The People

  • Views: 133 William Henry Harrison

    William Henry Harrison was born on February 9, 1773. He was born to a politically active family with five generations previous to him serving in political office. Harrison decided to become a doctor. He attended an Academy in Southampton County before entering the University of Pennsylvania Medical School. He eventually dropped out when he could no longer afford it and joined the army.

    Harrison joined the army in 1791 and served until 1798. During this time, he fought in the Indian Wars in the Northwest Territory. He was hailed as a hero at the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794 where he and his men held the line. He became a captain before resigning. After that he held public offices until he joined the military again to fight in the War of 1812.

    Harrison began the War of 1812 as the Major General of the Kentucky militia and ended as Major General of the Northwest Territories. He led his forces to retake Detroit. He then defeated a force of British and Indians including Tecumseh at the Battle of the Thames. He resigned from the military in May, 1814.

    Harrison had unsuccessfully run for President in 1836 and was renominated in 1840 with John Tyler as his Vice President. He was supported by President Martin Van Buren. He won the election with 234 out of 294 electoral votes. When Harrison took office, he gave the longest inaugural address ever, talking for one hour and 40 minutes. It was delivered in the cold during the month of March. He then got caught in the rain and in the end came down with a cold. His illness got worse until he finally died on April 4, 1841.

  • Views: 126 Tecumseh

    Tecumseh was most likely born in the spring of 1768, at a Shawnee village near Ohio’s Scioto River. Tecumseh's father, Pucksinwa, was killed at the Battle of Point Pleasant in 1774. By 1808, Tecumseh was a leading Shawnee warrior. He led his people to a settlement on the Wabash River near the mouth of the Tippecanoe.

    Early on in his life, he had developed a strong anger towards European encroachment. Tecumseh argued that no sale of land to whites was really valid without consent from ALL tribes. This argument was based on the language of the Greenville Treaty of 1795. With the assistance of his brother Tenskwatawa (The Prophet), he had some success in uniting various tribes against U.S. expansion. He also had the support of the British in Canada. On November 7, 1811, Tenskwatawa and his followers were defeated at the Battle at Tippecanoe. The confederation of tribes started to fall apart after this defeat.

    During the War of 1812, Tecumseh closely aligned himself with the British. He actually attained the rank of brigadier general in the British army. His forces assisted with capture of Detroit and fought at Fort Meigs, Fort Stephenson, and Brownstown. Tecumseh was widely respected for his honor in battle and the mercy he showed towards his captives. American naval victories on Lake Erie under Admiral Oliver Hazard Perry forced a general retreat of British forces. Tecumseh chose to cover the retreat and was killed at the Battle of the Thames on October 5, 1813.

  • Views: 79 Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry

    Oliver Hazard Perry was born on August 23, 1785, at the Old Perry Homestead in South Kingston, Rhode Island, of "Fighting Quaker parents." His father was in the United States Navy and young Perry soon followed. At the age of 13, Perry entered the Navy as a midshipman, where his first assignment was in the Caribbean under the command of his father.

    In May 1812, Perry received a promotion to master-commandant. One month later the United States declared war on Great Britain. He was given command of 12 gunboats at Newport and New London. Perry lost interest in the relative inactivity of this post, and, in September 1812, requested duty on the high seas or the Great Lakes.

    In February 1813, he was ordered to Commodore Isaac Chauncey's command at Sacket's Harbor, Lake Ontario. Chauncey decided that Perry would be of better use in Erie, Pennsylvania, where a fleet was being constructed to wrest control of Lake Erie from the British who already had a small squadron there. Perry was fully briefed on the situation in Erie and was sent to command the project.

    The Battle of Lake Erie began with Perry aboard his flagship Lawrence. In the early stages of the battle, however, Lawrence and her crew took most of the enemy's fire. Lawrence was severely damaged and over 80 percent of Perry's crew were killed or wounded by concentrated British gunfire. In an attempt to change defeat to victory, Perry transferred from Lawrence to the lightly damaged Niagara in a small boat. He took command of Niagara and sailed her into the British battle line. The British had also taken heavy casualties from the Lawrence' fire. Broadsides from the fresh Niagara compelled their surrender within 15 minutes of Perry's transfer.

    Perry was the first in history to defeat an entire British squadron and successfully bring back every ship to his base as a prize of war. Perry, at the age of 28, was hailed by the public as a national hero for his victory on Lake Erie.

    After his victory in the War of 1812, Perry was promoted to the rank of Captain. Then in 1819, Perry was sent to Venezuela on a diplomatic mission. After completing his mission he contracted yellow fever and died at sea near Trinidad on August 23, 1819, his 34th birthday.

