Apologies in advance that my bullet points got away from me and turned out a bit long, but I'm trying to give as much information as I can to ward off initial questions.

Imagine the following constraints:

  • An island nation laid out similarly to Hawaii, namely, a cluster of islands with one "dominant" island and 7 smaller ones, with distances varying between 8-50 miles between each island. It is also a volcanic island and with the same climate, meaning an abundance of rain forest, mountainous areas, and so on. (Though geographically the island in question is identical to Hawaii it is home to a few different animal and plant species for the purpose of storytelling.)

  • The island has no nearby neighbors, no landmasses in a radius of at least 1000 miles in any direction, and therefore has not in their history encountered anyone before.

  • The islanders are a "primitive" people with limited access to refined tools. Their total population numbers just under 100k, unified as one "tribe" or "kingdom" with a "king" ruling from the main island. They travel via canoe-like boats or rafts from island to island, but never really venture beyond, believing that where they could no longer see the ocean was where the universe ended. They have volcanic obsidian that they use by chipping off thin, glass-like pieces that they use for blades, spears, knives, jewelry, etc.

  • The islanders may have some agriculture and fish-farming, but their core culture is that of a hunter-gatherer or warrior culture, where those with the most kills are the strongest. The island is home to several species of big cat, deadly boa constrictors, sharks, and angry wild boars which are considered prize kills, and the islanders make a great show of their "warriors" by counting how many heads they have collected. Even the most peaceful farmer will be obligated to participate in one or two hunts to maintain his reputation, so there is no shortage of people trained to fight in this society.

  • The European world is right about in the 15th century as far as technology and culture goes. Countries have large seafaring ships which are exploring the globe, looking for resources and new land to colonize. Potential explorers are armed with cannons, rifles, pistols, and well-made blades.

  • Approximately 35 years ago a ship of indeterminate origin (full of Europeans of some nationality) landed on the island nation. By landed I mean crashed, their ship had been damaged by a storm and the crew was suffering from lack of food and dehydration, so they were unable to keep from hitting the shore. The natives took in the survivors (about 60-75 individuals out of a full crew of 180), nursed them back to health, and fed them. When the crew recovered, they found that the ship was irreparable, but they were able to salvage an enormous amount of non-food supplies during low-tide. Tools (repair tools, navigation tools, etc), rope, wood, cannons, gunpowder, rifles, pistols, armor, blades, etc, etc, anything that would be on an explorer's ship in the 15th century. For the purposes of this question assume that all of the supplies were intact and not ruined by salt-water or the crash. Luck, providence, or hand-wavery may be required.

  • The crew had been wildly off-course due to their looming starvation and illness spreading through the ship, so they had no idea where they were or how far away they were from home. Unable to contact anyone for help (and falling in love with the beautiful island they found themselves on), the crew members integrated themselves into the island society. They learned the native language, built themselves houses, and maybe even married a few local women and started families. In return, the islanders learned more about modern technologies and integrated the supplies they found. As a novelty people, the explorers would end up living in the "capital" village, or close to it, and may even have become friends with the King. The entire population would at least have seen them once or twice, or know of them via messages. A few of the population might have initially been resistant to the intruders, but since the sailors settle down and live a quiet, peaceful life in paradise, they are mostly left alone.

  • The next time that Europeans arrived, the situation was much different. About 30 years later, a group (from a different homeland than our original stranded crew) landed and proceeded to attempt to lay claim to the island for their home country. They were a small crew, however, only 150 men total, who assumed that the welcoming complement of 100 villagers was the total population. When the islanders learned they were under attack they were able to drive them off on land with sheer numbers, forcing them to leave. In the process though, the islanders lost people, both those who were killed by the invaders, and those that were enslaved and kidnapped from the island.

  • Since then, the islanders have become terrified that they might be under attack again. Paranoia passed through the population, and they began to realize that they may have to defend their island paradise against invaders by sea.

  • They have (though they don't know it) at least 5 more years before the next group of hostile Europeans comes back. The same explorer will return, with at least 5 fully manned 30 gun frigates (with a crew of ~200 men apiece), who will be fully stocked with all the weaponry needed for a fight on the water or on land.

How does my island nation prepare for this onslaught? Assuming that the surviving crew members (who would be senior citizens at this point if they are still alive) are able to inform them of how many people will be on each warship and about how many warships a country might send, what is their best option? You have all the supplies and resources of the island nation, and whatever equipment is leftover from the ship salvage 35 years ago.

I would like answers to use historical evidence (ie. how have technologically inferior people protected themselves against a technologically superior force in our history?).

I'm aware that no nation thus far has been able to fight off a technologically superior force so far in our world, so there may have to be some crazy luck or circumstance involved in your answer, and that is acceptable. Even if the chances of success are tiny, there must be some way that this island nation can keep themselves from being genocidally murdered.

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    $\begingroup$ The answer is always guerrilla warfare - always. $\endgroup$ – JDSweetBeat Nov 5 '15 at 19:50
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    $\begingroup$ Historically, Old World diseases played a critical role in allowing conquerors to conquer. (See this article.) Are you handwaving the survival of the natives from the original batch of Old Worlders? $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Nov 5 '15 at 20:10
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    $\begingroup$ Actually technologically superior Europeans were defeated or otherwise successfully contained by natives lots of times. The problem was that the natives could not stop the Europeans coming back later when the timing was better. This is because while Europeans could reach the homes of natives the natives could not strike back in any meaningful way. And mostly because apart from parts of Asia the European governments were much more stable than native governments. Natives were strong when the leader was strong, but after the strong leader died Europeans could usually walk over them. (cont..) $\endgroup$ – Ville Niemi Nov 5 '15 at 22:07
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    $\begingroup$ "Some way that this island nation can keep themselves from being genocidally murdered"--if that's your concern, one answer is: surrender. They would not be treated very well, probably, but the majority of them would survive (unless the expedition leader is extremely vindictive). $\endgroup$ – DLosc Nov 6 '15 at 6:21
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    $\begingroup$ side note: if you have a warrior culture, you need wars, not a single king ruling all 100k people $\endgroup$ – njzk2 Nov 6 '15 at 17:22

22 Answers 22


If the population of the islands is still 100k+, you should have 30-40k adult males, all of them at least familiar with hunting weaponry. They should be able to defend themselves against ~1000 soldiers and sailors, unless they line up on the beach to greet the cannon fire. Still, they can do much better by preparing.

