THIS WEEK in the War of 1812: May 18-24, 1814

May 18, 2014 at 11:42 pm Leave a comment

Major General Harrison Resigns.

William Henry Harrison circa 1813 (National Portrait Gallery)

William Henry Harrison circa 1813
(National Portrait Gallery)

Infuriated by plans in Washington to move him to a backwater and place one of his subordinates in command of half the Army of the Northwest, Major General William Henry Harrison, victor over Indian leader Tecumseh in 1813, submits his resignation from the U.S. Army.

Harrison joined the Army in 1791 as an ensign [second lieutenant] in the 1st Infantry Regiment. He was sent to the Old Northwest – the frontier area that became the states of Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and Illinois – where he served as aide-de-camp to General “Mad” Anthony Wayne at the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794. Harrison left the Army in 1797 and was serving as territorial governor of Indiana in 1811 when he led troops against the confederacy of tribes gathered by Tecumseh at the Battle of Tippecanoe.

When the war with Britain broke out, Harrison, then 39, was made a brigadier general (one star) and after the fall of Detroit, Harrison was promoted to major general and placed in command of the Army of the Northwest in September 1812.

Leading green, badly disciplined troops, Harrison built forts in Indiana and Ohio and trained his army while fighting a defensive war against British, Canadian and Native Americans.

After Oliver Hazard Perry’s resounding naval victory on Lake Erie, and the arrival of reinforcements in the Fall of 1813, Harrison went on the offensive. He retook Detroit and invaded Canada, defeating the retreating British/Canadian/Native American army at the Battle of the Thames [October 5, 1813.] The Indian leader Tecumseh was killed in the battle, which broke Native American resistance to white settlement in the Old Northwest.

The Northern Frontier (Office of U.S. Army historian)

The Northern Frontier
(Office of U.S. Army historian)

But after continued disputes with Secretary of War John Armstrong, Harrison decides to resign, when Armstrong splits command of the Army of the Northwest. The resignation is accepted in the summer.

Harrison was a tough negotiator with the Indians, who lost millions of acres of their lands east of the Mississippi River in the period 1795-1809. That was a key reason why Tecumseh, a Shawnees, tried to organize all the Eastern tribes to fight the Americans and later threw in his lot with the British. Harrison also tried to introduce slavery into the Indiana Territory while he was governor from 1800-1812.

The son of a signer of the Declaration of Independence, Harrison was elected president in 1840 as a member of the Whig Party. Harrison was one of three War of 1812 commanders who won the White House in later the years. (Andrew Jackson and Zachary Taylor were the others). Harrison’s term was short. He came down with pneumonia after his long outdoor speech during a cold, rainy March 4 inauguration. He died just a month later – at 68, he is oldest man elected president (until Ronald Reagan) and the first U.S. president to die in office.

In 1888, his grandson, Benjamin Harrison, was elected president in 1888.


Entry filed under: Counter Insurgency, National Security and Defense, SHAKO, THIS WEEK in the War of 1812, Traditions. Tags: , , , , , , , .

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May 2014


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