Old Tippecanoe: William Henry Harrison and His Time

By Freeman Cleaves | Go to book overview

II
STUDENT OF WAR

HARRISON'S introduction to army life could have been more encouraging, his entrance upon the scene made at a rather more auspicious time. The flatboats from Pittsburgh bumped the Ohio shore one dark November afternoon when, to the astonishment of the newcomers, groups of worn and terror-stricken men and women came stumbling within the walls of Fort Washington. More than 100 miles away, the expedition against the Indians had terminated in disaster; an ill-supplied and poorly-disciplined army under General Arthur St. Clair had been surprised, bewildered, and cut to pieces by fast-moving redskins. More than 600 officers and men had been killed, many of them tomahawked as they lay wounded, and of 200 women camp followers, 56 were slain. A fleet-footed woman, her red hair streaming behind her, led the flight through a wilderness of forest and brush. 1 The clothing of the survivors, Harrison recalled, was "reduced to rags . . . their countenances exhibiting strong evidence of the Privations and Sufferings encountered." 2 Three mounts had been shot from under General St. Clair before he managed to escape on a despised packhorse. The disaster which befell the American army on the morning of November 4, 1791, was known thereafter as St. Clair's Defeat.

The men had lost all their tents and baggage and there were few supplies at Fort Washington. To revive their spirits as well as to obtain necessary food the survivors broke into the village grog-shops, which caused Harrison to observe that he saw more drunken men during his first two days at the post than he had seen before in all his life. As soon as the army settled down to its daily routine, which was marked by idleness, duelling, and more drinking, Harrison discovered that he was no welcome recruit. A political angle was involved. His ensign's commission had been awarded him at the expense of the son of the senior captain who stood next in line for the promotion. Naturally, there was jealousy. The tall slim youth from Berkeley was regarded as an interloper; scornful looks greeted him as he appeared

-9-

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Old Tippecanoe: William Henry Harrison and His Time
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • ACKNOWLEDGMENT vii
  • THE HARRISON FAMILY ix
  • Contents xi
  • Illustrations xiii
  • I- Colonel Ben Harrison 1
  • II- Student of War 9
  • III- Delegate to Congress 22
  • IV- A New Frontier 33
  • V- Two Shawnee Brothers 51
  • VI- The Treaty of Fort Wayne 61
  • VII- quickening of War 69
  • VIII- The March Up the Wabash 83
  • IX- Tippecanoe 98
  • X- Kentucky Crosses the Ohio 112
  • XI- Massacre at the River Raisin 132
  • XII- A Fort is Built 151
  • XIII- The Siege of Fort Meigs 162
  • XIV- "We Have Met the Enemy . . ." 172
  • XV- Victory in Canada 188
  • XVI- The Hero of the Thames 206
  • XVII- Harrison Resigns 216
  • XVIII- Harrison Asks Congress to Judge 229
  • XIX- Political Fortunes 243
  • XX- South American Adventure 261
  • XXI- Depression Years 276
  • XXII- Evolution of a Candidate 288
  • XXIII- Harrison versus Van Buren 301
  • XXIV- Tippecanoe and Tyler Too 314
  • XXV- Jubilation and Mourning 329
  • Notes 345
  • Bibliography 392
  • Index 403
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