The War of 1812 and Kentucky’s Role

https://www.ket.org/history/the-war-of-1812-and-kentuckys-role/

By Joyce West | 6/07/17 9:30 AM

Often called the United States’ “forgotten war,” the War of 1812 left an indelible mark on our nation’s history. Kentuckians played a vital role and paid dearly for it: 64 percent of Americans killed in the war were Kentuckians.

Kentucky Life followed the trail of Kentucky’s soldiers who fought in the war, from Michigan to New Orleans.

What prompted so many Kentuckians to join the fight?

Watch the Video https://ket.org/episode/KKYLI+002103

 

“The big thing here was…the history between the Indian nations and the British and the citizens of the commonwealth of Kentucky,” explained John Trowbridge, command historian of the Kentucky National Guard. Kentucky was the site of continuing warfare between settlers and the Native Americans, who were backed by the British.

Kentuckians were eager to fight, and Lexington’s Henry Clay was a leader of the War Hawks in Congress.

Six congressmen from Kentucky fought in the war. “People who voted for the war actually followed up their votes and fought in the war, and some of them died in the war,” said James C. Klotter, Ph.D., state historian of Kentucky.

Leading men into battle were William Henry Harrison, governor of Indiana territory, as well as Isaac Shelby, who was serving his second term as governor of Kentucky.

Another faction in the conflict was a confederation of numerous Native American tribes formed to block American expansion. Leading this alliance was the Shawnee leader Tecumseh. “Tecumseh is quite an incredible figure,” said John Bowes, Ph.D., associate professor history at Eastern Kentucky University. “Tecumseh is seen as the leader of this movement, this unique movement seeking to develop this pan-Indian confederacy that is bringing all these different tribes together.”

The First Nations confederacy had as its spiritual leader Tecumseh’s half-brother, known as the Prophet. “What is so often marginalized and put to the side is the very spiritual foundation for that confederacy,” Bowes said.

The Militia and the Long Rifle

When it came time to go to war, men of the commonwealth brought with them their Kentucky long rifles. Harold Edwards, historian and gunsmith at the William Whitley House in Crab Orchard, said the rifle was used every day by the settlers for hunting and protecting the family as well as for sport.

“It was their pastime, and they became very proficient with it. You know, the average range was probably a hundred yards,” Edwards said.

The British were still fighting in Napoleonic style, marching en masse with muskets, which had a range of 50-60 yards, Edwards said. “It was an old style of warfare dying fast, and unfortunately they learned it a little too late,” said Edwards.

What kind of soldiers were these Kentuckians? There is debate about that, Klotter said.

“Were they good soldiers or bad soldiers? They were a little of both,” said Klotter. “They were really good fighters, when they fought. But the militiamen of Kentucky were not trained. They wanted a quick fight, and then go home. They weren’t particularly good in following orders sometimes.”

This reputation led the British to compare the Native Americans with the undisciplined Kentucky fighters, said Trowbridge.

“The warfare in the West was viewed as a bit more savage,” said Bowes. “For the Americans it’s because of the presence of all these Indian allies. And for the British, it’s in part because of the Kentuckians.”

Remember the Raisin

On Aug. 12, 1812, more than a thousand Kentuckians headed north toward Michigan in summer clothing for what they expected to be a short war.

“After fighting their way up here…they arrived here in the winter of 1813, January, when Michigan was experiencing a very cold winter,” said Dan Downing, chief of interpretation at the River Raisin Battlefield National Park in Michigan.

Historians believe about 100 men died from starvation and exposure to the elements. Even so, the Americans won a victory at Frenchtown over the British. Then they set up for the next battle in haste.

“They don’t fortify the position,” said Klotter. “They know the British are on their way, but they put people in open fields, without any trenches or any kind of earthworks to protect them.”

The British and their Native American allies attacked at 6 in the morning on Jan. 22, 1813. One wing of the American forces was massacred, Klotter said. The other wing fought well but ran out of ammunition and was surrounded. The Americans surrendered, with 500 captured, 400 dead, and 100 who got away, Klotter said.

The captured, wounded men who could not travel stayed behind in cabins. “The great controversy is whether or not the British did all they could to protect those who were unable to travel back to Fort Malden in Canada,” said Downing.

