Strategies and Tactics in Ilorin Military Encounters in the Nineteenth Century

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Pyla-Mak Press and Publishers Limited


Ilorin's participation in wars of survival, expansion and consolidation in the Nineteenth Century pushed the military to the fore-front of political activities in her society. Even though, there are literature on Ilorin military and warfare in the nineteenth century, aspects of strategies and tactics in precolonial warfare have not been given adequate attention. The objective of this study is to explore the various strategies and tactics employed by Ilorin in prosecuting her wars of survival, expansion and consolidation in the Nineteenth Century. The historical research method was adopted for the study. This comprised of oral interviews conducted with relevant respondents within Ilorin, and the use of secondary sources obtained from the library. It was discovered that Ilorin's long term objective in the early. Nineteenth Century' rested heavily on her strive to be independent of the Old Oyo Empire. and to become one of the dominant forces in Y orubaland. The downward movement of the Jihad mission in the early Nineteenth Century provided a strong platform for the realization of this aim. However, located in Y orubaland and being a southern frontier of the Sokoto Caliphate with the responsibility to expand the influence of the Jihad, Ilorin faced serious challenge of legitimacy which was shrouded in series of wars. This reality essentially dictated her strategies. Ilorin strategies included both internal and external diplomacy, alliances, divide and rule, espionage and knowledge of the opponents while her tactics revolved around cavalry, mob attack, guerrilla war, attack and retreat and siege warfare. These strategies and tactics were dictated by the nature of opposition and the prevailing situation before and during the encounter. For instance, Ilorin made tremendous gains from the dissension among the Y oruba in the wake of the collapse of the Old Oyo Empire. It is therefore concluded that Ilorin's strategy was to use internal and external diplomacy to weaken the cohesion of her opponents as much as possible so that their ability to attack and defend would be feeble. To that extent therefore, Ilorin's offence and defence capabilities were strengthened. This was done through internal solidarity among the various groups within Ilorin especially after the establishment of the emirate, and also through friendly disposition to other sister emirates like Gwandu, Bida, and Lafiagi.



strategies, tactics, warfare, diplomacy, alliances, Ilorin