Old Tippecanoe: William Henry Harrison and His Time

By Freeman Cleaves | Go to book overview

XIII
THE SIEGE OF FORT MEIGS

ON THE morning of April 28 orders were issued for the men to dig all night but with such vigor were shovels swung even throughout a heavy fall of rain that at reveille time Harrison decided all should rest. The rain interfered more with the work of the British artillerists and engineers who were toiling night and day to plant two 24-pound guns and two howitzers on the opposite shore. 1 As dusk came on Tecumseh's warriors crossed over in their canoes and scattered about the fort. A troop of dragoons out reconnoitering was fired upon, the only casualty one shot in an arm. No longer could water be brought from the river, the fort was now in a state of siege.

Seeking to conserve the strength of his troops, Harrison kept only a third of the men on duty, relieving them every three hours. A squad was assigned to the task of digging a well.

It was a field day for snipers. Expectant and animated savages took advantage of every conceivable shelter: "There was not a stump, bush or log . . . but what shielded its man." From trees left standing some distance away they "poured down . . . prodigious showers of musketry." 2 A shot from a tree killed a man standing near Harrison on the main embankment and the General received a spent ball on the hip which caused considerable pain. Little other damage was effected by the enemy that day. As the Kentucky sharpshooters raised their long rifles, the brisk exchange of fire greatly stimulated the militia toiling in the ditch. The savages presented difficult targets but now and then a warrior would be toppled from his ambush among less than full-grown leaves. Amid the fusillades of rifles, the thud and clatter of shovels, came snatches of song:

"Freemen, no longer bear such slaughter,
Avenge your country's cruel woe.
Arouse and save your sons and daughters,
Arouse and expel the faithless foe." 3

Harrison trained his field glasses on the enemy works and sighted four batteries then underway. He turned to his gunners. Orders to

-162-

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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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