The Native Americans, remembering the Kentuckians’ previous attacks on their villages, sought vengeance. “When an opportunity came to exact revenge, they took the opportunity,” said Downing.

The Native Americans went from cabin to cabin, killing 65 men, in what became known as the massacre of the River Raisin.

The Battle of the River Thames

More defeats that year lowered morale among the Americans, but the tide turned in the fall of 1813 when Americans won control of Lake Erie.

The British and their allies were retreating from Detroit into Canada. “From that moment forward, Tecumseh’s angry,” said Bowes. “Tecumseh cannot believe that the British are essentially surrendering that territory.”

On Oct. 5, 1813, the Kentuckians met the British and their allies again, this time in Ontario, at the Battle of the River Thames.

Twenty mounted Kentuckians, commanded by 64-year-old William Whitley of Kentucky, charged the Native American lines in what was called “Forlorn Hope.” The strategy was to draw fire, then send on the American infantry before the Native Americans could reload. “Only a couple of guys actually survived that charge,” said Trowbridge.

The British pulled back, and Tecumseh was killed. Whitley also was killed, and is buried on the battlefield in an unmarked grave.

The End of the War

After the victories in the West, the flashpoint of the war shifted eastward, to Washington, D.C. and Baltimore. The United States was pushed to the brink of bankruptcy because of the British naval blockade. Britain was war weary with its battles in North America and in Europe with Napoleon.

Negotiations to end the war began, and both sides tried to secure as much territory as possible.

All eyes turned to the port of New Orleans. The British sent a fleet of 8,000 men to take the city. Kentuckians were called to defend the port.

“The people of Kentucky were warmly welcomed here to New Orleans in anticipation of the battle,” said April Antonellis, the War of 1812 Bicentennial Coordinator for the National Park Service.

Andrew Jackson assembled a force of 5,000 to defend the city against the British. On Jan. 8, 1815, the Battle of New Orleans was waged on an old sugar plantation just outside the city limits.

The British, again relying on tactics used in the Napoleonic wars, were slaughtered by the Americans firing long rifles from behind earthworks. In a little more than 25 minutes, the British lost 2,600 men. The Americans lost 71.

“There were errors on the part of the British, leaving some supplies behind, most notably scaling ladders that they were supposed to use to come up over this rampart that the Americans had created,” Antonellis said.

The War of 1812 is often called the Second American Revolution.

“If the British had won this battle, New Orleans certainly would have become a British colony or a British territory,” she said. “I think it’s easy to say that much of the United States could have easily fallen to the British as well. Anywhere west of the Appalachian Mountains that had to trade on the Mississippi River, they would have to pass through the port of New Orleans. If that’s a British city, then it would be very difficult to maintain American control in that area.”

Who won the war? Strategists say it was a draw. In the end, Native Americans paid the ultimate price.

The treaty ending the War of 1812 was negotiated without their participation, and the Native American alliance lost territory it had hoped to hold. In the years after the war’s end, Indiana, Alabama, Illinois, and Mississippi became states.

“The floodgates opened in the aftermath of the war of 1812,” said Bowes.

Piqua Shawnee

“Piqua Shawnee”

Piqua Shawnee Tribe

Advertisements

Traveling Through Time – Shawnee Indians

Shawnee Indians
A monument commemorates their departure in Hardin

The Shawnee Indians, also of Algonquian stock, lived in the east and Midwest. Their first contact with white men came in the 1600s. Early estimates of their population range from 3,000 to 50,000, although 10,000 appears to be the most probable estimate. Shawnee comes from the Algonquian word ‘Shawun’ (shawunogi) meaning ‘southerner.’ The application of southerner is indicative of their location vis-a-vis the other Algonquian tribes who lived to the Shawnee’s north, around the Great Lakes. A symbol of the Shawnee authority is the eagle feather headdress.

During the 1600s, they were forced to leave their traditional lands, including the Ohio Valley, by the marauding Iroquois during the Beaver Wars. In the 1700s, they once again began to call the Ohio Valley their home, settling initially along the Ohio River where conflict with white settlers became a routine occurrence. Allying themselves with the British during the Revolutionary War, combined with being absolutely against white expansion beyond the Appalachian Mountains, did not endear them to the Americans. Led into battle by Chief Cornstalk, they were severely defeated by colonial troops in 1774 in the area of Point Pleasant, West Virginia.