The tactical situation is highly asymmetrical: The Europeans have superior weapons and can dominate at sea, but are vastly outnumbered on land and need to get supplies ASAP when they arrive. The islanders on the other hand can afford to retreat and wait out the Europeans, but cannot force a win in battle without losing many men, nor can they touch the ships unless they get really lucky.

First of all, the Islanders should prepare by building fast sailing ships with shallow bottoms, as rowing boats will not be able to outrun the European ships. Sailing and shipbuilding experience from the original stranded group will be highly valuable. These ships are mainly for scouting, relaying messages between the islands and if possible, luring the big European ships onto reefs.

Second, they should relocate any sizable settlement inland, uphill and out of cannonball range. The original huts/houses can be left as a decoy. All paths leading up to the settlements from the beach should be winding, pass through dense jungle where possible and have ready-to-deploy barricades and traps that prevent large groups from passing. Given the number of hunters, littering the jungle with traps shortly after the new fleet is sighted should be feasible.

Then the islanders should prepare to deny the Europeans their most important resource: drinkable water. Every stream reaching the beach should have guards in place upstream that can deploy poison or rotting carcasses etc. into the stream the moment they spot a European landing party. If the Europeans venture further inland, they can be ambushed in the jungle, away from their ships. On the smaller islands, this should not be too hard, but on the main island there will be a lot of places to guard. Some kind of long distance warning signals will help.

The rest is standard guerrilla tactics: Harass the landing parties, lead them into traps, never engage directly. Sap their will to continue and chase them away. Oh, and if they leave the ships poorly defended on a dark night, it's party time!

Finally, a note: Guns of the time were mostly one-shot affairs, as it took a long time to reload, more than was available in a pitched fight. This limits the technological advantage of the Europeans when they are vastly outnumbered. Even if all 1,000 Europeans were to march on the king's city together, they'd most likely lose to the 10,000+ fighters the king could muster in his defense.

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    $\begingroup$ Note that shallow-bottomed sailing vessels are unable to tack upwind, and will have tremendous leeway pushing them downwind when attempting to sail a beam reach. In practice they will be force to row on any point of sail other than downwind, and be easy pickings for any European ships'launch. $\endgroup$ – Pieter Geerkens Nov 6 '15 at 4:36
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    $\begingroup$ Build a lot of guns, teach the people to shoot accurately. Everyone hides in the jungle when the invaders come. Any invader getting close gets shot--the person who fires immediately runs away at that point. Note that crossbows might be more effective for this as they are basically silent and don't produce gunsmoke. Such tactics won't work too well in big open areas but you're talking jungle terrain. $\endgroup$ – Loren Pechtel Nov 6 '15 at 4:52
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    $\begingroup$ They need to make some peaceful contact eventually, whether on their islands, on ships just off their coast, or with oceangoing ships that they build or hijack. ​ Otherwise, either they eventually get conquered or their islands acquire the name Andaman. ​ ​ ​ ​ $\endgroup$ – user3576 Nov 6 '15 at 10:09
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    $\begingroup$ It still loses. 3 years later the next force will be 10 times as strong and bring their own fresh water. $\endgroup$ – Joshua Nov 9 '15 at 3:23
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    $\begingroup$ @Joshua Actually, that's extremely unlikely. Europe of the time simply didn't have the resources to supply an overseas invasion army - hence why the original North American invasions required full blown beachheads and settlements. Bringing your own fresh water might work when invading e.g. Britan from France, but it didn't work even for the Crusades, which are still a stone's throw compared to something like Cuba or Hawaii. $\endgroup$ – Luaan Nov 9 '15 at 13:47

The one thing big ships feared most is fire. creating catapults or Trebuchet that can fling burning balls of pitch onto a ship will make short work of the ships and the crew.

I used this trebuchet calculator and with these inputs a pumpkin would fly about 300 meters. that would give the canon a run for their money. enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ Who doesn't keep a trebuchet calculator in their standard bag of tricks? :-) $\endgroup$ – corsiKa Nov 6 '15 at 5:32
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    $\begingroup$ I am trying to decide whether to upvote. Do the islanders get to use the calculator? $\endgroup$ – blankip Nov 7 '15 at 5:23
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    $\begingroup$ If they can get a decent Internet connection $\endgroup$ – bowlturner Nov 7 '15 at 13:56
  • $\begingroup$ @blankip - absolutely upvote. Even if the natives have no calculator, it just means it takes them multiple shots/pumpkins, as they make adjustments. The calculator is useful for us to quickly get answers on what is feasible. So, this makes for a "useful" answer. And, according to the hovertext for upvoting, "useful" is the criteria. Even if this answer has a minor flaw, it has brought positive information to the discussion. $\endgroup$ – TOOGAM May 13 '17 at 19:29

Several answers here already say that the answer would be guerrilla warfare. While its true, let me try to put it in context for you.

The key here is the definition of victory for both parties. As you may imagine, the definition of 'victory' for the invading Europeans are vastly different from the definition of 'victory' for the natives.

For the European invaders, the definition of victory would be their ability to:

  1. Defeat the tribe decisively enough to degrade their ability to prosecute effective military operations against the invading army. Thus allowing them to-
  2. Conduct undenied military and economic exploitation operations on the new land in order to achieve acceptable returns for their massive investment in the venture.

As you may imagine, for the European invaders, mounting such expeditionary operation thousands of kilometers away, using 17th century technology, is a highly expensive proposition. Whatever resource the archipelago has (whether slaves, natural resources, etc.) must be abundant enough, easy enough to gather, and easy enough to transport to the market for the venture to turn a profit, and at least pay for itself.

This is weighed further against the fact that the Europeans' supply line, while relatively undenied, is very, very long - even if everything goes smoothly all the time. You have to account for ships being lost in storms, to pirates, and other factors that may impede the resupply of your expeditionary forces.

On the other hand, the definition of victory for the natives is relatively simple: For the invaders to leave. Everything they do will have this objective in mind. And while the Europeans need to be able to kill the native insurgents in order to achieve tactical victory, for the native guerrillas, sometimes just simply surviving to fight another day is a victory. Thus they have no need to stay and fight pitch battles with the technologically superior Europeans. If things go south in their operations, they can simply retreat and regroup to try again.

Their supply lines are also much, much simpler and closer than the invader's. Say the guerrillas mount a direct action raid against an invader supply depot. The raid failed, however, since the invader defenses were much stronger than the estimate. In the fight, the guerrillas lost...oh...say 15 men and their weapons. The invaders suffered lighter casualties. Say 2 KIAs, with some weapons damaged.

