.. ntucky and Tennessee frontiersmen armed with deadly long rifles and a colorful band of Jean Lafitte’s outlaws, whose men Jackson had once disdained as “hellish banditti” (Sugden 264). This group of 4,000 soldiers, crammed behind narrow fortifications, faced more than twice their number. Pakenham’s assault was doomed from the beginning. His men made perfect targets as they marched precisely across a quarter mile of open ground.
Hardened veterans of the Peninsular Campaign in Spain fell by the score, including nearly 80 percent of a splendid Scottish Highlander unit that tried to march obliquely across the American front. Both of Pakenham’s senior generals were shot early in the battle, and the commander himself suffered two wounds before a shell severed an artery in his leg, killing him in minutes. His successor wisely disobeyed Pakenham’s dying instructions to continue the attack and pulled the British survivors off the field. More than 2,000 British had been killed or wounded and several hundred more were captured. The American loss was eight killed and thirteen wounded. Jackson’s victory had saved New Orleans, but it came after the war was over.
The Treaty of Ghent, which ended the War of 1812 but resolved none of the issues that started it, had been signed in Europe weeks before the action. The treaty of Ghent included an agreement to have no forts made on the U.S. and Canada border. One man who had a major impact on the War of 1812 was a Shawnee Indian Chief named Tecumseh. In 1774 the Hathawekela Shawnee had left Ohio and moved to the Upper Creek in northern Alabama.
Tecumseh’s mother, who had just lost her husband at the battle of Point Pleasant, went with them but left her two sons to be raised by their older sister Tecumpease. Tecumseh and his brother grew up as orphans. Large groups of Shawnee had left Ohio in 1773 and 1779 and settled in southeast Missouri. The Spanish appreciated them as a defense against the Americans. Spanish people came to Ohio in 1788 to urge more Shawnee and Delaware to emigrate, and more groups left. In 1793 Baron de Carondelet, the Spanish governor of Louisiana, gave the Missouri Shawnee a 25 mile square land grant near Cape Girardeau.
Groups of Ohio Shawnee unwilling to accept the Greenville treaty joined them, and two years later, the Hathawekela left the Creek in Alabama and immigrated to Spanish Louisiana. By 1800 the Hathawekela, Kispokotha, and Piqua were in Missouri, and only the Chillicothe and Mequachake remained in Ohio. After fighting Shawnee in Ohio for 30 years, most Kentucky frontiersmen would have found it difficult to believe there were more Shawnee in Missouri than Ohio in 1795. The Missouri Shawnee maintained close ties to the Delaware who settled with them. There were problems with the Kaskaskia east of the Mississippi who usually refused to allow the Shawnee to hunt or travel across their territory to visit their relatives still in Ohio. This erupted into open warfare during 1802 when the Shawnee attacked a large Kaskaskia hunting party. The Kaskaskia lost so many of their few remaining warriors, they never again challenged the Shawnee’s right to move as they pleased through southern Illinois.
The alliance came undone after Fort Greenville, and most of the political and social organization of the individual tribes went with it. A man named Bluejacket was recognized as the Shawnee chief, but after an attempt to revive the alliance failed in 1801, the leadership of the Ohio Shawnee passed to his rival Black Hoof, a Mequachake. Black Hoof may have been a “peace chief” (Hoose 181) favoring accommodation with the Americans, but he was no fool and was determined to keep his people’s lands. During a visit to Washington in 1802, he asked Secretary of War Henry Dearborn for a specific deed to the Shawnee lands in Ohio. After some discussion, the request was denied.
Meanwhile, Tecumseh had located his village on the deserted grounds of Fort Greenville. Individual Americans who met him found him friendly, intelligent, and even charming, but he was also absolutely determined to fight any farther expansion of settlement. In 1805 a Shawnee drunk named Lalawethika, Tecumseh’s younger brother, underwent an spiritual awakening in which he received a religious vision. Afterwards, he stopped drinking and changed his name to Tenskwatawa; Americans called him the Shawnee Prophet. While his own people watched this sudden transformation with amazement, Tenskwatawa gathered a large following among the Shawnee and Delaware.
Tecumseh added a political element to his brother’s religion; it was an alliance of all tribes to halt the surrender of land to the Americans. Perhaps the greatest of all Native Americans, “Tecumseh was brave, respected, a skilled politician, and spell-binding orator” (Edmunds 114). In the years following 1795, the Americans had been steadily moving back the Greenville Treaty line. The Delaware had sold a part of Indiana in 1803, and the Wyandot surrendered much of Michigan in 1807. Tecumseh believed that no chief had the authority to sign away his tribe’s lands nor could any tribe sell lands that were used in common.
By 1808 he had a promise of support from the British in Canada and had placed himself in direct opposition to Black Hoof, Little Turtle, and the other peace chiefs. The dislike was mutual, and Black Hoof’s opposition insured that Tecumseh and the Prophet had few followers among the Ohio Shawnee. With most of their support among the tribes in the western Ohio Valley, Tenskwatawa left Greenville in the spring of 1808 and established his new capitol at Prophetstown on Tippecanoe Creek in Indiana. The location was intended as a challenge to Little Turtle, the Miami peace chief. In August the Prophet met William Henry Harrison, the American governor of the Indiana Territory who would soon be Tecumseh’s enemy. The meeting ended on a friendly note, but Harrison sent spies to Prophetstown.
