Posts tagged ‘Tecumseh’

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

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.


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

THIS WEEK in the War of 1812 (February 23 – March 1)

Court Martial

William Hull (xxxxxxxxxxxxxx)

William Hull
(Colonial Society of Massachusetts)

Winter 1814: Indian leader Tecumseh and British General Isaac Brock are dead … Fort Detroit, which they captured in 1812 through subterfuge and bravado, is back in U.S. hands … and American General William Hull, who surrendered Detroit without a fight, is on trial for his life.

After surrendering Detroit in August 1812, Hull is first transported to Montreal as a prisoner of war before being returned to the United States in a prisoner exchange.

In January 1814 Hull’s court-martial began in Albany, New York. On January 17, he pleaded not guilty to charges of treason.

Witnesses – mostly subordinates who had been infuriated when Hull surrendered—testified that he had seemed panicky and distracted during the brief siege. It was noted that in addition to more than 2,000 troops – most of them Ohio and Michigan militia – Hull’s surrender presented the British with more than 3,000 muskets, 37 cannons and other ordnance, 400 rounds of twenty-four-pound solid cannon balls and 100,000 cartridges.

It turned out Hull had surrendered to a smaller force. Brock had only 700 British regulars and militia and about 600 Indians. But through ruse and bluff, he led Hull to believe he faced a far larger force (the Indians marched past the same gap in the woods three times loudly shouting war cries.

The Surrender of Detroit by John Wycliffe Lowes Forster.

The Surrender of Detroit by John Wycliffe Lowes Forster.

Brock had also captured a Detroit-bound ship that carried Hull’s personal possessions, including his papers and war plans. He know U.S. morale was low and the Americans feared the Indians after troops and civilians evacuating Fort Dearborn in Illinois Territory (the site of present day Chicago), were attacked and massacred by Indians.

Hull’s supply lines had been cut, he had poor communications with Washington and Secretary of War William Eustis. His troops were mostly poorly trained and unruly militiamen and volunteers. Th head of the Army, General Henry Dearborn had been slow to launch other attacks into Canada to take some of the pressure off Hull. Dearborn presided over the court-martial.

The final straw in the capture of Detroit probably came when Brock sent a letter to Hull warning that the Indians with the British “will be beyond my control the moment the contest commences.” In other words, surrender or I’ll turn the Indians loose and who knows what savagery that might unleash. There were women and children at Fort Detroit, including Hull’s own children and grandchildren.

Hull about 1800

Hull about 1800

A Revolutionary War veteran who had fought bravely at White Plains, Trenton, Princeton, Saratoga and other battles, the 60-year-old Hull had been territorial governor of Michigan and originally turned down command of the Army of the Northwest.

Compounding his bad luck, papers Hull believed could exonerate him were burned up when the ship carrying them was attacked by the British. The trial will continue until late March.

February 24, 2014 at 12:17 am Leave a comment

SHAKO: War of 1812’s Battle of the Thames

Death of Tecumseh

Following the U.S. naval victory on Lake Erie in September 1813, the supply line to Fort Detroit (captured from the Americans a year earlier) was cut and British Major General Henry Procter deemed his position indefensible, so he retreated across the Detroit River back to Canada.

Kentucky Mounted Riflemen, led by Colonel Richard M. Johnson, charge the British line at Moraviantown (Courtesy Kentucky National Guard)

Kentucky Mounted Riflemen, led by Colonel Richard M. Johnson, charge the British line at Moraviantown
(Courtesy Kentucky National Guard)

Procter, with about 800 British regulars and some 500 Native Americans retreated slowly across Upper Canada, what is now Ontario. The Indians were led by Tecumseh, the Shawnee warrior who sought to unite a confederacy of tribes extending from the Great Lakes to the Deep South to resist the advance of white settlers from the United States encroaching on Indian land.

Major Gen. William Henry Harrison pursued the British and Indians with about 3,500 troops, including mounted Kentucky riflemen  and some U.S. Army regulars. They caught up with Procter on October 5, 1813 near Moraviantown — a peaceful Indian village on the Thames River. The Americans burned the village, inhabited by Christian Munsee Indians who had not joined Tecumseh.

The Kentuckians charged the outnumbereed and hungry British line, which quickly broke. The U.S. troops then advanced on the Indians who were formed up in a  swamp on the British right. Tecumseh rallied his men but was shot and killed. The ferocity of the Kentuckians’ assault was driven by a desire to revenge the massacre of Kentucky militia at the River Raisin in Michigan earlier that year.

Death of Tecumseh at the Battle of the Thames in a 19th Century artist's rendering. Via Wikipedia

Death of Tecumseh at the Battle of the Thames in a 19th Century artist’s rendering.
Via Wikipedia

Another Indian leader, Roundhead, a Wyandot chief also known as  Stiahta or Stayeghtha, was also killed. The Indian resistance collapsed.

Less than 30 British were killed, another 20-30 were wounded. But more than 500 were captured. Procter escaped capture with less than 300 men. The Indians’ casualties were also relatively light, some 20 to 30 killed. But Tecumseh’s dream of uniting the tribes died with him. Within a few decades, nearly all Indians East of the Mississippi River were driven out. Harrison went on to the White House as the ninth president of the United States in 1840.