The loss resulted in a split in the Shawnee tribe that caused many of them to move west beyond the Mississippi River. Those that stayed behind in Ohio rallied behind Tecumseh until the 1811 Tippecanoe defeat and the death of Tecumseh in Canada during the War of 1812.

The Shawnee village of Piqua (Piquea), located four miles southwest of Springfield, Ohio, was attacked by American soldiers under the command of General George Rogers Clark on August 8, 1780. It was a ferocious battle that ended with the total destruction of the Shawnee village, and their agricultural crops.

Seeking a new area in which to build a village, the Indians traveled northwest until they reached the Great Miami River where they chose a location on the west side of the river, just north of where the Johnston Indian Agency would eventually be constructed. They named this new village, upper Piqua. The Miami Indians village of Pickawillany, along with Fort Pickawillany, was at this same site until it was abandoned in 1763 after an earlier unsuccessful attack by the Shawnee.

At the same time, they established another village in the area, on the east side of the river, on a site that is now occupied by the city of Piqua. The Shawnee named this second village lower Piqua. They had lived in the Piqua area for two years when, in 1782, General Clark and 1,000 Kentuckians moved north into Ohio. The Shawnee decided to abandon their Piqua villages without a fight and moved to a location on the Auglaize River. After the Greene Ville Treaty was signed, they moved back to the area, locating villages in Wapakoneta, north of the new treaty line, Hog Creek (southwest part of Lima) and Lewistown.

In 1832, they ceded the last of their Ohio lands to the government, and in a sorrowful procession through Hardin, Piqua, Greenville and Richmond, the last of the mighty Shawnee rode their horses to a new home in eastern Kansas.

Today, most of the Shawnee live in Oklahoma or have merged into this region’s population. A monument can bshawneemarkerhardin.gif (79750 bytes)e seen today in the small park area in Hardin, six miles west of Sidney, at the intersection of State Route 47 and Hardin-Wapak Road. It is located on the southeast corner of the park. This monument commemorates not only the killing of Colonel Hardin by the Indians, but also marks the spot where the Shawnee camped in October, 1832, on their last trek from Ohio.

https://www.shelbycountyhistory.org/schs/indians/shawnee.htm

‘Indian’ segment written in December, 1997 by David Lodge

Piqua Shawnee

Piqua Shawnee Tribe

The War of 1812 in Alabama and the Creek War, 1813-1814

The War of 1812 took place while Alabama was part of the Mississippi Territory. Alabama was involved primarily because of a civil war between the Creek Indians.

 

Causes:

The Federal Road divided the traditional Upper Creeks from more assimilated Lower Creeks.

  • Creek ownership of traditional lands was endangered as land-hungry whites moved across it or settled illegally on it.
  • The British sent Tecumseh, a Shawnee chief, from the Great Lakes to unite all Indians against white Americans and form an alliance with England and Spain.
  • England and Spain incited the Creeks against American settlers and supplied Creeks with guns and ammunition.

Battles raged on the frontier between Creek “Red Sticks” and American militia led by General Andrew Jackson. The last and most famous battle, the Battle of Horseshoe Bend (now a National Military Park) destroyed the strength of the Creek Nation. General Jackson forced the Creeks to sign the Treaty of Fort Jackson, ceding some forty thousand square miles of land to the United States.

Consequences:

  • Foreign influence among Indians was destroyed.
  • United States took Mobile from Spain, the only additional land acquired in War of 1812.
  • The Fort Jackson Treaty, acquiring Creek lands, began a series of forced land-cession treaties by the United States with other southern tribes until all were removed west.
  • General Andrew Jackson became a national hero for defeating the Creeks, a victory that helped pave his way to become President of the United States.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY
Halbert, Henry S. and Timothy H. Ball. The Creek War of 1813-1814. 1895. Reprints, edited, with introductions and notes, by Frank L. Owsley Jr., Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama, 1969 and 1995.

In vivid detail, Halbert and Ball recount everything they could find about this conflict. The names of participants (their ancestors and children), locations of battles with full descriptions of gory scenes, and comments on accounts of informants and other writers make this a wonderful source. Students will find textbook accounts of the Fort Mims massacre pale compared to this one. The question of what caused the Creek conflict, whether it was a civil war brought on by factionalism between Lower Creeks and Upper Creeks, is debated.

