Battle of Tippecanoe

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The Battle of Tippecanoe was a decisive victory led by Governor of the Indiana Territory William Henry Harrison over the forces of Tecumseh’s growing American Indian confederation. It took place in 1811 in Tecumseh’s village, present-day Battle Ground, Indiana, where the Wabash and Tippecanoe rivers meet. As settlers take over the west across the Appalachian Mountains, Native Americans of the Northwest Territory gathered around for support because they were afraid of losing their land and their culture.

Tecumseh, the chief of the Shawnee Indians, was born on Mad River in 1768. As a child he saw his fellow people suffer because the white men. To oppose American settlement, Tecumseh worked to unite other Indian tribes and join them together to create a confederacy. In this way, they could work as a large and powerful group instead of smaller weaker groups. Tecumseh and his brother Tenskwatawa, a religious leader called the Prophet, formed a village, later then called Prophet’s Town, in Northern Indiana in 1808.

They urged the Indians who lived there to preserve their traditional ways. Because Tecumseh believed that white customs were damaging the Indian ways of life, he persuaded his people to avoid liquor, to raise their land and to return to their original Native American culture. In the same year, William Henry Harrison, who was the governor of the Indiana Territory, forced Indian tribes, including Tecumseh and his Shawnee people, out of Indiana to Ohio. Angered by this, Tecumseh demanded that land should be returned to the Indians at a council meeting in Vincennes in 1810.

Although he argued that the land was theirs in the first place and how chiefs did not have the right to exchange it, his demand was rejected. Believing that the British would support the Indians of the Confederacy, Tecumseh travelled to Canada to consult the British. The British agreed and encouraged the confederation with supplies from Canada. When William Harrison discovered that the British were cooperating with Tecumseh, he decided to gather 1,000 soldiers and lead them to Prophet’s Town.

Tecumseh had gone to seek allies in the southwestern part of the United States, leaving his brother Tenskwatawa in charge. Before leaving, Tecumseh reminded his brother to avoid a fight with Harrison’s troops until his own forces were larger and powerful. However on Novemeber 7th 1811, Tecumseh’s absence and Harrison’s sudden arrival had caused Tenskwatawa to panic. He led the warriors into battle with the soldiers, creating the Battle of Tippecanoe. After a fierce fight, Harrison destroyed the village. This battle was a crushing blow to Tecumseh’s dream of a unified Indian confederacy.

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