Old Tippecanoe: William Henry Harrison and His Time

By Freeman Cleaves | Go to book overview

VII
QUICKENING OF WAR

TWICE a year in the Territory were held militia muster days when able-bodied citizens assembled on parade. From the peculiar nature of militia, a self-governing and self-supporting body, these were days when duty gave way to pleasure for, as Harrison once explained to the Secretary of War, the battalions were armed with a curious assortment of weapons, including broken muskets and sticks, and, as was generally understood, with firewater taken internally. Elected militia officers, as a rule, were men who could be counted on for easy-going disciplinary methods; muster days in the West had long constituted an enjoyable social gathering at which farming prospects and politics were discussed.

Harrison spent many hours with militia leaders in the legislature to repair existing neglects in the law and with much striving he drilled into the Knox County battalion a small degree of discipline. A psychological factor eluded correction, however. Harrison found it discussed in a Kentucky newspaper which came regularly to Vincennes. In the fall of 1809, Governor Charles Scott, one-time militia general with St. Clair, Wilkinson and Wayne, warned the Kentucky legislature:

"A fatal spirit of indolence, in one respect, has seized upon us; and while basking in the sunshine we think not of the tempest. . . . We have yet to learn to make our citizens soldiers by giving them weapons and discipline and having a sufficient portion of their strength actually disposable in a moment of emergency." 1

These words touched a responsive chord in Indiana. Harrison, who reviewed his ancient history that winter, devoted many hours to the writing of two long and discursive letters sent to Governor Scott of Kentucky and later published as "Thoughts on the Subject of the Discipline of the Militia of the United States." The letters were well received in Kentucky. Harrison, who had read "the ponderous work of Rollin" three times before he was seventeen years old, took his theme from the historical triumphs of a well-trained

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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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