In 1810, a Shawnee war leader named Tecumseh and his brother, a mystic shaman known as “The Prophet”, began organizing the various Native American tribes, from Michigan to Georgia, to work together as a single confederation to resist the encroachment of white Americans into their lands. War parties began raiding white settlements, and local militia fought some skirmishes with Natives.
In 1811, the Governor of Indiana Territory, William Henry Harrison, called up his militia forces and went to “Prophets Town”, where The Prophet and Tecumseh had established camp. Tecumseh was away, leaving The Prophet in charge. Harrison agreed to meet with the Natives at Prophets Town and established a camp nearby in an area known as Tippecanoe, near Burnetts Creek.
Before leaving, Tecumseh had told The Prophet not to try to engage the Americans yet, since his forces weren’t large enough. But with Harrison camped nearby, some of the young hothead warriors decided they would attack, and convinced The Prophet to join them. They planned a surprise raid at dawn on Harrison’s encampment.
But on pre-dawn November 7, 1811, as the Natives moved into position, one of the militia sentries saw them and fired a warning shot. The natives were forced to begin their attack before they were ready. After two hours of fighting, Harrison’s troops had beaten back the attacks and forced the Natives to evacuate Prophet’s Town, which was then sacked and burned by the Americans. It was a crippling blow to Tecumseh’s Confederacy.
The American Government blamed the British for the attacks, concluding that Tecumseh was being armed and directed by London. It was one of the factors that led the US to declare war on Britain in 1812.
Harrison, meanwhile, was treated as a hero, earned the nickname “Tippecanoe”, and successfully ran for President in 1840 under the campaign slogan “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too”. He died after just three weeks in office.
Here are some photos from a visit to the Tippecanoe Battlefield.
The battlefield park
“Ziggy the Snail Shell” parked at the Visitors Center
There’s a museum inside the Visitors Center, which includes this exhibit of historical firearms
This monument now stands where Harrison’s militia were camped. Some of these trees date from the time of the battle.
The Native warriors were planning their ambush from the forest edge that surrounded Harrison’s encampment
This is the area of the initial attack. The stone markers are where American officers were killed.
This was the main line where the militia made their stand
In the end, the Natives were driven through these woods to Prophets Town, about a mile and a half away
There is now also a nature trail that runs alongside the battlefield
A Tiger Beetle. The photo does not do it justice–it was sparkling magnificently in the sun.