On the surface, this is a major defeat for the guerrilla forces. But if you take the long view, its actually a strategic victory. The 15 men the guerrillas lost can be easily replaced by 15 other fighting age men from their villages. The bow and arrows they lost can be easily replaced by making new ones. Maybe they lost some metal machete/swords, but if the natives have metal working skills, those can be replaced too.

On the other hand, the invaders lost 2 trained soldiers whose replacements are, at best, several kilometers away at the reserve depot, or at worst, several thousand kilometers away at the home country. These replacements, if the latter case is true, will need MONTHS to travel to the Area of Operation, which means that there will be under-strength squads in the invaders' TO&E. The lost weapons are also not easily replaced. Sure they have spares, but how long will they last if the next shipment is 7-9 months away?

Yes, the invaders enjoys a massive naval superiority. But remember: Once the invaders land, its a ground game. And the invaders need that naval superiority in order to be able to ensure supplies to their ground units. And the ground units are the ones suffering.

If the guerrillas attack the invaders daily, inflicting one-two casualties at a time before melting back into the jungle. Then ambushing and mauling invader patrols/pursuit into that jungle every time, then pretty soon the invaders will stop sending small unit patrols into the jungle. Every time they move into the jungles, the invaders will have to deploy large, ungainly, easily avoided formations, which will - invariably - fail to meet expected opposition every time. Morale will start to drop. Losses mount. The guerrillas can effectively operate in the jungle without significant risk.

After a while, the invaders' government will start doing the math. Is the cost of maintaining the expeditionary force, resupplying them, replacing their men, replacing their arms, and repatriating their dead/wounded justified against the gains from plundered resources and slaves? Public opinion may also start to sway as rumors start spreading in the invaders' home country that being sent to the 'island front' is pretty much a death sentence. Rumors of diseases, enemies that can disappear into the jungle, shamans that somehow make some enemies impervious to bullets (this can be achieved if the natives are diligent in recovering their dead, for instance, leaving no evidence of casualties), sons that are sent to the front and never return, will put more and more pressure to the home government to call of their island adventure. This is doubly true if the home government is forced to hike taxes in order to cover the cost of the war. The war will quickly become unpopular, and the government may find themselves obliged by their population to bring the troops home.

Thus, the natives achieve their victory, even while suffering more casualties. It may take a decade or more, but if they persist in their resistance, this is what will happen and how you can defend your archipelago.

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    $\begingroup$ Nice answer. One hint, though: nothing on this planet is hundreds of thousands of miles away from anything else. $\endgroup$ – Burki Nov 6 '15 at 10:57
  • $\begingroup$ @Burki Yes you're right. Edited to reflect this. Thanks. $\endgroup$ – WarPorcus Nov 6 '15 at 11:04
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    $\begingroup$ You really didn't. $\endgroup$ – djechlin Nov 7 '15 at 19:57
  • $\begingroup$ Oops. Missed one. Fixed. $\endgroup$ – WarPorcus Nov 7 '15 at 23:48
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    $\begingroup$ On the one hand you are right. On the other, invaders don't need a full victory. They need a success. In most cases, sailors seek something valuable enough to compensate their long-long journey. Perhaps gold or a perl, maybe slaves. If invaders got enough a resource they could go home immediately, without defeating islanders. And then return again. If they don't get what they want or get for a huge price (price in their own deaths) then they go home and won't return. $\endgroup$ – ADS May 12 '17 at 9:49

The islanders don't know the exact strength of the next invasion, but they know it'll be by wooden ship, since that's the only way to get to the island (and ironclads don't exist yet).

The invaders' most devastating weapons will be their cannons on the ships. From well out of range of anything you could realistically put together with island lumber, gunpowder cannon will destroy any defensive fortifications. Those fortifications, by definition, wouldn't be mobile, either, so you'd be building them in rings around every island, which is a lot of materiel to put together and maintain at a high state of readiness (the islanders might have an hour's warning as soon as they spotted a sail on the horizon before that ship is in range).

The islanders' biggest advantages? Numbers, and lay of the land. 100k island villagers, with 5 years to train everyone physically able to pull a bow, versus 200 men per ship that don't know the best hiding spots? Child's play.

My strategy is, when the sail is spotted, evacuate any non-combatants from shoreline villages into defendable areas of the interior jungle. Then, let the invaders land, get them beyond the treeline into the jungle, and pick them off in medium-range combat, away from any artillery support. In the 15th Century, the marines will be using muzzle-loading muskets; their best average, if well-trained, would be about three well-aimed shots per soldier per minute. An equal number of islanders firing bows and arrows would be getting fifteen to twenty well-aimed shots in a minute, firing at will, and at least double the rate of fire of the islanders in coordinated volleys.

And, the numbers aren't equal; 100k islanders versus (the reader knows) 1000 soldiers. Even if only a third of the islanders are of an age and physical condition to fight directly, they outnumber the explorers thirty to one. If those islanders are well-trained, well-equipped and ready for a fight, which wasn't the case the first time (or indeed in most of New World history), the explorers don't stand a chance. Let them come, whittle them down, then once they've been routed and are in retreat, that's when you pull out those pitch-balls and set the longboats they landed with on fire. They'll be trapped on open beach, either firing blindly into dense jungle against vastly superior numbers by this point, or they'll be swimming for the ships and easy targets. Once their primary invading force is dead, the ships might retaliate with cannonade on shoreline villages, but eventually they'll run out of shot, or supplies, or patience, and the remaining crew will set sail and head back where they came from. After losing nearly 1000 men and very likely the explorer himself if he goes ashore to command his infantry, there's no way whomever backed this venture would waste any more money. 15th Century sea travel was very unpredictable, so even if you amassed an equal force to the islanders (which would require 150 ships), it's not a guarantee that all the ships and their marines will make it to the archipelago in combat-ready shape.

The one weak point here is the spread of the islands. For this strategy to really work, you have to significantly outnumber the entire force of explorers on any island they might land on; if islanders from nearby islands broke cover and headed for the island under attack, they'd be easy pickings for the ships, which would very likely form a blockade. You can't mass your forces on any one island as the enemy will simply take the rest of them and lay siege to yours.

Thirty thousand warriors, spread evenly over seven islands, still gives the islanders slightly better than a four-to-one advantage in numbers over the maximum possible force the explorers will being to any one island; not the overwhelming thirty-to-one advantage, but if it's played right with guerilla ambush tactics there's still little hope for the invaders, and if the invaders split their forces to take multiple islands at once they're even easier prey.

