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Title: The Second Battle of Tippecanoe
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So much has been written on the Battle of Tippecanoe and its importance because it disrupted the confederacy which Tecumseh was forming among the Indians for the purpose of retaining their lands, that there are few persons, even in this vicinity, who are aware that there was a second battle near Tippecanoe or The Prophet's Town in which the Indians were really The victors. Like the first battle it marked the climax of an expedition sent up the Wabash which included more men than accompanied General Harrison the year before. The expedition wasl iek the first one too in that it included a man who afterwards became president of the United States.

After the first of November, 1812, General Samuel Hopkins began to organize a military force composed mainly of infantry for the purpose of penetrating the Indian country as far as The Prophet's Town, marching from Vincennes to Fort Harrison (Terre Haute), then up the river to The Prophet's Town, destroying the Indian villages along the river and any villages they might find at or near The Prophet's Town. The troops which were employed in this exploration by General Hopkins consisted of three regiments of Kentucky militia, commanded by Captain Zachariah Taylor, (afterwards president of the United States), and a company of scouts or spies under command of Captain Washburn. Among the spies of Captain Washburn was Peter Weaver, who afterwards became one of the first settlers of Fountain county and the first settler in Tippecanoe county.

This army started at once from Vincennes, arrived at Fort Harrison on the 5th day of November, and on the 11th day of November left Fort Harrison following the road made by Governor Harrison's army the year previous and the boats set out at the same time. On account of the danger it was necessary to guard the army very carefully. There had been a heavy rain and the waters were high int he Wabash but it was not out of its banks altho the creeks were so high that they could be crosst only with difficulty, danger and embarassment. They reached the mouth of Sugar creek on the 14th day of November. From there the entire army, with the exception of the those in the boats, marched on the east side of the Wabash river because the Vermillion river and Pine creek and other impediments on the west side led them to believe that they could make the trip easier on the east side of the river. They had their provisions, rations, and military stores in the boats. Their line of march was near the river so as to cover and protect the boats carrying their provisions. Lieut. Col. Barbour with one batallion of his regiment had command of the seven boats, but campt at nights on the bank of the river with the rest of the army. On account of the boats they moved slowly and reacht The Prophet's Town on the 19th of November 1812. On the morning of the 19th three hundred men were detached to surprise the Winnebago town on Wild Cat creek, about four miles form the Wabash river and four miles below the Prophet's Town. This party was under the command of General Butler. They surrounded the Winnebago town about daybreak but found it evacuated. They found in the town about forty shacks, many of them being from thirty to fifty feet in length, besides many temporary huts in the surrounding prairie where the Indians had cultivated a good deal of corn. On the 20th, 21st, and 22d, the army completely destroyed the Prophet's Town, whcih had about forty cabins and huts. Below it was a large Kickapoo village, on the west side of the river, consisting of about 160 cabins and huts. They also destroyed this town. These Kickapoos had corn stored for the winter and this was also destroyed. Seven miles east of the Prophet's Town on Wild Cat creek, a party of Indians fired on a detachment of this army, on the 21st day of November and killed a man by the name of Dunn. On the 22d day of November about sixty men, under the command of Lieutenant Colonels Miller and Wilcox started on horseback to bury Dunn and get a more complete knowledge of the ground. They marcht to a point near the Indian encampment, fell into an ambuscade and 19 of the party were reported killed, wounded and missing.

On the return of the pary it was learned that a large assemblage of Indians, encouraged by the strength of their camp adn this victory were waiting the approach of Hopkin's army, and this army at once made every preparation for an early march to engage the enemy in battle at any risk. There arose a violent storm with a heavy fall of snow and the coldest weather that these soldiers from the South had ever seen or felt at that season of the year. This delayed any further action until the 24th of November,

When Hopkins' army reacht the Indian camp they found it deserted, the Indians having crossed Wild Cat creek.

Mr. Hopkins say in his report, "I have no doubt but that the ground the Indians had taken was the strongest I have ever seen. The deep, rapid creek was in their rear, running a semi-circle and fronted by a bluff one hundred feet high, almost perpendicular, and could only be penetrated by three steep ravines. After reconnoitering sufficiently we returned to camp and found the ice so accumulated as to alarm us for the return of the boats. I had fully intended to have spent one more week in endeavoring to find the Indian camp but the shoeless, shirtless state of the troops now clad in the remnants of their summer dress, a river full of ice, the hills covered with snow, a rigid climate, and no certain point to which we could further direct our operations, under the influence and advice of every staff and field officer, orders were given and measure pursued for our return on the 25th."

General Hopkins writes later, "We are now progressing to Fort Harrison (down the Wabash river, thru ice and snoe, where we expect to arrive on the last day of the month. Before I close this I cannot forbear expresseing the merits of the officers and the soldiers of this command. After leaving Fort Harrison, all unfit for duty, we had, in privates of every count, about one thousand, in the total of twelve hundred and fifty men. At The Prophet's Town upwards of one hundred of these were on the sick report. Yet, sire, have we progressed in such order as to menace our enemy free from annoyance, and seven large keel boats have been covered and protected to a point heretofore unknown in Indian expeditions. Three large Indian establishments have been burnt and destroyed with near three miles of fence and all the corn and food that we could find. The enemy have been sought in their strongholds and every opportunity afforded them to attack or alarm us. We marcht on the east side of the Wabash, without roads, or cognizance of the country fully once hundred miles and this has been done with a naked army of infantry aided by only about fifty rangers and spies. All this was done in twenty days; no sigh, no mumor, no complaint."

The detachment which fell into the ambuscade on the 25th of November was composed of Capt. Beck's company of rangers, several officers of the army and a small number of mounted militia. Before starting out that morning, each man drew a pint of whiskey. They had not drawn whiskey for some time before this and perhaps whiskey did not help matters much. Capt. Little says, in speaking of this battle, "We rode on rapidly about a mile and a quarter when we found ourselves among and surrounded by Indians in hundreds, they fired on us in all directions as thick as hail. We immediately found that we were not able to fight them. I was shot in the body neat the hip bone. We retreated in every kind of disorder the best way we could. I was still able to ride and got out to camp where we found that we had lost sixteen killed and three wounded."

On the 18th day of December, 1812, General Samuel Hopkins announced, in general orders issued at Vincennes, his determination to retire from military life, and, while in his reports he commends all the officers, including Zachariah Taylor, his resignation upon the return of the army to Vincennes is evidence that he did not consider it an expedition that had added any great amount of honor to the American army. And this was the last of the battles that the fading red men of the forest had with the white men in the Wabash Valley.

Date: 1/1/1916
Origin: Historical Sketches of the Wabash Valley
Author: J. Wesley Whicker
Record ID: 00001161
Type: Book
Source Archive: Williamsport-Washington Township Public Library
Date Entered: 8/10/2001
Entered By: Amber M Knipe

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