  • Views: 86 The Prophet/Tenskwatawa

    History has not been kind to Tenskwatawa, otherwise known as The Prophet. He is inevitably compared to his heroic brother Tecumseh and fails to measure up in both physical and moral stature.

    Tenskwatawa’s transformation into a powerful spiritual leader came after a dream in which he claimed to have been visited by the Great Spirit. White settlers began to call him The Prophet because he said the gods had shown him the path to salvation for his people. This new religion called upon Natives to reject white culture and return to the traditional way of life. Tenskwatawa gave up alcohol and urged his followers to do the same.

    At the heart of these new teachings was the belief that the land was held in common by all the tribes. The Prophet preached that no tribe had the right to give up their territory, because it belonged to all Natives. This infuriated white settlers and leaders such as William Henry Harrison.

    Tenskwatawa soon attracted a considerable following, especially among the younger, more radical warriors. The Prophet and Tecumseh decided to move these followers farther away from the harassment of white settlers and closer to undisturbed food sources. They established a new village, Tippecanoe or Prophet’s Town.

    In the fall of 1811, while Tecumseh was away on a six-month trip aimed at convincing the southern tribes to join the Confederacy, U.S. soldiers under William Henry Harrison decided to attack Prophet’s Town. They saw the village as a dangerous symbol of native resistance and a barrier to white settlement. The ensuing Battle of Tippecanoe was not a major military encounter. Although more American soldiers died in the skirmish than native warriors, Harrison’s troops advanced into the village and razed it to the ground, claiming a great victory.

    After the battle, the Prophet was blamed for allowing the community to be destroyed. One group of warriors was so angry that they tied him up and threatened to kill him. The failure of his military leadership and magic to protect Tippecanoe was a major factor in the decline of the Prophet’s influence.

  • Views: 65 General Isaac Brock

    Isaac Brock was a British army officer who entered the army in 1785. In 1791 he joined the 49th infantry as a captain, remaining with that unit until his death at Queenston Heights in 1812.

    From 1803 until 1805 he was based at York (modern Toronto). During a brief period of leave in 1805-1806 he was promoted to colonel, before returning to Canada in 1806 when a threat of war with the United States developed. In 1810 he was appointed to command all troops in Upper Canada, the area seen as most vulnerable to American attack. On 4 June 1811 he was promoted to major-general. By the start of the War of 1812 he was also the lieutenant-governor of the province. Brock made his main contribution to the British war effort before the outbreak of the fighting, gaining the confidence of Tecumseh and thus ensuring that the British would fight with Indian allies. He also played a part in retaining the 41st and 49th regiments in Canada.

    At the outbreak of the War of 1812 Upper Canada came under attack from Detroit and across the Niagara River. The invasion from Detroit, under General Hull, was badly handled. The Americans crossed the Detroit River and briefly threatened the British position, before retreating back across the river. Brock reached Amherstburg, on the Canadian side of the river and soon decided to launch a counterattack. The British and Canadians prepared for an assault on the American fort at Detroit, but before the fighting really began Hull surrendered, giving up Detroit and his entire army. 582 American regular soldiers were captured at Detroit, and one threat to Upper Canada removed.

    Brock did not survive long to enjoy his victory, or even to learn of his rewards. On October 10th, 1812 he was promoted but before the news could reach Canada, he had been killed.

  • Views: 120 President James Madison

    James Madison (1751-1836) was the principal architect of the United States Constitution, the Secretary of State under President Thomas Jefferson, and the fourth president of the United States. During the Revolution, he helped draft Virginia's state constitution and served in the Continental Congress. In the years immediately following the war, he grew convinced of the domestic and international disasters that would follow unless the national government was reformed, and therefore joined those calling for a constitutional convention. He teamed with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay to publish the Federalist Papers. After the Constitution's ratification, he served in the United States Congress from 1789 to 1797.

    In June 1812, convinced of the inevitability of war against Britain, President Madison sent a message to Congress listing British violations of U.S. neutrality rights, including the presence of British ships in American waters and the impressment of American sailors. Britain repealed the Orders in Council, its aggressive naval policy, but it was too late. Congress had already passed a declaration of war, and the War Hawks pushed for full engagement.

    The American forces, however, were outmatched by British forces, in part because Jefferson’s party had drastically cut military expenditures and programs, leaving the U.S. forces seriously underfunded and under-trained. Nonetheless, the war ended in stalemate, mainly because the British were also occupied with events in Europe. The signing of the Treaty of Ghent in December 1814 ended the war and restored the status quo. The treaty did not mention free trade or sailor’s rights.