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    $\begingroup$ It seems like moist tropical conditions would limit the effectiveness of firearms while dense vegetation would limit the ability to fire volleys of arrows and to form a line of battle. I'd imagine the fighting would be almost entirely hand to hand... $\endgroup$ – chucksmash Nov 6 '15 at 1:18
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    $\begingroup$ Note that several invasions (real and imagined) of the New World were brutally repelled before the first successes. The Europeans only really made a break-through when most of the local populace died out due to disease - they literally found thousands of ghost villages, with farms and houses to occupy - and even native survivors who didn't mind helping out anymore. The other exceptions were invariably tied to using the natives against themselves. If anything, Europeans were the masters of asymetric warfare - hopefully, the original shipwreckers will be able and willing to train the natives. $\endgroup$ – Luaan Nov 9 '15 at 13:55

Note that many of the invaders will be weak and diseased from scurvy for anywhere from several days to a couple of weeks after arriving, depending on severity. They will also be short of fresh water, and in the words of the old adage such as they have will be drinkable only by "holding the nose and straining through one's teeth". It is likely that the healthiest arrivers will be responsible for obtaining fresh fruits, vegetables and water for the crew(s) promptly on arrival, so that the others can begin recovery and supplies can be restocked. To the extent that the invaders can be prevented from obtaining fresh fruits and vegetables, the actual effective force of invaders will be much less than the nominal numbers for a longer time, perhaps several weeks post arrival.

If the invading ships can be forced to send substantial foraging parties in order to obtain such supplies, the recovery of the remaining crew will be compromised. Any type of guerilla warfare against smaller foraging parties, taking advantage of local knowledge and numbers, will force such parties to be larger, and limit their ability to resupply. To the extent that the count of the healthiest arriving invaders can be reduced, by a single large initial ambush, the entire ability of the invaders to restock and recover can be compromised - think "red wedding". The invaders will work strenuously to hide the sickness of, with a little luck, up to 3/4 of the crew.

Note that the cannon of the invading ships are designed to engage similarly sized, or slightly smaller, vessels, and cannot be aimed downwards at ranges of less than several hundred yards. Small fast sailing vessels will be effectively immune from the cannons inside those ranges, and the arriving ship's will likely only have one launch each that can be equipped with a single forward-facing carronade. As the largest, and most valuable, of each ship's launches it will not be put in harm's way unnecessarily.

Guile is your friend in this circumstance. Be polite, but firm, on arrival; the newcomers are welcome to restock, but as all property is the king's they must first formally request such permission at a banquet where gifts will be exchanged. Your gifts will of course be small samples of the supplies that the invaders most desperately need - fresh water, fruits and vegetables. Only by giving them tokens of what they most need will you get anything beside pretty glass beads back. A local village headman might be authorized to participate in a small such exchange with each ship's captain, once, as a token of good will.

Delay the banquet for a few days to make them appreciate its significance. The marines will be armed but the general crew will not be armed unless a clear and present danger is present; take advantage of that. You will have exactly one opportunity when only a small percentage of the invaders will be ashore with firearms (Each will though always travel with a large utility knife, useful for cutting everything from food to a neck.) - leverage that for maximum effect. This is how Captain Cook was killed by the original Hawaiians.

Ignore the advice rendered elsewhere about "shallow draught sailing vessels" - there is no such beast. without a draught appropriate for overall vessel size you will be able to sail only downwind - the invaders will quickly take the wind gauge on you and blow you out of the water. Instead, focus on upwind sailing ability by being a small vessel with slightly greater draught - if you can outpoint the ships' launches you can take the wind gauge away, and be effectively immune from any chase. Think lateen-rigged dhows from the Indian Ocean and Sea of Arabia.

Note also that the cannons of this time are subsonic - muzzle velocity slower than sound, perhaps only 400-500 feet per second - which means that a small agile vessel can actually duck cannon fire at the ranges which the ship's cannons can lower their guns to. Gibe or tack on the smoke plume and the ball should pass your rear safely a second or two later. Once you are too close to duck, you are well inside the range that the guns can be lowered to fire at.

  • $\begingroup$ After about the third time, I load the cannons with grape for a spread. $\endgroup$ – Joshua Nov 9 '15 at 3:27
  • $\begingroup$ @Joshua: Still aimed to sweep a deck clear that is 15 to 20 feet above my deck level, and assuming you can actually level a broadside against a significantly more maneuverable craft with the wind gauge. If I am actually letting you get three shots off my surprise is lost, and it's time to beat a retreat. The point would be to approach by surprise, from upwind, straight to your bow, while you are anchored for boarding not a gun fight. In this case, bringing a knife to the gunfight is the intent. Only your 2 bow carronades will even be pointing the right direction. $\endgroup$ – Pieter Geerkens Nov 9 '15 at 3:35
  • $\begingroup$ @Joshua: The real point is, think outside the box, and appreciate the true limits and capabilities of the invaders' technology. $\endgroup$ – Pieter Geerkens Nov 9 '15 at 3:37

One other point is that there's a difference between "warriors" and "soldiers". Your islanders sound like they fight as individual hunters trying to prove their personal bravery. European explorers crushed entire civilizations like the Inca partly because they knew how to fight as a team: to flank an enemy, to concentrate fire, to use ranks and signaling to convey orders and have them be followed, and to retreat in an organized, relatively safe way. Soldiers fight for a shared victory. Your shipwreck survivors brought along some knowledge of that military culture, and it's a vital part of organizing the islanders for defense.

For flavor, you could portray this education by having the survivors tell stories about their wars and initially confuse the natives who don't understand "tactics" or "officers". Use the Iroquois symbol of snapping one arrow in half but being unable to break a bundle of arrows together, or demonstrate how a proof-of-concept organized team can clobber a traditional warrior band.

+1 to the idea above of a betrayal, too: look at the story of Arminius/Hermann for a good example of Germans annihilating three Roman legions by tricking them into dense forest where their tactics didn't work well.

  • $\begingroup$ Great points that complement my ideas well. Note that the Iroquois were a hybrid farming (by the women) and hunter/gatherer (by the men) community. The value of the farming income was recognized by giving the women their own council, which sent a representative to the (men's) war council. This gave them a higher density of population, a distinct advantage in warfare (although their Huron/Algonquian enemies in Ontario and Quebec had a similar culture that probably only lagged by a few generations) and possibly improved their immune systems $\endgroup$ – Pieter Geerkens Nov 6 '15 at 16:05

Massive Deceit.

