The military "science" of the early Florida Indians was governed
largely by the ceremonial preparation for war and the consultation of the
soothsayers, or medicine man.
In contemplation of battle, warriors of the Timucuan tribe filled
up on a nauseous "black drink" that cleaned the digestive tract, then
looked to their weapons. The chief, burdened with heavy
responsibilities, was more interested in securing a favorable omen of
victory than in planning tactics.
The consultation of the oracle was a grave affair to the tribe
planning attack. In deep silence, the leaders formed themselves in a
circle around the medicine man who was seated on the ground engaged
in drawing mysterious characters and occult signs on the earth before
As his incantations and meanings grew in fervor, the medicine
man twisted his body into every possible contortion while his face
assumed the frightful expression thought proper to one possessed by
demons, finally, in a hollow voice, the medicine man gave his opinion
and if it seemed favorable, the tribe prepared for war.
Runners were then sent out to drive tufted arrows along the paths
lending to the enemy's camp. If this challenge were disregarded, arrows,
headed with flaming moss were shot into the thatched roofs of the foe to
induce them to come out and fight.