    Two weeks after the signing of Treaty of Ghent, but before news of the treaty had reached America, American troops won a decisive victory in the Battle of New Orleans. General Andrew Jackson’s troops defended the city, killing more than 2,000 British troops while losing only thirteen men. The timing of the Battle of New Orleans inspired the popular misconception that the U.S. had won the war and had forced the British to surrender and sign the treaty. Even without officially “winning” the war, the U.S. did succeed in protecting itself against one of the world’s premier powers, for which reason the War of 1812 has been called the “second war of independence.”

  • Views: 63 General William Hull

    A Yale graduate and a hero of the American Revolution, Hull was named governor of the Michigan Territory by President Thomas Jefferson in 1805. In that position, he secured many land concessions from the Native Americans of the Northwest, angering many of those tribes. When war with Great Britain threatened, Hull correctly feared retaliatory actions from the Indians. He asked for reinforcements and accepted the title of brigadier general of the Army of the Northwest as long as he could retain his governorship.

    In his dual role, Hull was aging and unable to bring the same courage and leadership to an invasion of Canada that he had brought to Revolutionary War battles in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. After landing unopposed at Sandwich in Canada, Hull waffled so long that the British arrived with their own reinforcements. Instead of attacking Fort Malden, Hull withdrew.

    After a few short days at Fort Detroit, Hull learned that Tecumseh and his warriors had arrived in the town of Detroit and were heading for the fort. An artillery battle at Sandwich left troop morale at rock bottom, and Hull feared for his men and his people. On Aug. 16, he ordered a white tablecloth hung outside the fort; a temporary truce soon dissolved into a full surrender in which the Americans lost 2,200 men, the fort, all of their equipment, and the Michigan Territory.

    Court-martialed on charges of neglect of duty, cowardice and treason in the winter of 1814-15, Hull was convicted on the first two charges and sentenced to be shot. But in light of his heroism during the revolution and his age -- and at the recommendation of the court -- President James Madison spared Hull's life. The only American flag officer ever sentenced to death, Hull spent the remaining decade of his life with his family in Massachusetts.

  • Views: 50 General Henry Proctor

    Henry Proctor was born in Ireland in 1763, the son of a British army surgeon who fought at Bunker Hill.  As a young lieutenant, he saw service towards the close of the same war.  He rose through the ranks, transferring into the 41st Regiment of Foot and joining it in Canada as its lieutenant colonel.

    Proctor took command of Amherstburg shortly after the start of the War of 1812, sending forces to cut off General Hull in Detroit.  He served under General Brock at the capture of Detroit and was left in command of the area after Brock departed.

    Upon learning that the Americans had taken and occupied French Town, Proctor launched a counterattack on January 22, 1813, resulting in the Battle of the River Raisin and the destruction of General Winchester’s army.  Although accused by the Americans of failing to prevent the massacre of some of their wounded, Proctor was promoted to brigadier general for his victory at the Raisin, and then to the rank of major general.

    Proctor’s subsequent attempts to capture Fort Meigs and Fort Stephenson failed, and, after the British fleet was captured at the Battle of Lake Erie, Proctor abandoned Amherstburg and the Detroit area.  General William Henry Harrison’s troops pursued the retreating British and Indians, inflicting a decisive defeat on Proctor’s forces at the Battle of the Thames in October of 1813.

    Proctor was officially reprimanded for his defeat, which effectively ended his career.  He returned to England in 1815 and lived in semi-retirement until his death in 1822.

  • Views: 59 General James Winchester

    Born in Maryland in 1752, Brigadier General James Winchester started out as a captain in the Revolutionary War and was twice captured by the British. After the war, he moved to Tennessee to engage in farming, militia service, and politics.

    At the beginning of the War of 1812, Winchester was commissioned a brigadier general in the U.S. Army and was ordered to Kentucky to build an army to relieve Detroit. Unpopular with his troops for being too refined and disciplined, he lost his bid to command the entire Northwestern Army to William Henry Harrison.

    In command of Harrison’s Left Wing, Winchester advanced down the Maumee River, arriving at the Rapids in January of 1813, just in time to answer pleas for help from the citizens French Town on the River Raisin, which was being occupied and pillaged by the British & Indians. Winchester dispatched a force to liberate the settlement on January 18, and personally led reinforcements, only to be overwhelmed by a British & Indian counterattack on January 22.
    After a year in captivity, Winchester was exchanged and assigned to a quiet sector near Mobile, Alabama. In January of 1815, he almost found himself in hot water again, when the British took nearby Fort Bowyer in the final months of the war.