In an upset to other answers, I would like to pose a completely different methodology.

Already as a given, since the last contact with the Europeans was conflict, they should assume conflict is going to return. It would seem unreasonable that the last part mapped out all of the islands, so the assumption would be that the next group will be arriving near the current one. Not knowing how much will return, the information of the size of the landing party will be critical in carrying out any response. It is much easier to get information from a friend rather than an enemy. Therefore, create a fake welcoming party made up of the initial saved Europeans. Claim that since the last attack they have been able to convince the islanders that European culture and knowledge is superior to theirs and that they have been hard at work converting all of the islanders to a European way of thinking. Have the welcoming group wear clothing that looks as much like Europeans styles as possible. Have the buildings look more European. Place large signs on other beach villages that state a bearing/distance pointing to the Welcome Port.

Create a special harbor that specifically accommodates large ships that would be expected to arrive. Create a paradise atmosphere at this welcoming point. Welcome the new ships to dock at outlying docks (not connected to the land or alternately, connected with quickly burnable floating dock) in the harbor. Explain that the crew (other than the officers) will need to stay on board until appropriate housing can be built.

The officers will be bunked for the night on shore, and murdered in their sleep. The ships will be attacked with fire at daylight and all survivors swimming to shore will be killed before their feet hit the sand. It is better that NO word return to Europe than for the any Europeans to flee and return with an even greater group. Playing this out with each exploratory attack thereafter will create a superstition that this area is cursed, and to be avoided.

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    $\begingroup$ I like the idea, but how likely is it that the initial saved Europeans would cooperate in an unprovoked attack on their brethren? Furthermore, what would happen if there were family and/or friends among the crews of the ships, who came on the expedition to look for survivors? If that is the case, don't expect the initial saved Europeans to participate. In fact, expect them to reveal the plan. $\endgroup$ – Mohair Nov 6 '15 at 21:44
  • $\begingroup$ @Mohair the question specifically notes, the new Europeans come "from a different homeland than our original stranded crew". The old Europeans have been there for 30 years. Most of them are married to women from the island, with adult children. They are fully integrated into island society. They will quite possibly be willing to go along with the plan to defend their families, especially if the new invaders come from a rival European nation. E.g. the British and French were at war in the 15th century. $\endgroup$ – Matthew Flaschen Nov 8 '15 at 23:31
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    $\begingroup$ I think the bigger issue is whether the officers will be gullible enough. "You want us to sleep on your island the first night, lightly guarded, surrounded by natives? Uh-huh". However, the old-guard Europeans could help. Have them pretend to be a non-rival country. E.g. if the invaders are French, have the old-guard pretend to be Serbian or something unfamiliar (so the invaders won't detect the lie). But nevertheless have the old guard emphasize how great it is to see some Christian Europeans ("We've been converting them, but it's slow going...") to lull the invaders into complacency. $\endgroup$ – Matthew Flaschen Nov 8 '15 at 23:37

I've read all the strategies proposed here and, while in all fairness that was the question, they all assume the islanders were going to win, mostly by guerilla warfare.

I see it in a different light, however. A force of 1000 man, say 700 trained soldiers with muskets, and 300 sailor, 150 cannons and of course a number of officers with strategic experience arrive in five ships. That's a highly mobile and highly capable force that don't do stupid things like wandering off in the jungle in small groups.

Here is my strategy for the commander of the fleet. Having the information gained by the previous visit the commander knows the size, layout and distribution of the islands, its population, their technology and that they are hostile.

He will make no assumptions, play safe and head directly out to the smallest island to establish a base of operations and resupplies. With 8 islands, one can assume the smalles one to have 5k inhabitants, of which about a third 'warriors'. More importantly, that island has 2/3rds women and children.

It being the smallest island, it is the easiest to look on to while sailing around. A landing spot is chosen close to the resources the islanders need, like water. This is likely close to their village. Initial salvoes of the cannons chase the villagers away while the soldiers land, and secure the landing by using the cover that's there. Once secured, part of the soldiers start constructing the first fort. Any remaining islanders in the nearby village are taken hostage in the fort. After the fort is constructed, fire is used to burn down the forest on the island to force the islanders further into retreat, demoralise them, deprive them of their resources, demoralize them and to create more open space to fight.
The solders move in larger groups, taking female and child hostages along, never venturing in the remaining dense forest, trapping the islanders and forcing them to surrender by demonstrating killing the hostages one at a time.

Within a short time, the European force will have control of the small island, a base, a fort, supplies, control of the sea and hostages as leverage. Next to the second smallest island. Rinse, repeat. By the time they reach the biggest island the commander has so many hostages out of reach of the islanders the king has no choice but to surrender.

You have to keep in mind a few things.

  • Europeans, at that time, especially sea faring soldiers half a world from home, were no kind folk. Europe has seen mosly war and cruelty, in contrast to the islanders who are likely peaceful, as they have one nation and need to live in harmony with the island to survive. That puts the Europeans at a big advantage.
  • The invaders have nothing much to loose, except their ships, which are out of reach. They can fight on enemy land and as a consequence the islanders have their entire environment to loose. Forest fires and other pillaging of the land can not eaily be overcome. A great disadvantage for the islanders.
  • The island warrier's families on the island are their weeknesses. Any hostage taken, especially the non-warriors, is a potential handful of islanders surrendering, and this cascades. The warriors need also spend resources to protect them. The invaders, being soldiers, bring no such weakness.
  • And then there are all the diseases that the Europeans bring. In south america it's estimated that 90% of the native population died of them.

Once the invaders have set up base with provisions, it's over.

  • $\begingroup$ Which creates the solution: Any hostages must be considered dead. Funerals/memorials must be conducted, and the hostage-takers considered to be murderers. If the hostages are brought out to protect the foreign soldiers, cut them down - since they're already dead, and must be 'zombies' or something - then capture and torture to death their captors, making sure that the captors screams can be heard. If hostages can be reclaimed, then it's a miracle. $\endgroup$ – Monty Wild Nov 9 '15 at 3:23
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    $\begingroup$ This is well-written and logical, but it's not an answer to the question that was asked. $\endgroup$ – Steve V. Nov 9 '15 at 7:49
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    $\begingroup$ I believe naval forces at the time were often poor sods press ganged from farms and taverns. How likely are they to be a high capable fighting machine? $\endgroup$ – Whelkaholism Nov 9 '15 at 11:25
  • $\begingroup$ This presumes a culture where family is a weakness, and the islanders will do anything to get their hostages back. For the time period, that's more of a European thing. There are plenty of cultures, then and now, where the greater good of the nation or the tribe is more important than individuals, and martyrdom is revered. There will be no ransom or rescue. $\endgroup$ – Mohair Nov 9 '15 at 16:17

Your defense should be designed to force invaders to attack where it most suits you. This means altering the landscape. Build sea walls and obstacles to prevent landings. Clear trees to deny cover. Install obstructions to prevent moorings.

