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Why the War of 1812? Why not? Actually, there are many good reasons to study the War of 1812. It was the war that, in the minds of many of Europe's elite, established the US as an independent nation. It also ended years of British intrigue among the Indians of the old Northwestern frontier (Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin). It was not until after this war, that the bulk of Indiana, Illinois, and parts of Ohio were safe for settlement. Our friends to the north have an entire mythology bui lt about this war. So, it's at least worth ONE web site!

 It also happened mostly in the US, and lower Canada, so almost all the battlefields are within easy reach of large parts of the US population. It is my intention to list the major sites, and, as I personally visit them, rate them for students of this war. I will also include a bibliography of good sources. I hope this becomes a useful site for people interested in the War of 1812.

N.B. Since I do have a job, family, dog, and other pretentious to a real life, the sites visited section will increase rather slowly.
 
 

Tippecanoe

Located on Interstate 65, just north of West Lafayette, IN.

Take the exit for St. Road 43. Follow the signs on the exit. Watch carefully for signs to Battle Ground (the town!). They are easy to miss.

The site is very well preserved. An excellent museum is there, and the staff are quite knowledgeable and friendly.

You can note the wet prairie area to the south. (Just across the road.) The main Indian village was located on the rise across the prairie and stretching to the east towards the confluence of the Wabash and Tippecanoe. The area across the creek to the nor th was the location of the main Indian attack, especially the flatter area on the northeast side.

 While the location of the village and the battle site are marked, the site marked as Prophet's rock is almost certainly NOT where the Prophet weaved his spells and awaited the battle's outcome. For one thing, it is to the north of the battle site, and about 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile away. If the Prophet could chart that far, and make himself heard over the din of battle, ( as Judge Naylor stated in his account) then his persuasive powers were not the only outstanding attribute of this unusual man.

I think it much more likely that he was on the same rise, but farther north than the marker, or even to the south of Prophet's rock road, on a small rise where a home now stands. He would be close, but not too close, with the bulk of the Indians between h im and the US forces. This is the direction that the Indians retreated after the battle, as Shabbona stated. Another possible location is a slight rise before Prophet's Rock road, that is currently overgrown with shrubs and small trees. This is in line with the marked Prophet's rock, but a lot closer to the battle. The Prophet may have fled to the marked location when it became clear the battle was lost, and he was taken at that location by the angry warriors.

Fought the night of November 6-7, 1811.

A few words about 19th century documents. They can be hard to read. In these reports, I have not been able to clearly
discern what words were written. These are noted by "XX" in the documents. I can often guess a word that would fit, and
keep the sense of the original,  but I don't want to do that. I want to record the original report. I have made the spelling conform
to our current standards. In these accounts, a word with a double ss is often written with a single f. An example is "successful". In
the original it looks like succefful. The first "f" looks like a combination between a large "p" and a "f".

William Henry Harrison's first report on the battle of Tippecanoe. He wrote this Nov. 8th.

Part of William Henry Harrsion's official account.

The Full Reporton the battle of Tippecanoe. He wrote this at Vincennes, Nov. 18th.
Please note that as this report is, well, rather long, I will add it as I get it transcribed. It may take a while,
please be patient.

Shabbona's account

Written many years after the battle, when Shabbona had become reconciled to the Americans. Given the aggressive
hostility shown by the Potawatomis during the period 1805~1812, it almost certainly does not reflect his views
at the time of the battle.

Judge Issac Naylor's account
 
 

Ft. Dearborn, Chicago

Of course, the fort and the surrounding environment are changed beyond all recognition from the days of August, 1812. You can trace the approximate line of march from the old fort location to the point of attack. Start at the State street bridge (notice the monument on one side of the river) and follow the street to 14th St. You should be able to march it in 30 minutes (They did!). Sad to say, I have yet to do this on foot.

Fought the morning of August 15, 1812
 
 

Ft. Mackinaw, MI

Currently a famous resort island, in August of 1812 the British and Indians that assaulted this Fort were not after fudge. This location was an important fur trading center. The fur trade was one of many reasons that the British and Americans had tensions, as control of the trade (and the resulting influence of the tribes that were major participants). Taking the fort was rat her easy, as the British occupied high ground above the fort, and could shell it at will. When the British commander also threatened a massacre of civilians if he had to fight (a common threat during this war by the British, attributed to their lack of co ntrol of Indians once fighting began), the Lieutenant commanding gave in. He had only 60 soldiers, and so could not have done much (even if he had know the war had been declared, which he didn't). However, tensions were high, and the POSSIBILITY of war ou ght to have been considered. That nothing had been done to protect the fort from the landward side was indefensible.