  • Views: 49 General Green Clay

    Clay was born in Powhatan County, Virginia to Charles and Martha Clay. He served in the Continental Army during the American Revolution, then moved to Kentucky, where he became a surveyor. He owned several distilleries and a tavern, as well as many ferries across the Kentucky River. He was elected Kentucky's representative to the Virginia House of Delegates in 1789 and later served in both houses of the Kentucky General Assembly.

    During the War of 1812, Clay became a general in the Kentucky militia. In the spring of 1813, was ordered to the aid of General William Henry Harrison, who was besieged by British forces at Fort Meigs, Ohio. He was able to fight his way into the fort; however, many of his men were taken prisoner by Tecumseh after they had captured a British artillery battery. When the British abandoned the siege, Clay was left in command of the fort. He was still commanding when the British returned in July 1813. In an attempt by Tecumseh to lure Clay and the garrison out of the fort, Tecumseh's warriors staged a mock battle, making it appear as if they were ambushing a column of American reinforcements. Clay was not fooled, since he knew no reinforcements were coming. He was able to hold out until the British again retreated.

  • Views: 49 George Croghan

    Not long after the War of 1812 began, George Croghan became commander of Fort Stephenson. Located on the Sandusky River, the fort was important to Ohio's defense against the British. The fort consisted of three blockhouses inside of a rectangular stockade. Croghan worked hard to increase the fort's defensive capabilities. General William Henry Harrison believed that the fort was located at a precarious position and ordered that Croghan abandon it, but Croghan argued that, if his forces withdrew, Native Americans would cut his men off from the rest of the army.

    Before the two men could resolve their differences, British troops attacked the fort. Despite the fact that Croghan had only approximately 150 troops under his command, the Americans were successful in holding off the British assault. In fact, Croghan's men were so successful that they crippled the British forces -- not one officer was left standing, and one-fifth of the English soldiers were either killed, wounded, or missing in action. The Americans forced their enemy to withdraw from the area. The victory at Fort Stephenson came at an important time during the war, as the United States had few military successes. In addition to raising American morale, it also made Croghan famous across the country. President James Madison promoted him to the rank of lieutenant colonel as reward for his service. Years later, the United States Congress voted to award him a gold medal for his success during the War of 1812.

  • Views: 51 Colonel William Dudley

    In the spring of 1813, Dudley was under command of General Green Clay. Clay's forces numbered some 1,200 strong as they travelled up the Maumee River to Fort Meigs. Clay's forces arrived at the fort on May 4, 1813, in the midst of the Siege of Fort Meigs. General William Henry Harrison sent a courier to General Clay ordering him to take an offensive against the British battery on the other side of the Maumee to drive them away and spike (disable) their cannons. General Clay left this task up to Colonel Dudley and a force of 800 men.

    On the morning of May 5, Dudley made his assault on the British and succeeded in driving them off. After this, however, Clay's plan fell apart. The soldier with the tools to spike the cannons had accidentally landed on the opposite side of the river. In desperation, Dudley's men tried, and somewhat succeeded, to spike the guns with their bayonets and ramrods.

    In addition, the Indians became quite a problem when they began to fire at the Kentuckians from some distance inside the woods. In a fit of revenge for their fellow statesmen from the River Raisin Massacre, the Kentucky militiamen charged after the natives against their officers' orders. The Indians soon drew the militia further and further into the woods, and they were eventually surrounded by the Indians and the British Army.

    After being taken prisoner and led downriver to the ruins of Fort Miami, the Indians proceeded to fire randomly into the parade of prisoners, killing several. This soon grew into natives killing the men and stripping them of their valuables. This all occurred while several British officers, including Colonel Henry Proctor, were standing some distance off watching. The only thing that stopped this massacre was the arrival of Tecumseh himself, who held off the warriors.

    Of the 800 men who took the assault, about 650 were killed, wounded or captured and only 150 escaped to the safety of Fort Meigs. Among the dead was Colonel Dudley himself, who was killed during the first few minutes of the fighting. This became known as "Dudley's Massacre" or "Dudley's Defeat."