Basically, you want to build a strong defense everywhere except for planned "weak" spots. Funnel any invaders into deep canyons or swamps, for example. Then build fortifications there. This is a jungle island, so your fortifications can be camouflaged well. Build trebuchets for attacking the ships. Build strong positions from which you can rain down arrows and spears on foot soldiers, and from where you can launch enveloping attacks.

Smart commanders will recognize the dangers of the situation immediately, but you leave them no choice. If they want to take your island bad enough, they will have to play by your rules. If you do it right, they will pay dearly.


A lot of these answers focus on guerrilla warfare - and I broadly agree. You have 30-40,000 men who can draw a bow, throw a spear or wield an axe, and that's a huge advantage; nor should you forget that many of the women will be capable of using bows, slings, or other skirmishing weapons. What's more, you don't possess the population base or the technological base to really beat the Europeans with quality rather than quantity.

However...none of the answers above deal very effectively with the strategy for the invaders proposed by durandal, IMO. With a minimum distance of 8 miles between islands, dealing with boats trying to cross from the other islands is relatively trivial for a bunch of frigates. They'll have cannon, swivel guns for up close work, and better ranged weapons in general for dealing with small boats. Once they've built a fort they can sail off with most of their men to try the same thing on another island - you don't have anything good for attacking fortifications without taking massive casualties.

The plan needs an added element. So, let's list out what we need, in order of priority.

  1. Militia on each island. We have thousands of people capable with weapons; what we need is a trained structure. Everyone knows that when ships come over the horizon, the non-combatants head for the hills, the combatants meet up in their groups, and they prepare to skirmish. No stand-up fights, plenty of hit and run. They need to remain an active force, hopefully able to prevent the enemy from completing fortifications. If they can't achieve that, anyone leaving the fortifications needs to be harassed, anyone standing sentry needs to occasionally take an arrow or blowdart through the throat, etc.
  2. Training against European weapons and armour. You have some examples - your militia can be helped enormously by knowing how long a pistol or arquebus takes to reload, what their accurate range might be, how damn loud it is when actually firing, etc. Militia who know a line of arquebusiers are at risk when they just fired a volley are going to be much more effective than militia who are in shock over the explosion, gust of smoke, and their friends screaming next to them. (As an historical example, the Zulus were primarily armed with spears and cowhide shields, but they knew about firearms and had a very few. Look how that turned out for British soldiers with breech-loading rifles at Isandlwana, a good few steps up from 15th-16th century muskets).
  3. Ships that can outsail the Europeans between islands. This should be possible if you use a triangular sail plan - European ships are generally square rigged for efficient sailing downwind. You don't need to go huge distances, so that efficiency is less important than accessing more points of sail, which triangular, fore-and-aft or lateen rigs can get you. If they're coming with five, each carrying ~200 men, you need at least as many, ideally more like 10. Yours can be smaller, if that lets them be faster or easier to build. The reason for this is that it gives you the ability to gather your best soldiers, and land them on whichever island the invaders pick. Sure, maybe you have to take a circuitous route, and/or sail at night, but now you can shuttle reinforcements between islands. Even if your reinforcements are no better trained and equipped than the standard militia, their arrival will still be a morale boost for your side. If you think you have enough boats, but there aren't any Europeans yet, build more, as long as you have enough wood available. Better transport between islands is a benefit to your nation in peacetime, too.
  4. Prepare at least one fortification. Earthworks, ditches, palisades, etc. You want it to be some distance from the shore, so that if the invaders wish to take it from you, they will have to really commit to it - bring most of their soldiers along, and spend days on it, first landing on the island the fort is on, then dragging themselves + maybe some cannon towards it, being hit by pinprick attacks all the way. The purpose of this, like the pa of the Maori wars, is to provide a "key point" for the Europeans to attack. They have limited powder and shot, limited men, and unless they're getting food stocks from your people strictly limited time. If you harass any attempts they make to entrench themselves, but otherwise deny them combat, their leaders will grow frustrated and are likely to want to strike against a key target like "The Royal Compound". If taking this will also secure them a fort, all the better; their attacking the fort is the closest thing to a dead cert you're likely to be able to arrange. The fort garrison are likely to fare pretty badly here, but they should repel at least a couple of assaults, and bleed the Europeans heavily in the process. Combine militia outside the fort, harassing the invaders, and you should be able to whittle down their force substantially, even if they take the fort eventually. And if they do, so what? They have a bunch of earth ramparts, with strictly limited food and water supplies, hours of travel from the coast. They're surrounded by hostile forces, and they just put themselves in their own Dien Bien Phu for you. Oops.
  5. Finally, this is the tricky one, and it depends very much on what resources you have available, what leftovers from the shipwreck, whether you can get some blacksmiths up and running (do you even have iron ore available?) etc as to exactly what form it takes, but you need a tough core to your forces. Better trained, better equipped, an elite to your militia's main body. You don't need as many as there will be Europeans. One hundred could be enough, hell, even fifty, though obviously the more you can train and equip the better. This is a sword with several edges, and you'll be using all of them. Firstly, it strengthens the central leadership's control over the islands as a whole - you know, and they know, that it can beat the militia at need, so as long as you control the elite you will be secure on your throne. Secondly it adds to the effect of your ships, both physically and morally; they can land as many elite as they can militia, but the morale boost of the elite coming will be bigger. Thirdly, it gives you a better chance of winning a stand-up fight, if you choose to pick one (like at the fort you built back in the last point...). Fourthly, your elite soldiers on a few of your ships, there's an outside chance that you can mount something like a cutting out expedition, taking one of the European ships off them.

The aim with all of the above is to give the islands options. Flexibility is key, because if the invaders manage to dominate one island and fortify it, pure guerrilla tactics are going to have a hell of a time throwing them out. You have greater numbers, but you have to be able to bring your numbers to bear effectively; and at the same time you have to be able to hold together your people until you eventually reach victory. You're going to have to maintain communication between the islands, you're going to have to be able to pull occasional morale-boosting victories out when required, and you're going to have to be able to occasionally shape your enemy's actions (like with the fort) in order to overcome their advantages and lead them into trouble.