Holland, James W. Andrew Jackson and the Creek: Victory at the Horseshoe. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1968. Reprint, 1990.

This fifty-page booklet, published to promote Horseshoe Bend National Military Park, offers a concise story of the events that brought an end to the Creek Nation in the South. Students will enjoy this well-illustrated, lively account.

Martin, Joel W. Sacred Revolt: The Muskogees’ Struggle for a New World. Boston: Beacon Press, 1991.

Martin approaches the history of the Muskogees (Creeks) from a religious point-of-view. According to his theory, their “culture of the sacred” determined how they interacted with and reacted to Europeans and, later, Americans. To support his theory, he discusses their spiritual, economic, and social background. He compares their revolt against the Americans in the Creek War with struggles of other native Americans to retain their traditions. It is an interesting theory that can provide an introduction to the religious beliefs of the Creeks.

Wright, J. Leitch Jr. Creeks and Seminoles: The Destruction and Regeneration of the Muscogulge People. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1986.

The names Creek and Seminole were attached to the Muscogulge people for the convenience of European and U.S. governments who wanted to address nations. The Muscogulge lived in Georgia, Alabama, and Florida—geographically close, but not unified under one leader. Although some had ancient common origins, many spoke different languages and often could not understand each other. Wright explains the background of the Muscogulges and describes their culture in language readily understood. He defines words that he believes might be unfamiliar to the general reader. He elaborates on familiar topics such as trade, relations with European powers and the U.S. government, the Creek Wars with Andrew Jackson and his pursuit of the survivors into Florida, and finally removal, dispersal, and survival. This book is an enlightening inside view of the Muscogulges’ heroic struggle for survival; it is also an indictment of the U.S. Government.

Piqua Shawnee

Piqua Shawnee Tribe

Cornstalk’s Death

Many Shawnee hoped to remain neutral during the American Revolution, but violence perpetrated by American settlers pushed the Shawnee to the British side. One of the loudest advocates for peace and neutrality was the Maquachake chief, Cornstalk, who corresponded regularly with Congressional Indian agent George Morgan. Cornstalk and other Maquachake leaders were so committed to neutrality that they announced plans to separate their peace faction and found a new town. In October 1777, Cornstalk led a peace delegation to Fort Randolph on the Kanawha River. There he was captured and detained by the fort commander, Captain Matthew Arbuckle. Captain Arbuckle then imprisoned Cornstalk’s son, Elinipsico, who had come to Fort Randolph to inquire about his father’s condition. The Shawnees remained imprisoned through early November 1777, when a party of local militia, seeking retaliation for the death of a white settler, broke into the fort and killed all of the Shawnee under guard, including Cornstalk.

While Cornstalk’s death was officially denounced by Congress, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, Shawnee outrage at the chief’s killing fueled a wave of retaliation and pushed most Shawnee away from the American side, at least during the Revolutionary war. One noted battle that occurred in the wake of Cornstalk’s death was a raid by a Chillicothe war chief, Black Fish, in which he captured Kentucky settler Daniel Boone. Interestingly, Cornstalk’s Maquachakes continued to pursue a policy of peace and neutrality with the Americans and the British. Most of the other Shawnee towns relocated closer to Sandusky and Detroit after the winter of 1777–1778. Beyond a faction of the Maquachakes, led by Chief Moluntha, most Shawnee sided with the British.

After the Peace of Paris, most Shawnee kept the United States at arm’s length. The Shawnee did not join in the Treaty of Fort McIntosh (1785) and resoundingly rejected the “conquest theory” formulation of sovereignty that the Confederation Congress put forward in 1784 and after. While some Shawnee leaders (mostly Maquachake, Cornstalk’s heir as the advocate for peace and coexistence) signed the subsequent Treaty of Fort Finney (1786), the majority still did want a treaty with the Americans. Their forbearance was understandable. As later in 1786, Kentucky militiamen attacked the Maquachake towns and killed chief Moluntha. During the 1790s, the Shawnee formed a large part of the pan-Indian resistance to the federal government led by the Miami chief, Little Turtle. In 1795, the Shawnee signed the Treaty of Greenville, terminating the resistance. However, a minority of the Shawnee, driven primarily by the Kispoki leader, Tecumseh, and his brother Tenskwatawa, would continue the resistance against the Americans until Tecumseh’s death in Ontario at the battle of the Thames River (1813) during the War of 1812. After the War of 1812, the Shawnee were removed west of the Mississippi by the United States government, with most ending up in Oklahoma.

