Old Tippecanoe: William Henry Harrison and His Time

By Freeman Cleaves | Go to book overview

IX
TIPPECANOE

NOW THAT Tecumseh had departed south to enlist the Creeks and Cherokees in his confederacy the responsibility for what happened during the morning of November 7, 1811, must rest entirely with The Prophet unless the tale of Chief Shabonee concerning British influence is accepted. Shabonee, present on the ground, left testimony that the Battle of Tippecanoe "was the work of white men who came from Canada and urged us to make war." The urging was not unprecedented. The British had used similar tactics at Fallen Timbers and at St. Clair's Defeat. "Two of them who wore red coats were at Prophetstown," declared Shabonee. "It was they who urged the fight. They dressed themselves like Indians to show us how to fight. They did not know our mode." 1 The British, it appeared, wished to attack at daybreak; the Indians at midnight. Somehow a compromise was reached.

The Prophet played his role by rendering his warriors invulnerable. During the night hours while Harrison's army slept the one- eyed Shawnee mixed a sacred composition in a kettle and after pronouncing a mystic enchantment gave assurance that the powder of the Americans would be as harmless as sand, their bullets soft as rain. Half the soldiers were already dead, in fact, the rest in a state of distraction. 2 "They will all run when we make a noise in the night." Evidently there was to be little or no fighting. At about four o'clock in the morning the Indians crawled up to the American encampment, taking positions behind trees and clusters of thickets. A fatal spell having been cast over the army they intended to swarm in at a signal and take possession if possible without firing a shot. 3

The early-morning sky was releasing trickles of dampness when a few soldiers arose a little earlier than usual in order to rekindle the fires and warm themselves before the reveille call. Harrison was up and was drawing on his boots as the orderly drummer stood at attention. The night, it seemed, was safely over. However, it was still very dark. On the left flank of the rear line, at the angle formed by

-98-

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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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