Most scholarship on the military history of precolonial Africa focuses on state-level conflict, drawing on examples such as the Asante, Buganda, Zulu, and Kongo kingdoms. The current article instead examines connections between warfare and political history in the politically fragmented setting of nineteenth-century Busoga, Uganda, where a small geographical region hosted more than fifty micro-kingdoms competing as peer polities. Using sources that include a rich corpus of oral traditions and early archival documents, this article offers a reconstruction of military practices and ideologies alongside political histories of important Busoga kingdoms during the long nineteenth century. The article argues that routine political destabilization caused by competition between royal leaders, combined with shifting interests of commoner soldiers, continuously reconstituted a multi-polar power structure throughout the region. This approach moves beyond assessing the role of warfare in state formation to ask how military conflict could be a creative force in small-scale politics as well.