Just a thought - with 100K inhabitants there is likely to be internal dissension, multiple factions etc. What are the odds that some faction in your nation's capital may want to aid the invaders to improve their own standing?

I think the conquistadors conquered South America with a couple of hundred spaniards and a native levy of many thousands.

Whoever is in charge needs to crush any internal dissent, ensure his claim to the throne/king's hut/whatevs is safe. Then, most of the guerilla recommendations might be a chance.

Might be worth reading about the first Italian attempt to conquer Abyssinia/Ethiopia, or the New Zealand Maori campaigns!


Islands roughly like Hawaii could not support 100k hunter gatherers. At it's height, the Hawaiian islands only supported a population of about 160k people and that was only possible through intensive agriculture. Without agriculture, the only real easily available food sources that Hawaii had were birds and fish, and there wouldn't be enough of them to feed 100k people. Tom Dye says in his book, Population trends in Hawaii before 1778, "By the time of Cook's visit, the lowland forests of the Hawaiian islands had been greatly altered by more than a millennium of industrious gardening."

What that means is that you're going to either need to adjust the technology that the population has available to it, or reduce the number of people that are in the population.

Also, the amount of land required to support 100k people will need to be pretty vast - especially if you're considering it to be roughly equivalent to Hawaii, with it's topography created by vulcanism - there will only be a certain amount of usable land and the rest will either be on hillsides too steep to farm or otherwise unusable. This means populations will be concentrated into farming communities in the lowlands. You aren't going to have cities - instead you might have large villages. This makes a central leadership and communication difficult and unlikely. The kingdom of Hawaii didn't exist until 1795 and wasn't fully unified until 1810 - this largely through the instigation and technology of westerners. See the Wikipedia article here.

You may run into the situation that the Spanish did when they conquered the Aztecs - they happened to meet with other groups of Native Americans, like the Cloud Warriors, who happened to be in the middle of a fight with the Aztecs and who used the Spanish and their technology as an opportunity conquer them.

Any way you look at it, the end result is bad if if the natives fight. They need to make some powerful western friends quickly or they're screwed.


How well guarded are the powder magazines on the invaders ships?

At that time in history, suicide was regarded as a sin that condemned the suicide's soul to eternal damnation. If the natives do not share this cultural conditioning a suicide attack by a single man per ship might succeed.

  • $\begingroup$ Powder magazines were usually locked and pretty well guarded - they were a key target in case of mutiny. $\endgroup$ – Monty Wild Nov 9 '15 at 3:26
  • $\begingroup$ Actually this is a good idea. Get nearby and dump and ignite palm oil and pitch. We don't have to take the powder we just have to set it ablaze. $\endgroup$ – Joshua Nov 9 '15 at 3:31

The should actively train and refine their communications network. If one island sights invaders inbound, they should immediately dispatch envoys to every other island to inform them of enemy positions. They should send regular updates on troop movements. These envoys need to be very brave and experienced at crossing the straits of water.

If the invaders attempt to converge on one island then every island should lend support to deny the invaders a foothold. The defenders should strike at the beaches if possible but also need to have hard points to retreat to until reinforcements arrive. Due to constraints in time and resources, and limitations in engineering, these "hard-points" would be mostly be naturally occurring land forms of an easily dependable nature, rather than man made fortresses.

They also need to increase weapon production and train at their arts of war. Wooden shields should catch 15th century arrows. However wood or stone spear heads will not impale chain mail. However, chainmail is very poor at protecting against bludgeoning weapons. The tactics should involve trying to outnumber the enemy ant any stand so that 5 islanders with stone clubs can single out 1 invader to bludgeon to death. Iron helmets protect the European's skull from fractures, but enough force can cause concussions and damage the neck. Pummeling the body breaks ribs and leaves the victim gasping for air.

If Islanders win battles they can then strip the battlefield for the European's superior weapons and armour.

  • $\begingroup$ for the warning about the invasion fleet, dont use messengers - use signal fires. The Islands are near enough to see the signal fire on top of the highest mountain. $\endgroup$ – Julian Egner Apr 6 '17 at 11:50

One major advantage the Native Americans had against the conquistadors they were not even aware of: microbes. A factor I think most of the above commenters have overlooked is the power of the defenders’ diseases. A HUGE amount of Westerners were wiped out by syphilis (originally endemic to South America) after the discovery of the New World. Have the islanders send out a welcoming party of sick islanders and kill everyone via biowarfare; the Europeans will not have the genetic resistance to native diseases that the islanders have.

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    $\begingroup$ In history, the precise opposite played out: The natives of the Americas were decimated by diseases brought over by Europeans. $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 Nov 9 '15 at 1:32
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    $\begingroup$ @HDE226868: Both scenarios played out, actually. It's just that the Europeans got lucky and the disease they brought over (smallpox) was considerably more virulent. It's not a controllable way to defend an island though. $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Nov 9 '15 at 13:39
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    $\begingroup$ Hardly "luck" that European diseases were considerably more damaging to island natives than the reverse - being integrated into worldwide network of contacts means exposure to many diseases and the evolution thereof. Isolated islanders had no immunity to most of the kinds of diseases brought by visitors while lacking a wide enough population to develop a robust bioweapon breeding ground. $\endgroup$ – pluckedkiwi Apr 5 '17 at 18:53

Your island political structure is unrealistic. While shortlived kingdoms have encompassed ocean groups at that stage in civilisation (without the emphasis on hunter/gathering), they have never been long lasting. However I'll assume that for some reason it's not. Hunter gatherer societies such as Australian tribes do not amalgamate under a king, hunter gathers are on the move, they don't need or want a king, because their resources are not fixed. They can be every bit as belligerent as you want, but you can't have a king in the sense we know it.

5 Boatloads of Europeans can easily be resisted, just by taking to the hills and laying waste the land. The downfall of all the sizeable places taken over by small groups of explorers was the natives would be recruited and armed by Europeans, not Europeans fighting alone. Or they were weakened by introduced diseases.

Assuming these factors can be discounted then it's pure guerilla warfare against an inferior number of invaders with all natives against them. Fortify the Highplaces such as the Maori did in NZ, fight a guerilla war of attrition. Kill any prisoners in terrifying ways to hurt enemy morale. The NZ Maori were never totally defeated even against large numbers of imported European soldiers. They'd just lose a battle and retreat to another fortified position. But they were never united, there was always tribes fighting with the invaders. Without those tribes, the Maori would have sent the Europeans packing.

