The Battle of Tippecanoe ( /ˌtɪpikəˈnuː/ TIP-ee-kə-NOO) was fought on November 7, 1811, between United States forces led by Governor William Henry Harrison of the Indiana Territory and Native American warriors associated with the Shawnee leader Tecumseh. Tecumseh and his brother Tenskwatawa (commonly known as "The Prophet") were leaders of a confederacy of Native Americans from various tribes that opposed U.S. expansion into Native territory. As tensions and violence increased, Governor Harrison marched with an army of about 1,000 men to disperse the confederacy's headquarters at Prophetstown, near the confluence of the Tippecanoe and Wabash Rivers.
Tecumseh, not yet ready to oppose the United States by force, was away recruiting allies when Harrison's army arrived. Tenskwatawa, a spiritual leader but not a military man, was in charge. Harrison camped near Prophetstown on November 6 and arranged to meet with Tenskwatawa the following day. Early the next morning, warriors from Prophetstown attacked Harrison's army. Although the outnumbered attackers took Harrison's army by surprise, Harrison and his men stood their ground for more than two hours. The Natives were ultimately repulsed when their ammunition ran low. After the battle, the Natives abandoned Prophetstown. Harrison's men burned the town and returned home.
Harrison, having accomplished his goal of destroying Prophetstown, proclaimed that he had won a decisive victory. He acquired the nickname "Tippecanoe", which was popularized in the song "Tippecanoe and Tyler too" during the election of 1840, when Harrison was elected president. But some of Harrison's contemporaries, as well as some subsequent historians, raised doubts about whether the expedition had been much of a success. Although the defeat was a setback for Tecumseh's confederacy, the Natives soon rebuilt Prophetstown, and frontier violence actually increased after the battle.
Public opinion in the United States blamed the violence on British interference. This suspicion led to further deterioration of U.S. relations with Great Britain and served as a catalyst of the War of 1812, which began six months later. By the time the U.S. declared war on Great Britain, Tecumseh's confederacy was ready to launch its war against the United States and embrace an alliance with the British.
Famous quotes containing the words battle of and/or battle:
“I have just read your dispatch about sore tongued and fatiegued [sic] horses. Will you pardon me for asking what the horses of your army have done since the battle of Antietem that fatigue anything?”
—Abraham Lincoln (18091865)
“Above the bayonets, mixed and crossed,
Men saw a gray, gigantic ghost
Receding through the battle cloud,
And heard across the tempest loud
The death cry of a nation lost!”
—Will Henry Thompson (18481918)