Shawnee. Encyclopedia of the American Revolution: Library of Military History. . Encyclopedia.com. 3 Sep. 2018 http://www.encyclopedia.com.

 

www.piquashawnee.com

Piqua Shawnee

Piqua Shawnee Tribe

 

6 Things You May Not Know About Tecumseh

History.com

By Jesse Greenspan

Tecumseh lost three close family members to frontier violence.

Born in 1768 in present-day Ohio, Tecumseh lived during an era of near-constant conflict between his Shawnee tribe and white frontiersmen. At age 6, Lord Dunmore’s War broke out after a series of violent incidents, including one in which about a dozen Native Americans were plied with whiskey and challenged to a target shooting match before being slaughtered. Tecumseh’s father, Puckeshinwa, participated in the war, losing his life during a retreat across the Ohio River in the October 1774 Battle of Point Pleasant. As he lay dying, he supposedly told his son, Chiksika, to never make peace with the Virginians and to supervise the warrior training of his other male children. In 1788, a year after the U.S. Congress precipitated the settlement of Shawnee lands by passing the Northwest Ordinance, Chiksika was fatally wounded while attacking a stockade in present-day Tennessee. And in 1794, another of Tecumseh’s brothers, Sauwauseekau, was shot and killed at the Battle of Fallen Timbers.

Tecumseh took part in the worst defeat ever inflicted by Native Americans on U.S. forces.

In fall 1790, the Shawnee and Miami tribes repelled an assault on their villages near modern Fort Wayne, Indiana, killing 183 U.S. troops in the process. President George Washington authorized a new campaign the following year, in which he put Governor Arthur St. Clair of the Northwest Territory in charge of some 2,300 men. On the march north from modern Cincinnati, hundreds of them deserted as the weather worsened and food supplies ran low. For nearly two months, the remaining troops had little contact with native tribes. On November 3, the soldiers set up camp along the Wabash River in western Ohio. Washington had advised St. Clair to “beware of surprise,” but he posted few guards and built no barricades. The next morning, as the soldiers prepared breakfast, a force of Native Americans attacked and immediately overran them. Poorly trained militiamen fled, whereas the regulars who kept their position were decimated. When the dust cleared a few hours later, at least 623 American soldiers and dozens of camp followers were dead, and hundreds more were wounded. In comparison, fewer than 300 U.S. troops died during the much-more-famous Battle of the Little Bighorn. Tecumseh did not play a major role in the clash with St. Clair, but he scouted the U.S. soldiers during their advance north. Throughout the battle itself, in which only 21 Native Americans were reportedly killed, he watched the rear trail to make sure no reinforcements arrived.

Tecumseh tried to unite all tribes against white expansion.

The victory over St. Clair proved to be short lived, as the 1794 Battle of Fallen Timbers forced the Native Americans to give up most of present-day Ohio and part of Indiana. Tecumseh did not abide by such agreements, believing that every tribal leader who signed them “should have his thumb cut off.” He began envisioning a confederacy that would bring all of the tribes together—even longtime enemies—to resist the whites’ insatiable desire for land. Tecumseh and his brother Tenskwatawa, best known as “the Prophet,” also started preaching against cultural assimilation. In 1808 the brothers founded Prophetstown in northwestern Indiana, which they envisioned as the capital of their confederacy. That same year, Tecumseh met with British officials in Canada. He then traveled widely in the Midwest, gaining followers among such tribes as the Seneca, Wyandot, Sac, Fox, Winnebago, Potawatomi, Kickapoo, Chippewa, Ottawa, Delaware, Miami and, of course, Shawnee. Tecumseh even made it as far south as present-day Alabama and Mississippi, where he preached with limited success to Chickasaws, Choctaws and Creeks. “I have heard many great orators, but I never saw one with the vocal powers of Tecumseh, or the same command of the muscles in his face,” recalled a white soldier who saw one of his speeches.

The U.S. Army invaded while Tecumseh was away.