  • Views: 80 General Anthony Wayne

    In 1792, President George Washington appointed Wayne as the commander of the United States Army of the Northwest, currently serving in the Northwest Territory. The major purpose of this army was to defend American settlers from Indian attack. Josiah Harmar and Arthur St. Clair had both been defeated at the hands of the Native Americans in the previous few years, and Washington hoped that Wayne would prove to be more successful. To help defend the frontier, Wayne ordered the construction of several forts, including Fort Recovery, Fort Defiance, and Fort Greene Ville. Seeing the build-up of American forces in the Northwest Territory, the local Indians became quite concerned. To ease their fears, the natives' British allies constructed Fort Miamis on the Maumee River. During 1794, Wayne moved against the Indians, who were commanded by Blue Jacket. On August 20, 1794, the two forces met at the Battle of Fallen Timbers, so named because the Indians used trees knocked down by a tornado for cover. Wayne's men quickly drove the Indians from the battlefield. Wayne succeeded primarily because of his well-trained troops. Harmar and St. Clair's earlier expeditions had failed due to a heavy reliance on unskilled soldiers.

    The Americans had thirty-three men killed and roughly one hundred wounded, while the Indians lost approximately twice that number. Blue Jacket's followers retreated to Fort Miamis, hoping the British would provide them with protection and assistance against Wayne's army. The English refused. Wayne followed the natives to the fort. Upon his arrival, Wayne ordered the British to evacuate the Northwest Territory. The English commander refused. Wayne decided to withdraw to Fort Greene Ville.

    For the next year, Wayne stayed at Fort Greene Ville, negotiating a treaty with the Indians. The natives realized that they were at a serious disadvantage with the Americans, especially because of England's refusal to support the Indians. On August 3, 1795, the Treaty of Greeneville was signed. Representatives from the Miami Indians, the Wyandot Indians, the Shawnee Indians, the Delaware Indians, and several other tribes agreed to move to the northwestern part of what is present-day Ohio. In doing so, they left behind their lands south and east of the agreed upon boundary. Not all Indians concurred with the treaty, and bloodshed continued in the region for the next twenty years as Americans and Indians struggled for control.

  • Views: 68 General Arthur St. Clair

    Born in Scotland, Arthur St. Clair unsuccessfully studied anatomy before deciding to enlist in the British army. During the Revolutionary War, St. Clair fought for the Americans, but failed so miserably in defending Fort Ticonderoga that Congress recalled him from service in 1777.

    While serving as a delegate to Congress, St. Clair was made Administrator of Indian Affairs, responsible for enforcing the terms of treaties made with the Indian peoples of America's western territories. Later, he was named Governor of the Northwest territories. Although St. Clair successfully supervised the implementation of Native American treaties in 1784 and 1785, the Indian people claimed that the treaties had been imposed on them by force and fraud. Dissatisfaction led to warfare in 1791, during which General St. Clair was badly defeated.

  • Views: 71 General Josiah Harmar

    In Ohio, Harmar faced rising tensions with the Native Americans. The influx of thousands of white settlers into Ohio upset the Indians. In October 1785, Harmar ordered Major John Doughty to construct a fort along the Ohio River. Doughty chose to build Fort Harmar along the western bank of the Muskingum River, near the river's mouth. Harmar also ordered the construction of Fort Steuben the following year at modern-day Steubenville. The main purpose of these forts was to prevent additional squatters from flooding into Ohio. Instead of stopping settlement, the fortifications actually encouraged it, as the whites believed the soldiers manning the forts were there to protect the settlers.

    In 1787, Harmar became a brigadier-general, the highest rank that he would attain. Three years later, Harmar was stationed at Fort Washington (present-day Cincinnati). Henry Knox, the Secretary of War, ordered Harmar to end the threat of Indian attack in western Ohio. Harmar marched from Fort Washington with 320 regular soldiers and roughly 1,100 militiamen -- primarily from Pennsylvania and Kentucky. The militiamen were poorly trained; many did not know how to load and fire a musket; several others did not even have a gun. Harmar was determined to destroy the native villages near modern-day Fort Wayne, Indiana. He intended to attack the Miami Indians, the Shawnee Indians, and the Delaware Indians, along with other natives located in western Ohio.

    On October 20, the natives, led by Little Turtle, of the Miami Indians, attacked a detachment from Harmar's army led by Colonel John Hardin. Hardin's force consisted of several hundred militiamen and a few regular soldiers. Hardin led his men into an ambush. Most of the militiamen fled the battle without even firing a shot. The regular soldiers put up a brief resistance, but the natives killed most of them. Some of the retreating militiamen did not stop until they crossed the Ohio River into Kentucky. Harmar sent out another detachment after Little Turtle's warriors two days later. Once again, the natives inflicted heavy casualties upon the Americans. Harmar immediately retreated to the safety of Fort Washington. He had lost 183 men killed or missing in his campaign. It became known as Harmar's Defeat.