Later in the War, George Rogers Croghan (nephew to GR Clark, of Vincennes fame) led an expedition to retake the island. The British, knowing there was a war, and having a large number of men available, had garrisoned both the fort and the high ground above it. A short, sharp action took place, the Americans retired, leaving Mackinaw (and Forts in Illinois and Wisconsin) in British hands until the peace treaties. The rather unfortunate thing (from the US side) is that the regulars used on this expedition might have made the difference on the Niagara frontier.

The Fort is only slightly changed from how it was then. The various sections are marked as to when they date. So, some of the blockhouses, parts of the wall, etc. were there that fateful day in 1812. The later changes are marked. It is difficult to see th e hill that the British set their artillery on from the Fort. You can see (to the north) that the ground rises. If you take one of the horse drawn tours (I recommend it, but not if you have a two year old along!) you will go past this hill, and can easil y look down into the fort.

The Michigan State Parks have an interpretive service here during the May-September tourist season. They concentrate on the Fort during the period 1870~1890. Too bad they don't too 1812, but it is well worth a visit, especially if you see Fort Michilimaci naw, on the lower penninsula, very close to the Straits bridge. This was the location of the original French fort in the area. Afraid that George Rogers Clark might pay a visit during the Revolutionary War, the British moved to the Island location. Look o ut the gates of this earlier fort, and you see clear blue Lake, and the forest across the lake. You can easily pretend it is 1780, and you are hastily moving out before that red headed rebel shows up to ship you off in chains to Williamsburg, VA!

Fought in August 15, 1812
 
 

Horseshoe bend, Alabama

A national battle monument, The US Park Service runs a very nice center here. The XXXX river makes a sharp (you might say,horseshoe) bend here. The Creeks had been split into two factions. One, the "red sticks" were for war with the US. The name "red stick" comes from the sticks that Tecumseh (allegedly) handed out to let the various tribes know when the time for war had come. The sticks were to be divided into 30 parts, and one part burnt each night.

Fought the morning of 1814
 
 

Books on the war of 1812.

If you want to buy any of these books,  click HERE
 
 
Amateurs to Arms! John Elting.
For the Military side of the war. Takes an unabashedly American view, but is blunt about mistakes on both sides. One of the best for battles, strategy, and the "big picture".
1812 - The forgotten War. Donald Hickey.
Presents the political side of things, concentrating on the US side.

 
The Invasion of Canada, Flames Across the Border. Pierre Berton.
A Canadian view of the war, but one that puts to bed the idea that the US deliberately burned York. (present day Toronto). Two volumes.

 
A sorrow in our Hearts. Allen W. Eckert.
A bio of Tecumseh that covers (in part) actions of the war from an Indian point of view. It is a narrative, as is his Winning of America Series. See Gateway to Empire for the War of 1812 in Chicago. I can recommend the entire series, from the Frontie rsman to Twilight of Empire, although the War of 1812 is only a small part of what is covered.

 
The Shawnee Prophet. R. David Edmunds.
A book that takes an opposite view of most historians - that the Prophet was the brains behind the Indian resistance, not Tecumseh. It is an interesting book, I don't quite believe his theory (he never really explains how or why Tecumseh was able to h ijack the Prophet's movement) but it is worth reading for an alternate point of view. What is really interesting is that he and Eckert use a lot of the same primary sources, but reach totally different conclusions!

 
The Potowattomies R. David Edmunds.
Covering the history of this tribe to 1840, it covers their actions (mostly hostile) during the War of 1812.

 
Tecumseh's Last Stand
Covers the campaign of 1813 where William Henry Harrison pursued Proctor and Tecumseh into Canada, resulting in the defeat of the British and the death of Tecumseh. It seems to focus not only on tecumseh, but to rehabilitate Proctor's reputation (to a point). Makes a decent case that Proctor, while an idiot, was at least not a coward. Interesting coverage of a campaign often overlooked.

 
Wau-Bun The early day. Juliette Kinzie.
Recently republished by the University of Illinois, it is a primary source for the Ft. Dearborn massacre. The daughter in law of people present at the massacre, it mostly covers her experiences among the Winnebagoes in Wisconsin in the 1830's.
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