While Tecumseh was down south in fall 1811, William Henry Harrison, then governor of the Indiana Territory, decided to march on Prophetstown. Tecumseh had told his brother to avoid war with the Americans, but when soldiers advanced to within a mile of the town on November 6, the Prophet greenlighted a preemptive strike. He assured his followers that white bullets could not hurt them, and during the next morning’s fighting he purportedly sat on a rock singing incantations. In the end, though the Native Americans likely suffered fewer casualties than their opponents in the Battle of Tippecanoe, they were forced to retreat and abandon Prophetstown. Harrison then burned it to the ground. Upon returning home in January 1812, Tecumseh found his brother’s reputation destroyed and his confederacy badly weakened.

Tecumseh allied himself with the British during the War of 1812.

When the War of 1812 broke out in June of that year, Tecumseh and his supporters immediately joined with the British. During one of the first engagements of the conflict, U.S. General William Hull and about 2,000 men invaded Canada from Detroit. They were quickly repelled, however, in part due to Tecumseh’s interception of a supply train. British commander Isaac Brock, who became friends with Tecumseh, subsequently besieged Fort Detroit. In an act of psychological warfare, Brock informed Hull that his Native American allies “will be beyond my control the moment the contest commences.” A terrified Hull surrendered a day later. The following year, Tecumseh participated in failed sieges of two forts in Ohio. He then reluctantly retreated with the British back into Canada. U.S. troops under Harrison’s command caught up with the British and Native Americans along the Thames River, winning a battle there that cost Tecumseh his life. Afterwards, the surviving Shawnee divided into groups and dispersed in various directions. Most eventually ended up in Oklahoma.

Many myths sprang up around Tecumseh.

No one knows for sure who killed Tecumseh, but that didn’t stop a number of people from taking credit. Richard M. Johnson, for example, rode his reputation as Tecumseh’s killer to the vice presidency in 1836. Four years later Harrison used the slogan, “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too,” to take the White House. Meanwhile, since Tecumseh did no interviews and left behind no letters or journals, storytellers filled the gaps in his life with wild tales. One account held that he courted the blond, blue-eyed daughter of an Indian fighter, with whom he read the Bible and Shakespeare, and another held that his great-grandfather was South Carolina’s governor. Both accounts, and many others like them, are almost certainly untrue.

Tecumseh, Shawnee

Tecumseh was born in 1768 near Chillicothe, Ohio. His father, Puckshinwau was a minor Shawnee war chief. His mother Methotaske was also Shawnee. Tecumseh came of age during the height of the French and Indian War and in 1774 his father was killed at the Battle of Point Pleasant during Lord Dunmore’s War. This had a lasting effect on Tecumseh and he vowed to become a warrior like his father. As a teenager he joined the American Indian Confederacy under the leadership of Mohawk Chief Joseph Brant. Brant encouraged tribes to share ownership of their territory and pool their resources and manpower to defend that territory against encroaching settlers. Tecumseh led a group of raiders in these efforts, attacking American boats trying to make their way down the Ohio River. These raids were extremely successful, nearly cutting off river access to the territory for a time. In 1791 he further proved himself at the Battle of the Wabash as one of the warriors who defeated General Arthur St. Clair and his army. Tecumseh fought under Blue Jacket and Little Turtle and the American Indian Confederacy was victorious slaying 952 of the 1,000 American soldiers in St. Clair’s army. St. Clair was forced to resign. In 1794 Tecumseh also fought in the Battle of Fallen Timbers. This decisive conflict against General Anthony Wayne and his American forces ended in a brutal defeat for the American Indian Confederacy. A small contingency of about 250 stayed with Tecumseh after the battle, following him eventually to what would become Prophetstown and a new pan-Indian alliance.

Portrait of the Shawnee military and political leader Tecumseh, ca. 1800-1813. He worked with his brother Tenskwatawa, known as ‘The Prophet,’ to unite American Indian tribes in the Northwest Territory to defend themselves against white settlers.