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.

October 15, 2013 at 11:58 pm Leave a comment

SHAKO: War on the Frontier, 1813

Siege Begins

Today (May 1) marks the bicentennial of the siege of Fort Meigs on northern Ohio during the War of 1812.

Photo courtesy of Fort Meigs Museum

Photo courtesy of Fort Meigs Museum

In the first year of the war, the U.S. Navy has been scoring one-on-one victories against the Royal Navy but several attempts to invade Canada have ended in failure. Meanwhile, conflict has been constant on the frontier of the Old Northwest – which now makes up the Midwest states of Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin .

The previous year, the U.S. Army posts of Forts Detroit, Dearborn, Harrison, Madison and Wayne all came under attack by Native Americans – largely unaided by British troops or Canadian militia. Detroit and Dearborn both fell to the British and their native American allies.

Fort Meigs, built in early 1813 by Major Gen. William Henry Harrison on the Maumee River in Ohio, has come under attack by about 400 British regulars, 450 Canadian militiamen and more than 1,200 Indians. The British and Canadians are commanded by Major Gen. Henry Procter, while the Native Americans follow Shawnee leader Tecumseh and the Wyandot chief Roundhead.

Massacre of Kentucky Militia

Massacre of Kentucky Militia

About 1,100 men are bottled up in the huge – eight-acre – fort, commanded by Harrison. A brigade of Kentucky militia numbering about 1,200 is on its way to reinforce the American garrison. About 700 Kentuckians attack British positions in the siege lines on May 2. But the Kentuckians are lured into the woods by fleeing Indians who then spring an ambush. Hundreds of Kentucky militia men are killed and wounded. About a dozen more taken prisoner are tortured and killed by the Indians until Tecumseh and two Brisith officers intervene.

The siege of Fort Miegs continues until May 9 when the Indians and Canadians withdraw. They try to mount another siege in July 1813 but fail.


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.


May 1, 2013 at 1:10 am Leave a comment

THIS WEEK in the War of 1812 (Dec. 16-Dec. 22)

Battle of the Mississinewa

Three days after a forced 80-mile march through snow and bitter cold from Fort Greenville in Ohio (see last Monday’s posting), Lieutenant Colonel John Campbell and a force of 600 mounted troops arrive Dec. 17 at the Mississinewa River in the Indiana Territory. The mixed force of U.S. Dragoons and volunteer units mostly from Kentucky – but also Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan – is on a mission to attack and destroy several Indian villages strung out along the river, especially the Miami village of Mississenaway).

Indiana Territory map by Dingusdog via Wikipedia

Indiana Territory map by Dingusdog via Wikipedia

The Shawnee leader Tecumseh has been trying to organize the tribes East of the Mississippi River to resist further encroachment by the Americans. Tecumseh, who has encouraged the Miamis, Kickapoos, Wea and other tribal peoples to join him, has thrown in his lot with the British in their war with the Americans. In the summer of 1812, Indian bands attack several white settlements and Army forts in Indiana and Major Gen. William Henry Harrison, commander of the Northwest Army, wins Washington’s approval to launch a punitive expedition against the Miamis and their allies. He picks Campbell to lead

Campbell’s troops take the first village, kill about eight Indian men and take 42 prisoners – all but eight of them women and children. The captured village is that of the Delaware (Lenape) leader Silver Heels. Campbell is under orders to avoid harming Silver Heels and his people, who have to join Tecumseh’s war with the whites. The U.S. forces continue along the river, burning two evacuated Miami villages. Many of Campbell’s men are suffering from frostbite while ammunition and food are running low, so he decides to declare ‘Mission Accomplished’ and head back to Fort Greenville.

The next morning (Dec. 18), about 300 Indian warriors attack Campbell’s camp at dawn. The U.S. troops manage to drive them off after about an hour of fierce fighting but a dozen soldiers and militia men are killed and more than 40 wounded. Indian casualties are unknown but believed to number about 30 dead. More than 100 soldiers’ horse are killed in the fight. To hasten the return back to Ohio, the Indian women and children captives are placed on captured ponies while the soldiers who lost their mounts have to walk in knee-deep snow.

Fearing another Indian attack, Campbell’s troops build a fortified camp every night during the six-day retreat back to Ohio, depleting the men’s strength even further. One day out from Fort Greenville, with all food gone, half the force suffering from the cold and many of the wounded near death, the force is met by a relief column. Campbell’s force reaches the Fort on Dec. 24. More than half of his men are incapacitated by frostbite.

Even though the main objective, Mississineway, is never reached, Harrison declares the operation a success and Campbell is promoted. The Indian captives are sent to an Indian settlement in Ohio. Harrison’s plans to march north and retake Fort Detroit are put on hold.

One of the largest historic re-enactments of the War of 1812 marks the Battle of Mississinewa every October outside Marion, Indiana. Here’s a brief YouTube video, which gives a sense of the uniforms and weapons used 200 years ago by British and American troops (even though most of the actual participants in the Battle of Mississinewa were frontiersmen and Native Americans).

December 17, 2012 at 12:10 am Leave a comment


June 2023


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