The Tippecanoe military campaign, from September 21 – November 18, 1811, was led by Governor William Henry Harrison of the Indiana Territory against Indian forces associated with Shawnee leader Tecumseh and his brother Tenskwatawa, leaders of a confederacy of various tribes who opposed settlement in their area.
The spread of settlements in the “Old Northwest” created additional tension with various tribes. In 1804, Shawnee Chief Tecumseh and his medicine man brother, the Prophet, gained British backing and began serious efforts to form a new Indian confederacy in the Northwest. Governor William Henry Harrison of the Indiana Territory rejected Tecumseh’s demand that settlers be kept out of the region. In the summer of 1811, Harrison, with the approval of the War Department, undertook to break up the Confederacy before it could organize a major attack against the settlements.
In September 1811, Harrison led a well-trained force of nearly 1,000 troops up the Wabash River. After building Fort Harrison at Terre Haute, Indiana, Harrison marched with 800 men toward the main Indian village on Tippecanoe Creek. On November 6, 1811, Harrison encamped near the village and tried to negotiate a peace settlement with the Prophet, as Chief Tecumseh was absent.
However, the Shawnee attacked Harrison’s forces at dawn the next morning. Though the battle ended in an indecisive victory, with both sides having about the same amount of casualties, the U.S. forces were able to destroy the Indian village and cause them to flee. Though this battle temporarily reduced the Indian threat in the region, the battle did not solve the area “Indian problems” in the Old Northwest. Instead, the Indians were to make a common cause with the British in the War of 1812.
Compiled & edited by Kathy Alexander/Legends of America, updated January 2023.
Source: U.S. Army Center of Military History
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