THIS WEEK in the War of 1812 (Nov. 18-Nov. 24)

November 19, 2012 at 1:28 am Leave a comment

Defeat and Retreat

Another hard week for American morale 200 years ago. A party of Indiana militia are ambushed and defeated at Wildcat Creek … and U.S. troops begin to withdraw – for the third time – from Canada.

Wildcat Creek

A historical re-enactor dressed like an Indiana Ranger charges the “enemy.”
A large group of Indiana Rangers was ambushed at Wildcat Creek in 1812.
(Photo courtesy Historic Fort Wayne Inc.)

Early in November, a large U.S. force consisting of three regiments of Kentucky infantry, a company of regulars from the U.S. 7th Infantry Regiment, a troop of mounted Indiana Rangers and a company of scouts march north from Vincennes on the Wabash River toward an Indian village near the scene of the Battle of Tippecanoe a year earlier. The punitive expedition, led by Major Gen. Samuel Hopkins, aims to destroy several Indian villages in retribution for attacks on Fort Harrison and Fort Wayne in Indiana as well as several Indian raids on civilian homes and farms along the frontier during the summer.

On November 20, a force of 300 from the Hopkins expedition burn an abandoned Kickapoo village near Tippecanoe on Wildcat Creek. The next day a scouting party is fired upon. One man is killed and the scouts retreat. A party of 60 Indiana Rangers set out the next day, Nov. 22, to retrieve the slain soldier’s body.

Lured up a narrow canyon by a taunting Indian warrior on horseback, the Indiana Rangers are ambushed by waiting Kickapoo, Winnebago and Shawnee warriors. More than a dozen soldiers are killed within minutes. The Rangers retreat in disarray back down Wildcat Creek.

Over the two days, Nov. 21-22, 17 regulars and militia men are killed and three wounded. An unknown number of Indians take part in the attack and their losses – if any – are also unknown.

Hopkins learns of a large force of Indians are coming to attack his troops and he prepares for battle but the weather turns bitter cold, a snowstorm threatens  and Hopkins heads back on Nov. 24 to Fort Harrison and then Vincennes. More than 200 of his men are down with sickness or frostbite.

Eastern Canada

The troops that failed to invade Canada from northern New York and Vermont earlier in the month begin heading south on Nov. 23. The troops are part of a large army commanded by Major Gen. Henry Dearborn.

As we previously chronicled (Nov. 6), Dearborn’s advance guard — commanded by Major Zebulon Pike — was turned back by Canadian troops and their Indian allies.

Some of the militia in Dearborn’s army balk at invading Canada and the general gives up the idea of a large scale invasion and goes into winter quarters.


Entry filed under: SHAKO, Skills and Training, Special Operations, THIS WEEK in the War of 1812, Traditions, Unconventional Warfare. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , .

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