Tecumseh’s brother Tenskwatawa joined him at Prophetstown, also known as Tippecanoe in Indiana Territory and in 1808 the two men began recruiting a large multi-tribal community of followers under a message of resistance to settlers, the American government, and assimilation. Tecumseh traveled north to Canada and south to Alabama in an effort to recruit men to his cause. Meanwhile, William Henry Harrison, governor of Indiana Territory was negotiating treaties and utilizing American forces to put pressure on those tribes still in Indiana and especially those allied with Prophetstown. In 1809 Harrison, signed the Treaty of Fort Wayne which allotted him a massive amount of American Indian territory thus increasing Tecumseh’s efforts and amplifying his message. Tecumseh was away from Prophetstown on a recruitment journey when Harrison launched a sneak attack now known as the Battle of Tippecanoe. The American forces cleared the encampment and then burned it to the ground. It was a severe blow to the confederacy and a harbinger of war to come.

On June 1, 1812 under the advisement of President Madison, Congress declared war on Great Britain. In the Northwest Territory, American Indian tribes found themselves pulled in two separate directions – side with the British or with the Americans. Tecumseh and his confederacy sided with the British. He and his men were assigned to overtake the city of Detroit with Major General Isaac Brock. The siege of Detroit was a success due in no small part to Tecumseh’s military strategy. He continued to support British efforts under Major-General Procter at the Siege of Fort Meigs. The siege failed and morale waned as a result.

In the fall of 1813 as conditions around Detroit worsened, Procter began a retreat east toward Niagara. Tecumseh requested arms so that his men could stay in the Northwest Territory and continue to defend their lands. Procter agreed to make a stand at the forks of the Thames River. However, when forces reached the site communication broke down and some men deserted while others continued east. When the Americans attacked, large sections of forces broke leaving about 500 hundred American Indians to hold back 3,000 Americans. Tecumseh was fatally wounded in the battle. It is unknown who killed him or what happened to his remains. His death began a rapid decline in American Indian resistance and the War of 1812 is marked as the beginning of removal in the upper Midwest.

Piqua Shawnee

Piquashawnee.com

Tecumseh (U.S. National Park Service)

Portrait of Shawnee chief Tecumseh
Portrait of Shawnee chief Tecumseh based on sketch by Benson John Lossing

Attributed to Owen Staples

Quick Facts

Significance:Shawnee leader
Place of Birth:Scioto River, Ohio
Date of Birth:March 9, 1768
Place of Death:Chatham-Kent, Canada
Date of Death:October 5, 1813

Tecumseh began life in the Shawnee village of Piqua, Ohio on March 9, 1768 as a great meteor flashed and burned its way across the heavens. This event accounts for his name: The Shooting Star, or Celestial Panther Lying in Wait. Tecumseh grew to be a famous warrior and dynamic orator. These skills, paired with his belief that the white man would never rest until all American Indians were dispossessed, made him a powerful and influential force.

Tecumseh conceived of an alliance of all remaining native people, from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, from the prairies of the Midwest to the swamplands of Florida. All Indian people would set aside their ancestral rivalries and unite into a single movement to defend their culture, their homelands, and their very lives.

Providing spiritual impetus for Tecumseh’s movement was the teaching of his younger brother, known as Tenskwatawa, The Open Door, or The Prophet. In 1808, the Shawnee brothers established a new capital on the banks of the Wabash and Tippecanoe rivers, while Tecumseh traveled extensively in an effort to build his alliance. 

In the summer of 1811 Tecumseh traveled south to meet with the Creek, Chickasaw, and Choctaw people. The Shawnee leader had promised a sign of his power, and as he arrived in Alabama a huge comet appeared, brightening the skies and fading after his departure. Then, shortly after he left for Prophetstown, a series of violent earthquakes arched out of their epicenter in southeastern Missouri to destroy lives and property throughout the midwest and south. In the minds of the Creek and many others, Tecumseh had made good on his promises.
Meanwhile, growing tensions between the U.S. and Great Britain exploded into war. Tecumseh saw the War of 1812 as his final opportunity to construct an independent Indian nation. He journeyed to Canada in July of 1812 and forged an alliance with the British. General Isaac Brock placed Tecumseh in command of all Native American forces with the understanding that, should the British and Indians be victorious, the Old Northwest would comprise an independent Indian nation under British protection.

Despite a number of victories, this partnership turned fatal on October 5, 1813, at the Battle of the Thames River. Outnumbered three-to-one by General William Henry Harrison‘s army, the Indian and British forces were overwhelmed, without fortifications, and ultimately doomed.

