Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Invading Indiana (Tippecanoe and Tecumseh too)!

Indiana and the NW Territory
American Revolution
Tippecanoe Battlefield Museum
In 1840 William Henry Harrison was elected the 9th President of the United States.  His political career had been launched by his military victory over Native American forces at the Battle of Tippecanoe which took place on November 7, 1811 and was fought in Battle Ground Indiana (  Sadly, Harrison took ill shortly after his inauguration perhaps due to the foul Washington weather which resulted in pneumonia or perhaps due to typhus.  In any case Harrison died after occupying the White House for only 32 days.  Harrison may, arguably, have made fewer mistakes than any other US President!
William Henry Harrison
America's least imperfect President!
In the Indiana chapter of America Invaded: A State by State Guide to Fighting on American Soil we noted...

Battle of Tippecanoe Memorial
Battle Ground, IN
"The Hoosier state derives its name from being a Land of Indians. Native Americans resided in the area for thousands of years before Europeans came.

Even before Europeans arrived in significant numbers in what is now Indiana, their activities farther east would have a knock-on effect in the area.  The competition among Native Americans to supply valuable furs to European traders and receive  rearms from those same traders helped ignite the so-called Beaver Wars, or Iroquois Wars. Iroquois attacked Algonquian tribes.

In 1679, French explorer Robert de La Salle arrived in what is now Indiana and camped at what became South Bend. By 1681, he had negotiated a deal with the Miami and Illinois people, and the French started allowing them to buy guns. With France increasingly involved in fighting the Iroquois and aiding their Native American enemies, peace was finally on the way.  e Great Peace of Montreal in 1701 brought an end to the  fighting.

In the period after, French influence and trade in the area began to expand.  The French founded the settlement at Vincennes, and built forts like Fort Miami at what is now Fort Wayne, and Fort Ouiatenon at what is now West Lafayette.

However, British in influence was starting to spread into the area as well. French officer Celoron de Bienville (or Blainville) led French attempts in the region both to deter British traders and to dissuade Native Americans from trading with them, but the end of French power in the area was not far o . Fort Miami had already been attacked during King George’s War. During the French and Indian War, the North American part of the Seven Years’ War, British forces again advanced into the area and seized Fort Miami and Fort Ouiatenon.  rough the peace deal that ended the war in 1763, the French passed their claims on the area to the British.  is did not, however, take into account the fact that many of the local tribes were not eager about accepting British rule and new settlers. In a war that became known as Pontiac’s War, after one of the Native American leaders, tribes across the area attacked British targets, and Britain lost control again of Fort Miami and Fort Ouiatenon.

After Pontiac’s War  finally ground to a halt, Britain began to expand its control in the area, but there was more conflict ahead. In 1773, the British made the area part of the Province of Quebec, which hugely upset those colonists that had been hoping for their own chance to expand into the territory. Soon another battle to control the area had begun.

The War of Independence saw a number of military operations within what is now the state of Indiana.

In 1778, George Rogers Clark, having advanced from Virginia, seized a number of locations in the region, including Vincennes.  The British recaptured it, but in February 1779, Clark retook it, establishing a strong US presence in southern Indiana. In late 1780, a militia force raised from the French community and led by Augustin de la Balme attempted to seize Fort Detroit, but instead ended up ambushed and defeated by forces under Chief Little Turtle near what is now Columbia City.
After attacking Fort St. Joseph, at what is now Niles, Michigan, a raiding party under Jean Baptiste Hamelin and Lieutenant  Thomas Brady suffered a similar fate at about the same time in the Battle of Petit Fort on the Indiana shore of Lake Michigan. In February 1781, however, a Spanish and Native American force under Captain Don Eugenio Pouré passed through Indiana and captured Fort St. Joseph.  e fort was plundered, and then Pouré’s troops safely withdrew to the south again.
In August 1781, another American attempt to capture Fort Detroit again ended in defeat. A force of Pennsylvania militiamen under Archibald Lochry was destroyed by Mohawk leader Joseph Brant near what is now Aurora.

Nevertheless, in 1783, in the peace deal that ended the war, Britain passed all its claims to the area to the young United States.  is was not, however, the end of  fighting. The United States might think it controlled the territory, but a lot of the local Native Americans were less than keen on the idea. A lot less than keen.

 The tribes combined to resist the arrival of American settlers and to combat American military expeditions sent into the area. In 1791, Little Turtle and Blue Jacket, leading  fighters from fourteen tribes, scored a significant victory in the Battle of the Wabash, destroying an American force under Major General Arthur St. Clair. For the price of a few of  fighters killed and wounded, the Native American forces killed 623 Americans and wounded 258. It was a stunning defeat for the newly established United States.

"Mad" Anthony Wayne
Valley Forge, PA

In response, Congress commanded Major General “Mad Anthony” Wayne to build a bigger and better military force, the Legion of the United States.  e Native Americans hoped for aid from the British, who still occupied Fort Miami, but it did not come.  e decisive battle was, in the end, fought in 1794 near Fort Miami, at a place where a tornado had hit recently.  e battle became known as the Battle of Fallen Timbers. It was a crushing defeat for the Native American confederation, and they were forced to accept peace terms under the Treaty of Greenville in 1795, which allowed American settlement in some parts of southeastern Indiana.

William Henry Harrison
Tippecanoe Battlefield, IN
But more war was to come. In 1808, by the Treaty of Fort Wayne, the Delaware and the Potawatomi agreed to sell three million acres in the Indiana Territory to the United States. A Shawnee leader, Tecumseh, and his brother Tenskwatawa, a spiritual leader, united a number of tribes to resist. Tecumseh said that the land was shared by other tribes as well, and demanded that Governor William Henry Harrison—who would be elected president of the United States in 1840—agree not to implement the treaty. In 1811, Harrison marched a military force toward Prophet's Town. On November 7, Tenskwatawa led an attack on Harrison’s forces at what is now Battle Ground, Indiana. In what became known as the Battle of Tippecanoe, casualties were about equal on both sides, but eventually American cavalry managed to force back the Native Americans.

Tippecanoe Battlefield Museum

And  fighting in the region was still not  finished.  The War of 1812 broke out. Tecumseh allied himself with the British against the United States, and many of the tribes rose in resistance against US forces. In 1812, Fort Harrison and Fort Wayne came under heavy attack, but both managed to hold out. Settlers were also targeted in incidents like the Pigeon Roost Massacre. An American punitive expedition launched against Miami villages in retaliation for the violence against settlers was set upon in December at the Battle of Mississinewa, but managed to hold o  its attackers with the use of cavalry. In 1813, Kickapoo warriors clashed with Indiana Rangers at the Battle of Tipton’s Island. However, in 1814, the war came to an end, and the Native Americans were left to face the United States without British assistance."

Signed copies of America Invaded: A State by State Guide to Fighting on American Soil are available at the Rocky Mountain Military Museum and

Regular copies may be purchased from

Or on

Listen to my interview with Bob Cudmore...

Travel Notes: The excellent Tippecanoe Battlefield Museum now has signed copies of America Invaded in  its gift shop...(

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