• Various Native American allies, who provided invaluable help in battles ranging from Jamestown to Wounded Knee.
I'm not really up on my history, but the way I remember, Wounded Knee wasn't so much a battle as a massacre.
The Battle of Wounded Knee Creek was the last major armed conflict between the Dakota Sioux and the United States, subsequently described as a "massacre" by General Nelson A. Miles in a letter to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs
By the time it was over, 25 troopers and more than 146 Lakota Sioux lay dead, including men, women, and children. Some of the soldiers are believed to have been the victims of "friendly fire" as the shooting took place at point blank range in chaotic conditions. Around 150 Lakota are believed to have fled the chaos, many of whom may have died from hypothermia.
Yeah, that Wounded Knee. Wikipedia doesn't mention any "mercenaries," unless you count these guys:
The military hired civilians to bury the dead Lakota after an intervening snowstorm had abated. Arriving at the battleground, the burial party found the deceased frozen in contorted positions by the freezing weather. They were gathered up and placed in a common grave.
Nor is that the only strange example. Boot also cites the following as "celebrated mercenaries:"
• The Pinkerton National Detective Agency, which provided intelligence for the Union, and personal protection for President Lincoln, during the Civil War.
Here is some more information about these mercenary heroes:
During the labor unrest of the late 19th century, businessmen hired Pinkerton agents to infiltrate unions, and guards to keep strikers and suspected unionists out of factories. The most notorious example was the Homestead Strike of 1892, when Pinkerton agents killed several people in a battle with strikers, who also killed several agents, while enforcing the strikebreaking measures of Henry Clay Frick, acting on behalf of Andrew Carnegie, who was abroad.
Boot's article ends on this note:
Mercenaries all, and yet they are all heroes of American history. Why is it impossible to imagine that mercenaries today could be equally useful, and sometimes even heroic?
Gee, I wonder why?