Tecumseh’s vision of a unified American Indian homeland was never fully realized. Within 35 years of Tecumseh’s death at Moraviantown, many Native nations east of the Mississippi River were forcibly relocated. But today the great Tecumseh is still revered for his intelligence, leadership, and military skills, and he is honored throughout North America.

Read more about Tecumseh:

https://www.nps.gov/people/tecumseh.htm

www.piquashawnee.com

Piqua Shawnee

The Trail of Tecumseh (1917) by Paul G. Tomlinson

The Trail of Tecumseh

Publication date 1917

Digitizing sponsor Kahle/Austin Foundation

Language English

 

Preface:

Tecumseh has long been recognized as one of the most romantic characters in American history. A Shawnee chieftain of boundless courage, devoted patriotism, and great tenacity of purpose, for many years he was a source of perplexity as well as of trouble on the frontier.

Visit the Official Web Site of the Piqua Shawnee at Piquashawnee.com

Powder Horn Tecumseh at the National Army Museum, London

National Army Museum – Chelsea London

Powder horn, 1812 (c).

Powder Horn is believed to have belonged to Tecumseh (1768-1813)

This powder horn is believed to have belonged to Tecumseh (1768-1813), a warrior chief of the Shawnee people, who were allied to the British in the American War of 1812. A powder horn was used to pour gunpowder into the barrel of a weapon.

NAM Accession Number

NAM. 1963-10-202-1

Copyright/Ownership

National Army Museum Copyright

Location

National Army Museum, Study collection

Object URL

https://collection.nam.ac.uk/detail.php?acc=1963-10-202-1

Visit the Official Web Site of the Piqua Shawnee  www.piquashawnee.com

Native American Chiefs & Leaders Series: Tecumseh

Native American Chiefs & Leaders Series: Tecumseh

“A single twig breaks, but the bundle of twigs is strong.”

These are words spoken by Chief Tecumseh, a Shawnee warrior who was a great orator and a fine leader. Tecumseh had the ability to bring tribes together and the ability to create respect among his contemporaries, Native American and white as well as ally and foe. Tecumseh’s words were revered as being honest and from his heart, yet tempered with sometimes biting honesty at the way he believed circumstances should be and the way they were.

Chiefs-Tecumseh-1

Tecumseh

It is the “single twig” quote that I find so very valuable because it rings just as true today as it did in the early 1800s. Tecumseh realized that the numerous Native American tribes in and around the Ohio River valley were much stronger as a united “bundle of twigs” against the American militia of the time. He understood that most anything is stronger and able to withstand external pressure when reinforced with other allies that share similar values and beliefs.

Tecumseh experienced a lifetime of strife as the edge of the United States kept expanding into what had been Native American lands. His father was killed in a battle in West Virginia with state militia as they pushed west, and Tecumseh himself had to move several times while growing up as their settlements pushed them further and further west.

During the War of 1812, Tecumseh felt he would be better served to assist the British in their fight against the U.S. (To this point, my own great, great grandfather also fought against the U.S. in this same war.)  Tecumseh believed the U.S. would never honor a treaty and that it was not possible for a treaty – words on paper – to keep the whites from encroaching on and stealing their lands whenever they saw fit.

To this end, Tecumseh stood for the principle of doing what was right:  fighting to protect the U.S. from continuing to take Native American lands while violently killing their previous inhabitants or simply forcing them farther and farther westward. Tecumseh used his oratory skills to successfully unite many tribes against the U.S. He continued speaking out against the way tribes were treated by the U.S. until his death at the 1813 Battle of the Thames in Canada (during the war).

Chiefs-Tecumseh-2

While Tecumseh was as much a human being as any one of us, he possessed a very special talent for speaking about matters in a way that transcended ethnicity or alliances and simply reverberated as human.

Tecumseh’s main legend was that by coming together, uniting for a noble and just cause, you can accomplish so much more, and be stronger, and able to withstand much more as a collective than as a singular person or entity… That when you come together “as a bundle of twigs” you are strengthened not just in physical fortitude but also in spirit… That you become the sum of your parts.

Applying Tecumseh’s viewpoint and way of life today, we can all look for opportunities to unite and work together, to see and use the best in all of us for the greater good, in business and in life.