Tippecanoe and Garrett too

10 comments on Tippecanoe and Garrett too
2 minutes
Battle of Tippecanoe Monument
Kodak EasyShare Z730, 2007

That’s my son Garrett standing at the base of the monument to the Battle of Tippecanoe. He carefully studied all four panels on this obelisk.

For those of you who haven’t brushed up on your Indiana history lately, in 1811 Shawnee leader Tecumseh and his brother Tenskwatawa, who was better known as The Prophet, had formed a confederacy of tribes who resisted white settlement. The group’s headquarters were at Prophetstown, where the Tippecanoe and Wabash Rivers come together just north of Lafayette, Indiana.

The situation was tense with leaders of the nascent Indiana Territory, and there was occasional violence between Native Americans and the settlers. Governor William Henry Harrison organized a militia of about 1,000 and marched to Prophetstown on November 6 to deal with the problem once and for all.

Tecumseh wanted peaceful solutions, at least until the coalition was stronger, but he was away recruiting allies when Harrison’s militia arrived. Tenskwatawa sent some men with a white flag to meet them and request a meeting with Harrison, ostensibly to try to work things out without violence. Harrison agreed, but arranged his men in a defensive position just in case. Sure enough, early the next morning Tenskwatawa sent warriors to attack. A vicious two-hour battle ensued, but Harrison’s men emerged victorious.

The remaining men of the attacking force spurned Tenskwatawa’s leadership and abandoned Prophetstown. Harrison’s men marched in and burned the place to the ground.

Harrison ran for President in 1840 and won, the first of only two Hoosiers ever to be elected to that office. If you’ve ever heard the phrase “Tippecanoe and Tyler too,” it was a rallying cry for Harrison’s campaign — John Tyler was Harrison’s running mate.

Shortly after being sworn in as President, Harrison contracted pneumonia and died of it. He remains our nation’s shortest-tenured President at just one month in office.

Today, the site of the Battle of Tippecanoe is a National Historic Landmark. Prophetstown State Park is adjacent; the small town of Battle Ground lies at its north entrance.

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10 responses to “Tippecanoe and Garrett too”

  1. Greg Clawson Avatar
    Greg Clawson

    Jim, Tippecanoe Battlefield is a National Landmark Established in 1908, Prophets town is a state park established in 2004 adjacent to the battlefield. It is a recreation of the Prophet’s town village burned by Harrison and his troops. They are separate entities.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Corrected; thanks.

  2. Russ Ray Avatar

    Don’t forget Benjamin Harrison, who was also a president from Indiana!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Corrected. I was splitting a hair as Benjamin Harrison was born in Ohio. But his political life was all in Indiana.

  3. brandib1977 Avatar

    You need to come over to Chillicothe this summer. The outdoor drama Tecumseh tells this story plus you would enjoy some other things in the area. It would make a great long weekend for you and your wife!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Perhaps one day!

  4. Dan Avatar

    I participate in War of 1812 reenactments so the story of the Battle of Tippecanoe is very familiar to me. One story I don’t think many people know is that the 4th US Regiment of Infantry marched all the way out to the Indiana Territory to reinforce Harrison. They marched overland from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, then boarded keelboats to descend the Ohio River to Louisville. Finally they had to pull the keelboats upstream to Vincennes! Many of their wives and children followed. The diary of Lydia Bacon, one of the officers’ wives, is quite worth the read. The 4th Regiment later marched through the Ohio wilderness to Detroit and was captured when the town was surrendered, and the survivors came back by ship to Boston via prisoner exchange in 1812. Quite a round trip!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Fascinating! I had no idea.

  5. J P Avatar

    It has been a long time since I have read much Indiana history, so I found this really interesting.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      My work here is done.

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