SHAKO: Tippecanoe Bicentennial
Before Tippecanoe Met Tyler, Too
Today (Nov. 7, 2011) marks the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Tippecanoe, a brief but significant battle in western Indiana between U.S. troops and Native Americans. It was also a small action by most standards: a force of about 1,000 U.S. Army regulars and volunteers from Indiana and Kentucky VS. some 500 to 700 Indians, mostly Shawnee.
When it was over, 62 soldiers and between 36 and 50 Indians were dead. The Indians retreated after their two pre-dawn attacks failed
Gen. William Henry Harrison, the territorial governor of Indiana who went on to become the 9th president of the United States, led the small U.S. army of about 250 regulars from the 4th Infantry Regiment, as well as 90 mounted volunteers from Kentucky and about 700 Indiana militia.
Harrison marched on an Indian village called Prophetstown near the confluence of the Wabash and Tippecanoe rivers. The Indians attacked first but Harrison’s troops drove them off.
Many Americans suspected the British in Canada had incited the Indians to attack. And that ill will contributed to the war fever that swept Congress the following year — leading to the War of 1812. It also led to the downfall of the Indian confederacy that the Shawnee leader Tecumseh was trying to create to reclaim Indian lands and push whites out of what’s now the Midwest.
Harrison became a national hero and was elected president — the oldest until Ronald Reagan became president in 1981. Harrison was paired with John Tyler of Virgina in the 1840 election campaign. Their campaign slogan? Tippecanoe and Tyler, Too.
SHAKO is an occasional 4GWAR posting on military history, traditions and culture. For the uninitiated, a shako is the tall, billed headgear worn by many armies from the Napoleonic era to about the time of the American Civil War. It remains a part of the dress or parade uniform of several military organizations like the corps of cadets at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York.