Thank you.

  12. Max Foster

    Good article and well-thought-out logic. I might add that our politicians are bound to do bad things because our citizens are uneducated about how a real democracy (actually a republic) actually works.

  13. Army Captain

    I, too, have never heard of this form of warfare and I consider myself a bit of a US Civil War history buff. I plan to read more on LtGen Buckner. One thing I will add is that his son was the first LtGen US Army killed during WWII. Interesting fact to contemplate.

    1. Lynn Pitts

      Yes, I too never heard of it and why I read Brig Gen Satterfield’s blog.

  14. Jerome Smith

    This is a good one! I never heard of Prairie Dog Warfare before, so thanks for the education on it. I agree with your assessment of politics however and unfortunately that there will be more to come from those who abandon their base American values.

    1. Shawn C. Stolarz

      Me either Jerome. Thanks to Mr. Satterfield, we have something to think about on this Spring Sunday morning.

    2. Tony B. Custer

      I learn something new every day when i come to this website.

    3. Doug Smith

      Well said. Ignorance is okay as long as it is not willful ignorance.

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