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Title: Harrison's March to Tippecanoe
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One hundred and four years marks but a short space inthe world's history. One hundred and four years ago Napoleon was making history in Europe. It had been only nine years since Jefferson made the Louisiana Purchase and England viewed the new republic of the United States as hardly worth recognition, and had some designs toward its annexation. The war of 1812 was brewing and the threatening clouds of war, the occassional flashed of battle never passed from our national horizon. The Indians on our frontiers were restless, and with eloquent and reasoning Tecumseh they were foes with which we had to consider. They held undisputed sway and control of a vast empire reaching from the Ohio river to Hudson bay and from the Pacific ocean to a line markt by the Wabash river, the Maumee and Lake Huron, an empire worth the efforts of a race. It was for the retention of this empire for their posterity that the Indians fought at the Battle of Tippecanoe. It was my pleasure in August, 1914, in company with Barce and Walker, of Fowler and Babcock, of Goodland, all limbs of the law, to follow the trail of William Henry Harrison and his gallant army, that fought the Battle of Tippecanoe, from the battle ground to old Fort Harrison which is inside the city limits of Terre Haute. We went in a Ford and took our time.

The line of march from the battle ground to Pine Creek is easily followed but from there on the ruthless hand of civilized man has altered the earth's surface, cleared the forest and drained the prairie lands; but there is here and there along the route a man or woman nearing the ninety year mark who has lived thru the days of the rugged pioneer, the Mexican war, the gold fever of California, seen the exodus to the states west of the Mississippi, the exciting times of the Civil war and the years of inventive genius and industrial activity that has followed and still lives. And their words are as a voice from the past; they are the few links left that bind us to those historic days that have past away forever.

The first of those with whom we talkt was John Pugh, the father of Dr. Pugh, of Williamsport, then past 89 years of age, a nimrod, a mighty hunter of old, the last of the type of Daniel Boone. He showeds us his faithful old rifle and his hunting knives and told us the line of march as he remembered it before a plow had turned a furrow in the prairie of the woodman had felled the trees of the forest. After consulting with him we took up the line of march at the "Army ford" about a mile and a half up Pine creek from Kramer, just above the dam of the old Brier mill. This was the first mill built on Pine creek, and the land is still owned by the Briers. All the early settlers for miles about brought their grain to this mill to be converted into flour or meal. Mr. Pugh gave us a detailed account of the mill and the process used for separating and grinding the grain. From this point Harrison's army skirted the prairie. They detailed sixteen men to stand guard to prevent an ambush from the river between the camp and the river. These sixteen men were deployed on each side of Pine creek nearly straight north from Williamsport and just above where Williamsport road starts across Pine creek bottoms in going to Kramer. The army skirted the prairie for the reason that in its march to the battle groung it could easily watch and guard the left flank of the army and the view of the prairie would prevent an ambush. There were many Indians along the river so the soldiers left the timber land of the Wabash well to their right as they moved northward.

It was on the 26th day of September, 1811, that Governor William Henry Harrison with an army of about nine hundred men left Vincennes, on his momentous expedition against the Wabash valley Indians. Two hundred and fifty of these men composed the Fourth Regiment of the United States Infantry, sixty were Kentuckians and the remaining six hundred were the militia of the territory of Indiana from Corydon and Vincennes along the Wabash and Ohio rivers.

They started on this expedition from Fort Harrison, marching up the river, on the eastern side, to Montezuma. It took the soldiers two hours to cross the Wabash at Montezuma. They then followed near the banks with the army, taking their provisions in boats on the river, to a point a little below the mouth of Coal creek, which is a little below the south line of Fountain county. Here on the banks of the river they built a fort as a base of supplies, sent forty men back to guard the women and children at Fort Harrison, and left eight men to guard the fort. With the assistance of W.W. Porter and his wife and sons we were able to locate the site of this fort which was on the Porter land. John C. Colett, at one time the state geologist of Indiana, (a local historian of rare worth, a philanthropist, having given to Vermillion county a home for all its orphans with money enough for its maintenance, and a park to the city of Terre Haute known as Colett park, and with his brother built the C. & E.I. railroad from Terre Haute to Chicago and who gave me my first inspiration for the study of geology,) had made his home with Porter's parents and had inspired Mr. Porter with a pride in local history. He made Mr. Porter one of the trustees of his orphan's school. The Porters were thus able to show us the remains of the corduroy roads made by the Harrison army thru the swampy lands near his place. They crossed the Little Vermillion river just south of Eugene at what is known as the "Army ford" near the Shelby place. This was the principal camping ground of the Kickapoo Indians. After crossing the Vermillion river they went north to the prairie into the State of Illinois, south of Danville, and crossed the state line south of State Line. Two private soldiers of the army were buried in the Gopher Hill cemetery south of Marshfield, and the trail can be plainly seen thru the yard of a farmer who has carefully preserved it about a mile and a half northwest of the cemetery. They camped one night inthe Rought grove, now the property of Frank Goodwine, of West Lebanon. There was a spring in this grove which never went dry and the grove was far out in the prairie. On their return trip two of the soldiers were buried in this grove. It can be plainly seen from Sloan or Hedrick. Cassius M. Clay said the soldiers got blue grass seed here and carried it back to Kentucky, from which came Kentucky blue grass. From there they marcht to the "Army ford" across the creek above Brier's mill. On their return trip they campt one night there. On the northwest shore of the creek two of the soldiers died and were buried. There was a very large rock in the middle of the road one mile south of the Butler place known as the "Army Rock." It was a niggerhead and largest niggerhead in Warren county. The trail led past the rock. A road supervisor with about as little regard for local history as a country school teacher had Charles Burgeson break this rock into small particles with dynamite a few years ago.

Zachariah Cicott, who was born of an Indian mother and a French father, near Independence, and lived to be an old man othe grounds where he was born, led the Harrison army from the camp on the Wabash near Cayuga to the battle ground. The men who made the advance guard were under Dubois and this Dubois was the grandfather of the U.S. senator from Idaho of same name. Daviess, who had charge of the trial of Aaron Burr for treason, was in this march and in the battle. Naylor, who for many years was judge of this judicial district was in the march and in the battle. Tipton, who at one time represented our state in the United States senate, was in that march and the battle and many other equally as prominent made this march and were in the battle.

I hope that we can some time get this line of march plainly marked from Fort Harrison to Tippecanoe.

Date: 1/1/1916
Origin: Historical Sketches of the Wabash Valley
Author: J. Wesley Whicker
Record ID: 00001175
Type: Book
Source Archive: Williamsport-Washington Township Public Library
Date Entered: 8/10/2001
Entered By: Amber M Knipe

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