Unless the natives join the invaders, the invaders don't stand a chance. Their stores of food will run out, and attrition will weaken them until they can all be massacred.


In 1346 Genghis Khan was attacking Kafa with catapults. They used the bodies of their own dead who had died from the Black Plague as ammunition. This would have been known to the sailors of the returning army 250+ years later. By taking all Islanders who were in bad health, and tattooing "PLAGUE" on their foreheads before they died, they insured the safety of their neighbors by volunteering themselves to be used as ammo when the invaders returned. No one wants the black death aboard their ship...


And here are some other interesting flavor-text suggestions...

  1. Train native birds to remain in a single area and make a particular cry when their "feeders" come (basically any human being). This would set up an alarm system that could heard over long distances, and which could be used to track invaders trying to move through the interior. They could be trained to be quiet when given a particular signal, so that the islanders are not trackable by the same means.

  2. Dolphins could be trained to carry islanders quickly from place to place. They could be used for the shipboard invasion. In fact, you might have dolphin transport be a tradition already present among the islanders even before the invaders came.

  3. In every body of water there are dangerous shoals and other areas that could sink or ground a ship if not seen. It is essential to know where the danger spots are when piloting a ship. The islanders might set up some kind of water ambush or lure the ships into a situation where their cannon are not oriented to be able to fire at the enemy and if they turn they will run aground (some kind of narrow passage between reefs)

  4. One of the sailors might be a student of Sun Tsu (http://www.military-quotes.com/Sun-Tzu.htm). There are some brilliant quotes here and great military advice.


If they know the direction from which the invaders will come, how about a pre-emptive strike of fire ships/boats, sea chains, burning buoys/primitive sea mines? This might as least slow the invaders and bring their morale down. If you can bring down even one out of the five frigates before it lands, you've gained a serious advantage. Gonna have to have some sea patrols a distance from your islands to raise the alarm, but I'm sure that the industrious+paranoid islanders can handle that.

And how about negotiations? We've had a rough couple of battles. Let's trade, we'll give you gold/exotic animals/cool smoking weeds, you give us tech or whatever. Can't we all just, get along?

Alternatively you can fire pumpkins at them with your trebuchet calculator (loved that one).


The old survivors are likely to be able to help with vaguaries, such as how many will come on a ship, what proportion will be soldiers, and what proportion will be sailors etc. but not how many will come. (But they will know that they will come, and that there will be more). If there's a resource that the invaders are after, they are likely to know how valuable it is, which will give them some indication of how much "home" will want that, and as such, how long they'll keep sending troops before it's a waste of good resources (which won't necessarily stop the waste for reasons of politics, pride, arrogance, or the sunk cost fallacy. It might even become a matter of sending a message/a matter of principle for the rulers at home).

Many of the salvaged weapons probably won't be much use at this point; whilst the few firearms they brought are probably fine, the gunpowder just won't last that long. However, if the survivors included at least one person with the knowhow to create it, and the islanders would need to be able to prepare and mix (grind) potassium nitrate, charcoal, and sulphar in the right ratios, then they may well be able to make explosives, or rudimentary rockets. They would have a few guns, but not in numbers that would likely make them useful.

However, the facilities to make gunpowder in useful quantities would mean that there is likely to be a change in society and environment as it's not exactly something that can be done in someone's spare time, and it will become a full time job for a considerable number of people. Even more so if the firearms are considered, as they would need to make shot too, so shot towers would need to be constructed, assuming that any of the survivors knew about the production of shot.


Something I have not noticed much in other answers, but may be helpful to the islanders: The Islanders know their own waters!

How does this help. As has been mentioned, the invaders supply chain runs from the ship to the invaders on the island. If you can sink the ships, advantage goes to the islanders as they can wear down the now land trapped invaders.

So next, how to capitalize on this? Many islanders, to judge from the movie Moana, my only real reference, would be able to navigate by the stars. the invading boats will also often have shipboard lights. Islanders could sail around and come at the invading ships from unexpected directions. They could send boarding parties to reduce enemy numbers and hopefully destroy water and food supplies. Don't go for the powder magazine unless the shipboard contingent is relatively easily overwhelmed. Food and Water should not be as massively guarded.

In addition, a lot of the islanders might be excellent divers. Get close to a ship at night, then send divers underneath to weaken or put holes in the enemy hulls below the waterline. The previous sailors should have a fair idea where on the invading ships a small amount of damage would do the most to cripple the ship. Once the ships are neutralized, the ships cannon come off the board and you should have a relatively easy time mopping up.

  • $\begingroup$ Sinking a frigate is not a simple matter (divers trying to scrape holes in the timbers with a rock won't do it), and those on the ships are not complete idiots with no concept of threats to their vessels. Even just getting up onto deck will be a huge challenge, much less effective boarding parties. Remember that the invaders are highly experienced in warfare and anticipating hostilities - they are not going to be surprised or unprepared. $\endgroup$ – pluckedkiwi Apr 5 '17 at 19:05
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    $\begingroup$ Sooo...How about a boat bomb. get one of the canoes up close with a large, makeshift black powder bomb. If any of the early sailors knew anything about black powder, it might be fairly easy to produce. A volcanic island might be a good source of sulfur, saltpeter can be had from urine, and if you can start a fire, you can get charcoal. As a technique...the USS Cole was hit by Yemini terrorists with exactly this technique and it cost 17 lives on a modern steel warship. $\endgroup$ – Paul TIKI Apr 5 '17 at 20:32
  • $\begingroup$ @pluckedkiwi Also, a steel 2 man saw from the earlier sailors. A good diver can stay under for up to 10 minutes. even if you half that, get under the keel and saw straight up for say 3 minutes, even if they don't breech, they will severely weaken the keel. nothing says they are limited to just rocks. A hand drill, whatever. Anything to make a hole below the waterline, the bigger the better $\endgroup$ – Paul TIKI Apr 5 '17 at 20:41

Only one way to defend your island when your enemy is superior: know your enemy, accept it , learn enemies strategies and weapons, then try to fight him with his own weapons...

  • $\begingroup$ know your enemy and their strategies / tech, yes. Fight with the enemy's weapons, not required. $\endgroup$ – Peter Cordes Nov 7 '15 at 23:31

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