Their reports confirmed his worst fears: it appeared that Tecumseh had assembled almost 3,000 warriors, from different tribes, ready to fight American expansion. Harrison had instructions from Congress to end native land titles in Indiana and Illinois. In 1809 he made treaties with the Delaware, Miami, Kaskaskia, and Potawatomi at Fort Wayne and Vincennes gaining 3,000,000 acres of southern Indiana and Illinois. When he heard what had happened, Tecumseh threatened to kill the chiefs who signed. The following June his followers killed Leatherlips, a Wyandot chief. Tecumseh met with Harrison at Vincennes in August, but harsh words almost caused a fight between Harrison’s soldiers and Tecumseh’s escort.
They met again during the summer of 1811, but by this time both knew that war was only a matter of time. Immediately afterwards, Tecumseh left for the south to try to recruit the Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Cherokee. Before leaving, he gave his brother specific instructions that, during his absence, he was to avoid any confrontation with the Americans. Tecumseh was south of the Ohio River when they attacked settlements in Illinois bringing the frontier to the point of war. Harrison assembled 1,000 men at Vincennes and in September moved against Prophetstown.
He arrived at Prophetstown in November and camped just across Tippecanoe Creek from it. Shots had not been fired, but the Prophet ignored his brother’s orders and decided to kill Harrison with a suicide squad. The battle ended in a draw, but the Americans lost 62 and 126 were wounded. The warriors eventually were forced to leave, and Harrison burned Prophetstown. Tippecanoe was not significant as a military victory, but it destroyed Tensquatawa’s reputation as a prophet. When Tecumseh returned from the south in January, his alliance was in shambles, and the War of 1812 was only months away.
By the time of the declaration of war in June, Tecumseh had gathered over 1,000 warriors in Canada to fight for the British. However, after a council with Tecumseh and the Prophet on the Mississinewa River in May, the Shawnee, Delaware, and Wyandot decided to remain neutral. Some even supported the Americans, but few joined Tecumseh and the British. The war began with a series of disasters which sent the Americans reeling. General William Hull invaded Canada in July but, when he heard a rumor that 5,000 warriors were coming down Lake Huron by canoe, he retreated to Detroit.
Hull’s opposition was only 800 of Tecumseh’s warriors and 300 Canadians. After several detachments were attacked near Detroit, Hull surrendered in August without a fight. The victory at Detroit brought more warriors to Tecumseh and set off a series of raids against American forts and settlements across the frontier. Following the death of Little Turtle in July, Tecumseh and Tenskwatawa returned to northern Indiana to recruit warriors from the Miami. In September the Prophet ended the military side of his career with an unsuccessful attack on Fort Harrison.
William Henry Harrison was given command of the American army in the Northwest and launched a series of attacks that forced the Prophet and his followers to return to Canada. Early in 1813, Harrison built Fort Ferree on the upper Sandusky and moved the Delaware from Indiana to the Shawnee villages at Piqua and Auglaize in Ohio to take away any chance of their joining Tecumseh. However, a unit of 900 Kentucky militia men commanded by General James Winchester was ambushed on the Raisin River in southeast Michigan with 300 killed. After surrender, 50 prisoners were massacred while British officers just stood and watched. There would have been more victims if Tecumseh had not arrived and personally intervened. Afterwards, he called the British officers cowards for their failure to protect American prisoners.
Despite the loss on the Raisin River, Harrison kept inching forward and built Fort Meigs on the Maumee River in February. Tecumseh, meanwhile, had returned to Indiana for more warriors and increased his force to almost 2,000. In May they joined the new British commander, Colonel Henry Procter, to attack Fort Meigs, but the Americans held on, and many of Tecumseh’s warriors became discouraged with siege warfare and went home. Proctor was forced to end the siege but made a second unsuccessful attempt in July to take Fort Meigs. By August Harrison had assembled an army of almost 8,000 and, after Oliver Perry’s naval victory on Lake Erie, was ready to take the offensive. Proctor’s resources at Fort Malden were already running low, not only with having to feed Tecumseh’s 1,500 warriors, but also 12,000 members of their families.
When Harrison began his advance, the British could offer little resistance. Ultimately, Proctor was to prove every bit as incompetent and cowardly as the American’s William Hull. Tecumseh described him as “a fat animal, that carries its tail upon its back, but when affrighted ..drops it between his legs and runs off.” Harrison pursued Procter east across Upper Canada. Tecumseh did his best to cover the British retreat and slow the American advance. The British attempted a stand at the Battle of the Thames on October 6th, but Proctor and his staff suddenly left the field abandoning their own troops and leaving Tecumseh and 600 warriors to make a last stand in a small patch of swampy woods.
When Tecumseh was killed late in the afternoon of October 6th, 1813, the last possibility of united Native American resistance to American expansion died with him.